Peter starts his letter with a pathway to sacrificial love:
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7
All these attributes, if possessed and increasing, render a person useful, fruitful (1:8) and stable (1:10) in their Christian walk.
But then he then discusses at length the ways of the false teacher (Chapter 2). It is ironic that some start an authentic spiritual journey hearing the words of a false teacher when they know nothing better, while their “guru” in secret wallows in sin. Tuck that away for now.
We need to understand that Peter addresses both the obvious, and, what the Lord sees (or perhaps the “spiritually appraised” sees, see 1 Corinthians 2:15). What the Lord wants in his servants is the constant process of searching their souls for any “hurtful ways in me,” as David put it in Psalm 139:24. The problem with the false teacher, he never invites the Lord to search his heart, but consciously exits the spiritual grid.
An unmasked false teacher is a pretty despicable and a sad sight.
These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. Jude 12-13
Here are the road signs on the road to perdition laid out by Peter. I’ll stick with masculine pronouns as I go down this road, but there’s equal opportunity here. The road only descends by the way.
First, there’s greed for fame and fortune (v.3). Soul winning takes a backseat to sole possession.
Then comes all the “a” words (if you check out all the Greek words behind these, they all start with the prefix “a” similar to “un”): ungodly (asebon) (v. 5-6), unprincipled (athesmon) (v. 7), unrighteous (adekous) (v. 9), and unreasoning (alogos) (v. 12). Here are the definitions: ungodly (living without regard to religious practice or belief), unprincipled (lawless), unrighteous (unjust), and unreasoning (brutish, absurd).
The false teacher is marked by liberal, lavish, loose, lustful, licentious, and lawless behavior, only thinly veiled by an the air of piety.
Here’s the final few chapters of the down-spiraling former “man of the cloth.”
It’s a slippery slope when you go there. Only one false step can bring about a free fall. The false teacher living on the wild side is characterized by daring self will (v. 10).
Second, the false teacher’s life is marked by reviling, reveling, and self-destruction (v. 12-13).
Third, the false teacher has eyes full of adultery. While in this vicious downward spiral, the eyes are “full of adultery that never cease from sin (v. 14).
Normal men are bent toward frequent thoughts of the opposite sex, but false teacher-types (as Peter describes them) have abandoned themselves to wanton full-on adultery in their minds, and, if at all possible, in person.
Who are the victims?
For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error. (v. 18)
“enticing unstable souls.” (v. 14)
Enticing by “fleshly desires” can be best captured in the work “lure.” The vulnerable or “unstable” are weak and changeable in views and attitudes.
Imagine the cunning it requires to shield from public view or the knowledge of a dutiful wife a torrid escalating affair! The lies begin early answering the question, “You’re not yourself, what’s bothering you?” Soon, the creeping around and control of communications becomes lax. You can’t remember your last lie. Then the crushing fall into bitter reality.
Fourth, “madness,” “black darkness,” and a dry spring (v. 16-17) await the false teacher. It’s only a matter of time.
Fifth, there’s arrogance, vanity and corruption (v. 18) in and around the false teacher. Despite the hole he’s in, the false teacher doubles down in his attempt to bring others with him, who are lucky (a non-biblical term) to “barely escape” his grasp.
The false teacher, while promising freedom to the masses (v. 19), is an abject slave of corruption, “entangled,” or interwoven, in a much worse state than at first, because he’s seen the other side, yet dimly (v. 20), but not gone there. He would have been better off if he never knew the ways of Christ. Sadly, he’s been paid in full for the wrong he’s done (v. 15).
To think about: How to spot heresy: Does the teaching destroy unity? Does the teaching deny Christ? Does the teaching lead to a decline in morality? Alliterated, does it destabilize doctrine. dilute the Deity and/or deemphasize purity? Be on the look out for all these things!