2 Peter 2:20-22, “20 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. 21 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. 22 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.”
In Luke 12:41-48, the Lord Jesus teaches that the more, God’s people know, the more they are responsible for their sin. The light the Word of God provides means that ignorance will never excuse the Christian’s disobedience. The punishment given to those unaware of God’s special revelation will be less severe than to those who have known it (Matthew 11:20-24).
In 2 Peter 2:20-24, Peter says that false teachers have escaped the defilement of the world and returned to it, resulting in a state worse than they knew before “the way of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:20). What Peter means here is that it would have been better if they had not known the way of righteousness at all (2 Peter 2:21). By returning to their old life after professing to know the gospel, they only increased their condemnation, which made them all the more worthy of their destruction.
These false teachers turned their back on the Word of God, but the truth is they were never indwelt by the Holy Spirit. It’s never easy to explain apostasy and even harder when we aren’t detailing everything about it. But we must be reminded about the warning of apostasy for the warning is given to remind the people of God that genuine conversion never fails. With that said, Peter has in mind specific things he wants to say here, and we must remember that we have sixty-six books in the whole Bible and must interpret the Bible in light of the entire revealed Word of God. Peter knew well that the false teachers he was dealing with here were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. His teaching in 1 Peter 1:3-5 makes it clear that the Christian’s election is an imperishable inheritance guarded by none other than God Himself. 2 Peter 2:20-24 also makes it clear that those with genuine saving faith will persevere to the end in Christ alone.
Genuine Christians will struggle with particular sins, but they will continue to repent of their sins. John Calvin reminds genuine Christians that they sin, but they do not live lives under the dominion of sin. Today if you are quick to repent, keep a short record of wrongs, and strive against the presence of sin in your life by the grace of God, you can be sure you are a genuine Christian and not under the dominion of sin. Please ask the Lord by the Holy Spirit to enable you to have an increasing hatred of sin, a growing love for His holiness, and to help you fight against and repent of the sins you struggle with that you may have victory day by day by the grace of God over them.
This article was first posted at Ligonier and is posted here with permission.