“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not,” 2 Peter 2:1-3.
He who “is a liar, and the father of it”, the devil, has always had his lackeys at work in this world, especially mingling amongst the people of God, passing themselves off as servants of the Lord. Peter here tells us that the devil’s pattern of activity as seen in Old Testament times will continue in this New Testament era. Indeed, as Paul and many other of the prophets inform us, his activities will increase as this age draws to a close. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils,” 1 Timothy 4:1.
His increased activity will be driven by his knowing “that he hath but a short time,” Revelation 12:12.
I think that we can have no doubt that in recent years we have witnessed this acceleration of Satanic action. Today, the world is awash with falsehoods of every form. When you think that you have just about heard every absurdity, along comes something even more outrageous!
Lies and deceits abound in every sphere of human activity.
There are scientific falsehoods and deceits. Chief amongst them is the ’Theory of Evolution’, which is presented by its disciples, not as a mere notion, but as FACT. School books, lecture halls, television nature programmes all echo to this self-contradicting folly!
There are medical falsehoods. Increasingly chief amongst them is the notion that man is moving toward the defeat of death and the beginning of physical longevity and a man-made Utopia.
There are historical lies, a perverting of the true record of past events. Chief amongst those lies are the denials of the divine creation of all things, of the accuracy of the Bible’s account of the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and, more recent denials, the wonderful mercy of God toward mankind in His intervention in the times of the 16th century Protestant Reformation.
But above all, there are THEOLOGICAL FALSEHOODS.
This has always been the chief end of the devil. He would blind mankind to its true state of sinfulness and the terrible fate which awaits those who die in that state and the TRUTH OF GOD, set forth in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, whereby God’s remedy for man’s sinfulness is declared. “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them,” 2 Corinthians 4:4.
What the devil wishes to rob men of is the wonderful news set forth in such verses as these:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3:16.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8.
As there are warnings of scams and fraudulent schemes abroad, coming from the police, banks and other agencies, whose task it is to keep the public warned of such things, so God has those whose duty it is to repeat His warnings of the most serious fraud of all, that which will cost the victims of it their eternal soul’s salvation!
In this chapter 2 and on into chapter 3, Peter engages in that duty. It is to be noted that he does so with an acute awareness of that which should fill with a sense of urgency all of God’s servants, especially one who is eighty years of age like me!
I am referring to the realisation of the approach of his own demise. “Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance,” 2 Peter 1:13-15.
Paul emphasised the same duty. “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained,” 1 Timothy 4:6.
Am I wrong in believing that there is a neglecting of this vital duty by the pulpits of our land? I fear that such are the attitudes that have invaded the pulpits, the spirit of saying or doing nothing that might upset members of the congregation regarding the careless, carnal habits that mark the lives of all too many believers, the failure to reiterate the warnings of Holy Scripture, inspired by God, it must be emphasised, that the preachers’ silence is, in truth, an endorsing, an encouraging of this backslidden state of affairs!
Let us then note Peter’s last recorded words of warning. We have here:
I. THE FACT THAT THERE CAN BE NO ESCAPING THE CURSE OF FALSE PROPHETS.
“There were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you . . . . . .”
What a much more blessed world this would be without the spewing forth of the devil’s lies by the devil’s liars!
1. As wolves have ever hounded the sheep, so the devil’s falsehoods have harassed the truth of God. As soon as God said, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” Genesis 2:16-17, the devil followed closely with: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil,” Genesis 3:4-5.
Adam and his wife responded to the devil’s lie as mankind has done ever since. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat,” Genesis 3:6.
To the end of time, it will be so. The closing words of our Saviour at the end of the canon of Holy Scripture underscore this. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie,” Revelation 22:13-15.
Not until the eternal glory will men be rid of the lie and all liars!
2. The pulpits, so-called Christian publications and pronouncements all pour out the lie. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is all but utterly dismissed from Ulster pulpits. Where an evangelical voice is heard, it must be said that what is said is, at best, a ‘watered-down’ version of the Bible’s message! There is a great fear amongst ‘evangelicalism’ of offending the ungodly by calling them such and rightly informing them of their error and the consequences of rejecting the Word of God.
Newspapers, public broadcasters will not allow any to fully proclaim what the Saviour’s message to mankind is. The ‘lie’ is well ensconced on the throne of such vehicles of information!
The true spiritual and political state of our land is denied and falsified by liars. In recent times, Ulster was sold the lie about the true nature of the so-called ‘Good Friday’ peace agreement. What followed was not peace. We saw terrorists released from jail and those who gave leadership to their terrorist campaign, elevated to positions of government. Murder, robbery, intimidation and the ensconcing of mobsters into dominating large sections of today’s society. The so-called ‘changed’ agents of terrorism openly glory in that which they claim to have repudiated and flounce around masquerading now as the guardians of law and order!
A recent headline, following Sinn Fein’s pronouncements in the wake of rioting in Dublin, gave some indication there were those who recognised this sham. Dublin riot: Sinn Fein portraying itself as the party of law and order ‘very questionable’. That observation falls far short of just how hypocritical and opportunistic the terrorist -supporting party is. None could ever stand truth on its head like Sinn Fein representatives! They have succeeded in persuading the British government and the President of the USA of this deceit, though it must be noted that such is the decrepit anti-Protestant disposition of both bodies that their swallowing of Sinn Fein’s lie is not really surprising.
3. None are so ridiculed and ostracised as those who set forth God’s Word in contradiction of the self-deluding atmosphere which pervades today’s society. Even those who make no profession of true religion but who differ with some aspect of today’s mistaken beliefs face great difficulties. Witness the recent forced closure of Mr Nigel Farage’s NatWest bank account, simply on the basis that the ‘management did not like his political views. NatWest chief executive Dame Alison Rose resigned after she admitted being the source behind an incorrect BBC story about the row.
Such an event is but a foreshadowing of a day when it will become acceptable for those who are deemed worthy of being ‘blacklisted’ are indeed cut off from the very necessities of life! There is coming soon a day when the power of the ‘Antichrist’ will be such that all in his dominion will feel his power to ostracise any he finds fault with. “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. . . . And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name,” Revelation 13:7-8, 16-17.
The only ones who will refuse this edict are the truly converted.
“And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest,” Revelation 15:2-4.
The lie is at work amongst us and gaining ground everywhere and every day!
II. THE ABOMINABLE INFLUENCE OF FALSE PROPHETS.
The Bible says that “ . . . no lie is of the truth,” 1 John 2:21. That being so, it can work no good but ONLY evil!
1. Consequently, Peter emphasises the evil that the preaching of the false prophets will bring. They shall bring with them “damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them . . . .” They shall promote “pernicious ways” and “by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of,” 2 Peter 2:2.
Furthermore, they “walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities,” 2 Peter 2:10.
It can be seen that they thus corrupt every tenet of God’s truth. We are to remember the words of Paul, which run very contrary to those of the false prophet. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God,” Romans 13:1. The false prophets have pioneered the work of overthrowing God’s governmental ordinances.
“Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man,” Genesis 9:6. Their voices were to the fore in the campaign to abolish capital punishment!
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination,” Leviticus 18:22. The false prophets were at the vanguard of the overthrowing of this holy ordinance both by demanding its rejection and living in defiance of it! The pulpits of ‘Ecumenical apostasy’ are riddled and cursed with this defilement everywhere today!
Every form of rejection of what God has ordained for the good governance of nations has been defied and cast away by that campaign headed by the false prophets.
2. Peter underlines the eternal consequences both for the false prophets and those who heed them. What they teach are ‘damnable doctrines’(verse 1), that is doctrines that will damn the souls of those who embrace such teaching. The word is referring to ‘the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell’. Peter states that they “bring upon themselves swift destruction,” verse 1. He further states: “their damnation slumbereth not,” verse 3. He goes on. “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you,” verses 12-13.
Who can stay silent in the face of such a plague that is bringing millions of beguiled souls to hell! Is it any wonder we seek to try to obey the call of God to “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins,” Isaiah 58:1.
3. What will be the end of those servants of God who fail to warn as they should. Ezekiel tells us what that will be.
“Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: if when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me,” Ezekiel 33:1-7.
This ought to make every true servant of God to tremble lest they fail in their duty.
III. THE METHODS OF FALSE PROPHETS.
They have all the cunning marks of their ‘master’! Their ways are ‘pernicious ways’, verse 2. They use “feigned words”, verse 3. They “are not afraid to speak evil . . .” verse 10.
Paul the apostle spoke of the same evil men. “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived,” 2 Timothy 3:13.
Their purpose is not to benefit those whom they speak to or bring them profit. No, they desire to “make merchandise of you . . . .” The term means to make profit for themselves by misleading those they seek to influence. That is their true motive. They are ‘self-seekers’, looking out for their own profit.
The Lord has said this of himself. “Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go,” Isaiah 48:17. Furthermore, He warns: “Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit,” Jeremiah 7:8.
God speaks for the profit of men. Even so it is with His true servants.
“And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction,” 1 Corinthians 7:35.
The true preacher directs his hearers to that which will bring a rich harvest of good in time and eternity.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” Philippians 4:8.
IV. THE SUCCESS OF THE FALSE PROPHET.
“And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of,” 2 Peter 2:2.
1. Does it not show the appetite that men have for that which sinful; and opposed to God? This is because of man’s true nature. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Hebrew – ‘incurably): who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9.
Among the orthodox doctrines false prophets deny is that of mankind’s total depravity. The denial of this truth is, of course, in order to facilitate the advancing of their lies. As the burglar will seek to de-activate any alarm on the premises he hopes to rob, so these deceivers wish to hide the fact that mankind has a propensity to welcome the lie in preference to the truth!
Having done that, there is not the alertness to what the false prophet might preach that there ought to be.
2. I believe that there is to be found amongst God’s people, including ministers, a casualness regarding falsehoods. There is not the examination of men’s characters that there ought to be before they are given access to pulpits. Casual language, littered with modern clichés and ’street language’, is heard in the pulpits whereas there should be every effort made to use the precise language of the ‘chiefest of the sciences’, theology. If the Bible were more diligently read and studied its glorious terminology would be echoed in the pulpit. We are thus exhorted.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord,” Colossians 3:16.
What is given a chief place in our hearts will be uttered through our lips. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” Proverbs 23:7.
3. We see before our eyes today the success of the false prophet. If we look no further than our own province, that success is very obvious. I became a Christian at a time when Ulster was being stirred by the warnings of Dr Ian Paisley regarding the errors and deceits of the ecumenical churches. He rightly pointed out that ministers were increasingly ‘taking orthodox money to destroy orthodox doctrine’. Ministers, of all three main denominations, Presbyterian, Church of Ireland (Anglican) and Methodist churches were blithely swearing oaths to uphold the doctrines their churches once believed and then going to their pulpits to preach the opposite!
I was amongst those Free Presbyterian ministers who aided Dr Paisley in his campaign. Many were the challenges to debates issued to ecumenical church ministers back then to refute the allegation that the. Free Presbyterian Church was making BUT no ecumenists ever responded.
I recall an incident when the late Dr Alan Cairns and I were invited by a group of students at Queens University, Belfast, to come along and debate with two Irish Presbyterian ministers on the subject of ‘Ecumenism’. One of those ecumenical ministers was the late Dr Alfie Martin, made moderator at the General Assembly in 1966 at which the Free Presbyterian Church protested, the result of which was the jailing of Dr Paisley, John Wylie and myself.
When Dr Martin heard that I was to take part, he and his companion withdrew. He claimed that I might call him ‘old red socks’!!!
Now that was rather a feeble, frivolous basis for refusing to meet us in debate.
The truth was ‘Doctor of Divinity or not, he could not have refuted the assertions of the Free Presbyterian Church regarding the chicanery of himself and his fellow ecumenists!
4. However, they don’t tend to run away and hide today! Brazenness marks the apostasy! Every foul lie of hell may be heard open;y proclaimed and defended in the churches and colleges dominated Ecumenism!
Archbishops, bishops, moderators, presidents — all have publicly affiliated themselves with the errors of the devil, insisting that they be seen as the truth of God.
The most fundamental of truths are denied. I recall preaching on the subject: “Has man a soul and is there a hell?”. I was answering the evil lies of one, Archbishop Habgood, Archbishop of York, back some 30 years ago on 13th November 1994. You can hardly get a more comprehensive denial of truth than that from one who would claim to be a ‘shepherd of God’s flock’! I say that and yet, I am sure if I were to delve into the records of so-called ministers’ blasphemies and denials of truth, I likely would meet up with worse. The following headline shows I would indeed! Two per cent of Anglican priests don’t believe in God, survey finds. That headline comes from nine years ago! I wonder what is the percentage now of those taking money under false pretences?
Two outstanding blasphemous false prophecies are yet to come. “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not,” Matthew 24:26. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God,” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.
The first of these is that which will mark the near approach of Christ, uttered by satanic deceivers in order to bring confusion and false hope. The other is that of the Antichrist himself who, among other things, is a false prophet. He will declare that he is ‘God’ and in him men shall find all that that they need and desire.
The latter prophecy will likewise come just prior to the return of Christ.
V. THE FUTURE OF THE FALSE PROPHET.
Let me close with this solemn truth. Few men ever give thought to their future in the light of God’s Word. Rather, they bask in the false warmth of a deceit conjured up by themselves or embraced from someone as blind and foolish as themselves! It is commonly believed that all go to heaven when they die, even atheists!
Here is what the present Pope has said on this matter. Do Atheists Go to Heaven? Pope Francis Says Yes. Well now, that is something that the Lord seems ignorant of! Peter here, he who the Pope believes was the first Pope and whose teachings he claims to perpetuates, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says this of those who propagate that which is contrary to the truth of God. Peter says that they “bring upon themselves swift destruction . . . ,” verse 1. Furthermore, he emphasises this truth in verse 3. “Whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”
Peter reinforces his assertion by referring to the past deeds of God toward the ungodly.
“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly . . . . The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished,” 2:4-6, 9.
Peter leaves the matter beyond misapprehension with these words, “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness,” verses 12-13.
Such blindness and self-deception can only exist where the Word of God has been silenced and its earnest warnings to sinners obliterated from hearts and minds.
It behoves God’s servants today, as never before, to say with the Psalmist: “I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation,” Psalm 40:9-10.
It is a day for preachers to see their calling in the language God used to Jeremiah.
“But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. . . . Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee,” Jeremiah 1:7-10, 17-19.
The cost may be high, as it was indeed for faithful Jeremiah, but the Saviour’s “ Well done, thou good and faithful servant . . . . enter thou into the joy of thy lord,”
Matthew 25:21, will be reward enough and more, much more!
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
1st December 2023