May 10, 2015
"Where Your True Friends At?"
[2 Peter 2:10b-22]
Pastor Brendon Wu
[2 Peter 2:10b-22]
Pastor Brendon Wu
Recently, I moved. And every time I move there’s this little piece of green paper that was ripped out from one of those calendar type things where each day there’s a saying from different famous people. It’s from May 5, 2008 where Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only way to have a friend is to be one”. I think that’s always really stuck with me. If you know anything about moving, the more useless stuff you have the harder it is to move but for some reason I can’t get rid of this little piece of paper. When we read this passage today, there’s an intention Peter has behind this passage. This isn’t a spook story. Peter’s not trying to creep us out or going mad or something. I’m saying these things because I really struggled and wrestled and am still wrestling with the passage that we have. It says a lot of things that I think are very hard for us to hear about. But when I think about why Peter is writing – this is a man who knows what it’s like to betray Jesus but also a man who knows what it’s like to be redeemed and loved by Jesus. As Peter is about to die, he’s writing this whole letter to constantly remind us of the truth that we are established in. That was back in chapter 1:12. That we know the qualities we are supposed to have and that we are established in truth that we are supposed to have.
The purpose of Peter’s warnings
Throughout the whole 2nd chapter, he’s talking about false teachers. He’s talking about false prophets to warn us. One thing that really stuck with me from chapter 1 was how when Peter is writing, he was remembering and recounting a time where he was with Jesus Christ. Jesus told Peter, James, and John to come with Him and they witnessed the Transfiguration. God booming from heaven looked at Jesus Christ as He was radiant, more radiant than anything in this whole world and God from heaven said to Jesus Christ, “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased”. For me, I’ve never heard anything so optimistic, so positive, so joyful, so joy-giving. To the point where a lot of you guys jokingly accuse me that this is my favorite verse because I talk about it a lot. I don’t really have a favorite verse but this is one that has really been connecting with me. I think this is one of the things Peter really wants to tell us is that in Jesus Christ, God says to us, “You are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter, with whom I am well pleased.” Now that is an amazing truth that comes from the Bible that we have to cherish and protect so much. I think that’s why I’m realizing more and more that Peter spends this whole middle chunk of just three chapters in 2nd Peter, talking about false prophets and false teachers. If you didn’t get a chance to hear last week’s sermon by Pastor Kenny, I suggest you please listen to it. It was really crucial. But today we start off from verse 10b where Peter gets into very detailed description of false teachers who don’t really know the truth and can lead us astray.
As we read this, one of the things I am reminded of is how when I was growing up, my mom was very concerned about the types of friends I made. When I was young I didn’t really understand but as I grew older, I started to appreciate her advice more. But it was usually after I had made really bad friends and did things I regretted. But Peter is trying to forewarn about the types of people that we should associate and try to become like. I just want to say upfront as I was reading about false prophets, we can’t get around the fact when in a great way – that’s all of us. Because we tell ourselves a lot of lies. We tell each other a lot of lies. It seems that the only way to really be a friend nowadays is not to really be a friend but to be someone who is compromising. To be someone who is tolerant and turns a blind eye. Or just say the things that other people agree with. But the more I think about this in light, especially in light of who God is, when God sees us in trouble, when God sees us not that close to Him, turning to things other than God’s word and church, God doesn’t just turn a blind eye. But He focuses so much of His attention, so much of His sight onto our lives. And not only looks at it and witnesses it, but wants to speak to us about it. That’s what this word here is doing for us today.
“When God sees us in trouble, when God sees us not that close to Him, turning to things other than God’s word and church, God doesn’t just turn a blind eye. But He focuses so much of His attention, so much of His sight onto our lives. And not only looks at it and witnesses it, but wants to speak to us about it.”
It starts off with saying that “bold and willful”, there are false teachers and a lot of times us, we don’t tremble, “they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord”. If you remember a few weeks ago, Peter was talking about how we are supposed to supplement our faith. By supplement it means to add onto our faith with virtue that leads to knowledge, that leads to self-control, and then steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. And as I was reading this, I was realizing that he also wants to show us that certain things lead us to other things. What it starts off with is pride. Us focusing on ourselves, thinking that we’re the most important beings. Bold, proud, and arrogant. Proud to the point where Peter says that we have a pride that we could blaspheme angels. Meaning, we think that we can judge angels. And if we think we can judge angels than how many of us could judge God? But Peter says even angels, though they are greater than us in might and power, they don’t pronounce a judgment onto us before God. Even though they are more powerful and greater than us, they don’t even look down and pronounce a judgment on us. They leave that to God. Yet, we think we could be like God and judge everyone, including ourselves. I think a lot of times when it starts with our pride, we tell ourselves who we are or who we think we should be. And we expect other people to be in certain types of ways. And it’s just a lot of judgment thinking this person isn’t that smart, that person is not that fun to be around with. But that’s a lot of pride for us to say things like that when we don’t realize that even though we’re total sinners, God loves us entirely and 100%. So it starts with pride and then it leads to being like irrational animals. I didn’t come up with this. Peter came up with this, inspired by the Holy Spirit. How many of us like being animals? I don’t really know a lot about animals because my mom need let us have a dog or cat. The only thing is when I was growing up my mom gave me a CD rom to learn a lot about the speed, strength, prowess about different kinds of animals. But when Peter talks about animals, unfortunately he is not talking about them in a very commendable way. He says, “But 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, suffering 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.” As a I was reading this, I was just thinking – man, let the word just speak for itself. There’s so much description. How many times have you noticed that when your focus or your gaze or trust is not on Jesus Christ, it’s so easy to be like an animal. But I’m talking about the sense that Peter, God Himself says “creatures of instinct”. We just do the first thing that comes to our mind. There’s no word of God. There’s no turning to a brother or sister for help and asking them for what they think is right. There’s no going to God for prayer, but we are just right off the bat born in our sin. There’s not escaping this. Born to be caught and destroyed. This reminds me of King David when he was saying in Psalm 51 that when we was born, he was born in iniquity. In His mother’s womb. That’s just crazy. A lot of us when we see a newborn baby, we’re like “Oh, they’re so cute!”. But I think don’t parents or us would look at a newborn baby and say, “Oh, born in sin you creature of instinct. You animal!”.
But God has the audacity and the love and courage to tell us, we’re born like this. We’re born so far from thinking. And yet in our generation we think that we’re thinking people. We think that we know how to be a friend, a son, a daughter, father, mother, neighbor, Christian. But we’re ignorant, set apart from God’s word. Without God’s word, we don’t know how to be any of these things. Because it’s God who designed all these things with His thought. And that’s something that we have to come back to. We can no longer assume and keep thinking that we know how to be a good friend. We need to turn to Jesus Christ who created friendship in the first place. And God has the courage to just say things for what they are. That when we try to be a friend by our own thinking and how we believe things should go, that we become blots and blemishes. We taint what’s a good pattern and way God has created. It says, “They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.” So that pride leads us to animalistic instinct where we just do whatever we think is right even though it could be really wrong. And then at the same time we’re just feasting with other people. That leads to lust and then that leads to greed. “They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray.” I think when I read this, I have to keep reminding myself that this is coming from a loving father who is saying that a lot of times, our eyes, the way we look at the world comes with lust. “Enticing unsteady souls.” Meaning, God is not enough for us. Lust is when God is not enough for us. When God’s word and God’s church is not enough for us and we have to chase after other things – approval that might not be God’s, certain friends.
This is something that is very practical that as a church we’ve been constantly trying to really work out. Meaning, a lot of times it’s not good for us to be with certain people. It’s so hard for us to hear that. In our church, because of scripture, a lot of times Pastor Kenny and I or other leaders will notice certain relationships or certain friendships where it’s just a bad mix. On the outside it seems so cruel to say that two people can’t be friends. But I’m thinking more and more – what if those two people had the same exact addictions. Anybody with common sense, Christian or non-Christian, would know that if two people are caught in the same exact addictions then they are going to get destroyed by it. There’s no one there to be objective and help them out of it. I think that’s why a lot of times in church it’s a good thing for us not to be besties with somebody. A lot of times we hear, “If you have insecurities, don’t hang out with insecure people”. I’m constantly being asked about that. But if someone who is not doing well hangs out with someone who is not doing well, how can they truly be friends and help one another? If they don’t talk to one another and hang out, they just remain down and where they are. If they do talk to one another and all their focus and all they have is each other, they just spiral down. And Jesus Christ said things like that about the Pharisees because the Pharisees only hung out with people just like them. They thought they were so good. The blind just leads the blind. That’s why I am so challenged at church to not only hang out with people who are like me. It’s incredible thinking about how the whole reason why two people maybe shouldn’t talk with one another is so that they can be friends in the future. Not friends now but friends in the future once they get introduced to only one who could really save them with His word and that’s Jesus. It happened in my life. There were times where I hung out with someone or a group of people 24/7 and it totally consumed me. Scripture just knew what I was going through. They entice unsteady souls. Not a soul that was enraptured by Christ and had security. And neither did I. And all we did was use each other, use each other. Insatiable, couldn’t be controlled. We were trained in greed. But it’s really that we trained each other like that. At church, the hope, the amazing thing is that we’re getting trained by God’s word in redemption. Redemption from all these different things. We’re all addicts here. and the hope we have is that we don’t need to just hang out with people who are just like us to be comfortable. But we’re here because we need Jesus. Someone who is entirely different from all of us. Someone who won’t just turn a blind eye and tell us things what we want Him to say. But Jesus Christ who says things like this, to turn us back to Him. To save us.
“If two people are caught in the same exact addictions, then they are going to get destroyed by it. There’s no one there to be objective and help them out of it… That’s why I am so challenged at church to not only hang out with people who are like me. It’s incredible thinking about how the whole reason why two people maybe shouldn’t talk with one another is so that they can be friends in the future. Not friends now but friends in the future once they get introduced to only one who could really save them with His word and that’s Jesus.”
In verse 17 Peter starts to describe false prophets like waterless springs. “These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” I just talking with a group of guys earlier and just different people this past week about how a lot of people judge Christianity. A lot of people judge our faith because they think that going to church or following God’s word is something that really tames you or domesticates you. Or restricts you from being free, doing a lot of things that you want to do. But when I was thinking about this, when we’re just living by our passions and just our emotions, there seems to be that promise of freedom. That you can be just emotionally however you want. But then if we ask ourselves, are we truly free? I don’t think we would be able to say that we’re truly free.
For whatever reason a lot of times when we think of freedom, we think of it as doing whatever we want to do. But I was just so encouraged this past week when in different Bible studies and conversations, different people were mentioning how Jesus Christ could do something this amazing. Or this powerful. But He chose to do it in a very small ordinary way. That just made me think about who we are. It’s true. Church probably cannot stop us. Forcibly, physically we could do want we want. But we’re not here because we have to. But we should be here because we want to. We could do a lot of these different things that we want to do. But a lot of the freedom comes when we choose not to do these different things. A lot of times we get angry – a bad anger where we feel restricted. What I’m really encouraged by in scripture is that it doesn’t say, “Do this certain method and then your anger will be gone”. But scripture says go to Jesus Christ. Repent to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ teaches us how to love out of the love He has for us. That’s a true freedom. That Christ would love us and that that love would transform us. It’s not just us telling ourselves, “Don’t party, don’t hang out with this group of people, don’t do this don’t do that.” But Jesus Christ is constantly pointing us to the love that He has for us. So it’s not like, “If you do this, then there’s going to be negative points or penalties.” I think that’s a lot of times at any church how we think of Christianity. Like, “Oh man, if I do this then someone’s going to talk to me or something”. Or “If I do that, someone’s going to rebuke me or yell at me”. Jesus Christ is really not interested in strictly just telling us what a bad person we are. But Jesus Christ wants to point us to how much grace how we has for us. Even when we sinned. And it’s that grace that frees us from our sin and cause us to not want to continue in that pattern – in our pride, being like an animal, lust, greed. It’s the point where when we look at what Peter says next, this is just an amazing thing. Peter says, “For if after you have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
“But Jesus Christ wants to point us to how much grace how we has for us. Even when we sinned. And it’s that grace that frees us from our sin and cause us to not want to continue in that pattern – in our pride, being like an animal, lust, greed.”
Loving and serious warning to not turn from His grace
I know out of just face value when I read this, man that sounds so condemning. Doesn’t it? It sounds so negative thinking. Like, “Oh, I can know Jesus Christ for a moment but then if I go back to my old ways then God, are you just telling me that I’m just trash and that I’m condemned? Are you just trying to condemn me by pointing this out to me? But like I said at the beginning of this who message is we have to remember that what God wishes to say to us is, “You are my beloved son. You are my beloved daughter, with whom I am well pleased”. So when He is saying all this, He doesn’t want us to act in a way where we don’t know how loved we are by Him. Where we act in a way where the cross doesn’t mean anything to us. Like we’re just animals. Like where the cross where Jesus Christ became a human doesn’t mean anything to us. God is saying these things to us because He loves us and wants us to come to repentance. He loves us enough to say something so hard to hear. This is I think really hard to hear. That man God you would say things like, it would have been better for us to never have known you if we just hear about you and then turn back from Him? So what is God’s intention? God’s intention is that He wants us to really see that if we hear God’s word and if we’re here and we have any glimpse and taste of Jesus and His grace for us, we can’t turn back. We can’t turn back from this grace that God has given us. This is the worse possible thing that we could do.
I think when I think about this practically, what does it mean to turn back? Meaning, aren’t there times God where I spiritually just stumble or fall? Where I just mess up. I told myself, told you, told other people that I wouldn’t do this again. But it happened. God what do I do in that moment? Is the verdict done? Am I just an accursed child? Am I one of these? I think if we do that, we’re forgetting that the cross has a permanent, eternal, everlasting effect on us. This is the part where I just rejoice in. “Whew God, I just read some of the most heaviest stuff I read in scripture. I know you said this out of your love as a loving Father. You are warning me. But thank you at the same time that because of your son Jesus Christ, you remind me that no matter how much I sin, it’s not about me. It’s about you Jesus. It has to be about you.” This whole chapter started with saying that if we deny the Master who bought us, we’re false prophets. We’re a false teacher. We’re a false Christian. The one thing that cannot change is Jesus Christ. And knowing that, the most loving master and friend in the whole world bought us with His life. Jesus Christ bought us with His life. His life, His death, His resurrection. Blood. Everything. Jesus Christ loves us so much that He gave us His whole life for us. This past weekend my wife and I moved. The thing that I was saying to her yesterday after a long and tiring day was that I just feel so overwhelmed. So blessed that no matter what changes in our lives, we can move here or there. Money, smoney. Even health. What remains permanent and stays in our lives is Jesus Christ and the people He’s put. It’s God and people. Relationships built upon God’s word. I was so blessed and encouraged that no matter what happens, there’s brothers and sisters that God’s put in my life. I could be having the best day of my life but Jesus Christ and church needs to matter to me. I could be having the worst day of my life. Jesus Christ and church have been given to me by God. I don’t have to turn back to whatever my old ways were. Not thinking or just thinking about myself. Lusting and just going after something I shouldn’t be going after. Because of the fact that there’s something better than my vomit. There’s something better than my past and that’s the future that God just desires to give me and give us in Jesus Christ.
“God wishes to say to us is, “You are my beloved son. You are my beloved daughter, with whom I am well pleased”. So when He is saying all this, He doesn’t want us to act in a way where we don’t know how loved we are by Him. Where we act in a way where the cross doesn’t mean anything to us… I think if we do that, we’re forgetting that the cross has a permanent, eternal, everlasting effect on us.”
I just want to end with asking and encouraging you – Do you look forward to your future? Is your future in Jesus Christ? Who is your true friend? Is it Jesus Christ and the brothers and sisters that He brought into your life? Is this your true family? Is this the group of people that you really want to spend the rest of eternity with? If that’s the case then there’s a commitment to Jesus Christ. We can’t just be like, “Yeah, I’m going to spend eternity with these different people at church but I never want to talk with them that much throughout the week. Or at all.” That doesn’t add up. And I just hope and pray that you would read this. That this would really show you how just sinful you are and can be but at the same time don’t stop there. Go to the cross. God doesn’t want us to perish but wants us to reach repentance and know our love and joy is found in Him.