Same Serpent, Same Fruit, Same Result! (2 Peter 2.17-19)
The entire 2nd chapter of 2nd Peter can be devoted in some form or another to the insidious work of false teachers. Fueled by greed, sensuality, and rebellion, these individuals work tirelessly to draw men and women away from the truth of God’s word and into the mire of error. The methods employed by the false teacher may be varied but their foundation is based simply on attraction. In this manner, false teachers recreate the original scene in Eden between the woman, the serpent, and the forbidden fruit. 2 Peter 2.17-19 shows us the scenario described in Genesis 3 is sadly still effective for condemning souls before their God. However, those with vision unclouded by worldly lusts can see the false teacher (and their teachings) for what they are: simply another dangerous serpent promoting more forbidden fruit.
Waterless Springs and Windswept Mists
“These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.” (2 Peter 2.17)
Waterless springs and storm-driven mists have one thing in common: the promise of lifegiving water without the fulfillment of that promise. False teachers write spiritual checks in their teachings that the LORD will not cash! In this way, they emulate the serpent’s words to Eve in Genesis 3: “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” (Gen. 3.4-5) Satan wrote Eve a bad check promising a continued and improved existence after eating the fruit! As we know, that check bounced and the fee was death!
Peter and Jude both describe the judgment pending for these charlatans with very nearly the same phrase: “for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.” (Jude 1.13). God has never been lenient toward anyone who corrupts His messages to His people: “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,” says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 6.14-15). Those who act on behalf of the Tempter today by way of their false teachings will bring upon themselves the very fate that fell to the serpent. While the false teachers may not be made to crawl on their bellies and consume dust all the days of their life (Gen. 3.14), they are cursed here in 2nd Peter as their leader and father was cursed in Genesis 3.
The Serpent Reincarnate
“For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.” (2 Peter 2.18)
Satan enticed Eve with the promise of improved life by way of eating the fruit. When Eve looked upon the fruit, notice that no thought was given to her standing before God, but only of what the fruit could offer her sensually: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…” (Genesis 3.6a). How similar this is today to the behavior of the false teacher! They use deceitful wordings and proof-texts to promote their brand of deviance from the truth, and in the case of some denominations translating the Bible to align with their views! False teachers often employ arguments based on emotion and opinion rather than hard evidence from the scriptures. And yet, the men and women who stand at the forefront of every major apostacy are considered the intellectually elite of their time, touting their degrees and (supposed) vast wisdom of the scriptures!
The real tragedy of this passage lies in the end of this verse. It is not as if escaping from the error of this world and from the sin that besets us all is an easy nor cheap process. To save mankind from the sin brought on by false teaching, Christ died for us! “For while we were still weak, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5.6). It was the false words of the Tempter that led us to the point where we would choose to sin, and those same false words can tempt one cleansed from sin back into the abyss! If THIS doesn’t inspire some zeal and some backbone for the defense of the truth, what will??? These false teachers aren’t simply good people with a different opinion. They walk and talk as their father does and must be treated as such: “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8.44)
Inmates Claiming to be Wardens
“They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” (2 Peter 2.19)
Submission and obedience to Christ is the only true source of freedom and liberty for mankind. “So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” (John 8.36). False teachers also promote freedom but of a very different sort. The freedom offered to Eve in the Garden that fateful day was freedom from following the simple command of her loving Father. In this very same way false teachers offer freedom from nearly anything you wish to be free of. But how valuable is the freedom offered by a fellow prisoner? It doesn’t matter if it’s Joel Osteen, or Billy Graham, or Paul Walker, or Charles Spurgeon, or anyone else: if they do not teach EXACTLY what the Bible teaches, how valuable is the freedom they’ve offered you??? “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15.13-14)
Instead, we must seek only the freedom that comes by obedience to the clear words of God. We must adopt the character of the elders that Titus was taught by Paul to appoint in Titus 1.9: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” And in regard to our freedom, I would much rather seek the freedom offered by the One who has the “keys of death and Hades” (Rev. 1.18).
The men and women who offer us a wider, easier path to the Father clearly do not understand Jesus’ words concerning such a path: “For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” (Matthew 7.13b). Instead, we must be a people that do as God instructed Judah to do in Jeremiah 6.16a: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.’” -Kyle Sanders