Monday, November 12, 2018

The Letters Of A Changed Man: A Study Of 1st and 2nd Peter. Day 25, Those For Whom Blackest Darkness Is Reserved, Part Two

Today Peter concludes his discourse on the coming judgment of false teachers.

"They will be paid back for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you." (2 Peter 2:13) Peter says, "They're shameless! Most carousing is done after dark, but they do it openly in your presence, enticing you to sin along with them."

"With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed---an accursed brood!" (2 Peter 2:14) We can tell Peter is angry, and he has a right to be. He and the other apostles have labored for the church with everything they have, and yet false teachers are creeping into the hearts and minds of those who are weaker in the faith to lead them astray. It hurts his heart to see the harm done by those who convince believers that it's ok to be a Christian and to live in sin.

"They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey---an animal without speech---who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet's madness." (2 Peter 2:15-16) In the book of Numbers we learn that the prophet Balaam was willing to sell out. King Barak of Moab wanted to hire him to curse the children of Israel. Balaam was willing to do it for a large sum of money, but his donkey balked on the journey and stopped still in the road at the sight of an angel blocking the path. When Balaam beat his donkey in his eagerness to earn the money, the donkey rebuked him in a human voice. Peter is saying something like, "These false prophets are as bad as Balaam who was so wicked that an animal had more understanding than he did. The donkey recognized the presence of the angel and Balaam did not. The donkey had more spiritual awareness than his master."

"These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity---for 'people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.'" (2 Peter 2:17-19) Peter warns, "You will find no refreshment from them. They aren't speaking the words that give life, but words that bring death. They focus on those who have very recently emerged from pagan idolatry and say things like, 'Now that you are saved by Christ it doesn't matter how you live. You're free to do anything you want.' Nothing could be further from the truth! There is no slavery worse than sin. These false teachers have not only deceived you, but have even deceived themselves. They think they are living in freedom and are unable to see that they are shackled in chains."

"If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them." (2 Peter 2:20-21) Does this mean it's possible for a person to lose their salvation? I personally don't hold to that doctrine, but I do believe it's possible to become a completely ineffective Christian by not taking advantage to the freedom He offers from living in constant bondage to a particular sin. I also believe that some whom we assumed were saved (because they are active in the church) never really belonged to Christ in the first place. We don't have the time or space to debate such a complicated issue as "eternal security" or "once in grace always in grace", so I will only say that Peter's warning is to be taken extremely seriously. He warns his readers, "If you have been saved through faith in Christ, and then you fall back into your old way of living and you become indistinguishable from an unbeliever, you are in worse spiritual shape than you ever were when you were pagan idolaters. Before you heard the gospel you sinned in ignorance. Now you are sinning with the full knowledge that you are sinning. You will have to answer to a holy God for willfully doing what you know to be wrong and for bringing shame to the name of Christ."

My church started a weeklong revival yesterday, and the pastor who preached in the service last night commented on a sign he once saw in a restaurant. It said, "Our reputation is in your hands." He told us that God is saying the same thing, "My reputation is in your hands." The world judges Christ by those who say they are Christians. (Some, unfortunately, are not even Christians but are using His name for their own gain.) We who truly do belong to Christ are representing the holy Son of God in everything we do and say. We need to honor Him with how we live, not only because He deserves our honor, but because honoring Him draws other human beings to Him. If we who claim to belong to Christ do not honor Him with our lives, we can hardly expect unbelievers to be attracted to Him. In Peter's opinion this is the worst sin we can perpetrate against our fellow man.

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