17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves[f] of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 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. 22 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.”
Consumer Church, Selfish Faith, Coca-Cola
Waterless springs and driven mists promise refreshing, life-giving, water but they deliver nothing. False teachers make bold promises and lead others astray, but they deliver nothing. There are many voices that make promises in our culture. I think of the implicit promises of Coca-Cola. The images of coke involve young people who are happy. The implication in the advertising is that if you drink this product you will have access to eternal youth, fun, and fitness. Of course, the product really rots your teeth, adds weight, and pollutes the system with caffeine. Many movies preach the meaning of life. If you have a model partner, a lot of money, or you receive justice, it will make you happy. Some media even encourages you to live life checked out from engaging with day-to-day issues. Of course, there is media that communicates true principles about life, but the truth is not always easy to find.
False teachers’ dark clouds will be replaced with impenetrable darkness for eternity. Those who taught in Asia Minor encouraged sensual passions among those who were just escaping from a life where the senses were satiated. Today the church does, in many cases, teach those who are escaping consumerism to consume. We just buy Christian merchandise rather than pagan. I am not saying we shouldn’t pay for Christian products and services, but there is a spirit of consumerism which permeates churches and teaches attendees to be consumers without even knowing it.
Have you ever noticed how rebels slavishly dress the same? I am not just talking about the way that communists dress in overalls, I am talking about the way that disillusioned youth slavishly wear black t-shirts or ripped jeans. There is no freedom as we perceive it in the 21st century mind. Our freedom would be a freedom from everything and a freedom to do anything. However, one is always a slave to something and the freedom is just in the choice of who you will serve. The seemingly most enlightened members of our society are actually enslaved to themselves and their passions.
If a person who is exploring the faith, and finds elementary truths in it, has their head turned by those who would inject consumerism, individualism, and skepticism (which I see in many of today’s churches), they will not find their way to a deep relationship with Jesus. Those who make a false commitment and are turned away by those who are committed to anything other than Jesus will not find their way back. They are inoculated against true faith by the false faith they have cultivated.
No wonder Paul and Peter speak so strongly against false teachers. This is a frightful picture. Can it be that false teachers know exactly what they’re doing and they’re deliberately leading “Christians” astray? I think we can often be so unsuspecting, so open…almost too welcoming perhaps. We don’t assume evil of anybody, I think that is a good thing, “Love thinks no evil” I’m reminded from 1st Corinthians 13, and yet we have to be careful..the power of words to persuade, the power of a person to affect change.. No wonder it is said so often in the New Testament that we are to be vigilant, on the alert, on our tip toes so to speak. We can’t fall asleep, as believers, and especially as pastors and Bible teachers..! “For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness..” Great, “swelling” words that are vain! Oh we’ve got to be protective of our flock and plead with God for more wisdom, watching our own hearts.
It’s scary to realize the implications of what Peter is saying in this passage. There are teachers enslaved to sin who are deceiving others in the name of freedom, and it would have been better if they had never known the way. It’s easy to use this passage to point to “those people” “over there,” but what if that was one of us? A fellow student or professor at Moody? Maybe it is not as likely but maybe it is as likely.
I really appreciate the commentary shedding light on the real darkness… the selfish, consumeristic tendencies that the American church has become enslaved to. It is scary to think that these mindsets even crawl into such a place as Moody. May we take the words of Peter seriously, and not allow ourselves to be deceived by such false teachings but to continue to fix our gaze on Jesus and putting His Word above all that the world and even the Christian bubbles teach.
What a warning to believers! Are we helping new believers or old believers get away from things that they struggled with before Christ or are we becoming enables and helping them to do things in moderation? Am I influencing people to be more like Christ or wanting them to get close to the fire without getting burned. Discipleship is oh so needed in our churches and the Christian community at large! I pray that my passion will grow and grow for discipleship and being disicipled and letting older wise Christians speak into my life!
I need to think through my life and exam what is taking me as a slave and what am I going to back to over and over again.
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.
This passage reminds me of the parable of the sower. One of the soils is that which is infested by thorns and briars. The people embraces the Gospel at first but is then seduced by the pleasures and worries of the world and is choked out. In the present passage, the thorns of life are described as empty wells and false mists. The pleasures and worries of life entice the person from the truth, but instead of fulfilling what they promise to bring the result is deception, self-absorption, and ultimately death. It is, therefore, vital that we always examine our lives and be willing to lay our anxieties at the foot of the cross and embrace the riches of Christ.