2 Peter 2

This devotional is written by Trissie Coleshaw.

2 Peter 2

False teachers and their destruction
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) – 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; 11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. 12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.

13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, revelling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed – an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 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.

17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 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. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity – for ‘people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.’ 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 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. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.’

Reflection

2 Peter 2 begins with a stark caution against those who try passing their own selfish agenda off as the Word of God. Warning us of 'false teachers' promoting heresies and ‘fabricated stories’, Peter underlines the gravity of such deception by eliding the fate of blasphemers with that of fallen angels and the wicked. Peter designates them as ‘born only to be caught and destroyed’, as depraved people who will be vengefully ‘paid back with harm for the harm they have done’. More condemned still are those who accept Jesus as Lord but who then re-succumb to the desires of the flesh, whom Peter likens to a dog who ‘returns to its vomit.’

At the heart of Peter’s visceral condemnation of blasphemy, however, is a question about motives. His warning is not a judgement of people who make innocent mistakes about the Lord, or whose faith in His promise gets dented by difficult life events, or even those who are simply ignorant of His ways—God’s mercy is far too generous and abundant for that. Rather, Peter excoriates those who deliberately and intentionally distort God’s Word for their own personal gain. Indeed, the act of turning away from God’s primacy and seeking power over others through manipulation is itself the antithesis of how Christians are called to respond to Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. What we learn therefore is that the righteousness of our motives is just as important as the righteousness of our actions, and that if we choose to make ourselves the hero of any story above and ahead of God, the Creator of the Universe, then we are getting into dangerous territory with painful consequences.

But Peter’s warning is not just a wake-up call to how selfishness can con us and seize control of our hearts, or the extent of the Enemy’s hunger to separate us from God with lies and empty promises. Contained within this passage also is the deep and humbling truth that God wants us to live under the protection of His loving goodness. Like a parent concerned for their child, He doesn’t want our deep, abiding worthiness and thirst for His love to be exploited by the unscrupulous. He wants us to be safe and He wants us close. And so we are reminded that in order to find our adoration and our safety, we must always, always look to Him.

So, as you go about your day today, take time to reflect on the areas of your life where selfish motives might have crept in. Where have they taken root? Perhaps you are being stubborn, or refusing to compromise. Perhaps you are over-exercising or letting yourself go hungry because the Enemy has blinded you to your inherent, God-gifted beauty? Perhaps the pursuit of money, status, or even pious self-deprivation, is robbing you of time with God, robbing you of relationships, robbing you of peace of mind. Perhaps you are refusing meaningful connection with others because past experiences have left you hurt and mistrustful? Whatever it may be, ask yourself, “what are the parts of my life that are being driven by self will rather than God’s Will?”

Spot where you are trying to control things that are better left to God, and invite Him to lift the responsibility back off your shoulders. Pray for the ability to trust in His Word alone, and for it to ring anew in your ears and in your heart. Block out the voices of the world that tell you you’re not enough, and that they have the answer to your prayers at the click of a button, a monthly subscription or a so-called supplement. The answers to your prayers can only truly come from God, through the eternal and indiscriminate love He so wants to lavish on you. Believe wholeheartedly in this.

Thanks be to God.

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