But the true government of God has been hated and rejected -even by men claiming to be Christian. Peter, a true prophet, has forewarned of this in this chapter; and the day has come of which he has prophesied. As there were false prophets among the children of Israel in the Old Testament, so there are false teachers today, their number multiplied astonishingly. In subtle, insidious ways they introduce destructive heresies. Heresy may not at first be actually wicked teaching, but teaching of a sectarian character, using truth out of proportion, pressing a certain line to the exclusion of another line. When this is accomplished, then the repulsive, wicked doctrine follows, for souls have then been snared. And the denial of the Lord (or Master) who brought them is most flagrant, even at the time they pretend to honor Him. It is said that the Master bought them, not redeemed them. By His death He has "bought the whole world ("that field," as Matthew 13:44 expresses it); but redemption applies only to those who are truly born again. If evil teachers seem to prosper for a time, yet their end is swift destruction."
Sadly, the number of followers of false teachers is many, and because of their corrupt religious pretensions, the ungodly world itself speaks evil of Christianity: for the world does not discern between what is true and what is corruption of the truth. This is a painful trial for the godly.
But more than that, these teachers will seek to use believers as cunningly as possible, manipulating the truth by smooth words, that they may gain an advantage at the expense of believers. But God takes account, and will not delay their judgment. Their destruction may seem far off, but it "slumbereth not:" it is nearer than we may feel it to be.
Now three distinct records of God's judgment are referred to, to enforce the fact that sin in any sphere will not escape the judgment of God, whether it be, first, among the highest dignitaries -- -even angels;-- or secondly, though the whole world embraces it; or thirdly, though in a limited, local area.
Angels were not spared: there was no salvation for any of them. These were cast down to the deepest pit of gloom. They are those of course who followed Satan's lead. These spoken of are bound in chains of darkness in view of judgment. We may wonder as to why other evil spirits are evidently allowed some freedom of movement, even coming before God (1 Kings 22:20-23); and allowed to take possession of men, as seen during the history of the Lord Jesus on earth. So far as we are aware, Scripture gives no direct answer to this question, and it is wise to leave it there. Luke 8:11 how-ever shows that evil spirits had a fear of being commanded to go into "the deep" or "the bottomless pit;" and Rev 9:23 indicates that out of that pit, during the tribulation period, will come a horde of evil spirits to torment men. But our verse presses the fact of God's unsparing judgment against the highest created beings.
Verse 5 now speaks of the whole world not spared. No matter how iniquity strengthens itself by large acquisition of numbers, yet God's judgment does not spare; and this awesome judgment is accented by the fact that Noah and his household alone in all the world were spared. In the face of overwhelming odds, he was a preacher of righteousness, and consistently so, evidently for a period of 100 or 120 years.
Sodom and Gomorrah did not involve the whole world, but its local and confined sphere does not escape God's notice: awful in-deed was the overthrowing of those cities, a standing warning to all who choose to live ungodly. Here too God was able to single out one man for preservation, a believer, called here "just Lot," though, being in no proper associations for a believer, he was distressed by the filthy manner of life adopted by the wicked residents there.
For he was a righteous man, but in circumstances far from righteous and continually, every day, by seeing and hearing the lawless conduct of the Sodomites, he was tormented in his soul. He evidently tried, ineffectively, to stem the tide of evil, but he did not separate himself from it, as he ought to have. Therefore God Himself intervened, and delivered Lot out of the city be-fore its dreadful destruction He knows how to do this In the case of every true child of God, while at the same time reserving the unjust for judgment.
V.9 shows that there is special judgment for those who, though they show high religious pretension, are walking after the flesh, in lust and uncleanness, and despising government. This is notorious in many religions today, and deserves greatest punishment.
The false prophets of whom v.1 speaks are presumptuous and self-willed, assuming a status altogether unbecoming to them, and blatantly forcing their way into what they want. Moreover, they dare to speak in bold defiance of dignities far, higher than they. Christians should never be deceived by such men, for even angels, greater in power and might than men are, do not resort to such evil speaking as that of railing accusation, which after all, is used only as a means of putting another down, with no honest concern for his proper welfare.
The language here then is stern and solemn, comparing these to natural brute beasts. For they have lowered themselves to such a level by their totally materialistic attitude. They act as though they were made to be taken and destroyed. This is true of the beast, but man has eternity set in his heart, and if he acts otherwise than in view of eternity, then he is virtually debasing, himself to the level of the beast. Instead of seeking to understand things of eternal importance, they speak evil of them. Of course, this is unreasonable, brazen corruption, in which they shall utterly perish.
The due reward of their unrighteousness they may expect to receive, as those who count it pleasure to riot in the daytime. At a time when they ought to be working, they take pleasure in damaging the work of others. They are unsightly spots and blemishes in the Christian profession, making sport by the deceptions they dare to practice, while at the same time wanting to be linked with the benefits of Christianity, -- feasting with believers.
Their eyes are not single, but full of adultery, fully set on impure indulgence, with no desire of ceasing from sin; and using every artifice to entice unstable souls into the same evil. What exercise of heart they have is only along lines of covetousness. Little wonder that God designates them as "cursed children," yet how awful a title!
For they have willingly forsaken what has been shown to them as the right way, and have deliberately gone astray. And the motive is exposed as greed, which was that of Balaam, the false prophet, who to sought to pass as a prophet of the Lord, but all the while really desiring the wealth that Balak offered him. Yet God used a miraculous, arresting way of rebuking his iniquity, giving a voice to a dumb beast, that ought to have penetrated his hardened conscience, but sadly had no fruitful effect: his senses had been too numbed by the delusions he preferred. Today too how shocking is the number of such hardened cases!
They are wells that promise refreshing water, but are empty; mists carried with a tempest, obscuring the light, yet bringing no rain to a thirsty earth; and carried wherever the tempests of circumstances blow; no stability, no dependability.
They are able to speak great, swelling words, but "of vanity," that is, emptiness, like a puffed up balloon. And by this they entrap souls for whom they are watching, those who are just escaping from others who live in error. For there are some who are concerned that their associations are bad, and look for something else; and these men are ready with both fleshly inducements and high sounding religious sentiments, to allure them into this morass of corruption. Notice these people are not said to be escaping from corruption, but from those living in error. How different it is for those who seek to escape from the guilt and folly of their own sins. These men would have no message for such. Thank God His message of pure grace is, ready for every soul who is brought, to a state of repentance as regards his own ruin and need.
One of Satan's wretched deceits is to suggest that subjection to the Lord is bondage. So his agents promise liberty, while they themselves are slaves of corruption for having been overcome by corruption themselves, they are under its bondage; so that their load cries of liberation are only intended to bring others into their own slavery.
By a professed knowledge of the Lord and Jesus Christ, they have outwardly escaped the pollutions of the ungodly world. But having no genuine faith in Him Personally, they dare to intro-duce the same pollutions into their religious profession. They are caught in their own net, entangled and overcome. The end of this is necessarily worse than their first condition, for they have added to it the corruption of the pure truth of the grace of God in Christ Jesus.
Of all such false teachers, it is true that it had been better for them never to have known anything of the way of righteousness, never to have had any knowledge whatever of Christianity, than after knowing it, to turn deceitfully away from its pure truth, "the holy commandment."
Now Proverbs 26:1-28:ll is quoted, likening such men first to a dog returning to its own vomit. The dog being an unclean animal, this is its very nature. What has been once rejected as obnoxious and harmful, a man will again embrace, just adding a little religious spice to it, because there is no fundamental change in the man: he Has not been born again: he remains unclean. Similarly, a sow may be washed, but its very nature will lead it back to roll in the first mud-hole it finds. If as a dog he feeds on corruption, as a sow he chooses a filthy environment. This is apostasy; for though a person may still pretend to be a Christian, he has in practice really turned against Christ. None of this could be true of any who had been born again, for believers are sheep, not dogs or sows; and the of the nature of the sheep is not to return to it vomit, or to wallow in the mud.