The fact that cults and false religions continue to flourish in this world can bring us great confusion. We wonder sometimes what exactly God is doing when He lets false teachers deceive so many people. Sometimes we might even doubt whether these teachers will ever receive their just recompense.
Over the past few days, Peter has dealt with these questions implicitly by reminding us of the many ways God has dealt with the wicked in the past. The angels who fell were cast out of heaven and restrained by the hand of the Lord (2 Peter 2:4). The ancient world and its wickedness was destroyed by the flood even as faithful Noah was being saved (v. 5). In ash and flame, Sodom and Gomorrah became an example of God’s judgment on the ungodly while at the same time righteous Lot was preserved (vv. 6–8).
What has been implicit in these examples is made explicit by Peter in today’s passage. Just as God knew how to judge wickedness and rescue His righteous remnant in the past, so too does He know how to do this today. Though at times it may not be so clear to us, God does know how to save the godly from their trials and keep the wicked under punishment until the day of judgment (vv. 9–10a).
Though we may not be inclined to see it at first, the success of false teaching and the ever-increasing immorality of those who heed such doctrine is a sign of God’s judgment. Romans 1:18–25 makes it clear that God punishes those who will not acknowledge Him in this life by turning them over to sin even further. Thus, the success of false teaching is one way God begins to punish it.
Moreover, God is keeping false teachers under punishment until the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:9). The teachers Peter faced may have denied that Christ was coming again as Judge but one day they, and all who deny Jesus, will stand in His courtroom. 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 all those who deny Jesus. And if those earlier judgments were unbearable, how much worse will the eternal fires of hell be for those who pervert God’s truth?