Historically, I have not held as highly the book of 2 Peter. It is just not one on my radar. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the change in my respect for the book, though. In my study and reading, it will now be one of my favorite books.
It is a short book, clocking in at 3 chapters, so it would be a quick read for those interested (I highly recommend it). I recognized many verses I had heard from childhood within, so it made for great memories.
Currently, as a part of my daily Bible study, I read the book in its entirety, saturating my mind with Peter’s epistle.
Turn to 2 Peter 2:19. We will focus on the latter half of the verse.
While you must have your own copy of Scripture in front of you (paper version, preferably), here is the HCSB version (here is multiple versions)
They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are slaves to whatever defeats them.
I first read this a couple weeks ago at Summer Camp during my personal study. It intrigued me, so I read it a few more times.
Peter here is in the middle of a passage condemning false teachers, warning them of the consequences, but more so making aware the reader (scattered Christians in the Middle East, and also us) of those who would pass along false doctrines. He leaves out what was being taught, alluding to them denying God Himself in verse 1, but judging by the language in chapter 2, it was especially divisive.
It intrigues me that he inserts this line, the one on which we will focus, “Since people are slaves to whatever defeats them.”
We are sinful people. We all inherently posses the capacity to sin, and have. Paul writes in Romans that we are slaves either to Christ and His imputed righteousness (He gave us His righteousness, thereafter giving us possession of it), or to sin and the flesh, or our base instinct. We instinctively and habitually sin without the change grace brings.
Peter concurs with that sentiment. He says that whatever defeats us, enslaves us. In my own life, I know that to be true. In yours, I know you agree.
The sins that most trip us up are those to which we give our allegiance. In this case, it was the false prophets who were enslaved to teaching unsound doctrine, leading people astray.
It is only through Christ we can be slaves to Him and His whims for us and not the sin.
However, we are enticed by such lesser gods. Like the people of Israel, we are constantly swayed by the most insignificant things, when we should render all our allegiance and fealty and loyalty to the One who created us.
So, how do we break the cycle of defeat?
Amazing question. Firstly, one must give all affections to Christ. This is done through prayer in asking Him to give us feelings for Him. You may object saying we should not ask Him to give us feelings for Him. I argue, when we are corrupted, we must ask Him for help in surrendering our loyalty, love, and our affections to Him. Out of our feelings for Him, we love Him, and out of our love for Him, we obey Him.
Secondly, we commit to knowing the pure milk of the Word. Peter talked about this in the beginning of chapter 2 of his first letter (1 Peter), saying, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the Word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” Christ, through Peter, calls us to love and long for the Word, to long for God to repeatedly show us His kindness through our understanding and experiencing of Scripture. Scripture transforms us. The Word of the Lord transforms slaves, us, from slaves to idolatry, to slaves of the idol Killer.
Lastly, we submit to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and guides us in our new life to Christ. We must obey Him when He tells us to stay away from something. He is the warning sign in Jurassic Park in front of the T-Rex electrical fence. The poor kid didn’t obey the signs, and He was shocked for it.
So, break out of the pattern of defeat due to sin in your life by subjecting yourself to the pure nourishment of Scripture, giving to God our affections, and submitting to the work of the Holy Spirit, as God uses all of this to refine us like gold.
In Christ, you are no longer slaves to defeat and sin. Obey the Lord, out of love, and He will lead you in the paths of righteousness.