Chapter 2 of Peter’s letter contains stark warning to false teachers and those that do not follow God’s way.
In the same way that there were false teachers in the past, we have to be on our guard against those in our time too.
We are given some clues through the chapter to help us spot them;
- their teaching is destructive
- their doctrines are untrue
- they deny God who redeemed them
- they have immoral ways
- they are greedy for money
- they tell made up stories
- they are bold and arrogant
- the make proud and stupid statements
- they promise freedom and riches if you follow them
Do you recognise some of these “symptoms” in anyone you “follow?”
I’m thinking of some of the TV evangelists who preach wealth and prosperity if you send them lots of money to “support their ministry” but in reality they are living extravagant lifestyles, they have secret affairs and live a life which is corrupt and immoral behind the scenes. Of course most of them are genuine Godly men but we have to be on our guard. We need to study God’s words for ourselves as the Bereans did in Acts 17 v 11. They were open minded but studied the scriptures carefully to ensure that what they heard was true. I’m grateful that I spent my younger years where this was taught as the right way – to study for yourself, don’t just blindly accept everything you hear from the pulpit but check it out for yourself by studying the Bible for yourself – you will soon recognise if something is not right. Be alert if someone claims to have a “new” interpretation of God’s word. If no one else has seen it in 2000 years plus, it is possibly false.
Peter makes it very clear what penalties await those who live godless lives.
The Angels who sinned were thrown into Hell and kept chained in darkness (this is thought to be before the creation of the world)
He brought the flood in Noah’s time and only 8 were saved
He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, making an example of what happens to the godless but saved Lot who was distressed by all the lawlessness around him.
Only Joshua and Caleb received entry into the promised land because they did not falter in their belief.
But these examples also show that God will keep us through these difficult times if we follow his ways;
And so the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials and how to keep the wicked under punishment for the day of judgement (v9)
He has promised great reward to those who persevere and are found to be righteous in Christ at the day of judgement.
However, an even stronger warning is given to those who “fall away”
If people have escaped from the corrupting forces of the world through their knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and are then caught and conquered by them, such people are in a worse state at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been much better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than to know it and then turn away from the sacred command that was given to them (v20-21)
Now there are some who use this verse as evidence for the thought that it is possible to “lose” your salvation. However we see in John 10 v 25-30;
Jesus answered, “I have already told you, but you would not believe me. The things I do by my Father’s authority speak on my behalf, but you will not believe, for you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never die. No one can snatch them away from me. What my Father has given me is greater than everything, and no one can snatch them away from the Father’s care. The Father and I are one.
So it is clear that if we truly belong to Jesus, he will not let us go. He is our shepherd and has promised to protect us and keep hold of us. But being sheep we are inclined to wander, and then we find ourselves in danger. The sheep that stay close to the shepherd know that they are safe from the prowling lion or wolf, so we must be careful not to wander off, keep our eye on our Shepherd and he will lead us into the rich pasture of his blessing.
This makes me think therefore that this verse speaks more of those who profess knowledge but have never truly repented and become one of Christ’s sheep. Because they have knowledge of the truth, the judgement is more severe than for those who don’t, but it is still a warning for us to be very careful not to let ourselves be led back into the worlds ways.
Certainly if it is possible to lose salvation, I for one do not want to take a chance and risk it. The rewards are so much greater both here on earth and in the kingdom to come if we are faithful in following him.
Don’t be like the description in verse 22 of a dog returning to it’s vomit, or a pig who has been washed clean returning to wallowing in the mud, but be a sheep living securely under the shepherd’s care even through the storms, the sheep know they are protected.
Quotes from The Good News Bible