There is a phrase, “there’s nothing new under the sun.” As a matter of fact, that is a Biblical phrase and teaching found in the wisdom literature of Ecclesiastes 1:9. While specifics of good and evil may change, the underlying values remain constant. Throughout history there have been traitors and brutal dictators, and these will continue. Nothing new. There will be people who invent things for good, only to have those very inventions used for evil. There will be men and women who will seek power to champion the causes of the common people only to become corrupt by the power and money. Again, this is nothing new. It’s been happening since the beginning.
While it is easy to see these things in governments, the same rings true in the church. Peter, writing just years after Christ ascended, warned “false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you” (v. 1). In other words, just as you read the OT and see the false teachers who arose from Israel, so the same thing will occur in the church. So watch out! There is nothing new under the sun. Notice the people arose “among” the people of God. They weren’t coming from outside but rather inside. And the same will happen in the church. If it occurred in Israel with Balaam (v. 15) and Peter warned of it in the first century, how much more should be we warned about it today.
People are seeking notoriety and trying to make a name for themselves, or branding themselves to gain a following. Today it is popular to walk away from “evangelical theology” for something supposedly “deeper,” more “authentic,” a faith that is unraveling to begin anew. As strange as it seems, today “Doubt is the new Faith!” Thus to be a doubter is to show your supposed wisdom. Notice Peter explains who these people are. They work “secretly.” This doesn’t mean no one knows what they are teaching but rather they are doing it under a secret guise. They are slipping the poison into the drinks of believers so to speak. The one true mark of them is found in v. 2 - “sensuality.” This almost always has the idea of sexual immorality. This is very common today. All someone has to do is consider the sexual ethic of the Bible and compare it with the celebratory sexual revolution of the culture and see that the follower of Jesus the Master is at odds with the current teaching of the world, and some so-called “Christian” leaders. Truth then is blasphemed (v. 2). They are greedy and exploit the truth for profit. One of the current ways people did (or do) this is through their books and blogs. They teach their doubts (the new false doctrine), sensuality (new sexual ethic), all for profit through their ministries, books, and blogs. But again, this is nothing new. Same false teachings just now different ways. Whether it is Nadab and Abihu who offered “strange fire” to the Lord in Lev 10:1 or Rachel Held Evens and her brand of progressive Christianity, there are and will be false teachers. True followers of Christ are called to watch out! How do we do this? It is rather simple. Simply trust the easy to understand teachings of the Bible. The reformers spoke of the perspicuity of Scripture - it is clear and easy to understand (that does not mean there are some are not some hard teachings - there are - but the overall message of the Bible and its essential doctrines are easily understood). Beware of nuanced teachings. Watch out for people trying to “unravel faith.” Stick to the Word of God and be diligent to read and study it. We need to be like the Psalmist when he said, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your Word.” (Psalm 119:15-16). May the Lord be with you today.