Denying the Lord That Bought Them

2 Peter 2  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 8
2 Peter 2
In the two following chapters of this epistle, we have the apostle drawing our attention — the attention of all believers — to two forms of evil that characterize the last days. Chapter 2 presents to us the false and bad teaching of evil men; unsound doctrine coupled with wicked practices. Chapter 3 indicates the rapid growth of infidelity and scoffing, which we see all round about us in the present day — the unbelief which denies the return of the Lord, on the ground of the stability of the visible creation.
If I had any doubt about the truth of Scripture, I should have that doubt removed by reading the 2nd Epistle of Peter, because we have all round about us now, the very thing which the Spirit of God warns us here about.
(Verse 1) “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” “Denying the Lord that bought them” is denying the claims of Christ, who is the Lord that bought them. This must not be confused with the thought of redemption, because redemption and purchase are very different. Every child of God is redeemed, every man is not redeemed, but every man is bought. Matthew 13 says, that the merchantman bought the field, because of the treasure bid in it, and explains too that the field is the world. By His death Christ, as man, has obtained authority over every man.
Thus Christ is the master of all, the “Despot.” The figure is taken from a man going into the slave market, and buying slaves. Thus too, Peter, when speaking in Acts 10, says, “He is Lord of all,” and Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 says, “The head of every man is Christ.” So here Peter says He is “the Lord that bought them.” If I go into the slave market and buy a slave, my purchase only makes the slave change masters. Redemption knocks the shackles off the slave, and leaves him free. Purchase perpetuates bondages, redemption brings into perfect freedom.
(Verse 2) “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” Alas, we know well that what Peter says would take place has been fully enacted in Christendom. There has been a throwing off of the claims of Christ, even by those who profess His name; and the way of truth is evil spoken of by those outside, because of the evil ways of those who profess to know the Lord.
(Verse 3,) “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” Here he lays bare to the core ecclesiastical pretensions
Babylon sells the souls of men (Rev. 18:1818And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! (Revelation 18:18)). It is a solemn thing to be connected practically with such a state of things. By covetousness and hypocritical words these false teachers would make merchandise of Christians for their private gain. What is known as simony — the sale of souls — is here indicated. But God’s judgment should overtake all such.
(Verses 4-9) “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” Here he cites the dealings of God in bye-gone years, and shows what the Lord will yet do. Here (vs. 4) is a very remarkable statement about the angels. The connection is plain between this verse, and Jude 66And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 6), but the contrast is striking. Peter speaks of “the angels that sinned “; Jude says, they left “their first estate.” Peter speaks of self-will; Jude speaks of apostasy; for Jude is describing the terrible corruption in the Church, out of which the saint of God is to pick his way.
It is important to see what apostasy is. It is leaving first estate, the place in which God has put you. That is what Adam did. He was an apostate, and there is the difference between Adam and Christ. What was apostasy in Adam, was perfection in Christ. Adam’s leaving his first estate was apostasy, for it was self-will and disobedience; whereas in Christ it was perfect obedience and doing the will of God His Father. He humbled Himself, and God exalted Him, and to you and me the apostle says by the Spirit of God, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
Peter is perfectly clear as to what the judgment of God must be upon these wicked men. Faith quietly waits on God, and has its resource in Him, assured the day will come when He must vindicate His own character, let scoffers say what they will; and, in the meantime, He looks for His people to be godly in the midst of the evil.
The Lord looks that we should be like Lot in this respect: our righteous souls vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked. In contrast with everything that we see around us, the Lord looks that we should be godly; for “the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.”
(Verses 10-11) “But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.” That which is given us in these verses is the very thing that is coming up now in our own day, the principle of self-will. That which would characterize this class of evil-doers would be the allowance of unbridled license in their conduct. They fling off, first, the authority of Christ, and then every other kind of authority likewise, and that is just what we see around us at this present time. We live in a radical day, and religious radicalism I believe to be the most offensive of all to God.
He has ordained government in the world, and in the Church, but Peter shows us what the world comes to. It comes to this, that all authority is despised. There is not to be any place for the will of the flesh in the presence of God, and there is a certain order in God’s government which we cannot traverse without doing very great and serious damage. Subjection is greatly pressed on us in Scripture. The reverse of this is rampant. On every hand this despising of authority is rising up: it is the fatal principle that is ruining families, nations, and the Church, and which will be headed up in the “man of sin” who will fall, by-and-bye, under the swift destruction of Christ.
(Verses 12-19) “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balsam the son of Bogor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” It is a very solemn state which the Spirit of God shows us here. These verses describe the persons who get into this line of things, and show what their end is.
The description is most dreadful. It contemplates this character of things even among the teachers. They prophesy for gain merely, like Balsam, and the effect is, “they allure through the lusts of the flesh, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error,” because, you must remember, for every form of temptation there is some distinct response in our nature, there is something in us to answer to what Satan presents. We could not have believed this could come in among professing Christians, unless God Himself had said so. But He has warned us that we may have our eyes open to it, and be on our watch to guard against it day by day. Those spoken of here call themselves Christians, yet indulge their lusts, and despise authority in a way angels would shrink from. They would feast with the real Christians — taking part, I suppose, in their love-feasts —deceiving themselves, while corrupting others. They yield themselves unreservedly to evil, and while promising others liberty, become themselves the very slaves of moral corruption. Such would Christendom become, Peter tells us. Such has it become, we know. The best thing is always the worst if it become corrupted.
(Verse 20) “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.” These have been for the moment practically delivered from the pollution of the world; not by conversion, not by having been born again, but through the outward knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Now, to be thus re-entangled in evil, after having once escaped it through the professed knowledge of the Lord and Saviour, was infinitely worse than if they had not known the way of truth at all.
Those who refuse and despise Christianity forget to tell you how much man owes to Christianity. The world has benefited morally, civilly, and socially from the light God has given in His Word, and by the effects of Christianity; but now-a-days all this is forgotten, and it is the fashion to pooh-pooh the whole thing, as an old-world fable.
The effect of Christianity has been to deliver people from the pollutions of the world. The truth has been mentally received, and thus has delivered them, but it has not been received by the conscience, else it would have remained, and worked by divine grace in the heart. When people have given up the truth they once have known, if even intellectually only, they become always the bitterest enemies of the truth of Christ, therefore let us beware of giving up one bit of the truth God has given us. Here it runs the length of open apostasy from God. It is a far worse thing to have known the truth and given it up, through flesh being allowed, and the world pandered to, than never to have known it.
(Verse 21) “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” In the early part of the chapter it was the godly and ungodly who were spoken of. Here it is the holy commandment, in contrast with what these evil teachers tried to bring in, and did bring in.
(Verse 22) “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” Who vomited? The dog. And who went back to the vomit? The dog. It was a dog all the time, not a clean beast ever. And though the sow was washed, it was still a sow, only washed, and never made a clean beast, never I anything but a sow, not a sheep. You cannot wash a sow into a sheep. Before the sow was washed, she was a dirty sow, and after she was washed she was a clean sow, so long as she was restricted by some external influence, as a rope, for instance. That rope she soon gnawed through or broke, and back she went to wallow in the mire, just because she was still a sow. Her nature was unchanged. So is it with the unconverted, but only externally affected professor of Christ.
He is not a person born of God, or renewed, but is merely externally affected by the truth of Christianity. It is man as man, and as soon as the restraint is taken off, back he goes to the thing he likes. If a Christian gets away from Christ, and gets mixed up with the pollutions of the world, he is miserable. Take a sow to the mire, what will it do? Wallow in it again; it has no shrinking from the mire. But take a sheep to the mire, does it desire to get into it? No, it is only too thankful to be taken out, if through accident it has fallen in. So is it with the real Christian. He may, and alas! often does fail and sin; but, like Peter, he is never happy till he has got back to his Lord, and been washed, and restored and forgiven.