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.