The gospel story of which Pete is writing about is true – it’s based on historical facts, eyewitness accounts, and fulfilled prophecies. Peter wants his readers to be firmly planted in this truth and understand why it is true. This is so because he knows people will come into the church with lies and made-up stories. Their teachings will contradict the truth of the gospel and threaten to destroy the unity and witness of God’s people. With this in mind, Peter gives his readers a clear and urgent warning against these false teachings.
When false teachers are denounced by the those in the church, there is sometimes the accusation of being divisive and creating unnecessary controversy. But Peter’s concern is not with shutting down people who disagree with him or silencing the dissident. Neither is he making theological mountains out of molehills – getting worked up over the finer points of the church’s doctrine. Peter is speaking against destructive heresies which exploit the weak and malign the way of truth. He is contending for the fundamental truths of the gospel upon which the church stands of falls. If we allow certain teachers to undermine the basic building blocks of the church, the church will crack and crumble.
When the angels rebelled against God, they threatened the goodness and justice of God’s rule. When ungodly people kept multiplying in the days of Noah, they endangered the very existence of God’s creation. When the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah indulged in their sinful lusts, they risked the destruction of their own cities. In all these cases which Peter cites, God brought severe judgement in order to restore righteousness and build his kingdom of justice and peace. In the same way, false teachers threaten the church and the expansion of God’s kingdom on earth and they will be harshly dealt with on the day of judgement. “Blackest darkness is reserved for them,” as Peter writes.
We need to be alert and watchful lest the wolves of false teaching make their way into the flock and scatter and devour the sheep. We need to understand how their false stories distort our understanding of the one, true, story. We need to realize how their promise of freedom and pleasure are a masquerade of greed, arrogance, and sinful indulgence. We need to know that when all things are made new at the coming of Christ, anything untrue in this world will ultimately cease to be. Therefore, we must seek the words of God, immerse ourselves in the truth of the gospel, and remove from our lives anything contrary to the truth.