See to it that no one misleads you
2 Peter 2 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13 suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.
17 These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”
It seems ironic to me that many who live today, some 2000 years after Jesus walked on earth, was crucified on the cross and was raised from the dead, think they have a better understanding of who Jesus was, of how He lived, what He thought, what He would have done, than those who walked with Jesus, those who witnessed the crucifixion and who saw the resurrected Christ. In today’s text, Peter, one who did in fact walk with Jesus, both before and after the cross, warns the early church: false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words… In 2 Timothy 4:3-4, Paul says: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. Jesus Himself warned: “See to it that no one misleads you.For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” (Matthew 24:4-5) The deception that Jesus warns against, is not that these false teachers will claim to themselves be Christ, but that they will say Jesus is Christ, misleading them by teaching a different gospel than the gospel Jesus Himself taught when He walked the earth. Jesus message from the beginning was: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17) Many today will give great amounts of money to those who will ”tickle their ears,” those who will adjust the gospel of Jesus to the morals of the culture, rather than calling the culture to align with Jesus and God’s word.
In verses 4-10, Peter makes his case about the judgment of God against unrighteousness. I’ll not add to his words and his argument, but encourage you to read and ask God for the truth. Peter, one who himself experienced a radical transformation, through knowing both Jesus the man and the resurrected Christ, continues to speak against those who follow after their sinful desires and teach others to do the same. He says: They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. Again as with all the letters to the early churches, we must remember that these words are written as an exhortation, an encouragement, a warning and a rebuke to believers, to those who claim to be followers of Christ, not to the world and unbelievers. If an unbeliever reads these words and is convicted by the Holy Spirit to change, that is a bonus. That is the power of God’s word, to be the revelation of Christ. The warning though is for believers, who choose to return to or continue in sin, after having been freed and redeemed from it.
Peter says: For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.” In John 5:14, Jesus speaks to a man who had been lame and was healed, He says: "Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you." In John 8:11, after rescuing the woman caught in adultery, Jesus says: "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more." Jesus did not come to condemn or judge sinners, or we all would be judged and condemned. Jesus came to redeem us from our sin. He says: “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” (John 3:17-19) There still is and always will be a judgment against sin and darkness and so against those who choose darkness over the light of Christ. Jesus says: “Whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19-20)
We each have a choice, we can repent, we can be redeemed by Christ and in Him, go and sin no more, through Him entering the kingdom of heaven now and forever. Or we can choose darkness rather than light. We can choose to be like: “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for Your word, thank You for scripture written for us by those who knew You and walked with You, Jesus, before and after the cross. May we heed the words of warning and receive the encouragement You give us through their words. Thank You Holy Spirit, our reliable teacher of truth. May we live as those who are redeemed. May we choose light and walk in the light, that others too may see and know You. Amen