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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE PRESUMPTUOUS AND SELF-WILLED

2 Peter 2:9-10 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

Peter opens this chapter of his letter to Christians with a warning about the dangers of false prophets and teacher; how they attracted followers through trickery and deceit, in order to gain personal wealth, power and commendation. In verses four through eight, Peter assures his readers that those teaching such ungodly messages, which are contrary to the truth, would assuredly face the righteous judgment of God. To support this fact, Peter cites three examples of how God executed judgment against those guilty of sin. He tells us of God's judgment against the rebellious angels of heaven, the wickedness of the world in the days of Noah, and lewd, lawless inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Verse 9 of our lesson text tells us that it is God's judgment that will save the righteous by delivering the godly out of temptations, and will also condemn the unrighteous to eternal punishment in the day of judgment.

In verse 10, of the lesson text, Peter describes the ungodly sinners, that will suffer God's wrath, when judged by Him. They are described as presumptuous and self-willed. False teachers arepresumptuous in that they boldly, and arrogantly, overstep the bounds of their authority. They give credence to their teaching by using false assumptions, and misrepresenting reasons and facts in ways that lead others to accept the error of their message, which they disguise as truths found in God's word. Driven by covetousness (Vs. 3), these false teachers must rely on their own will, instead of the righteous will of God, to successfully persuade others to follow, and support, them financially. They become self-willed, and stubbornly oppose any authority that may hinder, or keep, them from achieving their selfish goals.

Our lesson text states that, in order for false teachers to succeed, they must despise government, to criticize its authority, in order to establish their own will. If the authority of some other governing body is contrary to that of the false teacher, it must be "put down," ridiculed, and discredited. Confidence and belief in that government must be removed and replaced with total, unconditional trust in the false teacher. In order to achieve this, Peter says that false teachers are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. With presumptuous boldness, they speak against all forms of authority, whether it is the government of the family, the civil government, or the government of the church, the body of Christ; all of which are ordained by God. In order to exercise self-willed authority, false teachers must persuade their audiences to follow their teaching, and to declare freedom from any other authority that limits their own.

If parental authority is an obstacle to gain followers, the false teacher must discredit the family structure through ridicule and derisive doctrinal messages. This is true whether the person is still living under parental authority at home, or is a mature adult living on their own, but still holding to principles that were learned while under the authority of parents. The same applies to the family structure ordained by God, under a scriptural husband and wife relationship. False teachers must speak against the influence of either spouse that hinders the other spouse from becoming a follower. To be successful, false teachers must speak out against civil authorities, if that government body detracts or restricts their activities. Such civil authority is held in contempt by false teachers, and, reiterating from our lesson text, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. The teaching in Jude, verse 9, is very similar to that of Peter. He writes, Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

Likewise, false teachers must challenge God's authority, in order to successfully recruit followers, that will support their covetous desires. God isn't necessarily denied, but rather the word of God is misinterpreted and misapplied to agree with their human doctrine. This they accomplish by adding responsibilities to those required by God. Also, by omitting part of His will, false doctrine is proclaimed by not teaching God's will in its entirety. Although God requires mankind not to add to or subtract from His word, false teachers completely disregard God's authority. Presumptuous, self-willed false teachers travel a road that leads to destruction. At the end of this road, they, as well as their followers, will surely find the wrath of God's eternal punishment.