Spiritual Arrogance is Never Pretty
2 Peter 2:10b-16
10bBold and willful, they [the false teachers described in the verses immediately before these – those defying God’s authority] do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
It seems that we live in a time when terrible charges are made against others (our leaders, most specifically) but none of those charges seem to stick. They appear to be above the law most of the time. We also find ourselves in a time when false charges can be made, and popular opinion rather than actual evidence decides whether they are true or not. Suffice it to say, it’s difficult. Peter lived in a similar time, only these problems were a part of the Church and that is to whom he speaks. His words in these verses are aimed directly at those who would lead the believing community away from God with false teaching and acrimonious words.
In an all-embracing manner, these false teachers take Christian freedom to an extreme by assuming complete freedom from the Law—not simply from its accusations, but also from its normative authority to curb sin and regulate Christian behavior. They presume to set their own standard for values. They suppose they are exempt from judgment by others, including God.
We know that the Law of God holds three powers over us. It serves as a Curb by keeping all of humanity in line, for the Law of God is written onto the hearts of mankind. The Second use of the Law is that of a Mirror which shows the believer their sin. As we read the Law of God, we know that we have failed to live as He calls and are in need of a Savior. Finally, the Law serves as a Guide, teaching Christians the way that God would have us live. In these abrasive verses, Peter declares that these false teachers do NOT see themselves in the light of God’s Law and thus feel free to disregard the rebuke and judgment of the Law upon their own sinfulness. The person who sees themselves outside of God’s Law is dangerous to us all.
I find these words strong and terrifying. You can almost hear Peter’s voice raised as he shares these damning concepts with his readers. The words are dire and direct. These false teachers are laying the groundwork for their own destruction and that of anyone who would follow them. Inside of this passage are numerous literary devices that drive home the point that he is making in a most emphatic way. Most of the time, I want to read and re-read the passage. Not today. The words are a shouted warning and I take it most seriously.