Bold and wilful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgement against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, revelling in their deceptions,[e] while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
There are those who would curse demons and lord it over them without reliance on God. I have witnessed people talk casually to devils, casting them aside. However, verse ten above condemns those who would take lightly their interaction with demonic forces. The glorious ones are not angels but demons. Those who blaspheme them attempt to pronounce judgment on them and speak ill of them in the place of God. I have seen this in some charismatic circles as some people speak to Satan or demons as though they were errant children, not with any thought of humility in the created order.
Such people in the church, will also claim wealth and possessions as blessings and will gorge themselves at dinner. They are sensate. God created us with senses and those senses can legitimately enjoy the pleasures that God has placed in the world. However, God did not create us for pleasure as an end in itself. Pleasure is an experience that is had whilst pursuing the highest call possible. The highest call is intimate relationship with and obedience to God. Many in Christendom see God as a means to an end rather than the end itself. They will have a rude awakening when their lack of humility is exposed. As far as they have taught others to live a life of hedonism, they will reap judgment.
Hedonism is one of the prevailing worldviews today. It is encouraged by mothers who sigh that they just want their children to be happy. To be ‘happy’ does not mean to be ‘good’. To be good can only come from an outside source, that of God himself. those who seek their own happiness and find pleasure in a spouse, a career, or possessions have lost their way. Unfortunately, this kind of pursuit of happiness leads to an insatiable lust. Consumerism consumes the consumer. We devour ourselves with a drive to satiate our senses. For the consumer, each experience needs to be better than the last and so their eyes are always wandering: Another spouse seems more caring or sexually attractive; another cupcake seems more delicious; another job promises more money; another house facilitates bigger parties. The pleasure actually dwindles to nothing as we have it all, but we miss the simple life of the pursuit of God. We were designed for a quest which changes our own longings and is only satisfied with a fresh experience of God.
Jesus, you are enough. I have heard so much about all that I ‘need’ from advertisers. I am grateful for the family, the possessions, and the life that I have. However, you are my life and I want to follow you.
- About whom is Peter talking in these verses?
- To whom does he compare them?
- Why is Peter justified in speaking so negatively about these people?
- Who teaches hedonism today?
- How has hedonism affected you and the church?
Peter is talking about false teachers and prophets in this passage. They are compared to irrational animals that act on instinct. Peter correctly rebukes these people for their ignorance, wrongdoing, wickedness, and acting similar to Balaam from the Old Testament. It is easier find Christians and non-Christians that preach hedonism than to find those who are against it. It is the most unfortunate to see Christians fall into the trap of these lies. It influences how we see the rest of the Bible, and not in a way that pleases God. The only positive hedonism teaching I know of is John Piper, who argues for Christian hedonism. Although the title can be misleading, his purpose is that God is the only true satisfaction, and rebukes the worldly teachings of hedonism.
I just finished reading a book (for my other FAVORITE class), “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” In this classic novel, a man named “Lord Henry” constantly spouts off on the supremacy of living for one’s own pleasure. His wittiness and eloquence utilized in such a hateful fashion, “the praise of folly” as he bluntly puts it, caused me both to shake my head in sorrow and also throw up my hands in outrage. I feel as though the Church is unprepared to battle the hedonistic worldview and this kind of people described in 2nd Peter. So many seem not “by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil,” which is the defining marker of spiritual maturity- someone who practically lives out righteousness in response to belief in sound doctrine (Hebrews 5:12-14).
So many in the Church seem not to be aware of a Christian worldview and why they themselves do what they do. There needs to be an emphasis not just on proper use of the emotions, but also the mind. Believers don’t seem to have the right framework and be prepared to adequately fight against the enemy (Eph. 6). We don’t think about the subtle influences toward evil that are coming our way, or even the more blatant, unabashed power of hedonism affecting our congregations. Then if we have people living out these worldviews at our very communion table, what are we to say to them? What are we to do? Let them be there and trust God will bring them to final judgment? I wonder if Peter will tell us.
I believe Peter is talking about false teachers that must be among the church and Christians but yet their hearts are far from Christ. He compares these people to irrational animals, creatures of instinct, who are born to be caught and destroyed. Peter is an Apostle and if these people are among the church and leading people astray, then of course he needs to speak like this because they are doing the work of Satan. Hedonism is taught by almost every company trying to sell something, parents, and even some of churches. Sometimes I can begin to think that God wants me to be happy but this happiness should come through stuff and experiences not through Him.
I’m not sure if the “they” is referring back to the unrighteous mentioned immediately before or if it is referring back to the false teachers which started the chapter. In either case, it is referring to people who have a knowledge of the truth but have perverted it for their own gain and scoffing at the spiritual realm. These are compared to animals who are slaves to their passions and self-serving instincts. Self-preservation and enjoyment of life’s pleasures are indicative of those to whom Peter is referring. They have flipped the purpose of existence and redemption on its head, making it about serving themselves instead of God.
This hedonistic ideology is prevalent everywhere in society. Movies, advertisements, books, etc.–these all teach people that they deserve pleasure and selfishness. While it is never referred to as selfishness, that is what it ultimately is. This consumerist hedonism pervades the church as well, making many believe that they have an entitlement to happiness and pleasure which it is God’s job to offer us.
I find myself frustrated with living in a one bedroom apartment with a family of four while struggling to make ends meet. Sometimes I fall easily back into the lie that my satisfaction in life should be tied to these circumstances, which could be pretty depressing if it were actually the case. But value and meaning are not derived from where one is or what one has, but rather in the value and meaning which God has given to people which is ultimately only satisfied through a dynamic and obedient relationship with Jesus.