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).

Be Sober

James 4:6-7 But he give more grace. Wherefore he says, God resist the proud, but give grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

Four promises are made to backsliders here: God gives more grace to the humble; the devil will flee from you when you submit – give – yourselves to God; God will then draw near to you and lift you up.  When we give place to the enemy in our lives (Eph. 4:27), we are entering a backslidden state from where things will go from bad to worse as we regress spiritually, and decay will follow in all other areas.  We have to know that the enemy walks around like a roaring lion to seek whom he may devour (1Pet. 5:8) and for us to not fall for his vices, we need to be sober and vigilant and thus not get into a backslidden state, otherwise, we will be devoured. In 1 John 5:18 we have been promised that those born of God – which means you have been born-again and are saved – thus sin not and keep yourself, that the wicked one cannot touch you! Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

The Parable of the Householder

Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:  And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.  And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.  Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.  But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.  But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.  And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.  When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?  They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.  Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?  Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.nAnd when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet. Mat 21:33-46 KJV

The householder illustrates God the Father, who sent His Son into the world to redeem mankind. Mt. 21:37; Jn. 3:16; 15:1  The vineyard illustrates the kingdom of Heaven part of the kingdom of God, which was intrusted to the Jews, planted by God with the rich and fruitful vines of the knowledge of God, His commandments, the institutions of religion, and His revealed Word. Mt. 21:43; Mk. 12:1-9; Lk. 20:9-19; Rom. 3:1-2; 9:1-5 The hedge illustrates God’s watchful care and provision for the protection of the kingdom, so that it would be free from the intrusion of wild beasts which would spoil the vines and destroy the fruit. The winepress illustrates all the institutions and means of blessing for the human race. Winepresses were hewn out of solid rock. They usually consisted of two or three vats, each a little higher than the other, with troughs from one to the other. The grapes were put in the top vat, which was always the biggest, and two or more persons with naked feet and legs would jump up and down, crushing the grapes. The juice flowed into the next vat and from it would be drawn off into the next, or into vessels, leaving the dregs in the vats. The tower illustrates the place of dwelling where the workers of the vineyard could find rest and recreation and a place to store the fruit. These towers in literal vineyards were sometimes forty to fifty feet high, affording a place for the watchman to see the vineyard and protect it.

The husbandmen illustrate Israel who had charge of the vineyard to render unto the householder the fruit in due season. Mt. 21:45-46 There were two kinds of leases that could be had in the East. The tenant paid a money rent to the proprietor, or else he agreed to give the owner a definite amount of the produce, whether the harvest had been good or bad. Such leases were given by the year or for life; sometimes the lease was even hereditary, passing from father to son. The latter kind of lease is no doubt referred to in this parable.

The householder going away illustrates the long period that God permitted the nation to be ruled under the guidance of kings and prophets through the law. Acts 13:17-43  The time of the fruit illustrates the seasons that God expected results from the Jews in extending the kingdom among other nations and doing those things required to bring the knowledge of God to others.

The servants illustrate the Old Testament prophets, priests, and teachers whom God sent to get the Jews to render to Him the fruit of the kingdom. Mt. 23:37-39; Heb. 11:32-40  The son of the householder illustrates the Son of God, who was sent to the lost sheep of Israel. Mt. 10:6; 23:37-39; Jn. 1:11; 3:16; Acts 2:22-36  The maltreatment of the servants and the son illustrates the bitter hatreds and backslidings of Israel against God from the time in Egypt to the crucifixion of Christ. This is plainly recorded in 1 Ki. 18:13; 22:24-27; 2 Ki. 6:31; 21:16; 2 Chron. 24:19-22; 36:16; Jer. 37:138:28; Mt. 23:37-39; Acts 7:52; Heb. 11:36; Lk. 4:29; Jn. 8:37, 59; 10:31-39; 19:14-30.

The scheme of the husbandmen to seize the inheritance illustrates the reason for their rejection of the Messiah. They sinned against light. If Jesus was the Messiah and if He was introducing the kingdom of God, the whole spirit of which was different from theirs, then they would lose their places as rulers, as teachers, as men of influence, as well as their authority over the people and their chief business. They were so connected with a system and with wrong ideas, principles, and customs, which must pass away with the reign of the Messiah, that if Christ prevailed they must fall. They imagined that if they could destroy Christ, they could continue in their possession of the inheritance. They killed that they might possess, but killing was the shortest road to entire loss. Every possible method of leading them to right conduct had been exhausted; so judgment must fall. They pronounced their own judgment. Mt. 21:40-41 The destruction of the husbandmen refers to the cutting off of Israel and the destruction of their city and nation. Mt. 23:37-39; 24:2; Lk. 21:20-24; Acts 13:44-49; 18:6; Rom. 11:1-33

The central truths illustrated are stated in Mat. 21:42-44. The Jews at last saw the application of the parable and immediately went out unconsciously to fulfill it. There are three main truths illustrated by this story:

  • The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. 21:42; Ps. 118:22-23; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:7 The cornerstone on which the superstructure rested was the most important stone in the building. The primary meaning in the Psalm about the rejected stone was taken from the great cornerstone that the builders of Solomon’s Temple left out because they did not understand the head architect’s plans. Afterward this stone was found to be that on which the completeness of the structure depended – on which the two walls met and were bonded together. The Messiah of these Jews was compared to this stone. Christ warned them not to make the same mistake that the builders of the Temple had made.
  • The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 21:43 This refers to the cutting off of Israel from being the ministers and people of God to carry out God’s purpose of evangelizing the world. Acts 13:44-52; 18:6; Rom. 11:1-33 The Gentiles have been the propagators of the Gospel throughout this Age of Grace.
  •  Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder  Mt. 21:44 This saying means that the individual who humbles himself and falls on the stone for mercy shall receive mercy and shall become broken in heart and spirit, Isa. 57:15; 66:1-2; Ps. 34:18; Mt. 5:3-7 but if he hardens himself against God, he shall receive judgment without mercy. The stone in this verse is the same as in verse 42. It refers to Christ, who is pictured as a stone in Scripture, in a threefold way:
  1. To Israel – He is pictured as a stumbling stone and a rock of offence, because He came as a lowly servant instead of a great world-monarch 8:14; Rom. 9:32-33; 1 Cor. 1:23; 1 Pet. 2:8
  2. To the Church – He is pictured as a foundation stone and the head of the corner 1 Cor. 3:11; 2:20-22; 1 Pet. 2:4-5
  3. To the nations – He is pictured as a smiting stone of destruction 2:34, 44-45; Lk. 21:24; Rev. 16:14; 19:11-21

Israel stumbled over Christ; the Church is built upon Christ; and the nations will be broken by Christ.

 

Do These Things – You Shall Never Fall

Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall 2Pet. 1:10 KJV

Christians are warned to give diligence to meeting certain terms of God lest they fall into sin and be lost. The theory that God will not punish, judge, and condemn His people when they backslide and persist in sin and rebellion has no foundation in any attribute, act, promise, prophecy, covenant, or revelation of God. He has been just and good to all in all ages. He is completely impartial; nothing can cause Him to act contrary His nature as He has revealed it. God has given hundreds of warnings for men not to backslide lest they die in their sin and rebellion and suffer the fate of all sinners. Heb. 6:1-2, 4-9; 2:1-4; 10:26-29; 2Pet. 2:20-22; Rev. 2:5  If we do the things mentioned here, we will never fall.  Let’s have a look at what they are:

According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.  2Pet. 1:3-7 KJV

Through God’s divine power we are given ALL THINGS that pertain unto life and godliness! HOW?  Through the knowledge of Him that hath called us!  By getting to know God as our love grow in relationship with Him when we read and implement the Word in our lives, Php. 1:9-11 He enables us through His power to get the things that is relevant to life and godliness.  Never that which is sinful or that can lead to temptation. Jas. 1:2-16 We were called to glory and virtue, that which is attained when answering the call on our lives Acts 10:34, 35; John 3:16-20 to follow in Christ’s footsteps 1Pet. 2:21 when we make the decision to represent Him on earth.. John 14:10-12

AFTER we have escaped the corruption that is in this world through lust, we are then given exceeding great and precious promises that we might be partakers of the divine nature!  With diligence Christian virtues are added to our precious faith; 2Pet. 1:1; Rom. 10:17 and to virtue knowledge; Php. 1:9-11  And to knowledge temperance; Gal. 5:22 and to temperance patience; Gal. 5:22 and to patience godliness Tit. 2:11-12 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 1Cor. 13:4

Verse 8 says that if these things are flourishing in us, then we shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  And an important warning follows in verse 9:

But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins

I choose to be diligent, making my “calling and election sure,” declaring that I will do these things so that I may never fall. In Jesus Name, amen.