This is a follow-on from yesterday: it is the same passage, and the message is going to be even more unpalatable. There are a three stigmata of the false prophet here, and I am going to deal with them, below the post. These occur at all times, but at the end of an age, in the fading of an empire such behaviour stops being damned and is praised.
How do you know it is the end of an empire? It sounds like Cohen. When telling the truth is now subversion, and standing against evil a revolutionary act, and the people are encouraged to indulge in their vices.
This passage runs directly on from yesterday. It is clear that the preachers here are prepared to speak of what they do not go, and boldly speculate where even those with greater knowledge refrain from commenting, making judgement of God in the name of that they call God.
They may call it religion, but the only power they are interested in is their own.
and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
Bold and willful, 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. 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. 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. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
(2 Peter 2:10-16 ESV)
OK: three signs.
They tolerate sexual immorality. In their life, or in their congregation. They may be gay, they may be straight: they are generally sleeping with their mistress or homme du jour as well as whomever their life partner is. They talk about inclusion, justice and mercy, and not the need to be morally straight. They lack mercy and compassion for the broken: those of us in the pews who were married but the other has left. When one is wanting to fornicate with another, but choosing not to for Christ, they allow into leadership those who live in fornication. Where the rainbow flag of homosexuality flies, there is generally heresy .
They prey on the vulnerable. They may be morally straight, but they desire power and worship of a dependant congregation. They will feed the damaged pretty lies. They will appease the guilty conscience of women living in brokenness, naming their sinful state an improvement in their spirituality. They will say they are like Paul, and you should imitate their life. They use market research to craft their sermons. These people preach against offending, and not sin: they will not tolerate godly sorrow or call for repentance, and they measure success by the size of their congregation not the number with saving faith.
They desire worldly goods. Not the necessary (food, a rood, clothing) or the wanted (access to a research library, education for your children, and a true marriage) but bling. They preach prosperity instead of suffering. They call us to be comfortable instead of comforting others. They imply that the reason you struggle and are disappointed is due to lack of faith .
Peter reserves his scorn and condemnation not for the pagans who are about to kill him, nor for the society he lived in with its injustice, slavery, and corruption. He held it for those who preached falsehood in the name of Christ. And so should we. The times are eerily similar.
1. I would add they have no empathy with those men and women who desire the same-sex, and choose to sacrifice this desire for the sake of Christ. They do not allow the rules that keep celibate communities celibate. This is being wilfully cruel, for the man with a conscience who has placed himself under self-control needs to be praised, not told he is repressed and needs to come out of the closet.
2. I reserve my scorn for those who do this. I have seen many people of faith die — despite prayers. I have seen people without faith be prayed upon and healed. And I have seen well-meaning people tell the mad and the despairing that is all due to their lack of faith, making the suicidal feel that they are damned. I spend most of my week with these people; they are the bleakly courageous, despite all this.