A Hard Truth

Scott Stevenson

"For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire."  2 Peter 2:20–22

In my quiet time, I came across what I considered to be a hard truth.  I figured, why I should get all the joy out of this by myself?  So I decided to share.  Peter wanted to make sure that his readers understand that everyone who claims to be a prophet does not always speak God’s words.  Peter goes on to focus not only on the false prophets, but also on those they are able to deceive.

When I read this section of scripture, it reads with the seriousness of Heaven and Hell in the balance.  It reminds me of a scary movie--but it’s real!  Peter referred to the false prophets as “apostates”.  That’s not your everyday word, but to fully understand the verse, here’s the definition:

Apostasy - Turning against God, as evidenced by abandonment and repudiation of former beliefs.  The term generally refers to a deliberate renouncing of the faith by a once sincere believer rather than a state of ignorance or mistaken knowledge… Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988).  In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

In 1 Peter 2:20, Peter refers to recent converts to Christianity as “they”, the target of the false prophets as described in verses 1-18 (context).  Peter holds no hope for these men because they are in the church trying to snatch new believers back into the world.  1 Peter 1:14 says, “they have eyes full of adultery”.  What does that mean?  If you look at the Greek for the word adultery, it’s the word moichalias.  It means a person looks at every woman as a potential candidate for adultery.  The next phrase emphasizes the sin with the words “insatiable for sin”, or “they never stop sinning” (NIV).

In verses 19-20, Peter uses the words “slaves” and “overcomes”.  His use of these words in conjunction with sin indicate the individual became mastered by sin.  It is clear that the false prophets are mastered by sin and if they are mastered by sin, who is their lord?

Now here is where we start to get into the hard part.  The false prophets are very unlikely to return to the truth.  That leads you to the next question, "why are they in the church"?  Why are they trying to entice people back into sin?  As you may have noticed, the reference to dogs and pigs, I have a dog and as much as I love my dog, I have to admit my dog does some nasty things…he’s a dog!  As for pigs, no matter if you clean them up and put them in your house, they long to wallow in the mud.  It is in their nature to return to unclean living.  That is the definition of an apostate.  They live among us and some may think they aren’t apostates.  Let’s look at the verse 20 again.  It says, “they escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”.  They become again entangled in the world…that’s a conscience decision to leave after hearing the truth.  What does that mean?

The second half of V.20 says, “the last state has become worse for them than the first” which means a person has experienced the Christian faith and then rejected it.  That individual is likely not to grant another hearing of the gospel because in their mind they’ve, “been there, done that.”  That is why the language in 2 Peter 2:22 is so strong.  Some have physically left the church and for some, their bodies are at the church, but spiritually they left a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the individual who is seeking the Lord, but the guy who rejected the truth and is looking to drag believers back into the world…be on the look-out.  Challenge them with this study…protect the flock as well as yourselves.

Those who know God have everything they need for a godly life. (2 Peter 2:3, 2 Peter 1:8)  Peter teaches here that making a decision for Christ or baptism does not ensure destiny in heaven.  To persevere in following God is the true mark of a believer, only if you continue to live a life of godliness will you receive the reward that God promises us at the end of this life? (2 Peter 1:5-11)  It must cost you something to follow Christ.  Jesus gave it all for us and we have an expectation that we shouldn’t fight for God…really?!  I hope that 2 Peter lights a fire under you as it did me.  Run to the Lord in repentance and get it right.  Seek the Lord’s face and ask Him to empower you to live the life He called you to live.

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