¡°THE REAL DANGER OF ENTRAPMENT¡± By Pastor YAU
Text: 2 Peter 2:20-22; Proverbs 26:11 September 22, 2013.
1) Be human but don't be stupid: We often heard people made excuses when they made mistakes by saying: ¡°I am only human,¡± and we all agree. No one is exempted from making mistakes in one's life. I like to make a little change to the familiar excuse like this: ¡°But no one is entitled to make that same mistake again and again. And if he does, he is stupid and he can't still feel good about that.¡± Yet, some so called Christians did just that: After they were saved by the grace of God, were given the new life, they returned to sinful life style as those in the world. King Solomon warned us against the danger of returning to the old life, he said this: ¡°As a dog returned to its vomit, so is a fool repeats his folly.¡± (Proverbs 26:11)
2) This is a real present danger: After one is saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, there is a real danger of falling from grace back to his filthy life style of the sinful world. This had happened in every generation since the day of Peter as he gave the same warning to the early Christians 2,000 years and to us today. In his letter to the early believers of Christ Peter gave them some very practical warning against falling back to the entrapment of the sinful life they used to live. He warned them to be very careful not to get caught by the desires of the sinful flesh. Let's examine the scripture to see how some of our fellow believers were lured back to the shameful life of the old nature.
THE POWER OF OUR OLD NATURE: (2 Peter 2:20)
1) The old life in a filthy nature: ¡°If they have escaped the filthiness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.¡± (2:20) ¡°Filthy¡± is from miasmata in Greek from which we have miasma, some poisonous exhalation that caused deadly diseases. It is the influence or atmosphere that tends to deplete or corrupt. The debauched system and practice of the world produce vapor, infectious evils and moral pollution in every conceivable form. The unsaved humanity is heavily contaminated by the world's immorality and vanity. Too often we as Christians are blinded to see and believe that there may have something good in this world and sometimes we are lured to stay in there even after we are saved and were given the new life in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must see this world from the perspective of God in the Bible: This world can only produce deadly vapors that can only lead us to death in sin.
2) We were prisoners of the old nature: ¡°They were entrapped (entangled) again and were overcome.¡± (2:20b) Peter was not talking about the unsaved who have always entangled or trapped in sinful life, but about the saved who were again fallen into the traps of the trashy life style of the world. We need to pay attention to the serious temptation of the world on us Christians. The power of Satan is always there to lure us, distract us, tempt us with some attractive baits to pull us back to the filthy, immoral life we left when we become followers of Jesus Christ. Instead of being ¡°over-comers¡± as Christians, we were overcome by the poisonous vapor of Satan to the point we become prisoners trapped in the scare of sin where we couldn't escape.
3) The situation can only get worse: ¡°The latter end is worse with them than the beginning.¡± (2:20c) There are two consequences on Christians who turned their life back to the sinful world, falling from the grace of God: a) There is nothing more that may cause them to repentance. Paul warned these people in Hebrews 6:5-6, ¡°They have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the coming age, if they fall away, it is impossible to be brought back to repentance because they are crucifying the Son of God all over again.¡± b) They shall face far greater judgment than those who have never heard the word of God. (Matthew 10:14-15) We gain salvation by accepting the grace of God for the forgiveness of our sins. If we reject the grace of God by returning to sin, what else can cause us to repentance and forgiveness?
THE REAL DANGER OF ENTRAPMENT: (2 Peter 2:21-22)
1) It is a blatant rejection of God: ¡°It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then turn their backs on the sacred command.¡± (2:21) This is not about ignorance of the righteousness of God, but the rejection of it. Peter said it would be better off if they haven't know of it. It is understandable for people who have not the knowledge of God's righteousness to live in sin because they don't know there is a better way to live their life. But for those who have known the righteousness of God but chose to turn their backs on God to live in sin willfully is far worse than others.
2) It is a contemptible life style: ¡°Of them, the proverbs is true: A dog returns to its vomit. And, a sow that was washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.¡± (2:22) The quote here is from Proverbs 26:11. In biblical time both dogs and swine were contemptible animals (Job 30:1; Ps. 22:16; Matt 7:6) In biblical time as it is in under developed countries today, dogs were not household pets because they were usually half wild mongrels; often dirty, diseased and dangerous. They lived in garbage and refuse and often eat their own vomit. It is not the Jews treated dogs with contempt and disgust. Swine similarly represented filth, ultimate unclean in nature. (Lev 11:7) Peter's comparison of Christians falling away the grace of God back to their sinful way of life to dirty dogs and unclean swine is accurate and fit.
3) The sad truth in today's church: Contemporary Christianity, sadly, contains many people like the ones Peter described in this passage. Many of these so called Christians, even leaders and preachers of churches, tragically are unclean swine and dirty dogs in their personal life style. These people blatantly reject the holy commandments God has inspired in His word in pursuit of their own sensual and sinful desires of the fresh. Peter's warning is clear: Stay away from these people. Do not be fooled by their tricks. Do not water down the commands of God in keeping our life worthy of the calling of God. God's children are to listen to God's call through his servants back to repentance and live a life that will bring glory to our living God.
WHAT SHALL WE DO NOW? Our God is a God of love not hatred. He won't allow us to sink into eternal destruction without giving us a way back to him. God is not waiting to judge our sins but to rescue us back to a saving and sweet relationship with him. Here are three steps God offers us to get back to him to stop the slippery slope of a train wreck:
1) We need to search our hearts: ¡°Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.¡± (Psalm 139:23-24) Bible scholars believe that this psalm was written by King David after he confessed his sin in Psalm 51 where he brokenheartedly sought God's forgiveness of the sin he committed. This is the first step we all have to do to restore our relationship with God: Search our hearts and thoughts to see the offensive way of life we have lived as Christians against God's will and command. We have to recognize sin as sin and not try to cover up or making any excuses. Sin is the only thing that separates us from God and his blessings in our life. We need to see our ways of life is offensive to God and to others. Offense means breaking the moral code God has set for us to live. It is not acceptable to God and many time it is not acceptable to the moral norms of the society. We need to see it seriously.
2) Then we need to truly repent: ¡°When the people this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and other disciples: Brothers, what shall we do? Peter replied: Repent everyone of you.¡± (Acts 2:37-38) Repent, metanoesate from meta-noew in Greek, means to undergo a change of the frame of mind, to make a change of principle and practice. Our way back to God takes 2 steps: acknowledge our life is offensive and sinful; then we need to make a change of the way, the direction, the principle we used to use in living sinful life. We can't continue to live in that offensive way and hope God will continue to be with us and bless us. This is a harder way than the confession of sin in the heart. This is about taking action to change our life style back to one that pleases God. This is about getting out of the entrapment of sin and the power of Satan and return to a sweet relationship with God again. This is how King David dealt with his sin. In Psalm 51:1-4, ¡°Have mercy on me, O God, wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my sin and my transgression. I have sinned against you and done what is evil in your sight.¡± David didn't white wash his sin but repented with pain in his heart.
3) Finally aiming for a higher life: ¡°If a man cleanses himself from filthiness, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy and useful to God and prepared to do all good things.¡± (2 Timothy 2:21) The US Marines seek to recruit ¡°a few good men¡± to serve in the Marine. They feel proud of being part of the US Marine. How much more should we feel proud of being in the family of the almighty God. Don't settle in minimum of life, but be a noble instrument God can use to do all kinds of good work. We all have the God given potential to be good, better and best if we rid off the filthy things in our life. You can live a much better life with full force and dynamic of God's blessing, we may be more joyful in your outlook and results of life at home and at work, with family and the church. God has so much in store for you, waiting to fill your life with power for victory. King David didn't give up his hope in God. He pleaded with God to grant him a new life: ¡°Created in me a clean heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.¡± (Psalm 51:10) Don't stay in a life of sin. God is ready to bring you up and out of the pit. If we have that higher goal of life in God, even our sin can be the opportunity to a higher growth through our sincere repentance and renewal in our heart.
APPLICATOIN OF TRUTH:
1) Watch out the evil desire: ¡°Each one of you is tempted by his own evil desire, he is dragged away from God and enticed. After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. When sin is full-grown it gives death.¡± (James 1:14-15) Evil desire in our fresh is very dangerous. If we don't control our desire, we will sin, and if we continue to live in sin without confessing and repentance, we will die in our spiritual condition, the final destruction of life. Too many of us believe if it feels good, it must be right. The question is who is feeling good, we or God? If something we desire is not good with God, then it is a sinful entrapment and it is very dangerous.
2) God wants you to come back: ¡°The Lord is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.¡± (2 Peter 3:9) God isn't waiting to punish us for our sinful desire and life style. He is patiently wait-ing for us to repent our sin and come back to him. It never pays to continue living in sin because someday, your sin will catch up with you and you will suffer terrible consequences for them. You need to see sin as abominable entrapment, then confess and repent to God and ask for his forgiveness and be restored to him. Just as the father of the Prodigal son in the Bible waited for his son to come home, God is waiting to see you come back today.