Monday, June 24, 2019

2 Peter 2 and John 13: The Relationship Between Lust, Authority, Heresy, and Apostasy

Apostates deny the Lord who bought them (2 Peter 2:1).  Their problem with Jesus is His sovereign lordship, that is, they don't want Him in charge.  Why?  Their lust.  They want what they want, and only what He wants when it's what they want.  On earth in real time, however, they don't clash with Jesus.  Their conflict is with human authorities.

Since Jesus' ascension, Jesus rules on earth through human authorities over all His ordained institutions:  church, home, work, and government.  The apostate may say he doesn't have a problem with Jesus, just the leaders of these human institutions.  Their problem with these leaders most often is their problem with Jesus.  Their Jesus is a rorschach ink blot in which they see whatever Jesus they want to see.  The human leaders are much more concrete and less malleable to their imagination.

2 Peter 2 is a tale of dueling leaders.  On one hand, you see the false teachers making merchandise of the potential or actual apostates, using covetous and feigned words (2 Peter 2:3).  They pander to their victims, offering them what they want in the name of a Jesus.  On the other, you see who are referred to as "government" and "dignities."  "Government" (kuriotes) and "dignities" (doxa, "glory") represent God ordained authorities, those whom God has placed in charge, so representing Him.  2 Peter 2:10 reads:
But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
These are both the false teachers and those who seek or follow them.  Government and dignities conflict with their flesh, their lust, their presumption, and their self-will, characterized as uncleanness.  As a result, they are not afraid to oppose these human authorities through whom the Lord Jesus is ruling.

The authorities Jesus uses could be governmental authorities and the boss at work.  If they get in the way of lust, what these potential or actual apostates want, they will despise them and speak evil of them.  Primarily they are going to clash with parents, especially the father, a husband leading in godliness and sometimes correcting his family, or church leaders who conflict with their lust and confront them over it.  They might not clash with their church leaders anymore if they find new ones who pander to their lust.  Then it might only be the parents that are a problem for them.

I often hear that the new leaders or teachers, akin to those in 2 Peter 2:3, not discouraging the lust of the potential or actual apostates, understand the love of Jesus.  Their new leaders get "relationship."  At the end of John 13 (v. 34), Jesus taught His disciples:
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Jesus taught them to "love one another," and this sounds like relationship, doesn't it?   But Jesus though taught them to love one another, "as I have loved you," that is, love like Jesus loved.  Jesus is that sovereign ruler of 2 Peter 2:1.  His rule is love and His love is rule.  How did Jesus love?  What did Jesus do (WDJD)?  Even in John 13, where Jesus told them to love as He did, the love would clash with the flesh, lust, and self-will.  It provides a microcosm or sample of the Jesus' love about which He speaks at the end of John 13.

In John 13, Jesus conflicted with the disciples again and again, and that's a major component of "as I have loved you" (13:34).  Here's a list from chapter 13 leading up to verse 34, specifics of what Jesus meant by "as I loved you."

  • Jesus washed the disciples feet in John 13 as a repudiation of their disputing over who would be the greatest in His kingdom (parallel passage in Luke 22).
  • Jesus strongly rebukes Peter in John 13:8, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."
  • Jesus corrects again Peter's error in John 13:10, " He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all" -- Jesus didn't just "let it go."
  • Jesus reminded the disciples that He was greater than them in authority, He their Master and they His servant, so that they should be servants (13:13-16).
  • Jesus announces that one of them would betray Him (13:21).
  • Jesus sent out or removed one of them, Judas (13:27).
  • Jesus refutes Peter by saying that he will deny Jesus three times (13:37).
This was typical behavior of Jesus.  He let no error go by.  He didn't fail at telling the truth.  He expected His followers to do what He said, He was their Master and they were His servant.

This Master to servant relationship with Jesus, I've found over my 32 years of pastoring and speaking to thousands of people, to be the most offensive aspect of the gospel.  This is how Jesus loved.  This love, the actual relationship of Jesus with His followers, conflicts with the lust of pseudo followers, who choose their imaginary rorschach Jesus, the one also pushed on them by false teachers described in 2 Peter 2.

2 Peter 3 says those "walking after their own lusts" are "scoffers."  They scoff at authority, what Jude calls, "despise dominion" (Jude 1:8), which is the same Greek word translated "government" in 2 Peter 2:10.  It is essentially lordship.  Apostates don't want a boss, because it conflicts with their lust, their desires.

In my title, I included the word, "heresy."  "Hereticks" are factious, and their problem is with authority, either the human authority challenging them with the Word of God or with the Word of God itself.  It is why the authority of scripture is attacked by apostates (2 Peter 1:16).  Their diversion from orthodox doctrine very often coordinates with their lust.  They very often don't like what they might call "organized religion," and what they mean is the authority there.  They don't want to fit in, submit.  They prefer the loose relationship of self-defined "community" with so-called love that isn't "as Jesus loved," but according to their own lusts, their self-will.  Heresy arises from self-will against the will and Word of God.

By "relationship," the potential or actual apostate often means "acceptance" and "toleration," not service to the Master.  On the ground, the problem is with a husband, father, or pastor, but the real problem is with Jesus, because this is how Jesus rules on the earth today.  For instance, Jesus is the Head of the church, but He uses the pastor to head the church.  Submission to Jesus is submission to the godly leadership of a pastor of one of His churches.  Using the correction of a godly pastor, husband, or father is how Jesus is loving, and those rebelling against that correction are rebelling against His love.  They are not loving like Jesus loved, even while their lips are saying, "love."  This is akin to Isaiah 29:13, "with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me."

As I've written in my recent series on "lust" (3 parts, and on relationship, 13 parts), the Word of God is depreciated in consideration of lust.  The purposeful unwillingness, feigned as inability, to apply scripture proceeds from the service to one's own desires.  This is the rejection of God's authority, which is self-will and then resultant uncleanness.  Scripture says love, but a counterfeit love is the deceit.  It is acceptance, toleration, and sentimentalism again to accommodate lust.  Correction, reproof, and telling the truth are labeled unloving and the enemy of community or relationship, even though they are loving as Jesus loved.  This is a rejection of Jesus Christ for a counterfeit Jesus compatible with lust.

(HT to Bobby Mitchell, interaction through talk and preaching at recent conference at Mid-Coast Baptist Church, Brunswick, Maine)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Bro. Brandenburg.

I saw the "HT" at the end and wondered what that meant. I found, which showed 107 possibilities for this acronym. Not having seen anything that looked like a fit with a quick scan of those 107 items, I selected the "Slang / Jargon" filter and saw "Hat Tip". I guess that's it. :)

E. T. Chapman

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hat tip is correct E. T. Thanks for reading! I hope everyone else pays attention!

Bill Hardecker said...

Great observations on how the Lord Jesus loved his disciples. I appreciate this artcile, Dr. Brandenburg. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Kent, did King David lose his salvation when he committed the sins of adultery and murder?

Kent Brandenburg said...


No one can lose his salvation. Once saved, always saved. However, someone might not be saved in the first places. 1 John 2:19, 3:6. Read those two verses.

David was repentant of those sins as a believer, so he wasn't sinning as a lifestyle. Psalms 32 and 51. He didn't turn from God. If he had, that would say that he was never saved in the first place.

David is not an example, however, intended to say that a believer should just go ahead and sin in whatever way he wants. Just the opposite, especially when you look at both the short term and long term consequences.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Bill.