EXPLORING THE WORD
"Better never to have known..."Tim White
The Bible says it is better to have never known of the grace and gospel of Jesus than to have once learned and then turned away. Does this mean back-sliders are eternally condemned? If a Christian sins, can they still be saved? Second Peter 2 begins with a warning against false prophets (vss. 1-3). He speaks of their lies, greed and deception, and says many will fall for their false teachings. Concerning their destruction (those who pervert the way of Christ for gain and power) he says:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly... 2 Peter 2:4-6Concerning the redeemed, he clarifies:
...and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. 2 Peter 2:7-10aPeter continues his description of false teachers who deceive the people and their doom (Vss. 10b-22). Probably the scary passage for us is verses 19b-21:
For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 2 Peter 2:19b-21However, when the chapter concludes with, "What the true proverb says has happened to them: 'The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire,'" it is obvious that he is not talking about the redeemed, but those who found the truth, only to distort it in teaching.
He was certainly not speaking of the redeemed who struggle with the battles of this life, including the temptations of lust, greed and pride. God would never call His children "dogs returning to its own vomit and a pig returning to the mud."
Victory over sin comes through the same avenue as salvation (Galatians 3). The first difference that is evidence of the Spirit of Christ living in someone is a change in their deepest desires (Romans 7:15-25). As Paul said, "I want to do good..." That is the fundamental foundation for victory.
Our flesh wants gratification, but what haunts us, as believers, is that something deep within us wants to defeat this weakness. That can never be true in a non-believer (Romans 3:10-18). Often our flesh will overwhelm the voice of His Spirit and we will succumb to the temptation to gratification of the flesh to the weakening of His Spirit's influence within us (Romans 11:24-25).
In brief, victory is found in living in the desire to serve and please God (Philippians 2:13). When we nourish the Spirit and not the flesh, it becomes stronger until the desires of the flesh do not appeal to us. We begin to understand the lies of Satan about sin and the damage sin causes us and others. We find joy in serving and pleasing God, living into the nature God has place into us as believers.
I recommend a book that can usually be afforded on the internet. Dr. Bill Gillham's Lifetime Guarantee: Making Your Christian Life Work and What To Do When It Doesn't has helped more people utilize the Bible to overcome temptation strongholds than any book I know. It can usually be pick up for change on Amazon.
Image Credit: Unsplash; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | False-Teaching
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