Previously, I wrote about the fact that there are false teachers in this world. Teachers who might have started well and with Christ as their motivation, but who began building their own empire in this wasteland instead of working to advance God’s kingdom, and instead of teaching the truth, they entice people by teaching what people want to hear. In this context, Peter begins talking about the wickedness that is present within these people and within the world. The crazy thing is that we are all in danger of buying into this sort of wickedness; it is not a danger that belongs to teachers alone.
For example: We might imagine that we dream to start a restaurant. So we start this restaurant and our top priorities are customer service and customer satisfaction. Prices are low and our customers are happy. We become so successful that people can’t get into our building because it’s always so crowded. We must either expand or turn people away.
Since customer service is a high priority, we decide to expand. In order to expand, we must raise prices so that we can afford to build on. Our customers are okay with that because they believe everyone ought to come to our restaurant. So we build on and pay for it, but after we pay for it we do not bring the prices back down. After all, people have been paying this much and we haven’t lost any customers. We have now shifted our attention from customer service and satisfaction to making money. We have taken our concerns off of others and we have become self-centered.
This, essentially is what Peter describes in this chapter, only people have taken their attention off of God and have tried to place themselves in the place of God.
Let’s continue through chapter 2 together:
They consider it a pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, delighting in their deceptions as they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery and are always looking for sin. They seduce unstable people and have hearts trained in greed. Children under a curse! They have gone astray by abandoning the straight path and have followed the path of Balaam, the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness but received a rebuke for his transgression: A donkey that could not talk spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s irrationality.
These people are springs without water, mists driven by a whirlwind. The gloom of darkness has been reserved for them. For by uttering boastful, empty words, they seduce, with fleshly desires and debauchery, people who have barely escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them. For if, having escaped the world’s impurity through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in these things and defeated, the last state is worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy command delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to its own vomit, and, “a sow, after washing itself, wallows in the mud.”
As we read this, we should remember the context: It is specifically about people who are false teachers and specifically about righteous and unrighteous action. It is not about the state of the soul (whether somebody is saved or not). It is about how action affects our standing with God on this earth and in this life.
Let me set up this scenario: There are people who come to know Christ. It’s a done deal, they are saved and get to spend eternity with Him. After escaping the impurities of this world they become entangled in them again. They return to selfishness, greed, adultery, and begin loving the wages of this world instead of the wages that God promises. Instead of investing in their eternity by practicing the things we talked about in chapter 1:
- Moral excellence
- Brotherly affection
- And love.
They began to invest only in their life here on this earth. Here, Peter actually calls that wickedness Especially when they teach others, by word or example, to do the same.
Here is where I find a constant struggle in my own life. I know I ought to live for God and invest in my eternity, but sometimes I can’t seem to see past this world. I like fame, and I like human acceptance. I like it when people like my Instagram photos. I like to earn money. I like when people read my books, and I like it when people listen to my sermons. Here’s the truth: when I use these things to pump myself up, I am wicked according to Scripture. In fact, Peter even states that it would be better for me if I never knew the way of righteousness in the first place. If I know what is right and still entangle myself in what is wrong, I slap God in the face because it is He who revealed a righteous way for me to live. So, we can invest in our eternity or we can negatively impact our standing with God on this earth. It seems by context that those in authority are in greater danger of living for self, but the danger is there for all of us.
Knowing this, we must ask ourselves these questions: Have I turned from the way of righteousness and gotten entangled once again in wickedness? A simple way to ask this question is, have I put anything in my life before God? Or, have I sought to gain anything in this world and not sought the eternal rewards that only God can give? A couple ways that we might be able to evaluate our answers to these question might be in the following applications: First of all, if any activity becomes more important than meeting with our church family to worship God or more important than our personal time with God, then we are investing in this world rather than in our eternity. Diversely, if we make sacrifices in order to worship with our church family or have a personal time with God, then we invest in our eternity.
Second, if I care more about recognition or gaining fame or influence than about caring for and serving people, then I invest in this world rather than in my eternity.
This is tough because I live a public life and perform a very public service. I write and I’ve just started producing videos. What I do has to be service oriented and has to point to God or I do it in vain.
If we have become wicked, as Peter argues here, the fix is very simple. We must ask for God’s forgiveness and begin honestly pursuing Him again; putting our own selfishness to the side. It may be difficult for us, but it is this simple. God has promised to never forsake us, let us not forsake Him either.
 2 Peter 2:13-22 (HCSB)