Tuesday, 11 February 2020
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. 2 Peter 2:19
Peter, still speaking of the false teachers, builds upon what he just said in the previous verse concerning those who are allured by them and those who narrowly escape from them. He now shows how this is possible by saying, “While they promise them liberty.”
One example here is that those who are in Christ are free from the law, but they are not free from what is morally sound. However, false teachers might appeal to the flesh stating that because Christ died for sin, and God is glorified through forgiving sin, then there is much more glory for God when we do evil so that good may come. This is what Paul speaks of in Romans 3:5-8.
Using this (or a comparable type of thinking), false teachers will promise liberty. They may say, “You are free to do anything that you wish in regard to sex. We have complete liberty, so live it up!” In such perverse teaching, they show that “they themselves are slaves of corruption.” They are wholly under the power and influence of corruption. Such ideas are perverse, and they are completely at odds with what God would have for those who have been redeemed by Christ.
With this understanding, Peter completes the thought with a point of logic. He says, “for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.” If the false teacher is a slave of corruption, and a person follows in the teaching of such a false teacher, then he is not brought into liberty at all. He may think he has liberty because he freely does every perverse thing his heart desires, but he is now – in fact – also a slave of corruption.
The very thing which was promised to bring freedom is what brings bondage and slavery. The thought Peter presents here is beautifully expanded on by Paul in Romans 6 –
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:15-23
Life application: There is a truth in Peter’s words today which has echoed throughout the history of humanity. The 2nd Psalm begins with these three verses –
“Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
3 ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.’” Psalm 2:1-3
One who fights against the Lord and His purposes is already a slave of corruption. However, such a person will rally the people against the Lord saying, “Let us break their bonds…” and thus promise liberty to those he is trying to influence. And yet, the very people who are being promised liberty find themselves brought into the same bondage they were told they would avoid.
Nazi Germany is a perfect example. In the world of today, we see the same anger and railing in nations as they fight in the streets – promising revolution and a new direction, when in fact the end is already determined. Likewise, false teachers of the gospel act in just the same way.
They promise “freedom from poverty,” “freedom from ailments,” “freedom from fear,” etc. All of this is promised by sending them money. Take time to objectively watch various Christian TV shows for a few hours. For every decent hour of broadcasting, there will be two which teach nothing doctrinally. Instead, there will only be promised blessings of heaven – all at the low cost of sending them an offering. The very bondage one expects to be freed from will be what actually brings that person into bondage. Be attentive to Jesus and His word – the only true source of freedom.
Lord, may we be overcome only by You, because in You there is true freedom. May the chains we wear from a life of sin be exchanged for the glorious promise of being Your slaves – who are the freest of all. May we never be enticed by promises of power, riches, or glory in this world, but rather may we long for a place in the heavenly home that You have prepared for those who love You. Amen.