Backsliding

2Peter 2:20-22 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. 

‘If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein’ one of 1,522 IF’s in the Bible, plainly indicating that all can and some do escape the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Yet some are again entangled therein, becoming worse than they were before they found Christ. Here some proofs follow that these are backsliders: In 2Peter 2:4, Peter warns men that God sent three great catastrophes upon angels and men because of their backslidings and sins. One may argue that the ante-deluvians (pre-flood inhabitants) and Sodom and Gomorrah were not backsliders and had nothing to backslide from, but this argument cannot possibly hold true of the angels that sinned, which, as is acknowledged by all, were created sinless and holy and in God’s grace and blessings. They sinned and are now in hell (2:4; Jude 1:6-7). Angels are definitely called sons of God in Genesis 6:1-4 and Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:4-7. Hence sonship, whether by creation or adoption, will not keep God from damning any angels or men who rebel and sin and who do not get right with Him. In 2Peter 1:5-15, it is clear that Peter lays down conditions to be met if one is not to fall.

One could not forsake or abandon the straight-way if he had not been in it. If they went astray from the right and straight-way, they were one time in it. When we look at 2Peter 1:4; 2:18, 20 we see that the first verse proves that escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust is at the time one partakes of the divine nature, thus it is not possible that these people are not saved or born again at such a time. This confirms that they were one time believers or they would not have had the experiences of like precious faith, grace, peace, and godliness which come with such knowledge, as proved in 2Peter 1:1-4.

The words “again entangled therein, and overcome” (2:20), prove they were once free from such pollutions or they could not be entangled and overcome in and by them again. The statement, “the latter end is worse with them than the beginning,” proves that they were once saved and could have had a better ending than the beginning if they had not become entangled again in the pollutions of the world (2:20).

Peter’s explanation of why it would have been better not to have known the way of righteousness, than after knowing it, to turn away, becoming entangled and overcome by sins again, proves that they were once saved and in the way of righteousness, actually knowing the Christian way (2:21).

The illustration of the sow and the dog proves that they were once saved and that they had gone back into sin again as a dog returns to his vomit and the washed sow to her wallowing in the mire (2:22). If this does not illustrate Christians going back into sin again, it has no point. To argue that it does not refer to Christians returning to sin again on the pretext that the sow always remains a sow and the dog always remains a dog proves nothing, for the same is true of lost sheep, coins, and men (Luke 15:1-32). They always remain what they are when found as do sows and dogs. In none of these illustrations is there a change made in the sow, dog, sheep, coin or lost son. The point is that the sheep, the coin, and lost son were found, and the sow and the dog went back to their old ways. Even a born-again person is not changed into another species; he is still a human being, he is simply cleansed from sin like the sow that was washed (1Jn. 1:7, 9; Rev. 1:5). If he wants to remain cleansed from sin he must walk in the light and in the Spirit (1Jn. 1:7; Gal. 5:16-26; Rom. 8:12-13). To argue that the sow was never washed or the dog was never free from vomit is meaningless.

The warning of 2Peter 3:14 proves that some might not be without spot and blameless and the warning of 3:16 proves that it is possible to go into sin and fall from steadfastness in Christ.

‘Pollutions’ [Greek: miasmata] things that infect, pollute, and defile. It is used still today of the contagion of dangerous diseases and of decaying bodies, stagnant water, and putrid matter. The world is here pictured as putrid and full of contagion of sin and uncleanness (1:4; 2:20).

‘Entangled therein’ [Greek: empleko] to plait or weave in; interweave; entangle. This shows to what extent they had escaped from the pollutions of the world and was then entangled again. ‘The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire’ partially quoted from Proverbs 26:11. Here are some examples of those who returned to sin (Aaron and David repented): Aaron and Israel (Ex. 32:32-33; Deut. 32:16-18; 1Cor. 10:1-11; Jude 1:5); Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1-20); Korah and company (Num. 16:1-50); King Saul (1Sam. 10:13-24; 16:12-23; 1Chron. 10:13-14); many disciples of Jesus (John 6:66); David (2Sam. 11-12; Ps. 51:1-19); Judas Iscariot (Ps. 41:9; 55:12-14; 69:25-28; 109:8; Matt. 26:24; John 13:18; Acts 1:1-26); Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-14); many Galatians (Gal. 1:6-9; 5:4; 6:7-8); many early Christians (1Tim. 1:19-20; 5:8-20; 6:1-21; 2Tim. 2:18-21); Demas (2Tim. 4:10); whole congregations (Rev. 2-3).

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