2 Peter 2:18
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.
For uttering arrogant words of vanity [pompous words disguised to sound scholarly or profound, but meaning nothing and containing no spiritual truth], they beguile and lure using lustful desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error.
Contemporary English Version
They brag out loud about their stupid nonsense. And by being vulgar and crude, they trap people who have barely escaped from living the wrong kind of life.
Good News Translation
They make proud and stupid statements, and use immoral bodily lusts to trap those who are just beginning to escape from among people who live in error.
International Standard Version
By talking high-sounding nonsense and using sinful cravings of the flesh, they entice people who have just escaped from those who live in error.
Weymouth New Testament
For, while they pour out their frivolous and arrogant talk, they use earthly cravings–every kind of immorality–as a bait to entrap men who are just escaping from the influence of those who live in error.
At this point of his letter to the church, Apostle Peter is explaining how bad the false teachers are and the damage they cause. Almost all this chapter with its twenty two long verses is dedicated to warning about false teachers who will arise from within the church.
It is clear the greatest danger we will ever face as believers is from within the church. We are so careful watching and preparing for danger from outside the church, but the risk is within. We are ready to die for our faith in the hands of non-believers, but actually we should be ready to die for our faith in the hands of people we share the same faith. Danger is within more than without. We are ready for what will come from outside, but now we must get ready for the devil within the congregation masquerading as a fellow leader or believer.
Teachings of pagan Rome and Hellenism did not threaten the church as much as falsehoods presented from within by those who looked like they were much more committed than everyone else. Apostles Paul, Peter, and John, just to mention a few have repeatedly and in many words warned the church about danger from within.
Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
The greatest danger facing us is a fellow member, a fellow leader, a fellow prayer team member etc. When a fellow member sexually entices a fellow member, the sin is deadlier because the need for confession and repentance is hardly felt. That leads to the risk of unpardonable sin. When a fellow leaders plots to oust other leaders and cover it in prayer and religious readings and postures, it will look like the work of the Holy Spirit and questions may not be asked and malpractices will thrive on impunity. That leads to a toxic environment in the church, of all places, the church becomes a toxic place.
The Apostle Peter and other Apostles therefore warn that be careful about the danger and harm that can come from within. Be ready so that if it happens you don’t abandon faith. It is easy to stand difficulties from outside, but betrayal from within May be unforgivable and can lead many to forever prefer hell to such hypocrisy. To avoid that painful realization, the Apostle tells us to watch also for the risks within. But do we really watch within us or we dangerously assume it is safe?
A fellow church member is most likely to give you substandard goods and services than someone outside the church. A fellow member is most likely to borrow and fail to pay. Fellow members are most likely going to drive rumors that damage you. Fellow members will avoid your business hoping it fails more than non-believers who may give you a chance. Most likely you will be betrayed and harmed without apology by a religious leader. As we prepare and ensure external dangers don’t harm us, be equally ready for internal risks!
Peter tells us today that the false religious leaders speak words that are boastful and false. The various translations have magnified this text. The false leaders are keen to project themselves are informed, widely read, more insightful and better than regular leaders.
What is key that we should take note of is that these leaders appeal to our evil desires in order to trap us. Since we want easy wealth that we didn’t work for, they offer prayers without business advice. They remind us that prayer is everything (yet it is not – work must be done along side prayers).
They also appeal to our selfishness and therefore greed seeks self preservation. Greed drives us to do things we never thought we would. Since a person looks like a threat to us, we meet and plan how to eliminate him or her.
Our lusts and desires will be addressed by messages from false prophets in order for us to “feel blessed” “feel touched”
May God save us from being false religious people and from being deceived, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
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