But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.2 Peter 2:4We get but few glimpses into other worlds. What we have seen of them suggests that their moral history strongly resembles our own. Sin and suffering, holiness and joy—these seem to be the words which measure all moral development, and describe all moral conditions.
I. Angels sinned: then (1) earthly circumstances are not the cause of rebellion; (2) the flesh is not the only occasion of sin; (3) nearness to God is not inviolable safety.
II. "God spared not," etc.: then (1) righteousness is not a variable quantity; (2) law is not partially administered; (3) suffering can never be dissociated from sin.
Parker, City Temple, vol. i., p. 61.
References: 2 Peter 2:4.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi., p. 931; vol. xxxi., No. 1820; Homilist, 3rd series, vol. iv., p. 108.
2 Peter 2:6I. Our text shows that God's severity on sin is an awful fact. St. Peter points (1) to the vengeance He executed on the sinning angels. Every argument which can be applied against the ultimate punishment of men applies with equal force against the punishment of the sinful angels. (2) To the destruction that fell upon the old world. It has been computed that the population of the world at that time was as great as now, owing to the longevity of the race; and yet the waters rose until the eight who rode in the Ark were the sole remnant of a world that God had made. (3) To the destruction of the cities of the plain. There were eight saved from the Flood; but in the case of the cities of the plain only four were rescued, and out of the four one was turned into a pillar of salt because she looked back.
II. This particular act of severity mentioned in our text is to be an example for all ages. This is not to be shelved as a bit of past history. It is customary to describe the views of future punishment held by most of us as mediæval, and to declare that our ideas are mainly gleaned from what monks wrote and said and from pictures to be found in old galleries. I have never yet seen any picture from hand of mediæval artist half so dreadful as some of the descriptions that fell from our Lord's lips. Neither Paul nor Peter, nor any of the Apostles, ever uttered such words as leaped from the lips of the Man of sorrows. When God smites Judah, it is that Israel should take warning; and He who hurled the angels from heaven to hell, and drowned the world, and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrha, has power still to smite.
A. G. Brown, Penny Pulpit, New Series, No. 1004.
References: 2 Peter 2:8.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 546. 2 Peter 2:15.—J. Edmunds, Sixty Sermons, p. 189. 2 Peter 2:17.—J. P. Hutchinson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 92.
2 Peter 2:18False Theories of our Life.
I. There is the epicurean or pleasure theory: "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." Let us see how this creed narrows down our life to a very point, stripping it of all that is distinctive and elevating, both in range and duration, and shutting us up within the miserable limits of time and sense. (1) It takes all soul out of life. For the soul is its enemy, and a regard for its interests would be the very death of such a life. (2) It takes all heart out of our life. The sensual man is of necessity selfish. He is the enemy of society, the propagator, and patron, and pattern of evil. If all were to follow his example and live as he lives, the world would soon be such that even he could not live in it. (3) It takes also the intellect out of our life. For its own sake at least, there is no recognition of it. It is the minister of sense, the convenient purveyor for its appetites, the demon in the herd of swine, impelling us down the steep of ignominious concession into the foul sea of sensuality and indulgence. (4) It takes all the future out of our life. There is nothing of a pilgrimage here; the man is at home. There is nothing of a warfare here; it is all concession together, all drifting down with the stream.
II. The ascetic theory. As the former theory robs life of its future, this one robs it of its present. The one makes the body everything; the other makes it nothing. That the ascetic view of life is an entirely false view I need scarcely wait to demonstrate. (1) It is not prescribed. The God that made us does not require it. (2) It springs from self-righteousness, and is deeply rooted in spiritual pride. (3) It proceeds on a totally mistaken idea of what sin really is, and of what the Divine Being really intended in making us what we are. (4) It fails to accomplish its professed design.
III. The pantheistic theory. (1) It destroys all individual responsibility in man. (2) It tends to cancel all duty.
IV. The perfectionist theory, or that which teaches the ultimate recovery of all creatures to the perfection of their nature and the highest happiness of which they are capable, and all this, too, it must be remembered, as a matter of necessity, not as dependent on the will of man, but as a certain result of the constitution of the universe. There is no limit to the all things that are to work together for good to the proper persons; but there is a limit to the persons, and that limit is formed by the very nature of God, which binds Him over by an absolute necessity to put a mighty difference between the good and the evil, between him that serveth Him and him that serveth Him not.
V. The theory that ascribes too much importance to circumstances. (1) It tends to make God the Author of sin. (2) It confounds temptation with coercion.
A. L. Simpson, The Upward Path, p. 169.
References: 2 Peter 2:19.—Homilist, 3rd series, vol. iv., p. 45; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 129. 2 Peter 2:20.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. i., p. 189.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.
But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
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.