FREE TO LIVE FOR CHRIST
Lord, keep me from the evil that lurks around me.
Read 2 PETER 2:10b–22
10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh[a] and despise authority.
Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; 11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from[b] the Lord. 12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.
13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.[c] 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer,[d] who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,”[e] and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”
a 2 Peter 2:10 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit; also in verse 18.
b 2 Peter 2:11 Many manuscripts beings in the presence of
c 2 Peter 2:13 Some manuscripts in their love feasts
d 2 Peter 2:15 Greek Bosor
e 2 Peter 2:22 Prov. 26:11
New International Version (NIV)
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“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1). Lord, we rejoice that Your grace brings liberty to our lives.
Peter continues to expose the false teachers. They teach that because believers are saved by God’s grace, they are free to engage in sinful practices. This licentiousness is likely influenced by the Greek notion of the separation of the body and soul: the false teachers believe that provided that one’s soul is secured in Christ, what one does with the body is of no consequence. Peter is keen to stamp out this falsehood and condemn it in the strongest terms. He compares them to animals (12) who lack human reasoning. Similarly, says Peter, the false teachers lack understanding and think of themselves more highly than they should. In fact, he argues, just as Balaam’s donkey was more spiritually attuned than Balaam himself (15; Num. 22:21–34), so the animals know more about truth than the false teachers do!
The false teachers live lives unworthy of the Gospel and of the message they preach; they promise much, but deliver little. This permissive freedom they offer—the freedom to sin—looks appealing, like a fresh spring, but it is found to be dry (17).
Such is the problem with this type of perceived freedom. It looks so full of opportunity, compared to the restriction that accompanies discipline—but soon we find it is wanting or, worse, utterly destructive. “Freedom can turn into the freedom to destroy yourself” (Tom Wright, Early Christian Letters for Everyone: James, Peter, John and Judah, 116). God has graciously given us free will, the ability to choose how we live. In doing so, he takes the risk that we will be unduly enticed by inappropriate sexual attraction, greed, power and so on. Hopefully, Peter’s stinging criticism stops us in our tracks: a warning for those who have known true freedom and liberty in Christ yet have forgotten it, instead indulging our base desires.
Think of those destructive practices, potentially or not, from which the Lord has delivered you.
Lord, keep me mindful of the wonderful reach of Your saving grace. Help me in return to live for Your pleasure more than mine.