Today Peter keeps explaining what false teachers and prophets are like, manipulating and enticing others away from God, and entangling themselves in mire which ends up being worse for them than never knowing God. The called of God are to take note and beware…
13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”
2Peter 2:13, 15-22
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
In Numbers 22-23 we see Balaam the prophet needing God’s intervention in order to stay on the straight and narrow. The Lord stops Balaam’s donkey and then speaks through the donkey’s mouth to get Balaam to obey God’s plan. Then later, according to Numbers 31:16, Balaam still goes and disobeys God for the sake of riches, betraying Israel and God in the process.
In 2Peter 2 we see Balaam as the example of the false prophet. Even though they may speak some truth and proclaim God’s word, there are secret betrayals which reveal their corruption. Peter teaches us that it would be better for them to have never known the Way than to know Jesus and then turn back on the sacred command they have.
There is a high standard for those in God’s duty. This is a trust which must be taken seriously, and there is corruption in the world aimed at making God’s servants fall. Greed, lust, and depravity are their hallmarks, and they end up enticing others to follow into their trap.
This is why Paul challenges the young pastor Timothy to be diligent to present himself as an approved worker to God. There is a responsibility on those in service to God to keep themselves from the wickedness of false teachers and prophets.
The alternative is characterized as being worse than never knowing God in the first place for those who practice falsehood and betrayal of God’s call. Hear the word of the Lord…