Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 13th - Righteous Indignation

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Text – 2 Peter 2, Matthew 23

As we continue our look at false teachers I want to take a brief step outside of 2 Peter 2 to see how Jesus handled false teachers, because last week we saw that Peter got MAD at these greedy liars, and I want to ask you the question today, are we justified in getting mad?

Psalm 4:4 Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.

It is more than possible to be angry without sinning, if we look at Psalm 7 and about 89 other Psalms, we see that God is angry with the wicked everyday. But we need to ponder our motives and make sure we’re angry for the right reasons, and not just because we have been wronged, but because Christ and his church have been wronged.

Before we watch Matthew 23, let’s see how we’ve gotten to this point. We’re working our way through Second Peter, so let’s look at it.

Who wrote Second Peter? Peter.

Was this written early in his life or late? Late.

What are the four main purposes of this letter? To know how you’re a Christian, to know where to look to find out about God, to beware of false teachers, and to trust in Christ that he will ultimately win.

How do you know you’re a Christian? Your faith in the resurrected Christ is bearing fruit.

Where do we look to find out about God? The Bible.

Anywhere else? Dreams? Visions? No.

What are the two major distinctives of a false prophet? Greed and sexual deviancy.

Something new, do we have the authority to name names and call a false teacher out? Yes. Some want to play the Matthew 18 card on calling out false teachers, but that passage on church discipline is totally about when you are personally wronged, you don’t have to know someone to declare them to be an antichrist, as evidenced by John calling out Diotrephes:

3 John 1:9-10 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

A false teacher I failed to mention last week is Jesse Duplantis, this man is without a doubt one of the most wicked false prophets operating today. He isn’t the most popular because he’s quite flamboyant and weird and so far people are avoiding him, but he is blatant in his lies about God. For example, he preaches on Adam naming the animals in Genesis 2 and says God didn’t know what the animals were and needed Adam to tell him. He also claims to have gone to Heaven like the Apostle Paul; where Paul was all humble about it and says he can’t describe what he saw, Jesse is blatant and describes what he supposedly saw with impossible details. It is astonishing that people will believe stuff like this, because it is radically opposite what the Bible teaches.

But which comes first? The false prophet or the people who will listen to a false prophet? A little of both; Paul says the wickedness of people comes first and they heap to themselves false prophets who will tickle their ears. However, we also see false teachers arising apart from a church and trying to pull people away from the truth.

Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

So how do we respond to these false prophets? Should we give them hugs and overlook their blasphemies and just assume they are Christians? I got into a huge argument this week with someone who thinks Joel Osteen is just a really confused Christian, but a Christian none-the-less. Joel Osteen is an antichrist, he is not only on the broad road to destruction, he is a tour guide on that path.

Others include the false prophet Mohammed (who had a six-year old wife), Oprah, Ghandi, Pope Benedict, and a thousand others who are murdering souls.

So we get mad, like Peter, and as we’re going to see now, like Christ. A little bit of context first: the main false prophets of Jesus’ day were the Pharisees, these guys took the law, which is meant to point us to a Saviour, and twisted it to make it seem like they could go to Heaven by it. The Bible says to keep the Word at the forefront of your mind.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Instead of keeping the commandments of God at the forefront of their minds, they tie it to their head. It’s pharisaical in the most literal sense of the word, that they display their own righteousness in the most blatant of ways, utterly missing the true intent of what the Bible means.

Watch Matthew 23 from the Matthew Visual Bible

Matthew 23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you— but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.' You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

It sort of kills the whole girly boy Jesus persona, doesn’t it? We’re talking about eternal souls and the glory of Christ here, we need to get mad when it is warranted. Check out one of God’s most cutting questions to self-righteous Job:

Job 40:7-8 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?

Will we condemn God to justify ourselves? Will we lie about him for earthly riches? We must not, for what does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose their soul?

(Skipped for Time) Let’s look at one of Peter’s case-studies:

2 Peter 2:15
Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing,

Balaam was a sorcerer turned prophet; the king of Moab came to him to pay him to curse Israel. Balaam hired himself out but God wouldn’t let Balaam to curse Israel. Balaam was told not to go, but went anyways; his greed overlooked the direct command of God. Balaam didn’t really gain anything of lasting substance, and ultimately died in battle as an enemy of God:

Joshua 13:22
Balaam also, the son of Beor, the one who practiced divination, was killed with the sword by the people of Israel among the rest of their slain.

So these false prophets are assured of destruction, and they lead many astray. Paul really points at this well when he’s talking about the fruits of repentance, naming that anger against sin and justice against sinners is one of those fruits.

2 Corinthians 7:10-11 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.

Two of the fruits of our salvation are a desire to see justice done, and to be angry over sin. Peter doesn’t explicitly list these in his grouping of fruits, although I think you can make the argument that these fit quite comfortably under virtue.

One of the places this manifests itself most clearly, which is definitely keeping with Peter’s intent, is in doctrinal purity and standing against those who presume to speak for God but tell lies about him and claim to receive extrabiblical information. These are the people who say, “God told me…” or “God is leading me to…”, and we get angry about their false teaching because that is NOT how God works today according to 2 Peter 1, where he has left us his perfect will through the Bible.

Jesus cleansed the temple, Paul stood in front of kings and the Caesar, James preached from the top of the temple when told to recant his beliefs, Peter and John were beaten for preaching Christ and afterwards they went and preached Christ some more. In history we see John Knox standing up to Mary Queen of Scots and making her cry, we see beautiful counsels like the one at Dort which condemned the heresy of Free Will, we see the fight for the Southern Baptist Convention to bring it back to biblical authority. The SBC is literally the only denomination to have died theologically and then later to see a resurgence in conservative and biblical principles.

And which doctrines do we stand up for? Do we pretend that there are essentials and non-essentials, or do we stand on biblical authority. Jesus was mad in Mark for people using the temple complex as a short-cut, something minor was worth him standing for. John Calvin had a group come to him called the Libertines, these were people who believed that since Christ paid for all of their sins, they should sin all the more so that grace would further abound. Their lack of holiness showed their lack of conversion. They came to Calvin wanting to take communion. He positioned himself between them and the table and told them in order to get to the bread and wine they would have to kill him.

Every doctrine is essential and worth fighting over. Jesus played no stupid games of “Let’s just agree to disagree.” He instead requires people to seek the truth or perish in their sins.

John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.

(Skipped for Time) So lastly let’s look briefly at verses 5-9 in Second Peter and whether or not this whole ordeal of false teachers is inside of or outside of Christ’s ultimate plan, whether or not we will all die in our sins or if he is able to save.

2 Peter 2:5-9
if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,

Peter gives two awesome examples of the world going astray after wickedness, following ungodliness, and shows that in these debacles he saved exactly whom he intended to save.

Genesis 6:5
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Before the flood things were TERRIBLE, we don’t have specifics, but we know that everything done was only evil. Today we are exactly the same except for a tiny small remnant of believers who are able to do good through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are like Noah in my favorite verse,

Genesis 6:8
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

And though God put an end to the ungodly, he brought Noah and his family through the flood. He saved exactly whom he intended to save. Peter really loves the Noah story, he mentions it three times and really uses it to make his points well.

We will be saved through baptism into death just as Noah was saved through the flood; just as the flood came upon everyone, so does death come to everyone, but since Noah was in the ark and we are in the Ark of Jesus Christ, we will arrive safely on the other side while the ungodly utterly perish.

Then check out Sodom and Gomorrah, we’re going to spend a whole lot of time on this next week, but just to make the point that Peter is making, both of those cities were totally destroyed, yet Lot who lived there was saved because God wanted him saved.

God is able to rescue us in the midst of the same things that put an end to the unrighteous, even the wickedness of false prophets. So your application is to make your calling and election sure, to make sure you are saved in Christ, then live out a Christlike life which is permeated with love of righteousness and anger over wickedness, which is charitable and humble and watchful and active, loving justice and mercy, seeking the godly repentance that leads to life, both in yourself and in those whom you minister to.