JP takes the baton and continues the Hold Fast series. Teaching from 2 Peter 2:10b-19, he focuses on false teachers, how to identify them, and how to guard ourselves from them. They offer the cage of comfort, but Jesus offers us the freedom of the truth.
A Diligent and Right Response to "These Things"
A Reminder of How and When "Joy to the World" Comes
Saints and Scoffers Running out of Time
False Teaching and False Teachers: the Difference and the Danger of Both
False Teaching is a Trap
Lot: the Trampled Spring That Is Wonderfully Saved and a Horrible Warning
The Grace and Truth False Teachers Miss and the Judgment They Won’t
The Words and Ways of the False Teacher and What to Do about It
Stirring Truth That Makes Men Useful
The Choreographed Christian Life
Persecution From Without Is Not Near the Threat as Is the Poison From Within
"Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.
They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood!
They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet's madness.
These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for 'people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.'" Let me pray for us.
Father, I pray you would make known to us the things of you by the work of your Spirit. As we read these ancient writings, these texts that are thousands of years old, would you make them come alive for us? Help each of us individually to know what truth you have for us in them so that we might examine our lives in comparison with this Scripture and make the changes necessary. Thank you for this place and for an opportunity to learn from your Word. In Christ's name, amen.
It's great to be with you guys. I'll start here. Have you ever been lied to or had the sense you were duped by something? Recently, I've had a lot of challenges with my eyes. If we've hung out at all here together, you've seen I've added an accessory around them, my glasses. I had a surgery due to a degenerate eye disease I didn't know I had.
As I sat there in the chair for the surgery, all I could think about was how many carrots I ate. I ate enough carrots to see through walls. I'm like, "Man, this should not be happening right now. They told me carrots help your eyesight." Recently, I stumbled across an article that said that wasn't true.
It traced the myth back to World War II, where these British pilots used radar to shoot down enemies at night. They didn't want them to know about this new radar technology, so they began to propagate this idea that their pilots could see at night because they ate lots of carrots, and this myth was born.
It spread to the kitchen, and some of you have bought into it, as did I. I was like, "Man, that affected me." It wasn't just that. This other thing my parents would tell me growing up was, "Hey, don't sit too close to the TV. It'll make your eyes go bad." All my life I've been back nine feet from the TV, but it turns out that's not true either.
It's not just around eyesight. I can't tell you how many hours of the summer I wasted sitting on the side of that swimming pool and watching everyone have a great time while waiting for my food to digest because I didn't want to get a cramp. It turns out you don't get cramps from having full stomachs and swimming. Who said this stuff?
I don't know if, before prom or your wedding day, you didn't eat chocolate because you didn't want to get acne. It turns out chocolate doesn't cause acne. Why not? Eat a bunch of chocolate, right? There are lots of them. Maybe you've heard, "You need to bundle up so you don't catch a cold. Don't go outside with wet hair; you'll catch a cold."
Nobody in the history of the world has ever caught a cold from having wet hair. Some of you are like, "Oh, he's gone off the deep end now." It's true. Nobody has caught a cold from being cold. You can only catch a cold from the cold virus. That's it. It's the only way to catch a cold. True story. Who says this stuff?
Are there any knuckle crackers? Are you terrified of arthritis? You don't get arthritis from cracking your knuckles. That's not true either. What about hyperactive kids with candy? Doesn't sugar cause you to be hyper? No, it doesn't. My wife was like, "That's not true." I'm like, "It's what science says." "Don't pick up a toad or you'll get a wart." Pick up all the toads you want. You won't get any warts. How many of you have been terrified to swallow your gum because you don't want it sitting in there for seven years? It'll be out by the end of the day, guys.
All of these are myths, and they all offer you freedom. Think about it. "Do you want to be free from glasses, cramps, acne, warts, or hyperactive children? Do these things. I'm offering you freedom." They don't give you freedom. They actually enslave you. They cost you your summer. They cost you doing things that, frankly, wouldn't have had a consequence or don't offer the benefit they promise. They present freedom to you, but they don't really give it. They are false teaching. It's a trap.
This morning, I want to talk to you about this idea how false teaching is a trap. It presents boundaries around you that are unnecessary, and often they're boundaries you can't see. Let me be really clear up front, because when you hear the phrase false teaching, I think everyone says, "Okay, JP is saying when I'm watching TV and the televangelist comes up, I need to put a wall of discernment up."
I'm not talking about that guy. I'm talking about people in your Community Groups. I'm talking about people here this morning. I'm talking about your family members. I'm talking about anybody in your life who presents an idea that paints an inaccurate picture of God or his will for you.
Anybody who manipulates the Scriptures or doesn't use the Scriptures to paint an inaccurate idea of who God is and what he desires for you… That is false teaching, and it will trap you. It will cost you. How can we avoid that? We're in 2 Peter if you want to turn there. It's Peter's second letter, there toward the back of your New Testament. You can find it almost all the way toward the end of your Bible.
Two weeks ago, Todd talked about God's judgment coming on the world in the time of Noah because the people had bought into false teaching. They followed the ways of their wicked flesh. They did whatever they wanted to do. They pursued happiness in the crosshairs, and God's judgment came down and preserved a remnant in the form of Noah and lifted him and his family up.
Likewise, last week, Todd talked about God's judgment on Sodom. He preserved a remnant in the form of Lot and his family. This week, we're going to talk about how this false teaching is a trap. Last week, Todd said, "Lot was a trampled spring." That means he was a righteous person, but he did not fulfill his duty as a Christian or a God-follower. This week, we're going to talk about springs without water, springs that will leave you thirsty. These aren't trampled springs, but springs that are not springs at all in these false teachers.
Peter wrote this book. It's not childish Peter. This is not put-your-foot-in-your-mouth Peter. This isn't just Peter past adolescence. This is old, wise Peter. This is wise man Peter. This is "Come here, son. Sit down. Let me tell you something," Peter. Peter is up in age now. He's written this letter to the church, and he's saying, "These people, these false teachers, are coming. They're going to creep into the church with these false ideas, and you need to be looking for them. They're going to trap you."
Consequently, Peter's friend Jude writes later and says, "They're here. Those people Peter told us about are here." He writes a letter very similar to 2 Peter. In verses 10-14, we're going to look at who the trappers are. In verses 14-17, we're going to talk about how they trap us. In verses 18-19, we're going to talk about how we can avoid being trapped. These are people who will water down your doctrine.
1._ Who are the trappers?_ The second part of verse 10 says, "Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings…" The word there is the glories or angels. Verse 11: "…yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord."
We're talking about angel abuse right out of the gate. What does this mean? There are two things. First, it could be a reference back to verse 7 where Lot was in Sodom, and he protected the two angels who came to visit him. The townspeople were following the ways of their flesh so much that they wanted to sexually abuse those angels. Bold, arrogant, and crazy, they wanted to abuse angels.
Alternatively, it could be talking about this idea that false teachers go around and take the credit for rebuking demons. They go around and say, "I can cast out demons by my power. Look at me." Because of what God is doing, they gather an audience for themselves. Claiming to be unique, they abuse celestial beings. Here's our takeaway. They either follow their desires or they presume to be more powerful than the angelic realm, but the bottom line is they're bold and arrogant. Let's go back into the text.
Verse 12: "But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish." They are unreasonable. If you've ever met someone who wants to follow their desires, and you come at them with, "Logically, that's not going to go well for you…" "But I love him!" They are unreasoning. They are following the desires of their hearts and their flesh. They're acting like animals of instinct.
Animals are trapped by their instincts. Think about it. If I wanted to kill a deer, a big buck, what would I do? I might get two antlers and clang them together to appeal to his pride. "There are some deer fighting? Where are they?" I might sprinkle the scent of a doe in a field to appeal to his sexuality. Sniff. Sniff. "Are there ladies around here?" I might sprinkle corn on the ground and appeal to his appetite, his stomach, the urges of his flesh.
This is what they do. They appeal to your pride, your sensuality, your sexuality, and your appetite, offering you something your flesh desires, but verse 13 says, "They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight." They don't even try to hide their actions, guys.
They say they're godly. "Of course I'm materialistic. God wants me to have lots of things, trinkets and treasures. That's what God wants for me." "Of course I'm sexual. God made me a sexual being. I was born this way. I don't need to hide it from you. It's in broad daylight. This is what God wants for me."
"They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you." There's a wordplay here in the Greek where Peter takes the word for the love feasts and the word for deception, and he plays them against each other. He's saying, "They're among you. They're here this morning."
I don't know if they self-identify. I don't know if there's anybody here this morning like, "I'm a false teacher. That's true. He's talking about me." I think, more than that, they're just like, "Yeah. Give me the world and a little bit of God. You too can have the world and a little bit of God. I don't really want God. There's a superstitious hedging of bets going on, so I want the world, and I'll take a little bit of God." They're here this morning. They're among you.
He's saying, "They're feasting with you. They're having communion with you." He writes, "With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning…" With eyes full of adultery, they look for the weak, they look for hurting women, and they prey on them to appease their own desires. This is going on, and Peter writes, "You need to look out for these people."
Any time there's a trap, there had to be someone who set the trap. We're talking about the people who set the trap, and they set this trap for a reason. Who are these trappers? This text describes them as bold, arrogant blasphemers. They act out of instinct. They are seeking to feed the pleasures of their flesh, and the only reason they set this trap is for their own selfish gain, their own fame, or to justify their sin, so they can follow the desires of their flesh and do what they want to do when they want to do it.
I have met these people. I have sat at a table with these people, and I don't think they know they're actually trying to trap you. They're simply trying to justify their sin. They are simply saying, "I think this is what God wants. God wants me to be happy. God wants me to feel this way. God wants me to do this. Why would God give me this desire if he didn't want me to pursue it?"
They will not reason with you. No logic will persuade them. They don't care what the Word says. "That's an old Book. It's thousands of years old. In their context… What language was that written in? Are we sure we have the Hebrew, Greek, and English thing right? Are you sure that applies to my life? Why do you take your faith so seriously? JP, I'm going to be up there with you too, but right here, why can't I have a little bit of fun? Why do you take your faith so seriously?" They will be trapped, and they will take you with them. They will trap you.
2._ How does it happen?_ If they're trying to trap us, how would they trap us? It says in the second part of verse 14, "…they seduce…" That word for seduce is a fisherman's word. Peter would have been very familiar with it. It's the word bait. They bait you. Who do they bait? "…they seduce the unstable…"
The unstable, those who do not know the Word of God, are their prey. That's who they're after: people who are not on sure footing, not who are standing on the Solid Rock of Christ, knowing the Scripture, and being transformed. They look for weak Christians, those who don't know the Word.
They come to you, and they'll say things like this: "Isn't it about love? Is this not about love?" If you can't respond to that right, all of a sudden, you're like, "I want to be loving. This is about love." If you come back to them and say something like, "Yeah, it is indeed about love, but in John 14:23, Jesus says, 'This is what love is: those who obey my commands,'" they'll be like, "Oh, well I'm not interested in John 14:23. That's in there? Really? Jesus says to love him is to obey him? I don't know about that. I just think we need to love each other."
They are an accursed brood. Verse 15: "They have left the straight way…" At this time, the Christ-followers were called the Way. This was the path. It's a narrow path, and Peter is saying, "There are going to be people who come and present to you a big, wide path with lots of ways to get to God." "You don't have to follow the narrow path. You don't have to take your faith too seriously. You don't really have to read the Bible every day. You don't have to know what it says and apply it to your life. You can just kind of know God and do what you want. It's a wide path."
He says they've left that narrow way Jesus talks about "…and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet's madness." Does anybody picture Balaam to be like Shrek? I do. "Donkey!"
This is the story everybody knows but nobody knows. It's like, "Oh, yeah, the time the donkey talked. Now why was that?" Here's what was going on. Balaam was a prophet for hire. A man who wanted to oppress the Israelites said, "Hey, come. I will pay you to curse them." Do you know what Balaam said? He said, "I can't say anything God doesn't want me to say."
In fact, if you read the story of Balaam, he did a lot of things right. Balaam literally talked to God. He literally spoke the words of God. The words he spoke are in the Bible. They're now Scripture, and he's in hell, the Scripture tells us. He's like Judas, Todd said the other day. He communed with Jesus. He knew him but didn't know him.
"Why? Why, God? Balaam did so many things right!" It says his motive was selfish gain. The only reason he was interested in God is because he wanted his best life now. He wanted to get as many things as he could. It was all about him. It was about him getting stuff, and he eventually tricked them into payment. To get paid was what he was after. You can read that in Numbers 22. He left the way of delighting in God and pursued his own selfish gain.
Verse 17: "These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm." They're springs without water. They present to you something that's going to quench your thirst. Could you imagine walking through a desert, and you see a well. "It's everything I needed! That's what I was looking for!" You run to it, you get there, and you realize there's no water there. It's empty.
That excitement is now a greater disappointment. You're now thirstier than you were. They cannot quench your thirst. It says they're mists blown by the storm. These people we're talking about are always in the center of the storm. They're always at the center of controversy. As for the things you see on the news, they're at the center of those conversations. They show up in those controversies and present truth to you that's not truth at all. It's a truth that will leave you wanting. It's not truth. It's a lie.
It says, "Blackest darkness is reserved for them." They're in hell. They're separated from God. Every trap has a bait. No one sees a trap and goes, "Oh, there's a trap. Let me go and explore what that does." No one willingly walks into a trap. Every trap presents something enticing to you. This morning, you're being enticed with something.
What are we trapped by? I think it's pretty clear to understand what they're presenting here. It's everything Dallas has to offer you and some God. The trap presents to you all your worldly desires, and you can know God. You can be like God in your own world. You can have your name on buildings and stuff.
You can be safe and comfortable. You don't have to really do anything. You don't have to take your faith really seriously. You don't have to be God's slave. Who wants to be God's slave? Instead, you can be a slave to your own selfish desires. You can feed your own selfish desires. They're offering worldliness. They're saying, "You can have riches now. You don't need riches and glory at his right hand forevermore. Have all of it you want right now."
Halloween just passed, and I have three children. Weston is 3, and I also have a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old. It's a big deal when you're 3, 6, and 8 and the neighbors will give you candy for dressing up like a superhero. It's a big deal. They're excited about this Halloween. "Daddy, can we go trick-or-treating?" "Yeah, sure, we're going to go and do it up big. Don't worry."
The time comes, and they get their buckets. They go door-to-door trick-or-treating and get buckets of candy. They come back with their loot. Do you guys remember that? They lay it out and sort it. "Here's the chocolate. Here are the Twizzlers. This guy gave me a Twinkie, and this one gave me a tract. I don't know what that is, but I'm sorry, God."
They get their candy, and we have to regulate this. I'm like, "You can only have two pieces a day. We don't want you to be hyperactive or anything." Weston, my son, wakes up the next day, and he goes and grips this little fun-size, chocolate candy bar. He comes in to my room, and I'm still in bed. He says, "Daddy, can I have it? Can I have it?" I'm like, "No, not for breakfast, son. We'll just wait."
All morning: "Can I have it, Daddy?" He's carrying this sweaty piece of chocolate around in his little 3-year-old clenched fist. We eat lunch, and the time comes. I'm like, "Weston, you can have it." He hasn't let it go. He hasn't even opened his hand since that morning.
I say, "Weston, here's the deal. I want you to give it to me." He looks at me just like you did. He's so confused, like, "What? But Daddy, you said I could have it! You said I could have two pieces!" "Son, you can. You can have it, but I want you to give it to me. You don't have to…" He heard, "You don't have to," and it was in his mouth. It was the end of negotiating.
He takes a bite, and I'm there like, "I want you to give it to me. I want you to trust me." It's like he takes a bite, and he feels guilty, or the Holy Spirit convicts him… I don't know if he's a believer, but something happened. He gives it to me. He's like, "Here." I pick him up and take him to the pantry. He's been in the pantry. He knows the pantry. He's in there every morning.
He's seen the bottom shelf with the water bottles, the Wolf Brand Chili, and the soup. He's seen that stuff. I pick him up and show him the fifth shelf. He's never seen the fifth shelf. That's Daddy's shelf, and Daddy is a big candy guy. I like candy. Yes, amen. The fifth shelf of glory, we call it. We don't call it that. I'm lying. Nobody calls it the fifth shelf of glory. I lifted him up and he's like, Ahhh! There it is. It's the real deal.
I know candy. I have the movie candy. I have the boxes of peanut butter M&M's, which are my favorite. I have regular M&M's and peanut M&M's, just in case I get bored. I have the Sour Patch Kids and the Twizzlers. I have an entire bag of Dum Dums, which I'm not a fan of, but he loves. I have it all there, the whole spread. I have the cheap chocolate for normal days, and then I have the really expensive Whole Foods chocolate you buy in the special aisle, the organic stuff, and it's all right there.
I'm like, "You can have whatever you want." He's confused. I'm like, "Oh, you didn't know I had this? You were holding on to that false idea that that sweaty little candy bar you were gripping around since 6:30 this morning was going to bring you life, and you didn't know I had all of this."
We are equally as foolish. As we navigate this life with no concept of eternity, no concept of riches and glory forevermore at his right hand, we navigate this world ready to be trapped by whatever some boss, coworker, girlfriend, boyfriend, family member, or preacher presents to us, so we might follow it into a trap.
"You can have health, good eyesight, wealth, and prosperity." They tell you what you want to hear. That's what they're doing. They're seeing your greatest need, and they're presenting it. "You want out of that marriage? Get out! God wants you to be happy. I know you said, 'Till death do us part,' but you didn't know everything then. You didn't know he was crazy. Come on. You can get out of that. God wants you to be happy. You want to buy it? Well, if you want it, I can't imagine why God would give you that desire unless he wanted to meet it. Go ahead. You can have that. Sure, you can explore sexual pleasures."
I sat down at lunch with a guy, and he said, "You know, JP, I'm a Sunday school teacher. I know the Bible." He's a single guy. He said, "Listen. God wants me to have sex. He made me a sexual being. We're like animals." I've heard that somewhere. "I have a sexual drive and he wants me to meet that. Of course I'm going to have sex. I'm pretty sure God wants me to have lots of sex."
I'm like, "Bro, chapter and verse that, buddy. There's this thing called marriage God invented. Can we talk about that for a second?"
"This is about love."
"Yes, it is, but love as God defines it."
"You don't have to confess all your sins. You tell people what you've done? Why would you do that?"
"Well, because James 5:16 says to."
"You're going to be honest with how you spend money?"
"Sure, that's what 1 John 1 says."
"That's an old book, and those are old ideas. Why do you feel like you have to do that? You can just give in to your desires. You're born that way. That's the way God made you."
They say things like this. "Do whatever makes you happy." The Bible says, "Be holy, as I am holy." Here's my favorite: "You don't need to take your faith so seriously. Did God really say…" I heard that somewhere. That's what Satan said in the garden. "Did God really say…"
That's what he continues to do. "Did God really say it's about obedience every day? Does God want you to be a slave? It's like you have to take up a cross every day and walk. Does he really say that?" "Yeah, he does, actually, verbatim." Verse 18: "For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh…" Do you see that? "…the lustful desires of the flesh…"
I was reading about the Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS, this week because of everything that's going on. I read this article yesterday, and I don't know if you know, but the Islamic State is a religious organization, and they thrive on their sex trade. There's a huge sex trafficking industry within this religion, this group of people.
This article said it's as important to them as territory, real estate. They cannot exist without this sex trade, because they entice more conservative Muslims who are not grounded or fastened in their faith. They grew up in a faith that said, "No, you can't have that kind of sex," and they say, "No, no. Come here, and you can have any kind of sex you want. We have sex slaves."
They put out these religious pamphlets that say, "This is how you can treat your sex slave. This is what is available to you." This is why they're growing like crazy, because these men are coming, and they're enticed and trapped in the organization, and it's not dissimilar to how the American church recruits. "Those were old ideas. Come here. Let me show you a new idea. I want to present to you a level of freedom. There's more freedom than you think in this doctrine." It says, "Guard your doctrine carefully."
By appealing to their lustful desires, "…they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error." These are baby Christians, people who are just escaping the world, those who live in error are pagans. These are Christians. We're talking about converts here, but they don't know the Word.
It can be a baby Christian, as in, "Hey, I just trusted Christ last week," or it can be a baby Christian, as in, "Hey, I trusted Christ 60 years ago. I just never read my Bible. There was no regenerative work in my life, because I never really studied the Bible. I didn't know I needed to know it. I thought that was for pastors, preachers, and teachers in the church. I didn't know I needed to know the Bible."
They prey on these people. This is who is trapped: the unstable from verse 14, those who follow their flesh, the weak and hurting people, people who have pain and are desperate for a solution… "JP, you don't understand. Every day I wake up with pain." Someone comes along and says, "Oh, you want to be pain-free? Follow me. Let me show you where the pain…"
"JP, you don't understand. I can't pay my bills." "Oh, you want money? Follow me. I can present a religion and a doctrine to you that will make you rich, healthy, wealthy, and prosperous." Like a starving animal, they walk into a trap. Verse 18 says, "Those being trapped, those who barely escape, and those who live in error are these baby Christians."
Let me present to you, this verse really caused me to reflect on my own life. When I stumbled into this place 13 years ago, I sat in the back row. My struggle was materialism. I was everything that's wrong with Dallas in one person. I made a little bit of money and bought a Jaguar. I bought the penthouse condo as soon as I could afford it, and I'm living that. Then I come in here, and I had never seen someone say, "Hey, we're going to do what this book says. We're going to know it and do what it says." I'm like, "You mean just on Sunday, right?"
"No, every day of the week we're going to do what it says."
I had never seen someone call someone to full devotion. I'm like, "Okay. I'm in." I'm listening. "You take your faith seriously. That's attractive." I sat in the back row. Can you imagine if some false teacher had intersected into my life right then and said, "Hey, that's good. Listen. I'm going to teach you the Bible, and by the way, God wants you to be wealthy." That would have been the most convenient truth ever to me. "God wants you to be comfortable."
"JP, you don't have to share your faith in the workplace. You don't have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. You can follow your heart. You can do whatever you feel like." I can fast-forward the tape and tell you what would have happened. I would be a prosperity teacher. I think I would be an incredible prosperity teacher.
"Come on, guys! God wants you to be wealthy, healthy, and prosperous." That will sell. I'm a salesman at my core. I'm like, "Listen. This is the good news. The good news is God wants you to be comfortable. It starts here, and you can have lots of stuff, trinkets and treasures." That's where I would be. I'm certain of it.
What happened is, Todd taught truth, and then Rick Wisner came into my life and said, "Let me tell you what the Bible actually says." Then he handed me off to Marc Hoppers, who surrounded me with community and said, "Let me show you what the Bible actually teaches."
Then he handed me off to Blake Holmes, who sat me down and said, "Let me equip you in this Word, the story of this book, and what it actually says." Then he handed me to the care of my community, and they said, "Let us walk with you and hold you accountable to living what this Book actually says, so you would take your faith very seriously." They saved me from a trap.
3._ Knowing truth is how we avoid being trapped._ Said otherwise, the truth will set you free. Have you ever heard that? Who said that? That's John 8:31-32. "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'"
The truth will help you avoid the trap. If you know the truth, you can walk in the way. These guys are saying, "Come here. God wants you to be comfortable. Oh, that's your sin struggle? No, no. it's okay. God understands. You're looking at that? No, it's beautiful. It's God's creation. You're doing that on the weekend? It's fine. Be comfortable. He wants you to have good things."
You're like, "The good things… Where's that part? He wants you to have a little stuff, and you can be materialistic, and you can have whatever sex you want. Where is it? Show me. Show me." "Come on in here. No, no. Listen. That's old news. That was written a long time ago. Come on in here. Walk into this trap, this cage of comfort. God doesn't want you to be his slave."
First Peter 2:16 says, "Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves.""That can't mean slaves." The way we avoid the false teaching is to trust what God offers us is better than anything this world offers. We're not pursuing little fun-size chocolate bars. He has riches and glories at his right hand forevermore, which are him. We don't pursue God for what he can give to us. We pursue God so he will give us him.
We have misdirected pleasures, misdirected desires, and misdirected wants. The way we avoid this false teaching is to know the truth. Verse 19: "They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for 'people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.'" The truth of the trap is it's filled with the trappers.
Those who are trying to entice you don't even know they're in the trap. They can't see it. They just consider themselves blessed, and they don't even know they're stuck in the very things they wanted the freedom to pursue, and now they can't stop pursuing them. Let me say that again. The things they wanted the freedom to pursue they now can't stop pursuing. They're stuck in it.
In summary, the trappers are people teaching false ideas. They trap Christians by appealing to your worldly desires. The only way to avoid being trapped is to learn the truth, because they'll let you come in here in this cage of comfort, and they say,
"Come get some of this. Now you're a worldly guy. God gave you good looks, skills, and drive. You have drive. Have a drink. Come here. Pour up a cocktail. Relax. You want money? God will give you money. You want success? You'll get so focused on success you won't be able to look anywhere else. You'll be at the kitchen table with your mind running around about how to be more successful and how to get more.
You want to look at beautiful things? Those are God's creatures. Look at them. You want NorthPark? Come on, we have NorthPark. NorthPark is at your right hand. Get lots of stuff. Cope with those struggles. Go and forget your worries. Maybe you need a few more sweaters or dresses. Make those troubles go away. You can have the perfect family. Your kids can be well-behaved. That's what matters. Look at yourself in this mirror long and hard. I see a king. You can be the king."
The cage is wide open. The door is open, but you can't leave. This idea was caught well in a movie I saw, God's Not Dead, where the son returns to talk to his mother. His mother has dementia, and she can't speak. The son is this attorney who has pursued the wicked desires of his flesh, and he's stuck in it. Watch this video.
Some of us look in the mirror and we don't even like what we see, but we can't change. There are things about our lives we know are not right, but we don't know what to do about them. The door is open, but we're so comfortable. We sit down and just relax. We be comfortable. That's what life is about, man: comfort and 80 years.
You go somewhere else, we kick back, and we're stuck. We can't get out. Maybe we've been in church every Sunday. Maybe we've been in church every Sunday for as long as we can believe, but when we're driving down the road, our thoughts aren't on God or Jesus. They're on us. We're false teachers, and we don't even realize it. We're living life in a comfortable cell.
Some of you are believing the lie that God can't forgive you. You feel like the door slammed shut. He knows everything you've done, and you think there's no way he can love you, and you don't realize this thing has been pried open by the blood of Jesus Christ. He died for your sins, your lustful desires, and your worldly temptations, both those you've been tempted by and those you've given yourself to.
He has set you free. That door is propped open by the cross, and you can walk out, you can cling to him, and you can know that's why he was here, that's why he died, and that's why he rose from the grave, conquering death and offering you eternal life, a life with God forever and ever and ever.
A hundred years from now, that stuff is an estate sale, sold for pennies on the dollar by people who had to care for your stuff long after you're gone. A hundred years from now, what matters is, "What did I do with Christ? Did I know him? Did I make him known? Did I feast on his Word?" Let me pray that we would.
God in heaven, help us to avoid the trap. Father, here at Watermark, help us to know you've set us free, that you've come so we might have life and have it to the fullest. There's an Enemy who uses people, and he might even use us, to steal, kill, and destroy, but we want to be the sheep that know your voice, Lord. Would you lead us into freedom? Would you lead us in the way everlasting? Thank you for being the great and amazing God you are. Thank you for the freedom you offer us, Lord. As we have breath in our lungs, it's not too late. The door is not locked.
You're a free, man. You're a free, woman. You're free. I don't know how much longer you have, but live as a free person. As Peter exhorts and admonishes us in the Scripture, "Don't use your freedom to walk into a trap. Live as slaves to God." Your caretaker is a God who cares for you. He loves you, he created you, he knows your desires, and he knows how they can be fully met in him. Pursue him. Feast on his Word so you're not tricked into the trap.
God wouldn't leave these Scriptures behind if he didn't want us to study them, know them, and write them on our hearts, so that we might know him in a greater way. If we can help you do that, would you please let us know in that Watermark News? We would love to know how we can pray for you this week. You can write that down, and somebody will follow up with you this week if you give us that information. You can turn it in in the back out there as you walk. I love you guys. Thanks for hanging with us this morning. Have a great week of worship.