Peter is on a roll today. His challenge to the faithful? Discern, beware of and do all you can to avoid false teachers. His litany against these figures is more than impressive. It's terrifying. Given that these sort of people exist, what hope is there for the faithful? Being a person of faith seeking your way in the word and the church is like being a lone herbivore in the jungle, knowing that somewhere out there in the night is a jaguar with gleaming green eyes moving through the shadows, waiting for the right moment to pounce, destroy and devour. Worse yet, in many ways, is the picture he paints of predatory teacher/prophet who moves among the faithful and who always seems ready to reach out, pluck and devour the innocent.
Despite the fact that there is no substance to their teaching, that they are like "springs without water," there is still something that draws us to them, and they to us. What is it? They promise freedom without sacrifice, restoration without trial. They seduce, quite literally, with easy answers to difficult questions. Of course we are drawn to them...sometimes, too often when crisis looms, we might even face the temptation to attempt to chart the "easy/easing way" as well. False teaching is not always "them." Sometimes, if we are not careful, it might even be "us."
That doesn't mean that we have to always choose the hardest way, the rockiest and more challenging path. That does little to distinguish us, when God in Christ says, "My yoke is easy, my burden is light." It does mean being willing to look deeply within even as we look out with resolve at a world that is broken and yearning for restoration. Peter knew brokenness and failure on an almost epic, and certainly universally recognized scale, for his many mistakes as he followed Jesus. He got it wrong, a lot. He betrayed our Lord, three times. What defines the true teacher? How does one identify the false? By seeing and knowing both of those ways in ourselves.
Peter's integrity? He has been there, failed, known reconciliation, failed again....etc. And then, he chooses to grow, spiritually and humbly. He makes the conscious choice to NOT remain in the false, and to then submit to what is true in Christ. That is a teacher to follow....even when he gets it wrong, we all learn from the mistake.