These are springs without water, and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved.
Peter’s description of false teachers as springs without water and mists driven by a storm refer to the emptiness and instability of their souls. The Greek word for springs is “pege” referring to a very active fountain or spring. The analogy is a person goes seeking water to quench their thirst only to find the source has dried up. Such is the case with false teachers. Their promises are deceitfully masked as truth, only to find out they are not teaching truth. The emptiness of the fountain or spring refers to lack of accurate Bible doctrine.
Mists is the Greek word “homichle,” and can be translated mists or fog. Both are often driven by storms. The instability of these false teachers translates into various false doctrines which often contradict each other. The result for those who follow them is instability since they have no real biblical truth to rely on. These followers are no more stable doctrinally than the last false teacher they heard. Confusion through half-truths and lies is the final result for these unstable souls.
Storm is the Greek word “lailaps” meaning a tempest, a whirlwind, a squall, or a violent wind. Paul says that the followers of false doctrine are like waves in the ocean tossed to and fro and carried away with every wind of doctrine. (Ephesians 4:14)
Black is the Greek word “zophos” meaning blackness or murkiness. Darkness is the Greek word “skotos” meaning a dark place of punishment. A dark, murky place is awaiting those unbelievers who teach false doctrine and those unbelievers who follow them. For believers who follow the teachings of this false teachers, black out of the soul is the result (spiritual darkness, experientially).
For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
Speaking is the Greek word “phtheggomai” meaning great swelling words. It is the same word Peter uses to describe the speech of Balaam’s donkey when it spoke. The words of the false teacher are most often spoken with eloquent oratorical flare. Arrogant words means over-swollen, overweight, and it means words with long syllables that sound spiritual. The reality is that these words are words of vanity. Vanity is the Greek word “mataios,” which is vain or empty. The words these false teachers speak are empty words of arrogance designed to entice willfully ignorant people. Entice is the Greek word “deleazo,” which means to catch with bait. Naturally, Peter would choose a fishing word to describe the way these false teachers operate.
Satan’s subtle method of “hooking” people, used by his ministers of false doctrine, is fleshly desire and sensuality. Fleshly desires is a reference to the pattern of the sin nature. It is a reference to any desire of the sin nature, in any category of sin. Sensuality on the other hand is more specific; it refers to indecency, absence of restraint or shameless conduct. They use their lifestyles of wealth, power and fame to allure people into their web of deceit so they can take advantage of them.
The ones who live in error, refers to the false teachers. The Greek word for barely is “oligos” meaning scarcely or in a little degree. Those who barely escape are believers who were in the early stage of advancing in their Christian lives. They had almost escaped from the error of their ways, only to be enticed by fleshly desires and sensuality to follow these false teachers. And what are they promised? They are promised freedom but receive slavery to their sin natures.
For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
These duped believers Peter refers to initially escaped the pollution of Satan’s world system by means of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. This means that they had begun to advance in their spiritual lives. The Greek word for escape is “apopheugo” meaning to flee away from. The Greek word for defilements is “miasma” meaning pollution. The only way a believer can escape the corruption of the world system is by the knowledge and application of accurate Bible doctrine.
Unfortunately, some believers had obviously not advanced far enough in their Christian lives to overcome the enticement of the false teachers. Instead, these believers had been overcome by their own sin natures, failing to allow the Holy Spirit to control their lives. They had become entangled once again in Satan’s world system. The state of a believer in reversionism is certainly worse than when he was advancing spiritually.
For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”
First of all, this verse is not talking about losing your salvation. It is talking about believers who had been deceived into believing a lie. Turning away from God to follow false teachers results in divine discipline. For a believer it is worse to reject truth after having advanced because of the severe discipline that he will experience from God as a result. As believers we are responsible for what we know. An advancing believer knows the “way of righteousness,” unlike the believer who is not advancing. The more you know, the greater your responsibility and your discipline. The holy commandment is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. (I John 3:23) The analogy of the dog and the pig show that these verses are referring to believers who have fallen for the lies of the false teachers. And they returned to their former way of thinking. Notice that the Scriptures say that the pig “after washing” returns to the mud pit. Believers are the ones who have been cleansed and the reversionistic believers return to the mud pit of human viewpoint thinking and control of the sin nature.
A test of apostasy, heresy, or the spirit of antichrist is the doctrinal accuracy of the message. This is where it takes a greater amount of doctrine in the soul to discern the false from the true. Only through spiritual growth can a believer avoid being deceived by these false teachers. There are some obvious signs that a preacher or teacher is presenting false doctrine. For example, the motive of most false teachers is to seek fortune, fame and power. There are some ministers, however, who appear to be sincere and appear to have correct motives, but have allowed themselves to be deceived. Both are still teaching false doctrine and are enemies of the cross of Christ. (II Timothy 2:25-26; II Timothy 3:1-7)
We must keep in mind that Satan and his ministers of darkness present themselves as ministers of righteousness and angels of light, but are really wolves in sheep’s clothing. One of Satan’s greatest counterfeits to the truth is emotion. Though emotion is a wonderful gift from God, the misuse of emotion leads to all kinds of false teachings. The most obvious one is displayed by the Charismatics or Pentecostals. They replace the true ministries of the Holy Spirit with emotional experience. As we have studied, the ministries of God the Holy Spirit are not seen or felt, they are simply facts stated in God’s Word for us to believe. (II Corinthians 11:13-15; Romans 16:18)
Though these false teachers often use Biblical phases, passages and Christian-sounding words, they distort the truth by taking passages out of context, ignoring dispensational truth or in some cases changing the meaning of God’s Word to fit their particular teaching. In some instances they even accidentally present truth. Satan is the great counterfeiter. Therefore, what his ministers teach is mixed with a small amount of truth in order to look like the real thing. Beware… you must always evaluate the message in light of the truth of God’s Word. (II Peter 2:1-22)
Another test of apostasy, heresy, or the spirit of antichrist involves the motive of the preacher or teacher. This, of course, is very difficult to determine since we do not have the ability to read a person’s mind. We can, however, compare the fruits of their labor with the truth that we find in God’s Word. “By their fruit you shall know them.” Fruit is tantamount to production.
There are two kinds of production, human good and divine good. You must know the difference. Quite often what is proclaimed to be divine good is in fact human good. We know from Scripture that all human good is wood, hay and straw and will be burned up at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It will be determined by a believer’s spiritual status and motives. Good done by a believer under the control of God the Holy Spirit is divine good and is rewardable in eternity. Good done by a believer who is being controlled by the sin nature (with its accompanying wrong mental attitude) is human good and not rewardable. Therefore, in the Christian way of life, attitude is everything. Wrong attitude equals wrong motive. Right attitude equals right motive. (I John 2:18-22; I Corinthians 3:11-15)
We will be able to discern these wrong motives from the false teacher, only if we have developed our spiritual I.Q. through the study and application of Bible doctrine. When the motive for doing “God’s work” is to gain favor, wealth, notoriety or power, it’s wrong. Even when the motive is pure, God’s work must be done God’s way or it is still wrong. In the Christian life, the end does not justify the means. We are told to separate ourselves from these false teachers. This means we should not acknowledge them, fellowship with them, be on television with them, send them money, participate in their programs, attend their churches, attend their meetings or conferences, or in any way condone what they are doing or saying. (II Corinthians 6:11-18; II John 9-11)
The followers of the apostate teachers are those who allow themselves to be seduced. They are those who reject truth and believe the fabricated lies of the false teachers. Peter tells us that many will follow their evil ways, so it should come as no surprise when these ministers of Satan “pack the pew.” The pivot (remnant according to grace) has always been a small elite group of believers who refuse to compromise accurate Bible teaching. The others who follow after the “about to” ministers (God’s about to do this or that, but never seems to get around to doing it), have become enemies of the cross of Christ and partakers in satanic activity. They have been enticed by words of flattery, which promise wealth and physical healing from a “fairy god mother” type of god. As a result of being seduced, these believers wait for God to bless them with material possessions. They send their hard-earned money to these false teachers in hope they will receive blessing in return. Never receiving what they are promised, the false teachers tell them that they do not have enough faith, and that is why God has failed to bless them. (II Timothy 3:6, 4:3-4; II Peter 2:2,3,14,18; Jude 12,16)Satan has many counterfeits to the spiritual life. It is therefore of extreme importance for each of us to learn, understand and execute the true spiritual life. Without a correct understanding of the Biblical spiritual life, the believer will go through life executing some form of legalism or being fooled by false doctrine which will lead to misery and unhappiness. The truespiritual life is not what you do for God. The true spiritual life is what God does for you. The true spiritual life is your invisible relationship with God.