We ended last week’s post by stating that false teachers promise liberty that they themselves don’t have since they are enslaved to their own bondage in sin (see Liberty Promised; Chains Delivered). Earlier in this chapter Peter warned believers that failing to add Christlike qualities of virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love to our faith (2 Pet 1:5-7), makes us ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of Jesus for His kingdom. This failure results in us becoming as good as spiritually blind, forgetting we have been forgiven from our sin.
When we aren’t adding Christlike qualities to our faith, instead of keeping our eyes on Jesus, we look upon the lusts of the world; and it’s very easy for the ravenous wolves of false teachers to lead people searching for God’s truth down a path that leads to eternal damnation. “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.” (2 Pet 2:19-20)
Peter said that the false teachers were enticing those just escaping from error, but had not yet come to a full faith in Christ when he spoke of them in v 18. They had heard and understood the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, the Bible is very clear that intellectual knowledge is not the same as saving faith (James 2:19). If they had been saved, what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:5 would apply to them. They would have been shielded or guarded by through their faith and by God’s power until salvation was revealed.
Instead, as John wrote, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” (1 John 2:19) Now these people, distracted and enticed by the false teachers, are worse off than before. They had begun to escape the sinful corruption of the world, and begun to associate with a community of believers. And then, they were fooled by the false teachers into participating their old sinfulness. Once more they were entangled, overcome, and dragged back to their old place in the world by their own sinful desires. Worse, now their concept of the gospel is tainted.
So it falls upon the church to make certain that ravenous wolves are removed from the church. “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Rom 16:17-18)
It’s important to make certain that only God’s truth is taught at God’s church, so it’s our responsibility to expose the lies of false teachers: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Eph 5:11) For if a seeker falls under the untruthful spell of a false teacher, the lies entangle them and they will find it more difficult to come to the truth.