But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you… (2 Peter 2:1)
In the early church there was joy and sound doctrine, but false prophets—spiritual con artists—soon arose, like those we have today. In his second letter Peter calls them “sick dogs and dirty hogs” (2:22), hucksters of the Gospel.
A false prophet knows the Gospel, refuses the Gospel, opposes the Gospel, then tries to replace the Gospel. An apostate doesn’t simply drift away; he deliberately makes an anti-Gospel decision. He’s not merely mistaken but willfully wicked. Peter uses the word “turn.”For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they had known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. (v. 21)When you choose against the truth, you go deeper into bondage and become worse off than one who has never heard truth.
Peter knew the destructive power of a lie. It’s bad to tell a lie, worse to teach a lie, but monstrous to teach a lie about God. There’s a fire burning in Peter. He minces no words describing apostates as plastic preachers and pseudo prophets. Our world is full of them, and unstable souls are beguiled by them.
“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” (v. 3). The word feigned comes from the Greek word plastos where we get “plastic” from, and pseudo is where our word “false” comes from. Pseudo prophets and plastic preachers make merchandise of the Gospel. What do plastic preachers produce? Counterfeit Christians. Peter is so upset, he describes them as sick dogs or as hogs that, once clean, return to the mud. They present three perils for the unsuspecting.
“These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest” (v. 17). Waterless wells and dusty clouds—what a contrast to the water of life and the Shekinah glory cloud.
Apostates promise much but give little to a thirsty soul. We have an innate thirst for God, but if we go to their well, it is dry. Jesus said, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst…” (John 4:14). He will never leave you thirsty.
“…to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever” (2 Peter 2:17).
They are headed for the outer darkness Jesus described in Matthew 8:12, “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
“For when they speak great swelling words of vanity” (v. 18), they are pompous windbags, teaching splendid nonsense. Dry wells, dusty clouds, deep darkness. Apostates endanger you with disappointment, deception, and damnation.
“…they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness” (v. 18).
False teachers beguile (v. 14) and allure (v. 18), winning converts like a fisherman with a lure. The devil baits his hook with the lusts of the flesh. False teachers know the power of the old nature’s appetites—lures that catch unstable souls. Their great words of vanity deliver the bait. Masters of manipulation, “with feigned (plastic) words,” Dr. Sounding Brass and Professor Tinkling Cymbal are spellbinding.
What about the poor fish? False prophets don’t bother with out-and-out sinners. They look for unstable souls many of which are new Christians. Apostates approach those just beginning to leave the old way and enter the new. The devil knows they’re not yet stabilized in the faith.
“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption” (v. 19).
To the fish, part of the bait is liberty (“have it your way”), but it leads to enslavement. Plastic preachers and pseudo prophets offer a message of freedom. But the devil doesn’t set free; he enslaves. He doesn’t want casualties, he wants converts—slaves to money, pride, the flesh, and almost always some sort of sexual immorality—saying, “Just follow me. I’m going to give you liberty.” Sin promises freedom but brings bondage.
“Sick dogs and dirty hogs” are on the hunt. When we bring someone to Jesus, it’s critical to stabilize these saints, helping them grow in grace and knowledge. We must not “just get saved,” but grow. If not, we’re likely to get a hook in our jaw.