2 Peter 2:16 "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."
Who was Balaam? Let me just take a moment to give you a scriptural rundown:
First, Balaam is a paradox. He acknowledged the true God of heaven and God came and spoke to him (Num. 22:8-9).
Second, Balaam was a false prophet. In the Lord’s providence, though, he spoke some of the most beautiful words in the Bible (Num. 24:15-25).
Third, Balaam was motivated by greed (2 Pet. 2:15; Jude 11). He had no misgivings about using God’s call on his life for money (Num. 22).
Fourth, Balaam was warned by God (Num. 22:21-34). Specifically, an angel of the Lord stood in his way (Num. 22:22). Even the pagan king (Balak) saw the Lord was preventing Balaam (Num. 24:11).
And even today, we hear many people like Balaam say, “I have sinned.” But, most of the time, there is no genuine repentance. Many want to die a death of righteous, but are unwilling to life the life of the righteous (Num. 23:10). This is why Balaam’s doctrine is very popular today. It is the lie that a person (male or female) can get “saved” and live like the unsaved.
Christian, Balaam's donkey, Jonah's worm, Paul's thorn, Jeremiah's pit, Joseph's brothers... don't limit what God will use in your life. But also don’t place limit on God himself. He is faithful, but he is not a genie in a bottle.
Father, fill our minds with truth, flood our hearts with a reminder of your grace, and free us into your purposes today. Lord, how easy it was to see Balaam and Judas, two of your close workers, turn professional in their work for you. May it never be with us! Lord, guard our hearts and mind in Christ to know the power of the Gospel in living wholeheartedly for you and no one else.. In Jesus’ name.. Amen.
2 Peter 2:17 "These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them."
I don’t know about you, but I am a big fan of history. One era my wife and I have been looking over in recent days in our “free time” (you know, that one hour between our kids going to bed and us falling asleep watching said documentaries) is about the Dust Bowl. As many of you know (and some have you may have experienced), the late 1920s and early 30s in middle America were marked by unprecedented growth—and unprecedented hardship. Farmers, looking to make a quick buck, tore up the virgin soil of the Great Plains to farm wheat and other semi-arid crops. This worked well for several years—but when the drought came, and for many years it—that once fertile land turned into dust tornadoes.
This picture of the Dust Bowl is what struck me reading and studying through today’s verse. False teachers are described much like the Great Plains of that time—“springs without water.” Contextually, Peter is referring to a dry oasis in the desert or a cloud that looks like rain but contains none and blows over. In other words, false teachers promise great prosperity (rain), but can’t deliver and bring evil, sadness, and sin (drought). They are persuasive and very eloquent—even flashy and creative. Instead of calling people back to holy lives before the thrice-holy God, they appeal to lusts and greed.
But when the Bible runs dry, we run dry. The triune God is magnificent and his Gospel is abounding and astounding. It will never dry up! That abundant supply of daily grace which we all need will never grow weak, get stale, dry up or run out. It's grace upon grace upon grace.
Are you feeling empty, dry, and weak today? Should be a good day, then! If you feel like your well is dry it's because you're drinking from your own self-dug well and not the ever-abounding well of God's grace. He won’t disappoint.
Father, thank you that your well never runs dry. Thank you that when you bring the rain, even when it hurts, you do so for your glory and our good. Protect us from those that promise high and mighty things but, unlike you, they can’t deliver on their promises. Certainly, Father, they may grow for a season, but as quickly as they come they will disappear. Father, thank you that you are the same now and forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
2 Peter 2:19 "They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”
The three most important decisions we all must make:
Master—who governs your life?
Mission—what your purpose is?
Mate—who you'll spend your life with?
And through all of this, we must watch out for the very thing that would redefine these, biblically speaking, before God: Sin. You see, sin is a wretched servant and an even worse master. Money is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. And the Bible reminds us that Jesus calls people to follow Him as their kingly Master and join Him in fulfilling His kingdom mission (Matthew 4:18-19, 28:19-20).
Before being enslaved to sin as these false teachers hope you will do (promising you freedom but doing the opposite), remember what the Scripture says:
He is my Father, I am His child (John 1:12).
He is my Master, I am His servant (2 Cor.6:4).
He is my Beloved, I am His bride (Rev.19:7-9).
The biblical gospel gives us three things we need: 1. A perfect righteousness 2. A new heart 3. The right Master. You don’t manage sin, you repent and turn to Jesus to set you free from sin being your master. God delivers us from the task master of sin in order to worship, in order to praise, and thank him.
If you see your neighbor in sin and do not warn him, it is as cruel as seeing his house on fire and not warning him. The same goes for yourself. If the Holy Spirit shows forth your sin, then you need to repent and receive his forgiveness. This isn’t cheap grace…but rather, as Psalm 130:3-4, says: ""If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.""
Father, let me not trade my freedom in the Gospel for the porridge of Esau in the false teaching of the world and the devil. Lord, help me to rejoice more in my own forgiveness today so I can quickly forgive those who sin against me. Thank you that you don’t hold the record of wrongs against me. Thank you that you have extended us forgiveness in Christ. Let us not be mastered by anything that would take away our freedom in you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
2 Peter 2:20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.
Who is Peter referring to here? The false teachings? Their followers? Or someone else?
Probably, due to the context, the emphasis is on the false teachers. However, it can also apply to those who have become (or will become) their followers. For a period of time, both groups escaped the pollution of this world in Jesus Christ. But, once again, they found themselves entangled in the worst of the worst sin. And Peter says that “they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.”
Is Peter suggesting we can lose our salvation? Not at all! 1 Peter 1:5 “Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” The preservation of the saints is guaranteed by God, but that does not make our perseverance passive. Perseverance of the saints is like watching the Olympics on tape delay, knowing that somehow your faltering team still wins. Because God saves us, He will keep us (John 10; Romans 8, Jude 24-25, etc.).
Rather, Peter seems to suggest two things. First, those who have some experience (but who are not truly saved) with the Christian life may have a harder time coming to the knowledge of the truth. “Been there, done that, and got the t-shirt” is their motto (Matthew 12:43-45). Second, he could also mean that the latter state is worse than the first by way of how they will be judged. These folks have been exposed to the greatest truths known to man. And they will be judged accordingly on that Day (Matt. 11:21-24; Luke 12:47-48).
Is it possible for someone to church their whole lives, hear the Gospel, and even serve in the church and not be saved? Yes! The false convert and the hypocrite is clean in his own eyes and knows nothing of the battle which the true believer fights against sin. May we end with Jesus’ sobering words in reflection today:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ – Matthew 7:21-23.
Father, one Day your glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. As we worship you today, grant us a taste of that wonder and peace. Your kingdom cannot come too soon... your reign of grace, truth, beauty, and shalom. Use us as servants of peace, today and tomorrow. But remind that our service doesn’t save—only you can. Father, never let us forget that we are chosen, not "choice." May the gospel generate the aroma of humility and gratitude in our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
2 Peter 2:21 "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."
Like the seen sown on the rocky and thorny ground, these false teachers give every visible evidence they truly know Jesus Christ as Savior. However, they did not show forth repentance and bear fruit consistent with an eternally-changed life.
Certainly, Peter is not saying that Christians never sin. In fact, a quick survey of the Bible says otherwise:
Noah – Got drunk and acted lewdly
Abraham – Doubted God and lied about his wife, tried to pass her off as his sister, and then committed adultery to have a child (did it on purpose!)…
Isaac – Learned how to sin from his father and did the very same thing with his wife, Rebekah, and lied to Abimelech
Jacob – Stole the birthright from Esau and deceived his father and raised a family of immoral children.
Moses – Murderer. When he later acted in pride and struck the rock, he was forbidden by God from even entering into the Promised Land.
Aaron –Led Israel in the worship of the golden calf and was responsible for the orgy that followed.
Joshua – Told by God to destroy the Gibeonites and made a treaty with them!
Samson – Overcome with lust for a wretched woman
David – Totally out of control with women. If he saw a woman he liked, he married her. And collected them. He was an adulterer, murderer, and a lousy father who couldn’t lead his own kids.
Solomon – Was even worse! The biggest polygamist outside of old Utah!
Isaiah – Put his trust in a human king.
Hosea – Married a prostitute. Imagine the pulpit committee coming to visit his house!
Jonah – Disobeyed God’s call on his life. Jonah went west instead of east to get away from the will of God as fast and quick as he could. And when God rerouted his life through a storm and preached at Nineveh and the whole city came to Christ….he pouted about it. He didn’t want them to be saved!. And God used them in the greatest revival that has ever come to the earth.
Elijah – Was scared of one woman and ran away.
Paul – Used to kill Christians.
Timothy – Was ashamed of the Lord Jesus.
The roll call of those whom God has used in the Scripture is one long list who are chiefly unqualified. All of this shows us God’s grace- doesn’t it? This is what we learn from all of this. Failure is never final as long as the grace of God or none of us would never get a jersey and get into the game. Throughout the centuries, God uses imperfect people inspire of their failures, faults, and sin. We call that G R A C E.
Romans 7:9 explains why nice doubters can become mean believers. Moral -- in a cruel way. They're serious, but not saved. Praise God, that He has not saved us and set us loose. I would be afraid to leave my bed, if it was not for His continuing providence. If God lets you run loose in your sin, then you have just proven you are not a true child of God (Hebrews 12).
Is Christ your all in all today?
Father, save us from over-realized eschatology - grabbing stuff not promised and under-realized eschatology - trusting you for nothing. Jesus, may the gospel be much, much wider and deeper this day than my desire for pettiness, annoyance and unbelief. Save me from me, Lord! Come Herod or high-water, those you’ve come to save will come to you, Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
2 Peter 2:22 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.”
What a gross picture we have today! A dog returning to its vomit? Wow!
False believers and teachers, like a dog returning to its vomit or a pig that returns to its mire, appear cleaned up on the outside, but their basic nature before the Lord has never changed. Eventually, they act like their true nature. They don’t love God or the way of righteousness described in His Word because they have never been born again.
Controversy has its place. But building a ministry on its negative energy, while attractive to some, is not God's way. We can try to make the cross attractive and inoffensive, but it will remain a blood-stained sign of the promised Messiah killed for sinners.
What makes you beautiful and what makes you attractive is the character you have before God and before others. The Christian life is not merely an attractive option, but is the only life that leads to God. True holiness is not negative and whiny but attractive; human wholeness on display (Ephesians 5:26-27).
There is no more attractive lie than to tell yourself that you don't have a sin problem. No sin problem? You won't seek the grace you need. Stay alert: we know less than we think; forget more than we realize; and the lies of the world are more attractive than we imagine.
Where are you today?
Father, we know that we often return to the same sins again and again and again. And, yet, we can come back to you again and again and again. Father, I pray for those reading this that this doesn’t strike a chord of repentance in. That is, those that see this as a “Get-out-of-sin” free card. Lord, may it never be! Draw all those not in Christ reading this to you for salvation. For those with Christ, who have repented and believed the Gospel, strike our conscience with the truth of your word. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
2 Peter 3:1 "Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking."
Okay, friend: You have made it through the first two chapters of Second Peter. For many, this type of study (verse-by-verse / expositional) is new to you. How have you embraced it? Have you found that this study is helpful?
Let’s recap where we have been. In chapter one, Peter reminded us numerous times of the Gospel and its consequences in our lives. In chapter two—you know, the one you thought would never end—he compared and contrasted the false teachers with the triune God. God not only will punish the false teachers, but he will also save the righteous.
As we enter chapter three, you can almost hear Peter say, “Okay, guys, let’s remember why we are here. Let’s recount for a minute the purpose of what I set out to do. I want you to wake fully, that is, arouse (literally and figuratively) and stir up / wake up / arise up you to the Gospel truth. Let’s now focus on the end of the world.”
From the original Greek, we know the period of time between Peter’s first letter and his second letter is not long. And don’t forget what he told them in 1:13: “I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body.” Peter, like all godly teachers, is in the business of not just talking—but of going back to the basics and reminding of what is most important (cf. Paul in 1 Cor. 15:1-4 – “first importance”).
What is the takeaway as we enter in this third chapter?
1. Following Christ means that we can awake every day and know precisely which direction we're going. Worship, then, is not just something you do on Sunday. Rather, worship is first your identity, because worship sets the direction of all you say and all you do. We ought to awake daily with an eager recognition that God might use us this day to proclaim Christ to save a lost soul. Such daily reminders, like Peter’s here, point us back to the purpose in all we do.
2. May we pray: “Father, awaken our slumbering churches and arouse our sleepy pulpits.” God's love does not depend on you. You did not awaken it; you cannot quench it. Rejoice. But the state of churches and church members says otherwise. May we repent and trust the One who is to lead us for His glory.
3. One of the devil's greatest tools is distraction. If he can lure our thoughts to any place but God, he will have done his duty. Peter calls for these Christians to be awakened to holy thoughts. No believer can rise above his thought life. Pure thoughts inevitably lead to pure living.
What is something that you can do to stir up yourself or others to pure thinking? Write a note to someone with a word of encouragement and piece of scripture that will encourage them in their walk with the Lord. Pray that the Lord would stir your mind and heart to follow after Him more and more.
Father, free us today from thinking so earthly. Father, by your grace and for your glory, free us to think, see, feel and act in line with the truth of the gospel today. Father, thank you for making peace with us through Jesus. Never again do we have to live in doubt about what you think of us. May all our thoughts and meditations today be pleasing in your sight. In Jesus’ name. Amen.