Monday, June 09, 2008

Those Polluted Piggies

For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 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. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
2 Peter 2:18-22

This is one of the classic Arminian texts used to dispel the notion of eternal security. They claim that those who do not remain faithful to Christ are in danger of being damned again and forfeiting the right to eternal life that was once their possession.

But trying to keep something I could not earn or deserve by my own faithfulness seems like nothing more than a disguised cloak of works-salvation; for if I can do anything to lose it, then I must ultimately do something to gain it.

The scriptures are abundantly clear that salvation is a free gift, neither earned or deserved and based in no way upon our own merit. That being said, why would the Lord promise something we must endeavour to keep? No this text must be dealing with something else.

Perhaps the key to understanding this passage is to know what Peter means by "escaping the pollution in the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ". I doubt Peter was referring to some eco-friendly Jesus who could cleanse away the filth of carbon emissions and the like.

Let me ask you the reader these two questions:

a. What does it mean to escape the pollution in the world?

b. What does through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ mean?

22 comments:

Daniel said...

a. the escape here, is an escape from the same "bondage" that these false prophets would bring them back into. Escaping the pollution that is in the world means living (to some degree) in victory over sin.

b. In verse two of the previous chapter we read that Peter would have grace and peace multiplied to the believer in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Verse three carries forward the thought that the everything pertaining to life and godliness comes through this knowledge of God, for this purpose (as we see in verse four) escaping the corruption that is in the world. If believers lack this knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are told in verse nine of the previous chapter, they are short sighted having forgotten their washing from sin.

It seems to me therefore that Peter isn't suggesting that these are no longer saved, but rather that these, having abandoned the only means of genuine sanctification, fall back into a state that is worse than their previous state - for at least then they were aware of their need - but having been taught "how to be a Christian" by these false prophets (who themselves were "empty clouds without water") - having been taught, I say, that the flesh is evil but the spirit is holy, such that the gospel is twisted into the idea that Jesus has saved your spirit, so it doesn't matter what your flesh does anymore - these thereafter do not deny the lusts of the flesh in the pursuit of the knowledge of Christ, but rather indulge it, and in doing so they come into a much deeper, much greater bondage because they turn away from the only source of deliverance from that bondage.

If the faith of these ones was genuine, they would come under the chastising correction of God and would eventually either repent of their error, or they would resist the error and receive chastisement from God directly.

I don't think this passage does a good job of dispelling eternal security. Something is surely at risk of being lost here - but it seems to me that it is the means of our sanctification that is in jeopardy - for if we are sanctified by faith in Christ to do that - and we no longer believe that Christ is going to do that (that is, if we believe what these false teachers were teaching), it stands to reason that we no longer are going to pursue holiness, regarding it as a worn out religious duty that no longer serves any meaningful purpose (we are spiritual now!) - and any who take this road are not going to get free from sin's power in this life because they don't think Christ intends to set us free from sin at all.

Anyway - that is my quick answer. Perhaps I may revise it after some thought.

Jim said...

Wow Daniel, that is a loaded answer.

I appreciate the thoughts!

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

This refers to a genuinely born-again person.

The texts says nothing about going to hell.

The state of a regenerate person who has fallen into sin is far worse in the short term than a person who was never born again.

He has a bad conscience, a sense of shame and failure, the knowledge that he had previously known such joy in escaping from sin.

Not only will he bear his own personal shame, but he will be viewed by all the persons who knew both his former and his reformed life.

They will say:

"See that fool Jeffrey, telling us he had found Jesus. Now look at him. Gone back to his old ways, drinking and swearing and fighting."

"He made out he was so supeirior, becoming a 'born-again Christian'. He is no better than the rest of us 'sinners.'"

jazzycat said...

2 Peter 2:20 ESV 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.

To believe this is a saved regenerate person, you also have to believe that his last regenerate state is worse than his unregenerate lost state. IOW, this would mean being saved is worst than being lost. Excuse me for not accepting this kind of logic. I believe this person was lost and remained lost. He was exposed to some knowledge and truth of our Lord and Savior and though he may have made a profession, it was a false profession and he is now in a worse state than before. The false prophets are also lost as this chapter points out over and over again.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Wayne, I might say about somebody "The last I heard of Pete, he was smoking again."

I am here referring to a state that Pete is either presently in or was in recently.

In this context 'last' does not mean 'final.'

Likewise, when Peter refers to these people, he is describing their present condition, not their final state (which will be glorious). In the short term they are in a more miserable condition than an unbeliever.

Who feels more shame about sin? A regenerate person or an unregenerate person?

A Christian who is in a backslidden state is far more miserable than an unbeliever.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

jazzycat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jazzycat said...

Matthew,
2 Peter 2:21 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.

The next verse restates the same thing and is certainly not talking about sin and misery. Here, if you believe this person is a saved, you have to believe he was better off unsaved than he is in his backslidden but saved position.

You are on record as asserting that this backslidden position can be permanent. Therefore, a permanent unsaved position is better than the saved position applying your theology to this passage. I reject that because it doesn’t fly. It is better to be miserable and saved than it is to be unsaved and have all the world can offer. No, Peter is talking about an unbeliever who has professed faith and known the way of righteousness, but has not been regenerated. GSM….

Only Look said...

Hey Jim....I posted this verse over at my blog asking what the condemnation of the Devil meant. That is a pretty bad state itself isnt it, but it clearly shows he is a convert. Pride was the greatest of sins as it is the hearbeat of Satanic worship.

"He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil." 1 Timothy 3:6

This does present us with a dilema doesnt it to where we cannot so surely iron out this wrinkle here and say this person is always going to be a lost person?

Grace upon grace,

Brian

Matthew Daelon said...

To me it's very simple I think. These guys were enlightened to the Way of righteousness (the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ). But the TURNED from the holy commandment that was delivered to them (to believe in the Gospel).

These guys were enlightened to the Gospel but refused to believe it. The commandment is that you believe in the One whom God has sent. They turned from the commandment. I think Peter is simply saying that there are people who, after they are enlightened to the truth of the Gospel, hear it and understand it, refuse to believe it and be saved.

It's hearing the message but not mixing the message with faith. Therefore it does not benefit them. It's one thing to be lost without ever hearing the Gospel. It's another thing to hear the Good News and continue in your sin.

Jim said...

Matthew(dsypy),

Your answer sounds reasonable but don't you think there is something greater than simply the shame and emptiness they would feel?


Jazzy,

I realize you are fairly convinced in your belief but perhaps you should be willing to examine it a bit closer. In what way can an unbeliever be worse off than he already is?

Brian,

Yeah that is a good verse. Teenagers are good examples of this; they get a bit of knowledge and responsibility and soon think they are invincible. Then bang comes the fall.


Matthew Daelon,

Welcome here. I appreciate your comments. I had considered that scenario myself but ask yourself; does understanding the gospel without refusing to believe it really benefit a person at all? How could such a one have escaped the pollution simply by understanding?

jazzycat said...

Jim and Matthew,
In what way can an unbeliever be worse off than he already is?

Perhaps Hebrews 10:26-27 which is similar to 2 Peter 2:20-21 gives us the answer as follows:

(26)For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, (27) but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

Notice this text does mention hell!

Matthew has said the person in your 2 Peter 2 passage is regenerated and he has elsewhere said that a backslidden position can be permanent. In this comment thread he says that last (backslidden) doesn’t mean final in order to claim that a believer can temporarily be worse off than an unbeliever. However, since by FGT a backslidden condition can be permanent, he must affirm the following two truths about this passage to be true to FGT:

1) The backslidden condition can be permanent.
2) An unsaved condition is better than a saved backslidden position.

This of course makes no sense as nobody would trade eternal life for an eternity in hell in order to have a somewhat better life while on planet earth. I think this is one of those conundrums that exposes the error of FGT. I hope Matthew can explain the dilemma for us.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Wayne,

"1) The backslidden condition can be permanent."

I disagree. Nobody is backslidden in heaven.

"2) An unsaved condition is better than a saved backslidden position."

In a manner of speaking. Note the proverbial character of the way in which this statement is made.

The miserable condition and shame attached to the backslider is worse than what an unregenerate person experiences.

jazzycat said...

Matthew,
I am disappointed that you chose to dance a little two-step dodge rather than explain how the FGT permanent backslidden condition is worse than an unbelievers condition.

Since you think the metaphor of a dog returning to his own vomit and remaining there until death is a saved person, you are getting very close to asserting lost sinners get saved after they get to heaven.

Jim said...

"For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries."

Notice this text does mention hell!

Wayne, actually this text does not mention hell. It simply talks about a fury of fire. Hell is not even the final place of judgment for the unbeliever; that is reserved for the lake of fire with the devil and his angels.

Again, my question; If someone is already damned to eternal torment how could it possibly get any worse for falling away from the knowledge of the truth?

jazzycat said...

Jim,
If someone is already damned to eternal torment how could it possibly get any worse for falling away from the knowledge of the truth?

Do you not believe in different degrees of punishment in hell?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

"I am disappointed that you chose to dance a little two-step dodge rather than explain how the FGT permanent backslidden condition is worse than an unbelievers condition."

It is worse on a subjective, emotional and social level.

The proverbial comment about the dog returning to its vomit suggests that social stigma is at least partially in view.

Go back to my first comment on this thread.

jazzycat said...

Matthew,
Again, the bottom line of our disagreement comes down to the power of God in regeneration. You believe in salvation through human decision with a powerless regeneration. I believe in salvation by God’s power and regeneration with power that changes a sinner’s heart and condition. Therefore, if Jeffrey was really bothered by falling in the pig slop as you say, then he would through God’s grace be motivated to clean himself up and get out of the slop. God’s grace would give him the power to do just that. The text indicates that this does not happen. However, with your presupposition this does not matter because he made an uninspired human decision and got his ticket punched. Nowhere does the Bible paint such a condition for Disciples of Christ. John wrote an entire epistle on the subject. Paul makes it clear as does Luke and Peter.

I don’t believe we are ever going to agree on this……….

Jim said...

Wayne, is that your answer? You mean like purgatory?

Why on earth would the Bible contain so many warnings for non-believers who don't even read it? I thought the carnal mind could not understand the things of God? How do we expect them to grasp the warning that if they are not good little people they will roast in a hotter fire?

Doesn't that seem a bit absurd? Are you now defining some sins as worse than others?

jazzycat said...

Jim,
Purgatory?????????? Jim, I don't understand all that FGT imposes on these verses, but I think you know that I am looking at these verses as things that occur before death. I am trying to be brief and concise and I do not believe you and the readers need a thorough explanation of every Calvinst doctrine I mention. What have I said that even hints at a intermediate state?

That is a lot of questions. Let me answer one of them before I have to go....

Why on earth would the Bible contain so many warnings for non-believers who don't even read it?

Non-believers do read the Bible. I had read it some for years before I was converted. The Bible is one means that unbelievers are converted. Scriptures are the external call just as much as a preacher. There are also warnings for false professors such as James 2:14-26, Matthew 7:21-23 in the words of Jesus, and Titus 1:15-16

jazzycat said...

Jim,
I thought the carnal mind could not understand the things of God?

Unless God intervenes, that is correct. God does use Scripture through the HS to open hearts to understanding.

How do we expect them to grasp the warning that if they are not good little people they will roast in a hotter fire?

I don’t believe that’s the warning here. Peter is warning them not to be seduced by false teachers as many false teachers will introduce destructive heresies (v.1). These heresies will cause many to follow their sensualities (v.2). It seems Peter is warning of some kind teaching that assures people they can abandon discipleship and engage in carnal living. God does expect and in fact empowers through regeneration and the indwelling HS believers to grasp this warning. Romans 8:14 indicates that 100% of believers will respond to the leading of the HS. 2 Peter 2:22 does not paint a picture of the permanent condition of someone who is led by the HS.

Jude 1:4 speaks of the same kind of false teachers.

Danny said...

Hi Jazzy,

I understand your confusion on the FG view of 2 Peter 2:21, so I'll go ahead and explain it. To start, Peter is NOT saying that it would have been better for them to remain unsaved, than to become saved and go back to carnality. Let me explain. There are essentially 3 states in 2 Peter 2:18-22.

1. Believe in Jesus, but have not yet escaped the pollutions of the world.

2. Growth time - new believer escapes the pollutions of the world.

3. Reversion state - After maturing, the believer falls back into a state of carnality because of the unsaved false teachers of 2 Peter 2:1-17.

With these 3 states in mind, Peter is saying it would have been better for the dupes to remain carnal/baby Christians (state 1), rather than grow (state 2) and then revert back to carnality (state 3). The shame at the Judgment Seat and loss of reward will be much worse for those Christians who actually escaped the pollutions of the world and returned to them than it will be for those who never grew. I know you're going to reject the view, but I just thought I'd clarify. Essentially, the way of righteousness in 2 Peter 2:21 refers to post-eternal life discipleship, not to saving faith. It would have been better to remain a carnal Christian than to experience post-salvation freedom FROM sin only to return to sin. Tell me if this helps clarify the issue.

Antonio said...

Danny,

I am thankful for your interpretation. I think it is a bona-fide one. I wish to think about it more. For the time being, I prefer the more temporal view being espoused by Matthew C. But that doesn't mean I won't see more merit in yours later. I must look at the text a bit more.

Jim,

great conversation.

Wayne,

You should really look at what you have written versus what Matthew has given. He has really answered your every objection and done so superbly, while your explanations are the tired ol' interpretations that must be forced into the text.

Antonio