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"Again Entangled And Overcome"

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The last three verses of II Peter 2 are perhaps more well-known than other parts of this chapter. This section of Scripture is used to show (correctly) that a Christian may fall away from God and be lost (also II Pet. 3:17). “Once-saved-always-saved” or the impossibility of apostasy is not a teaching found in Scripture. Therefore, let us take a look at this section and see what lessons we can learn.

First, II Peter 2:20 is talking about the people who had been fooled by false teachers (v. 19). The reason why Peter wanted to make sure that the Christians were grounded in “the present truth” (II Pet. 1:12-15) is that it was possible for one who had “escaped the pollutions of the world” to be “again entangled and overcome”! To be “again entangled” implies that these folks had, at one point, been “untangled!” Yes, false teachers can tempt us to return to error if we are not vigilant (II Pet. 3:17)! Therefore, if people become entangled once more, then “the latter end is worse than the beginning.”

I find this statement fascinating because if the impossibility of apostasy doctrine is true, then Peter’s last statement is not true. According to those who believe in “once-saved-always-saved,” a man who is “again entangled” never really was saved anyway! In that case, the latter end couldn’t be worse than the beginning for this person, because, from the beginning, this man was doomed and damned to Hell! At the same time, if the impossibility of apostasy doctrine is true for the saved person, then Peter’s last statement is still not true! This is because if a man is saved and bound for Heaven, then he stays saved regardless of what he does while on earth. So, from the beginning, this man was going to Heaven, and how could his destiny be any better? Can we see now how the “once-saved-always-saved” teaching contradicts plain truth? Let’s stop reading the Bible through a “filter,” and let’s accept the Bible for what it says!

II Peter 2:21-22 continues to describe this one who has fallen back into his old ways of sin. Included in this is Peter’s quotation of Proverbs 26:11. God looks upon the saved person who reverts to a life of sin like a dog that vomits and then laps it back up! If this is a disgusting description to you, then you got the point! The actions of a Christian who goes back into sin and the world are as repulsive to God as watching a dog eat puke! Similarly, it reminds God of a freshly-washed sow who rolls in the mire. For those reading who have not been around hogs, please understand that “mire” is not merely “mud.” There is something else in the mud that she is rolling in in order to stay cool! If we think that it is disgusting for a hog (or anything) to root and roll in their own waste, then you get the point! When God sees Christians leave Him and go back into sin, they are rolling in the filth once more!

God does not teach the “once-saved-always-saved” doctrine. The old dodge that says, “a man that falls back into sin never really was saved in the first place” can’t be correct. First, it is not correct because the statement is illogical. Someone who “never really was saved” was just that -- not saved! You can’t fall back into the mire if you never left! Second, we know that old dodge can’t be right because the text says the sow was “washed”! If she was washed, she was clean. She was free from the filth! Then she went back to the “wallowing.” She was out of the mire, washed and clean, and then went back. This is a picture of a person who was taught the truth, saved, cleansed from sin (I Cor. 6:11; Acts 22:16), and then went back to his life in sin. A living example of II Peter 2:20-22 is Simon (Acts 8:13-22). Peter witnessed that event.

Let the words from II Peter 2:20-22 stand as a warning to us. Christians can sin so as to be lost! What can saved people do to prevent this? Get our minds saturated in God’s word (II Pet. 1:12-15) and live it! Don’t listen to false teachers, those who lie to us about our souls (II Pet. 2:19), but listen to the truth of God and be faithful all of our lives (I Cor. 15:58)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Cannot Cease From Sin"

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

            “Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin” is a vivid description of false teachers (II Pet. 2:14). It reminds me of the description of the people before the Flood when “every imagination of the thoughts of (man’s) heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). To have one’s eyes “full of adultery” is a poetic way of saying these people see the perverse in everything. Purity and innocence are gone from them. Sin has perverted their minds.

            This statement, “cannot cease from sin,” doesn’t meant they physically couldn’t stop sinning. They could change if they desired (II Pet. 3:9). It means that these folks won’t stop. They have “exercised” their hearts to where they think of only the wicked, the ugly, the sinful, the impure, the dishonest, and the godless. It has become such a habit for them that it is like “second-nature.” It’s like breathing to them. Paul similarly described the Gentiles in Romans 1:18-32. Do you know people like this? Have you seen people like this in the mirror? I pray not!

            It is these people that Peter says promise folks “liberty” though “they themselves are the servants (slaves) of corruption” (II Pet. 2:19)! These people are in bondage to their sin and wickedness, and they want others to go with them down the same road! This is the nature of those in bondage to sin. They don’t want people “judging” them, but joining them! They don’t want people to instruct them in the way that is right and cannot be wrong (Rom. 1:16-17; Jn. 8:31-32). They want consequences ignored as they think about all the “freedom” and all the “fun” they are having in sin!

            As an example, this is the practice of any alcohol ad. The commercials focus on the “fun-times,” or the “sophistication,” or just quiet introspection as one thoughtfully drinks alcohol. At the end, we read the disclaimer to “Think when you drink” or a reminder to have a designated driver, or there is the fine print where a toll-free number for “A.A.” is offered. Why the disclaimers? I thought alcohol brings good times and sophistication! Why a designated driver? Doesn’t alcohol make you smart? Apparently, alcohol promises one thing (liberty) but brings something else (bondage). If you are not sure about this, ask why it is that alcohol commercials never include winos or the people whose marriages were destroyed because of alcohol. Why do we never see ads showing the people having “DT’s” when coming off of a weekend bender? “When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again” (Prov. 23:25). This is the mantra of the addicted person, i.e., the one who is fooled into thinking he is free when he is actually in bondage.

            Other examples of spiritual bondage abound, but the point is that a man can sin so much until it is “second-nature.” He can lie so frequently that he no longer knows what the truth is! Someone who cannot cease from sin is in slavery and needs to get out! The only One who can free us from the bondage of sin is Christ (Jn. 8:31-32, 36). He makes it possible for us to “escape the pollutions of this world (II Pet. 2:20). The question is, will we accept His cure? He sacrificed His life for all (Matt. 20:28), but not everyone accepts it (Matt. 7:13-14, Acts 17:30-34).

            What will you do? Will you continue in bondage, or will you accept freedom in Christ? When we believe on Christ (Jn. 8:32), repent of our sins (Lk. 13:3, 5), confess our faith (Rom. 10:10), and are baptized, we can be made “free from sin” (Rom. 6:17-18; Acts 22:16). The sin that was once “second-nature” we can drop and can accept true freedom in Christ! Why are you waiting?

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"The Way Of Balaam"

Monday, July 20, 2020

Peter warning against false teachers is a major theme in II Peter 2. After reminding the Christians that God knows how to punish false teachers while delivering the godly (v. 3-9), he focuses on the consequences of the false teacher’s work. It isn’t pretty. One thing we see is that false teachers’ actions are compared to Balaam. Peter says that these people are, “Cursed children which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity ...” (II Pet. 2:14-16). Balaam’s sinful actions are also referred to by Jude (Jude 11) and Jesus (Rev. 2:14).

Who was Balaam, and why should false teachers be compared to him? Balaam was a Gentile, and also a prophet. It’s apparent that God talked to him and told him what to say to the representatives of Balak (Num. 22:6-14). Perhaps God had talked to him on other occasions, but we’re sure He spoke to Balaam in this context. In fact, Balaam even spoke a Messianic prophecy (Num. 24:17-19)! Numbers 22-24 and chapter 31 record Balaam’s work and ultimate end in the greatest detail. Please spend some time reading Numbers for a deeper understanding of Balaam.

Balaam’s command from God was, “Don’t go with the elders of Moab and Midian to Balak’s house, and don’t curse Israel.” Throughout this event, Balaam was quick to say that he wouldn’t curse Israel even if he could receive Balak’s house “full of silver and gold” (Num. 22:18, 23:24-26, 24:11-13). At the same time, it is apparent that the “wages of unrighteousness” (II Pet. 2:16) had a strong appeal to him. Therefore, after refusing to go with the elders the first night, when they returned, and he talked to God again, he was ready to go with them the next morning (Num. 22:21) even though this wasn’t what God had allowed (v. 20).

Notice that Balaam tried to figure out a way “around” God’s word when he joined the elders who took him to Balak. He would do a similar thing when he told Balak how to harm the Israelites without actually pronouncing a curse on them (Num. 31:14-16; Num. 25; etc.).

What can we learn from this? One thing is that false teachers try to find ways “around” God’s word. Many are quick to agree with what the Bible says, but they try to maneuver themselves into a position where they can do what they want as well. This was Balaam. No, he would never blatantly curse God’s people, yet he found a way to cause them to be punished by God whereby 24,000 died in a plague. Did this not play into Balak’s plans? Men today do a similar thing when they twist God’s word to their own destruction (II Pet. 3:16). When we follow after false doctrines, then we will be punished (Ezek. 18:20). The false teacher will answer for his wrong, and so will we when we follow after him!

Peter says, do not end up as a “cursed” instead of a blessed child! Don’t walk in the way of Balaam, looking for “loopholes” or ways around what God has said. Accept what the Lord has said, believe it and obey it and tell it to others, and watch your blessings increase!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

“False Teachers Are Deceivers And Deceived.”

Sunday, July 19, 2020

            Something interesting develops as we read II Peter 2:10-19. In the text, Peter gives us insight into the mind of the false teacher. False teachers have been the “theme” of II Peter 2, and so it ought not to surprise us to see him write extensively on the subject! After the warning about the false doctrine they teach (v. 1-3), Peter now deals with their motivation. In short, in an effort to deceive others, they have deceived themselves (v. 14).

            This is not an uncommon occurrence. Usually, anytime someone repeats a lie over and over, he will finally believe the lie himself. Thus it is with false teachers. They are  “presumptuous,” “self-willed,” and speak evil of “dignities” (KJV - other versions specify angels or angelic dignity). Reading verses 10 and 12, we learn that false teachers “speak evil” or blaspheme when talking. Furthermore, they “speak great swelling words” to those who have escaped error in an effort to get them to return, going so far as promising liberty when they can only provide bondage (v. 18-19). It is one lie after another with these arrogant people!

            Peter tells us that this arrogant person speaks “great swelling words” to get you to believe him and not God. The false teacher has “discovered” something you haven’t. He has found something “lost” to man for millennia. He has learned a “secret” and is happy to share it with you if you are “open-minded” enough to listen and accept. You must not be like those “close-minded Pharisees and legalists,” but must be open to the fact that you could have been wrong for all these years! His arrogance (v. 10) is apparent as he gives you the impression that he is smart, and all others who won’t listen or won’t fall in line are ignorant. He has the answer. Though there might be feigned humility at first (“I’m just a servant of God!”), it quickly melts away when challenged or when his doctrine is examined. His arrogance goes to the point of even blaspheming angels, who are greater in power (v. 10-11).

            As we read II Peter 2:10-19, we find false teachers exercise their hearts for covetous practices (v. 14). They have “forsaken the right way” (v. 15) and God considers them as “clouds without water,” i.e., good for nothing (v. 17)! We can dive deeper into this text, obviously, but for the sake of brevity, let us take this short list and be warned! False teachers are active! They love deceiving others and are constantly looking for more disciples that they might “draw” to themselves and away from God (Acts 20:30). Friends, this is not a joke! This is not a game! These self-serving people, like the scribes and Pharisees, “compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, make him twofold more the child of hell than (they)” (Matt. 23:15)!

            Listen to the warnings from God through the apostle Peter. Don’t get caught up in the web of false doctrine and deceit! Listen to the truth (Jn. 17:17)! Read God’s word without filter and without preconceived ideas. Don’t go to the Bible to “prove” your point, but go to the Bible with an open mind that God might prove the truth to you (Eph. 3:4; II Tim. 2:15)! Man’s word changes, but God’s word does not (I Pet. 1:24-25). Don’t let a false teacher deceive you! Allow God through His word to enlighten you and prepare you for an eternity in Heaven!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"The Lord Knows How ..."

Saturday, July 18, 2020

            Peter tells the Christians (and us), “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (II Pet. 2:9). This statement reminded me of the words of Paul when he wrote, “God is faithful” and will not allow us to be tempted above what we can bear (I Cor. 10:13). In context, Peter was saying that the false teachers, who were teaching “damnable heresies” (II Pet. 2:1), were facing their judgment by God (v. 3). He then reminds us that God was able to punish angels, the “old world” when Noah lived, and Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 4-6), and so He knows how to punish the modern-day false teachers!

            We feel overwhelmed at times. Perhaps we feel like Asaph, who had almost given up when he observed that it seems like the wicked get away with their sins while the righteous are plagued (Ps. 73:1-16). Maybe we think that God doesn’t see or know what is happening in this world, and thus He doesn’t see the sacrifices I am making. Friend, if a sparrow can’t fall to the ground without our Father, don’t you know He sees you (Matt. 10:29-31)? He knows who we are and what we are doing (Jer. 23:24; Heb. 4:13). God knows how to deliver us! Just as a father knows how to bless his children, so also our Heavenly Father knows how to bless us (Matt. 7:7-11). Asaph also learned this lesson when he “went to the house of the Lord” (Ps. 73:17-28).

In like manner, He also knows how to punish those who are doing wickedly in word and deed (Rom. 12:19; Heb. 10:30; Nahum 1:2-3). This was Peter’s point in II Peter 2:1-8. False teachers may think they are getting away with something, but they are not. God is watching, and He will bring about justice at the right time.

            Therefore, let us make sure we are speaking the truth and living it (Phil. 4:8-9)! Ungodly men might not like what we are doing, but God sees us and will bless (Jas. 4:4; Jn. 15:18-20). Let us make sure we do not fall for the lies of the false teachers. This is the reason we must demand sound doctrine, and yes, to have it repeated again and again in our hearts so that we might not forget it (II Pet. 2:12-15; Ps. 119:11)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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