Beyond Hope

2 Peter 2:10-22

10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties,11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13 suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet. 17 These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

Yesterday I mentioned why I stopped with the passage we read: because Peter goes on to describe “the ungodly” in a very lengthy and explicit manner. Here Peter is describing what it means to be outside of a relationship with God and ends it with an explanation of false prophets and how they are worse off than those who never believed in the first place.  While this second chapter of Peter’s second letter is very confrontational (I’d probably be a bit forewarning and confrontational too if I knew I was going to be killed soon), it is very refreshing to me.  Many times throughout the bible we read what it means to be in relationship with God or we read the dos and don’ts of the faith, but rarely (at least so far in my study) do we find such a detailed description of what it looks like to be without God.  Generally, this is the type of discussion we like to see in the Old Testament, where we feel safer and have a sense of security that since it is in the first 2/3 of the bible, it might not really apply to us.  Let me tell you friends, now we have no excuse.  The same thing we find there we find here, in the New Testament, where we like to be comfortable and cushy and think of God as a teddy bear.  I’m not saying God doesn’t love us as much as we have been probably told, I’m saying we are rarely told how much He hates sin and how He sees it.

Yesterday Peter mentioned periods of time like the Great Flood of the earth when all but a few people and animals were so overcome by sin that they were literally wiped off the face of the earth.  He also brought up the infamous Sodom and Gomorrah where two cities were so disgusting in the eyes of the Lord that Lot’s wife turned to salt just by looking at them and the earth swallowed them up.  Today, Peter is explaining to us what God saw when He did those things.  This is what God saw when He destroyed countless people and it causes us to say, “how could such a loving God destroy this or do that?”  He saw reviling hearts and pure hatred.  He saw the spirits of men in what we would call “beyond hope.”  He saw His creation so maligned and distorted that He knew it was impossible for them to return to their original state.  I know, I know, “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  You’re absolutely right; He chose to wipe them out and start over.

Why is it important for us to know these things?  Why did the Apostle Peter find it prudent to write these things in his final letter?  We absolutely must understand the depth of our salvation and God’s grace.  We must understand that the sinfulness that caused God to flood the earth and rain down fire and brimstone is the same sin that He died for and despite it, He loves us anyway.  He loves us despite our wretchedness and reviling sinful nature.  Witnessing through the accounts of Noah and Lot we get to see how unworthy of God’s love we really are but He makes it available to us anyway.  Not only does He love us, but He wants to have a relationship with us!  Imagine the most reviling and disgusting person you can think of; now imagine loving them so much despite their imperfections that you want to be as close to them as possible.  This is how our God and Creator, our Heavenly Father, views us and strives to reconnect with us.

From verse 18 to the end is Peter’s description of false prophets and how worse off they are from unbelievers (those described previously).  I mentioned before that as believers and partakers in the divine nature of God, we have no excuse.  This entire passage can be described with one word: pride.  We’ve heard the biblical reference “pride came before the fall.”  This signifies that when our hearts are filled with pride, we decide to go our own way, acting outside of the will of God and outside of what we were designed to be.  I explained it recently as a knife trying to be a spoon.  It will struggle, it will feel defeated, it will be considered almost useless and a mistake.  The knife will think its creator screwed up, but it doesn’t realize it wasn’t designed to be a spoon, it was designed to be a knife and until it turns to the creator to find out what it is supposed to be, it will never know its true potential.  It is pride that causes us not to ask our Creator who we were designed to be or how we were designed to function.  A knife is much happier when it is being a knife than when it is being a spoon.

I’d like to invite you to reread the above passage before you finish today.  Understand it from the perspective that this is how God views pride and sinfulness.  Paul invites us to “hate what is evil and cling to what is good.”  This is what is evil.  This is why Jesus died for us.  This is what God loves us in spite of.  This is what has separated us from God since the beginning.  This is why the Good News of Jesus Christ is so important.  My friends, we are not beyond hope because we have been offered the gift of grace and forgiveness.  I am reading a book right now that explains whenever someone hears the Explicit Gospel of Christ, they will respond in one of two ways: they will reject it or they will accept it.  God incarnated Himself as Jesus the Christ to rescue us from living outside of our design and the eternal ramifications of our sin.  He hung on the wretched cross to free us from wretchedness so we no longer have to be slaves of corruption but instead we get to be free in Christ.

How will you respond today?

Maybe today we can appreciate the words of this song a little more.

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