2 Peter 2:19
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome…
1. In denouncing the delusions promoted by false teachers, St. Peter passes from invective to irony. He exhibits in this verse, not merely the impiety, but the very absurdity, of sinners, who, themselves enslaved to sin, are so unreasonable as to offer freedom to their dupes and victims! The language which he uses gives an insight into religious truths of the highest practical importance.
I. THE TRUE CHRISTIAN IS FREE FROM SIN, AND IS IN BONDAGE TO CHRIST. There was a time when he was the captive, the thrall of error, perhaps of vice or of crime. From that bondage Divine grace delivered him. But, in renouncing the serfdom to sin, he became the Lord's freedman. Yet the highest use the Christian makes of his freedom is to submit himself to the holiest and the kindest of Masters. Even apostles felt it an honour to subscribe themselves bondservants of the Lord Christ. The will of the Saviour is the law of the saved.
II. THE FALSE CHRISTIAN IS FREE FROM CHRIST, AND IN BONDAGE TO SIN, He whose religion is only a name may call himself Christ's, but in fact he has renounced the yoke that is easy and the burden that is light; he has given himself over to work the will of the tyrant who has usurped the throne which is by right Divine the proper inheritance of the Son of God. He may boast his liberty, but the boast is empty and vain.
III. THE PROMISE OF LIBERTY ON THE PART OF SIN'S SLAVES IS FALLACIOUS AND VAIN. In politics it has always been common for those bound by their own lusts and vanity to make loud professions of liberty, and to invite men to partake of its delights. These were the men of whom Milton said they
"Bawl for freedom in their senseless mood,
And still revolt when truth would set them free.
License they mean when they cry, 'Liberty!'
For who loves that must first be wise and good." These were the men who led Dr. Johnson to denounce "patriotism as the last refuge of a scoundrel." These were the men whose conduct during the French Revolution led to the famous exclamation, "O Liberty, what crimes have been wrought in thy name!" It has been, and is, the fashion with socialists and communists, anarchists and nihilists, to sing the praises of freedom; but the "mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty," will have no homage from such professed admirers as these. What they want is license for their own sins and scope for their own vanity. So has it ever been, and so is it still, in religion. In the early ages of the Church the Gnostics professed to be wise, to have found the secret of spiritual freedom; but in too many cases these professions were a cloak for licentiousness. Again and again in the history of Christendom have there occurred outbursts of fanaticism, of which the text supplies explanation. The antinomian is a "bondservant of corruption;" but who so loud as he in the proclamation of liberty, in the promise to all men of a life of spiritual freedom? But freedom is worthless unless it be freedom from sin's vile, debasing chains, unless it be the practical repudiation of the tyranny of the prince of darkness. There is a servitude which it is an honour for a free man to accept; it is the service of Christ, which is "perfect liberty." - J.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.