These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2Peter 2:17-22)
FALSE TEACHERS ARE LIKE WELLS THAT HAVE NO WATER IN THEM; like black clouds that look like they are going to soak our dry crops, but a powerful wind drives the clouds away and we don’t get a drop of rain. False teachers are empty and unpredictable. Their hypocrisy does not have what it pretends to have. Peter immediately points to the eternal damnation awaiting these evil people. These are not misguided Christian novices who fail to get a minor point exactly right.
THEY TWIST THE BIBLE FOR RECRUITING UNSUSPECTING PEOPLE to their personal control, for their own personal use. Peter does not mince words: “These false teachers are going to hell.” Warren Wiersbe, who is now well into his 90’s and was a pastor at Moody Memorial Church, has some extremely valuable things to say about false teachers. (This is the longest article I have ever mailed. It’s worth the read. You may find this to be a “keeper” for future reference.)
“THEY KNOW HOW TO IMPRESS PEOPLE WITH THEIR VOCABULARY, “inflated words that say nothing” (literal translation). The average person does not know how to listen to and analyze the kind of propaganda that pours out of the mouths and printing presses of the apostates. Many people cannot tell the difference between a religious huckster and a sincere servant of Jesus Christ.”
“DO NOT BE IMPRESSED WITH RELIGIOUS ORATORY. Apollos was a fervent and eloquent religious speaker, but he did not know the right message to preach (Acts 18:24-28). Paul was careful not to build his converts’ faith on either his words or his wisdom (1Corinthians 2:1-5). Paul was a brilliant man, but his ministry was simple and practical. He preached to express and not to impress. He knew the difference between communication and manipulation.
“THE SECOND REASON THE APOSTATES ARE SO SUCCESSFUL is that they appeal to the base appetites of the old nature. This is part of their bait! (2Peter 2:14) We must not think of “the lusts of the flesh” only in terms of sexual sins, for the flesh has other appetites. Read the list given in Galatians 5:19-21 and you will see the many different kinds of “bait” the apostates have available for baiting their traps.
“For example, pride is one of the sins of the flesh, and apostate teachers like to appeal to the human ego. A true servant of God will lovingly tell people that they are lost sinners, under the wrath of a holy God, but the apostate minister will try to avoid “putting people on a guilt trip.” He will tell his listeners how good they are, how much God loves them and needs them and how easy it is to get into the family of God. In fact, he may tell them they are already in God’s family and just need to start living like it! The apostate avoids talking about repentance, because egotistical men do not want to repent.
“THE THIRD REASON THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL IS THAT THEY APPEAL TO IMMATURE people, people who have “very recently escaped” from their old ways. The apostate has no message for the down-and-out sinner, but he does have a message for the new believer.”
"As you review what Peter has written so far, you can see the kinds of sins that enslave the false teachers. For one thing, they were in bondage to money (2Peter :3, 2Peter 2:14). Their covetousness forced them to use every kind of deceptive technique to exploit innocent people. They were also in bondage to fleshly lust (2Peter 2:10, 2Peter 2:14). They had their eyes on weak women whom they could seduce. (In view of what Peter and Jude wrote about Sodom and Gomorrah, perhaps we should also include weak men and boys.)
“THEY WERE ALSO ENSLAVED BY PRIDE (2Peter 2:10-12). They thought nothing of speaking evil of those in places of authority, including the angels and God! They promoted themselves and derided everybody else. Sad to say, there are people who admire this kind of arrogance, who follow these proud men and support them.
“IT IS INTERESTING TO COMPARE THE THREE MEN PETER NAMED IN THIS CHAPTER --- Noah, Lot, and Balaam. Noah kept himself completely separated from the apostasy of the world of his day. He boldly preached God’s righteousness and was faithful in his walk and witness, even though no one but his family followed the Lord.
“Lot knew the truth and kept himself pure, but he did not keep himself separated; he lost his family as a result. Lot hated the wickedness of Sodom, yet he lived in the midst of it and, by doing so, exposed his daughters and wife to godless influences.
“Balaam not only followed the ways of sin, but he encouraged other people to sin! He told Balak how to seduce the nation Israel and his plan almost succeeded. Lot lost his family, but Balaam lost his life.
“BEWARE OF "THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN" (Hebrews 3:13). Sin always promises freedom but in the end brings bondage. It promises life but instead brings death. Sin has a way of gradually binding a person until there is no way of escape, apart from the gracious intervention of the Lord. Even the bondage that sin creates is deceitful, for the people who are bound actually think they are free! Too late they discover that they are prisoners of their own appetites and habits.
“JESUS CHRIST CAME TO BRING FREEDOM. In His first sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth, our Lord sounded forth the trumpet call of freedom and the advent of the “Year of Jubilee” (Luke 4:16). But Christ’s meaning of freedom is different from the apostates’ as is His method for accomplishing it.
“In the Bible, freedom does not mean “doing your own thing” or “having it your way.” That attitude is the very essence of sin. The freedom that Jesus Christ offers means enjoying fulfillment in the will of God. It means achieving your greatest potential to the glory of God. The Quaker leader Rufus Jones, paraphrasing Aristotle, said, “The true nature of a thing is the highest that it can become.” Jesus Christ frees us to become our very best in this life, and then to be like Him in the next.
“THE APOSTATES BROUGHT THEIR FOLLOWERS INTO BONDAGE by means of lies, but our Lord brings us into freedom by means of truth. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). He was speaking, of course, about the truth of the Word of God. “Sanctify them through Thy truth,” He prayed; “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). Through the Word of God, we discover the truth about ourselves, our world, and our God. As we face this truth honestly, we experience the liberating power of the Spirit of God. We cease living in a world of fantasy and enter a world of reality, and through the power of God, we are able to fulfill His will, grow in grace, and “reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17).
THOSE WHO LIVE BY GOD'S TRUTH ENTER INTO MORE AND MORE FREEDOM, but those who live by lies experience more and more bondage, until “the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (2Peter 2:20). This reminds us of our Lord’s parable in Matthew 12:43-45, the truth of which parallels what Peter has written. Temporary reformation without true repentance and rebirth only leads to greater sin and judgment. Reformation cleans up the outside, but regeneration changes the inside.
“SINFUL TENDENCIES DO NOT DISAPPEAR WHEN A PERSON REFORMS; they merely hibernate and get stronger. Holiness is not simply refusing to do evil things, for even unsaved people can practice self-control. True holiness is more than conquering temptation: it is conquering even the desire to disobey God. When my doctor told me to lose weight, he said, “I’ll tell you how to do it: learn to hate the things that aren’t good for you.” His advice worked!
You can expect nothing but “false freedom” from false Christians who offer false promises. But there is a third reason why this freedom is false.
It Involves a False Experience(2Peter 2:21-22)
PETER CALLED THESE APOSTATES "NATURAL BRUTE BEASTS" (2Peter 2:12), and then ended the warning by describing them as pigs and dogs! But he was not simply showing his personal disdain for them; rather, he was teaching a basic spiritual lesson.
“IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE PRONOUN "THEY" in this entire paragraph (2Peter 2:17-22) refers to the false teachers and not to their converts. It is also important that we remember that these teachers are not truly born-again people. Jude described these same people in his letter and stated clearly that they were “sensual, having not the Spirit” (Jude 1:19). It is not profession of spirituality that marks a true believer but possession of the Spirit of God within (Romans 8:9).
BUT THESE APOSTATES DID HAVE A "RELIGIOUS EXPERENCE"! And they would boldly claim that their experience brought them into fellowship with the Lord. They would be able to explain “the way of righteousness,” and would use the Word of God to support their teachings. If they had not experienced some kind of “religious conversion,” they would never have been able to get into the fellowship of the local assemblies.
BUT THEIR EXPERIENCE, LIKE THEIR PROMISES, WAS FALSE.
“Since Peter wrote both of his letters to the same group of believers we may assume that they had the doctrinal foundation presented so clearly in his first letter. Peter emphasized the new birth (1Peter 1:3, 1Peter 1:22-25). He reminded his readers that they were “partakers of the divine nature” (2Peter1:4). In his first letter, Peter described the believers as sheep (1Peter 2:25; 1Peter 5:1-4). Our Lord used this same image when He reinstated Peter into the apostleship after his denials (John 21:15-17).
“THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT THE FALSE TEACHERS had ever experienced the new birth. They had knowledge of salvation and could use the language of the church, but they lacked that true saving experience with the Lord. At one time they had even received the Word of God (2Peter 2:21), but then they turned away from it. They never trusted Christ and became His sheep.
INSTEAD OF BEING SHEEP, THEY WERE PIGS AND DOGS — and keep in mind that the dogs in that day were not pampered pets! The Jews called the Gentiles “dogs” because a dog was nothing but a filthy scavenger who lived on garbage! It was hardly a title of respect and endearment!
“These men could point to “an experience,” but it was a false experience. Satan is the counterfeiter. We have already seen that Satan has a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), preached by false ministers (2Corinthians 11:13-15), producing false Christians (2Corinthians 11:26 — ‘in perils among false brethren”). In His Parable of the Tares, our Lord taught that Satan plants his counterfeits (“the children of the wicked one”) wherever God plants true believers (Matthew 13:24-30, Matthew 13:36-43).
WHAT KIND OF "EXPERIENCE" DID THESE FALSE TEACHERS HAVE? To use Peter’s vivid images, the pig was washed on the outside, but remained a pig; the dog was “cleaned up” on the inside, but remained a dog. The pig looked better and the dog felt better, but neither one had been changed. They each had the same old nature, not a new one.
This explains why both animals returned to the old life: it was part of their nature. A pig can stay clean only a short time and then must head for the nearest mudhole. We do not condemn a pig for acting like a pig because it has a pig’s nature. If we saw a sheep heading for the mire, we would be concerned!
“When I was a youngster, one of our neighbors owned a scrubby black mutt with the imaginative name of “Blackie.” He had the habit of eating what dogs should not eat, and then regurgitating somewhere in the neighborhood, usually on our sidewalk. But that was not all. Blackie would then return to the scene of the crime and start all over again! Apparently dogs have been doing this for centuries, for Solomon mentioned it in Proverbs 26:11, the text that Peter quoted.
Certainly the dog feels better after emptying his stomach, but it is still a dog. “Having an experience” did not change his nature. Quite the contrary, it only gave further evidence of his “dog nature,” because he came back and (just like a dog) lapped up his own vomit. It is a disgusting picture, but that is exactly the response Peter wanted to produce.
“In my ministry, I have met people who have told me about their “spiritual experiences,” but in their narratives I detected no evidence of a new nature. Like the sow, some of them were cleaned up on the outside. Like the dog, some of them were cleaned up temporarily on the inside and actually felt better. But in no case had they become “partakers of the divine nature” (2Peter 1:4). They thought they were free from their problems and sins, when really they were still in bondage to an old sinful nature.
According to 2Peter 2:20, these apostates “escaped the pollutions of the world.” Pollution is defilement on the outside. But true believers have “escaped the corruption that is in the world through [because of] lust” (2Peter 1:4). Corruption is much deeper than defilement on the outside: it is decay on the inside. True believers have received a new nature, a divine nature, and they have new and different appetites and desires. They have been transformed from pigs and dogs into sheep!
“IMAGINE THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE PERSON WHO THINKS he has been delivered, only to discover that, in the end, he is in worse shape than when he started! The apostates promise freedom, but all they can give is bondage. True freedom must come from within; it has to do with the inner nature of the person. Because the true nature of a thing is the highest that it can become, a pig and dog can never rise higher than Sus scrofa and Canis familiaris.
I realize that there are some who believe that these apostate teachers were true believers who, in turning from the knowledge of Christ, forfeited their salvation. Even a casual reading of 2Peter 2:1-22 and Jude would convince the impartial reader that these teachers never had a true experience of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Peter would never have compared them to swine and dogs had they once been members of the Lord’s true flock, nor would he have called them “cursed children” (2Peter 2:14). If they were true believers who had gone astray, it would have been Peter’s responsibility to encourage his readers to rescue these backsliders (James 5:19-20), but Peter did not command them to do so. Instead, he condemned the apostates in some of the most forceful language found in the New Testament!
NOW WE BETTER UNDERSTAND WHY THIS "FREEDOM" OFFERED BY these teachers is a false freedom, a “freedom” that only leads to bondage. It is based on false promises, empty words that sound exciting but that have no divine authority behind them. It is offered by false Christians who were involved in a false experience. From start to finish, this “freedom” is the product of our adversary, the devil!
Now we can appreciate Peter’s admonition in 2Peter 1:10 — “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” In other words, “Has your spiritual experience been genuine?” It is a startling fact that there are many people in our churches who have never truly been born again, but who are convinced that they are saved and going to heaven! They have had “an experience,” and perhaps look better (like the sow) and feel better (like the dog), but they have not been made better as “partakers of the divine nature.”
PERHAPS PETER RECALLED JUDAS, ONE OF THE TWELVE, who was a tool of the devil and was never born again. Up to the very end, the other disciples did not know the truth about Judas and thought he was a spiritual man!
The apostates appear to have successful ministries, but in the end, they are bound to fail.
The important thing is that you and I have the assurance of a true experience with the Lord, and that we have nothing to do with these counterfeit ministries, no matter how popular they may be. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
JUNE 6, 2018 – WEDNESDAY
A.M. 2Chronicles 20-22 P.M. John 16:1-15
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Good Memory Verse:
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, (2Timothy 2:24) (Write verses on scraps of paper and put in your pocket like President Abraham Lincoln did.)
Song for Today:
How Great Thou Art (7:43) – (Collingsworth Family – Piano & Orchestra)
You may need to delete an ad or turn off the song when finished to avoid something else you do not want to hear.