Today’s reading: 2 Peter 2
In today’s reading for discussion Peter warns against the coming of false teachers. Warnings against false teachers are some of the most important passages in the Bible. First, the warnings confirm for us something we instinctively know, there will be teachers that come and preach a false gospel. It’s important to understand what this means. It means that gospel is not “self-authenticating”. It is not something that manifests itself organically without error. The gospel will be taught, but it could be taught rightly or wrongly.
The fact that the gospel may be taught falsely implies that we will need a way of spotting the false teachers. We as Catholics know that the primary protection of the truth of the Gospel comes through the Church and Apostolic succession. Peter identifies two things that will mark false teachers:
“…and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, especially those who follow the polluting desires of the flesh and despise authority.” 2 Peter 2:9-10
Thus, false teachers will “despise authority”. This makes perfect sense. Those who love the Lord and the Gospel might want to preach it from the rooftops. However, if they are honest and well-intentioned then, when they are told that their preaching needs to confirm the Church’s teaching, they would embrace the authority of the Church. However, if they are not honest and rather are self-serving, then they will be angry at the exercise of authority and fight against it.
Notice, “the polluting desires of the flesh”, is the second thing that Peter says these false preachers will use. Peter elaborates:
For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 2 Peter 2:18-19
It should not be surprising that license to engage in sexual sins is the “thin edge of the wedge” that false preachers (and the devil) would use to pull the faithful away from the Church. Peter rightly points out that although these preachers promise freedom from the moral rules of the Church the result is enslavement to sin. This is one of the surest signs of how to find the true Church. Has it always and does it continue to preach traditional sexual morality? A Church that changes the teachings of sexual morality is most certainly in the grips of a false preacher. To be clear, following the Church’s teachings on sexual morality is for many the most difficult teaching to accept, that’s why false teachers use it to bring people out of the Church. However, the warnings of scripture are clear. Being aware of our weakness we should study and know the Church’s teaching on sexual morality and pray for strength in this area.
Tomorrow: 2 Ptr 3