Without Holiness…

When someone comes to Christ and experiences God’s saving grace, there has to be a response. Jesus calls us to live a holy life. It is the job of preachers and teachers to remind followers of Christ to live differently. When preachers and teachers don’t do their job, people can lose their way. They may return to their former way of life and Peter says that this is tragic. He wrote in 2 Peter 2:21-22 (NLT):

It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. 22 They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.”

Hebrews 12:14 (NIV) says:

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

The author of Hebrews says that we have to live holy lives or else we will not see the Lord. What is holiness? It is living differently and set apart for God. It means to live a lifestyle that is markedly different than the one you were living before you knew Christ. Don’t go back to former habits and past sins. Instead, live a life of holiness and righteousness. When you inevitably fall short, return to your Father and not your former ways. He is waiting to forgive you with His amazing grace.


Don’t Return To Your Past

Do you remember when you first came to Christ? Do you remember that feeling of freedom? You knew that the chains had been broken and that your past was forgiven. You had received the free gift of God’s grace and it was like a glass of cool water in the midst of a desert. You may have thought to yourself, “I’ll never go back there again!” Yet, gradually and over time, the past has called to you and has beckoned you to return to your former life. Don’t go back there! It’s not worth it. Here’s what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 2:20 (NLT):

And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before.

Don’t listen to the voices of the past who are calling you back into sin. Don’t believe those who say that sin is no big deal. It’s a big deal and sin is a slave master who is ready to enslave you again. Remember that Jesus set you free from sin and your past and you don’t have to go back there ever again.


What Controls You?

Jesus went to the cross to purchase our freedom from sin. The power of His resurrection is the same power that lives in believers. The Holy Spirit, who raised Christ from the dead, lives in every born again believer. This power is available to us at any time and yet we feel so powerless much of the time. We feel like we’re trapped in our sinfulness and shame.
The false teachers of Peter’s day promised freedom through their lies, but were enslaved by their own sin and greed. Peter says in 2 Peter 2:19 (NLT):

They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.

What controls you? Is it greed or lust? Is it anger or fear? Is it guilt and shame? Is it worry and anxiety? Is it the opinion of others? What has enslaved you?
You’ve got to realize that the power of Jesus’ resurrection can free you from these masters. Jesus can give us the power to say, “No!” to sin and “No more!” to fear and worry. We don’t have to live as slaves any longer. We have been set free. The chains are gone and the prison door is open wide. We just have to walk away from this spirit of slavery and live in the victory Jesus won.


Lying About Sin

It appears that the false teachers of Peter’s day were convincing people that their former ways of living weren’t all that bad. New converts to Christianity are most susceptible to falling back into a lifestyle of sin. False teachers who lead new converts back into sin are “doomed” and “useless,” Peter says. He wrote in 2 Peter 2:17-18 (NLT):

These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. They are doomed to blackest darkness. 18 They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. With an appeal to twisted sexual desires, they lure back into sin those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception.

It is so vitally important that Christ’s church focuses on discipleship, especially of new converts. We have to make sure that we are providing opportunities for people to grow in their faith. Otherwise they will be left to their own devices to battle against false teachers and the spiritual forces of darkness. Conversions are great, but we have to do our best to train and correct those converts so that they do not fall away.


But It’s A Talking Donkey

The apostle Peter, when writing about the greed of false teachers, compares them to an Old Testament prophet named Balaam. Balaam was given oracles by God and spoke on behalf of the Lord. He pronounced blessing after blessing on the Israelites. Balak, king of Moab, wanted Balaam to pronounce a curse on them instead. Secretly, Balaam wanted the king to pay him in order to pronounce a curse. This is what Peter wrote when he compared false teachers to Balaam in 2 Peter 2:15-16 (NLT):

They have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor, who loved to earn money by doing wrong. 16 But Balaam was stopped from his mad course when his donkey rebuked him with a human voice.

God spoke through Balaam’s donkey and an angel to get Balaam back on track. Just as Balaam was greedy and desired to speak for God for financial gain, so too are many false teachers and preachers. One wonders if it would take a talking donkey today to bring them back around to preaching and teaching the truth of God’s Word out of their love for Him and His people and instead of profits.


They Never Stop Sinning

The false teachers of Peter’s day didn’t just lead people astray with their heretical teachings. They were full of sin themselves. Peter describes their sin in 2 Peter 2:14 (NLT):

They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lure unstable people into sin, and they are well trained in greed. They live under God’s curse.

The two sins Peter describes are lust and greed. Sexual sin has been the downfall of many preachers and teachers. Financial sin has ruined many ministries. Peter may have been writing to the first century church, but his words ring true in the 21st century, too. Preachers and teachers are not only responsible for the things they teach, but also for how they live. An insatiable appetite for sin leads to God’s curse, Peter says. Woe to those who lead others into sin by the things that they teach. As the culture continues a downward slide into moral degradation and filth, the church must always stand against sin while loving sinners. It starts with those who teach and preach the Word of God.


False Teachers Among Us

False teachers, according to Peter, aren’t just outside the congregation. They can be found inside the church, too. They deceive Christians and lead them astray. Peter wrote in 2 Peter 2:12-13 (NLT):

These false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed. They scoff at things they do not understand, and like animals, they will be destroyed. 13 Their destruction is their reward for the harm they have done. They love to indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight. They are a disgrace and a stain among you. They delight in deception even as they eat with you in your fellowship meals.

Those who lead and shepherd the church have a responsibility to protect the sheep from the savage false teachers who come in among the flock to destroy it. God will judge the false teachers, but the shepherds He has appointed need to protect His sheep. This is why it is vital for church leaders to be spiritually mature and well-versed in Scripture. Otherwise, they won’t know how to protect the flock from false teachers and their lies.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 728 other followers

%d bloggers like this: