2 Peter 2:12-16

2 Peter 2:12‑16  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
EVEN such a sketch did not suffice adequately to convey what the false teachers would turn out in Christendom. The Holy Spirit proceeds yet more vividly in His anticipative description of their words and deeds.
“But these, as irrational animals born by nature for capture and destruction, speaking evil in what things they are ignorant, shall also perish in their corruption, receiving as they shall wages of unrighteousness, accounting [their] ephemeral luxury pleasure; spots and blemishes, luxuriating in their love feasts [or, deceits], feasting with you; having eyes full of an adulteress and without cessation from sin; setting baits for unstable souls; having a heart practiced in covetousness, children of curse; abandoning as they did a straight way, they went astray, following out in the way of Balaam [son] of Beor, who loved wages of unrighteousness, but had reproof of his own iniquity; a dumb beast of burden speaking with man's voice forbade the madness of the prophet” (vers. 12-16).
It was already shown generally from ver. 10 how these nominal Christians proceed after flesh in lust of pollution, instead of walking according to Spirit, as freed from the law of sin and of death. Then their boldness was contrasted with angels greater in strength and power who are as reverent before the Lord as those were scornful. Now they are compared to such irrational animals as by nature are born to be captured and destroyed. How overwhelming that the apostle has thus to describe false teachers and those that follow their dissolutenesses! They were once enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift, and became partakers of Holy Spirit, and tasted God's good word and power of a coming age (not evil as the present is), and now yielded to malevolence, speaking evilly in what things they were ignorant. What was before such but also to “perish in the corruption?”
We may profitably remark that Heb. 6 in reviewing the many and great privileges of such spurious professors does not speak any more than Peter of being born anew or of God, any more than of being sealed of the Spirit. They had accurate knowledge of the Christian revelation and special gift in its characteristic power. Mind and feeling can go far in appreciating the wonderful works of God, and the moral beauty and grace of Christ. But in all the scriptures which designate natural men, the utmost care is taken to leave out the communication of life eternal and a divine nature, or “repentance unto life.” This supposes a real self-judgment before God, an overwhelming sense of sin in His sight, of total moral ruin, so as absolutely to need sovereign grace; but it is never found save in those begotten of God. Yet short of it, what is there that the intellect cannot appropriate, enjoy, and proclaim? Ere long the test comes, which life in Christ with the Spirit's power alone can stand; and Satan so touches and masters them that their departure from God becomes more apparent and complete. Shall they not receive wages of unrighteousness? Can any course of life be farther from Christ than esteeming ephemeral luxury pleasure? He never once sought to please Himself but in everything to do His Father's will; and did He not call His own to hear His voice and follow Him? Did He not suffer for us, leaving us a model so that we should follow in His steps?
“Spots and blemishes” were these men, “luxuriating in their love-feasts (or, deceits),1 feasting with you.” To bring self-indulgence into a love-feast was a shame to Christ, and the forerunner of worse corruption. “Having eyes full of an adulteress and without cessation from sin.” It was bad enough at a heathen celebration: what was it before the Holy and True? “Setting baits for unstable souls” in honor of Him who suffered to the uttermost to win the foulest from their sins to God! Who could wonder that they “have a heart practiced in covetousness” in order to carry on the basest self-indulgence, where all are bound, denying impiety and worldly lusts, to live soberly, and justly and piously in the present age, awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ? But these who act as if the cross of Christ opened the door for any abomination, are they not “children of curse?” It was sinning that grace may abound.
“Having left a straight way” (and such surely is Christ), “they went astray, having followed out in the way of Balaam [son] of Beor, who received wages of unrighteousness.” No more solemn or apposite warning could be drawn from the Book of God; none of one who more deceived himself and others; none that so combined the most glowing and grand anticipations for Israel from Jehovah with the subtlest efforts to ensnare into evil which should compromise and endanger them. Yet had he crafty care for his own interest while pretending to be quite above it. Whatever his words, he loved wages of unrighteousness, but had reproof to his own iniquity, and in a form eminently adapted to appeal to his conscience and to be a continual warning in the east, less skeptical than the west. “A dumb beast of burden speaking with man's voice forbade the madness of the prophet.” He who boasted of having his eyes open saw not what the ass was given to see, and knew not why she turned aside (from the sword drawn in the angel's hand), and why she thrust herself unto the wall that Balaam might not have his head smitten, but at most his foot crushed; and why she fell down where there was no other way for her or her master to escape destruction. How much more guilty are false teachers since the Son of God came and gave us understanding to know Him that is true!