2 Peter 2:9-11, “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,[a] and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge[b] in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.”
Over the past few days, we’ve been considering how Peter addresses the issue of false teachers that can bring much confusion to the people of God. We may even wonder what the Lord is doing when false teachers deceive so many people, which may cause Christians to doubt whether false teachers will receive their just recompense. Peter’s instruction in our passage today reminds readers of the many ways that the Lord God has dealt with the wicked in the past. For example, the angels were cast out of heaven and restrained by the hand of the Lord God (2 Peter 2:4). The ancient world along with its wickedness was destroyed by the Flood. With that said, Noah was saved from the Flood. In ash and flame, Sodom and Gomorrah became an example of the Lord’s judgment on the ungodly while also serving as an example when righteous Lot was preserved (2 Peter 2:6-8).
These examples point out how the Lord knew how to judge the wicked and to rescue the righteous in the past, just as He does today. It may seem at times that this is not so clear to us, but the Lord God, even so, knows how to save the godly from trials and to keep the wicked under punishment until the Day of Judgement (2 Peter 2:9-10).
We may not be inclined to see these points at first, and that’s understandable given the success of false teaching and the increasing immorality of those who refuse to heed the warnings and commands of the Lord. Romans 1:18-25 teaches that the Lord God punishes those who will not acknowledge Him in this life and turns them over to their sin. This is why the success of false teaching is one way in reality how God begins to punish false teaching today.
The teachers Peter faced may have denied that the Lord Jesus was coming again as Judge but one day they and all who deny the Lord Jesus will stand before Him as Judge in His courtroom. The Lord God’s judgments on the angels through the Flood and on Sodom and Gomorrah all serve as types of the final judgment that will come upon those who deny the Lord Jesus. Since those judgments were unbearable, how much more will the eternal fires of hell be for those who perverted the Word of the Lord God?
The Lord keeping those under punishment by turning over to their sin is a sober warning to all of us. While the people of God, those with saving faith will never lose their salvation, we must also understand that if we persist in disobedience, we may become more entangled in sin, making it more difficult to grow in love for the righteousness of God in Christ. Before we continue on in our study today, think of a persistent sin you have trouble overcoming and, please find friends of the same sex and your pastor in your local church to help walk with you and stand with you in the gospel as you fight against it.
The good news of the gospel is that in the grace of God in Jesus men and women in bondage to sin may come to know and have their hearts of stone sovereignly removed and replaced with a new heart with new desires and new affections for the Lord Jesus. Through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, all those who trust in Christ alone are saved from the consequences of their sin and receive the gift of the righteousness in Christ that alone secures their eternal reward. The Lord Jesus, after all, has done what we cannot; He has rendered perfect obedience to the Father. As children of God, we are in Him, whom we have received and can now commune with the Lord Jesus.
It’s important also to explain that while what we just considered in the previous paragraph is true for the Christian, it does not give the Christian any reason for apathy or to neglect a lifelong pursuit of godliness. Instead, Christians are to pursue personal holiness in gratitude for the grace of God that the people of God have received in Christ alone. This also does not mean that there will be not be a final judgment. The holiness of God demands that those who have not trusted in Christ alone will one day face the Lord of Creation as their Judge.
In 2 Peter, the Apostle Peter reminds God’s people of these critical truths. False teachers were troubling the people of God (2 Peter 2:1-3), teaching the people of God to deny their need for personal holiness as well as the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter counters these claims by teaching Christians to pursue holiness (2 Peter 1:1-14) and by reminding the people of God of God’s actions in history that anticipate His future and final judgment (2 Peter 1:16–21; 2:4–10a).
In 2 Peter 2:9-11 Peter further explores his description and condemnation of these false teachers. In 2 Peter 2:10, Peter says how they boldly blasphemed the “glorious ones.” Many argue about this difficult verse that these are demons since it is angels in verse 11, who do not mock or disregard the glorious ones. In their immorality (v.14), it seems these false teachers are either laughed at or denied their sin which might open them up to the influence of demonic powers. As we consider verse 11 we see good angels do not do such things when they pronounce judgments on these wicked spirits. Good angels have not made themselves susceptible to evil influences by sinning and are greater in power than false teachers, but also understand the need to be wary of the danger of evil.
Peter calling demons “glorious ones” does not suggest they have goodness left in them. Instead, it reminds Christians of the power and might they may possess even though they are fallen. We need to understand that we do not need to fear evil if we are in Christ, but with that said, we do need to understand the reality of it and stand in the perfect righteousness of Christ alone. This is also a reminder of the danger of the occult and other wickedness that abounds in our day, and the vigilance that is needed in our day of standing fast in Christ, and of daily taking up the armor of God that Paul talks about in Ephesians 6:10-18.