The question came up while studying about the false teachers foretold in 2 Peter chapter 2, were the people deceived by these heresies ever really saved or not? I personally, when I read the passage, take it as a warning For us believers not to get sucked into the deception and fall away. The Bible has a great deal to say about the apostasy, or falling away (2 Thes. 2:3), in the last days. I did interject however that there were those who would view the ones so deceived by such teachings as having never been saved. And then, I read a key phrase at the end of chapter 2 in the New Living Translation. Follow my brief skeleton outline.
There will be false teachers among you who cleverly teaching destructive heresies even denying the Lord that bought them (2:1). Many will follow their evil teachings and shameful immorality. Because of them the way of truth will be slandered. In their greed they will think up clever lies to get a hold of your money (2:3). These false teacher are like unthinking animals who follow their natural instincts and scoff at what they do not understand (such as the teachings of Christ’s imminent Return (3:3)).
-They commit adultery with their eyes; their desire for sin is never satisfied.
-They allure UNSTABLE people into sin.
-They wander off the RIGHT ROAD and follow the footsteps of Balaam who loved to earn money by doing what is wrong.
-They boast about themselves.
-With an appeal to twisted sexual desires (sensual passions of the flesh), they allure BACK INTO SIN those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception (from those who live in error according to some translations).
-They promise liberty but they themselves are slaves to sin and corruption. (For your are a slave to whatever controls you. This is the key to discerning these end time heresies, for the gospel of Christ is an overcoming gospel).
When people escape from the wickedness of the world through the knowledge of Jesus (see 2 Peter 1:1-4 about partaking of the divine nature through His great and precious promises) and get tangled up and enslaved in sin AGAIN, they are worse off than before (2:20). It would have been better for them not to have known the WAY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS than to have known it and THEN REJCT THE COMMANDMENT THEY WERE GIVEN TO LIVE A HOLY LIVE (2:21).
In conclusion, while there are always potentially impostures within our congregations that are not truly saved, Peter’s concern here obviously was/is for the believers, and more specifically for those who have “barely escaped” from the entanglements of the world, who could possibly be sucked into these damnable teachings. This becomes obvious when he warns of getting tangled and enslaved again to the ways of world. And finally the clincher is when he says, It would have been better for the person not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and “THEN REJECT THE COMMANDMENT THEY WERE GIVEN TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE” (2:21). This was not a special command given just to the people who received Peter’s letter, for we got the same commandment as they did: “For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). To me that sums up the real problem with the end time deception, you can get all the benefits of the gospel but reject the command to live holy! This is indeed a damnable heresy and one that Peter predicts will increase more and more before Jesus returns.
And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing[a] their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. Matt. 9:2-8 ESV
In this powerful lesson on healing, it would appear that Jesus was just ‘messin’ with religious crowd that day to get a reaction out of them. But after a closer examination, we must conclude that although this was (and still is) upsetting for those of a religious mindset, this question must be answered in order to understand and receive the healing that God so desires us to have. The paralytic was brought to Jesus by his friends to be healed, but Jesus saw their faith and told the man that his sins were forgiven. Judging from the fact that Jesus always cut through the chase and got to the root of the problem, we know that his mention of sin was not a mistake, but in fact, it was the real problem. But still, we would be missing the point if we stopped there. At this point, doubts and questions from the crowd must have risen to a crescendo. Having located the paralytic, now Jesus locates the crowd by asking, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?”
One astute preacher pointed out that the mindset of Jesus’ crowd was reverse of the mindset of most church-goers today. In that day, after probably witnessing thousands being healed through Jesus’ ministry, the thinking was that it was much easier to be healed than to have your sins forgiven. Today, on the other hand, most wouldn’t even flinch to stand in the gap for the worst of sinners if they were simply ready to repent and ask Jesus to come into their hearts to save them. But to believe God to heal a paralytic would be quickly swept under the religious rug of questioning whether or not God wills to heal them. The question we must still answer is which is easier?
From God’s perspective things have not changed since the day the paralytic was placed at the feet of Jesus. Notice that Jesus interchanges healing and forgiveness of sins to make his point. First the man comes for healing and he tells him to be encouraged, your sins are forgiven! Next, he says, “That you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, he then said to the paralytic, ‘Rise, pick up your bed and go home.'” The obvious answer to Jesus’ question is that, for us today, it is just easy to heal as it to forgive sins. For the benefit of Jesus’ crowd, it is just as easy for God to forgive sins as it is for him to heal sick bodies.
As we celebrate Passion Week, now would be the perfect time to make this point. In the same payment that Jesus paid for our sins, he paid the price for our healing too! The price required to redeem us from sin and all of its results, was nothing less than the precious blood of Jesus. The same blood paid for your sins and your healing.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5 KJV
Take a look at verse four in a good reference Bible or a Hebrew dictionary and you will find ‘diseases’ substituted for ‘griefs’ and ‘pain’ substituted for ‘sorrows.’ So we could read it this way, “Surely he hath borne our diseases, and carried our pains.” If you need further proof that Jesus not only paid for your sins but your healing also, look at how Matthew translated verse four from Isaiah: “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Matt. 8:17). We know this is speaking of physical healing for Matthew’s response to Peter’s mother-in-law being healed of a fever, the demon oppressed being set free, and the crowd that was healed of their diseases that day was “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet.” In other words these healings and deliverances are the fulfillment of what Isaiah prophesied seven hundred years prior.
So to the question, Which is easier? The answer is first think about who we are dealing with here! For with God it makes no difference; one is no more difficult than the other with Him. Through the prophet Jeremiah God asks, “Is there any thing too hard for me” (Jer. 32:27)? So the real question is rather to us, Is it harder for us to believe God to heal us or to forgive us of our sins? If we can believe God to forgive us of our sins and take us to heaven when we die, then believing for God to heal us should be a small thing in comparison! Jesus purchased them both with his very own blood.
What is the most important thing on Jesus’ agenda today? Quite simply, it is building His Church! Often times, men are preoccupied with budgets and buildings; but, God’s desire is to reconcile people to Himself through the shed blood of Jesus and for people to be built up together in love and unity. God established, in the Old Testament, that His desire was never to dwell in buildings. After all, God said that no one could build one big enough for Him anyway (Isa. 66:1). The New Testament explains that when you and I come together in the perfect bond of love, as lively stones, we form a glorious spiritual habitation for God to dwell in. Click here to order your copy today!
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Peter 1:4 NASB
In reading 2 Peter chapter one this morning, I was reminded in a fresh new way of the lift principles that we have been speaking on for a while now in Bible study. (more…)
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. Acts 9:3 – 6
Recently in Sunday School, the question was asked, How could Saul know so assuredly that this was Jesus? None of us in the class really knew the answer. Then it occurred to me that Paul by the Spirit wrote possibly the most enlightening scripture into how to get people to see Jesus for who He really is: