©2020 by Sherwood Methodist Church

2 Peter 2:17-22 ESV
These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. [18] For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. [19] They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. [20] For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. [21] For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. [22] What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

Peter continues his description of the false prophets of his day.

Firstly, the false teachers make empty promises. "They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption" (v19). They promise to free people, most likely from sin, but they themselves are enslaved to sin. Thus they are "waterless springs" (v17). They appear to be "springs", but when you go to them, there is no water (i.e. freedom). They speak "loud boasts" about things, but it is just foolishness at the end of the day (v18).

This is the way with all of Satan's temptations. The devil's offer appears to be a "spring", but when you go to it, there is no satisfaction, no quenching of thirst – only the exacerbation of it. The Serpent promises us "freedom" (from whatever) but the end is nothing but slavery.

Only Jesus can promise to give us "freedom" from sin, and follow through on His promise, because only He is the human being without sin – the God Man. A slave cannot free another slave. Only a free man can:

John 8:36 ESV
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Secondly, these false teachers used to be professing Christians who committed apostasy because they never had their nature changed.

At least externally, these false teachers appeared to have "escaped the defilements of the world". They also appeared to have a "knowledge" of Jesus. They also have "known the way of righteousness" (v20). They have 'learned' that Jesus is the Right Way. I'm sure they were baptised Christians who attended church and Bible studies regularly.

But, eventually, they were "entangled" in and "overcome" by the "defilements of the world" again (v20). They "turned back from the holy commandment" (v21), which was "Repent and Believe in Jesus!"

Why? Because their nature never changed through regeneration:

2 Peter 2:22 ESV ... “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

Why did the dog return to its own vomit? Because it's a dog! That's what dogs do! Why did the pig go back in to the mire? Because that's what pigs do! That's where pigs belong – in the mud. If the dog's nature was changed into a man's, it would not have returned to the vomit. Because that's disgusting! If the pig had turned into a human being, it would stayed out of the mud. Why? Because that's not what a human being does.

In the same way, when we are truly born-again to become a child of God, we do not go back to the vomit of our past sins. EVEN IF WE DO (because old habits die hard), we do NOT like it – because our nature has changed, to know how disgusting our sins really were. We don't return to the mire of our sins. Even if we do, we hate it, because we know that we are God's children and that mire is NOT where we belong any more.

Our nature has changed!

Also, the reason why these false teachers went back to their old lifestyle was because they never received Jesus Christ as their PERSONAL Lord and Saviour. Look what it says in v20: "For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of OUR Lord and Savior Jesus Christ..."

It does NOT say: "For it, after they escaped the defilements ... through the knowledge of THEIR Lord and Saviour". Jesus was never THEIR personal Lord and Saviour. Jesus was always someone else's Lord and Saviour. They just tried other people's Jesus out for a few years. And they didn't like Him.

Let us make sure that Jesus is not someone else's Lord and Saviour, but that He is MY Lord, who rules over my life, and MY Saviour who died for my sins. Let us 'own' Him as "mine", and we as "His".

Prayer Points:

- Pray that you will not pay attention to the empty promises of Satan. That you will see that the end of succumbing to his temptation is nothing but endless thirst and slavery.

- If you are a truly born-again Christian, pray that you will 'be who you are'. That you will not go back to the vomit of your past sins, because you now understand how disgusting that is, and that you will not go back to the mire of your old lifestyle, because that's no longer where you belong.

- If you are not born-again, ask God to cause you to be born-again to give you a truly new nature that hates sin and loves righteousness.

- Pray that Jesus will be YOUR personal Lord and Saviour, not somebody else's. That you will fully own Him as yours.

Luke 20:45-47 ESV
And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, [46] “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, [47] who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

The scribes "loved" greetings by people. They "loved" the best seats in the synagogues. They "loved" the places of honour at feasts. These were their "loves".

In other words, they loved their own glory.

Their love of self-glory was revealed in how they "for a pretence made long prayers". Praying longer make them look spiritual and godly before others. If they prayed longer, people would greet them more, with more respect. If they prayed more, they would get better seats in the synagogue.

The religious leaders of the time also "loved" money:

Luke 16:14 ESV
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.

The scribes' love of money was shown in how they "devoured widows' houses" (Luke 20:47). They took advantage of weak, helpless women and stole their possessions. John MacArthur says in his commentary:

"Scribes often served as estate planners for widows, which gave them the opportunity to convince distraught widows that they would be serving God by supporting the temple or the scribe’s own holy work. In either case, the scribe benefited monetarily and effectively robbed the widow of her husband’s legacy to her"

Thus, by loving money, they were not "loving their neighbours as themselves". So they were breaking the Law of God, which they claimed to be experts of:

Luke 10:27-28 ESV
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

The reason why they didn't love God (and, in turn, their neighbours) is because they never experienced God's forgiveness:

Luke 7:47 ESV
Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Why did the scribes never experience God's forgiveness? Because they didn't really think they needed forgiveness! They were righteous in their own eyes:

Luke 18:9 ESV
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.

So, what is Jesus' judgment of religious leaders who love their own glory and money, and do not love their neighbours as themselves? "They will receive the greater condemnation" (10:47)

That is, they will receive greater condemnation than sinners who never pretended be holy and righteous, nor spent their lives telling people to be holy and righteous. At least those sinners were honest about their sins, and never bothered to try to appear better than they are. The scribes, on the other hand, by their outward rituals and prayers for show, added 'lying to people' to their list of sins.

Other people could not see it, but Jesus, with His divine, 'x-ray' eyes could see right through the charade to the real "love" of their hearts: themselves.

Prayer points:

- Pray that we will repent of our love of self. That we stop loving being glorified people and seek to be glorified by God alone.

- Pray that we will stop loving money by being generous to the likes of "widows" (i.e. the 'needy', especially in this difficult time) around us.

- Pray that we will not do any good works or righteousness for pretence, or that we will pretend to be better/holy than we are. But pray that we'll confess to God and others our need for God's forgiveness and Christ's righteousness imputed to us.

Job 1:1-5 ESV
[1] There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. [2] There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. [3] He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. [4] His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. [5] And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, "It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did continually.

Blameless and upright. This cannot possibly mean that Job was sinless:

Job 7:21 ESV
[21] Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity?

What is meant by “blameless and upright” is found in 1:5: Job was someone who was extremely sensitive to even the slightest sin in his life, even sin in his heart — and even in the hearts of his children. He used to offer sacrifices for internal, spiritual, sins, as well as for the external, visible, ones.

Thus we see here that to be “blameless and upright” does not mean to never commit a sin, but to hate even the slightest sin that you have committed — even sins of your thought life — and to seek forgiveness from God through an atoning sacrifice.

Also, Job was “blameless and upright” in that he had the highest regard for God’s honour. He couldn’t stand God being cursed by his own children, even if it was in their hearts. Do we have such a high regard for the honour of God? How many times do we put up with God or Christ’s Name being maligned by people (with their lips, let alone in their hearts!), and never even say a word about it?

Another thing we see exemplary in Job is his godly parenting. He actually cared about the sins of his children. He didn’t care about their offenses against him, but about their offenses against God. He cared about their souls. He cared about their eternal destinies.

Job made them come to worship each week, and taught them to each confess their individual sins over the animal before killing them. Thus he taught them that their blasphemy against God (even if it’s in their hearts) deserves death. But he taught them that God is merciful and gracious, and longed to forgive and justify them. Thus Job preached the Law and the Gospel to his children. Job was “blameless and upright” in his parenting.

How about us, as parents? Do we actually care about our children’s sins against God? Not because it inconveniences us, or makes us embarrassed before others, but because it offends and blasphemes God? Do we care actually about the state of our children’s souls, and their eternal destinies? Or do we care more about how well they are doing at school, or their future career prospects?

Are we preaching the Law to them, that their sins (no matter how small) deserves death, and then preaching to them the Gospel: that God has provide the way of escape from His wrath by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His Son?

Prayer Points:

- Pray that you will become sensitive to even the slightest sin in your life, even sins of your heart.

- Pray that we will be encouraged in knowing that “blameless and upright” doesn’t mean perfection, but that it is to continually repent and seek God‘s forgiveness through Christ’s atonement.

- Pray that parents in our midst would care about their children’s sins, that they would care about the state of their children’s souls and their eternal destinies, and that they would preach the Law and the Gospel to them.