WISDOM OF LIVING (14): ESCAPE”                      By Pastor Yau

2 Peter 2: 20-22; Proverbs 26:11                                January 30, 2005

 

INTRODUCTION:  We all have heard that self-excused saying: “To err is human.” Let me change it a little: “To make the same err twice is dumb.”  No one is exempted from making mistakes. But no one has the right to make the same mistake again and again and still feel good. Yet many of us do, again and again. This is also true in Christian walk.

       Peter, the Apostle, was writing to the early Christians, warning them of the danger of worldly entanglement that had trapped many of them back to their previous filthy life style. From the Scriptural references quoted above, let us examine how some supposedly strong believers at one time could be lured back to their old ways of life.

 

THE PLAN OF ESCAPE: 

1)   We were captives:  Peter portrayed the salvation experience as the victory in the “Great Escape” movies. He portrayed the sinful world as a snare or a prison which holds millions of captives under the control of the evil power. Apostle Paul certainly agreed with that when he described his helpless situation before he was saved by the power of Jesus. (Romans 7:18-25) Man without the power of salvation from Jesus will never be able to escape from the control of the evil power born with their lives. No among of good works nor will power nor education nor religious practice may rescue anyone from that dungeon of sin and death.

2)   The world is a filthy place: The place we were once kept captives was a filthy, defiled and polluted place. It is a place that will harm the well being of our spiritual quality and its certain future is death. The word Peter used is fit for garbage dumps or a sewer lines. Everything that was there is but harmful and destructive. Men were blinded by the deceit of the Devil to think that the world is a place they want to linger and stay. We can see the description of that world by reading the previous verses, 2:12-19.  Anything, even those things some may consider as good or meritorious works but could hinder us from advancing our spiritual journey are all rubbish as Paul put it. (Phil. 3:7-8)

3)   A plan to escape:  Peter presents us a plan to escape from the filthy place: have a full knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In this plan, we will be saved if we gain a full knowledge in Jesus Christ and accept Him as our Savior for eternal life and Lord of our present life. Many of those who have fallen behind in their spiritual growth because they stay at their beginning stage in their knowledge of Jesus. They never grow to know Him thru their personal experience. After accepting Him as our Savior, we need to accept Him as Lord of our lives---by obeying Him and His ways. Paul encouraged the Ephesians to know Jesus better thru the spirit of wisdom. (Ephesians 1:17) The level you know Jesus affects how much you stay strong in your spiritual growth.

 

THE LURE OF RECAPTURED:

1)  The danger of recaptured:   Peter used a passive case to describe the “re-entry” to the world and that’s exactly what had happened in most cases of being recaptured. Great majority of Christians will not knowingly or willingly get back to that worldly life style from which they were rescued before by Jesus. But the power, the attraction and the temptation of the world may draw those who were once saved but cannot or will not stop their eyes from looking back just as the wife of Lot who was turned into a pillar of salt as she turned back to look at her hometown Sodom. Any time when we feel settled in this world, we are in danger of being re-captured. As Paul put it the way he lived his life: “Forgetting what is behind and straining what is ahead.” (Phil. 3:13)

2)  The entanglements:  This will happen when anyone who claims to follow Jesus but will not or can not make a clear up with what he used to have in the world. Just as that rich young man who came to Jesus to ask what should he do to enter the kingdom of heaven, many Christians will not let go of the worldly distractions as they try to pursue their journey to heaven. Matt. (Matt. 19:16-22)  Paul said Christian soldiers should not allow civilian affairs to entangle him from serving in God’s army. (Timothy 2:4) When a Christian is entangled by the filthy things of the world, he can never stand up for the Lord. Peter said that this kind of men were defeated, overpowered or trapped. Examine your heart, find out what are the entanglements still there in it.

3)  The terrible ending:  Just as Paul stated in Hebrews 6:4-8 on those who turned away from God after they learned about Him, their hearts are hardened and there is no hope for them to be renewed again. Peter said the spiritual condition of these people is worse than before they were saved. This has nothing to do with the saving power of Jesus. It is their choice to rebel against and to reject the Lord as their Savior and Lord even though they once know the truth but they reject that truth. These are those who were never saved before. They had never turned their lives to the control of the Lord. (2:21) In Hebrews 10:29-30, Paul pointed out the horrible ending of those who willfully trampled the blood of Jesus.

 

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?  Peter used two common illustrations to point out the reasons why some Christians got tangled up with the world and were defeated in their Christian growth:

1)   The forgetful dog:  Dogs will eat anything until their stomachs tell them some of the “food” they had eaten is in fact harmful. The act of vomiting is a mechanism to protect them from long term harm to their health. But if they had forgotten what they had vomited, they will turn around and eat it as if it is good food. Many Christians make the same mistakes: they forgot the harm of the world and the temptations and lures of the world but they continue to feed their lives with those filthy things of the world.

2)   The old-nature sow:  The nature of a sow, a male pig, is to wallow in the mud. No among of washing is going to change his nature. Many of those who claim to be Christians but have never allowed the Lord to change their lives are like the sows, keeping their old nature and will do things according to that old nature. They will follow their old nature when it fits their needs. They will enjoy more in the mud than stay as washed and clean. That’s why Jesus asked that we need to be born again in Him. (John 3:5-8) We need to crucify our old nature daily to allow Christ the control of our life. (Galatians 2:20)

 

WHAT SHOULD WE DO THEN? The Bible never allows us to sink without pointing us to a way out. Here are some steps we all can take to restore our condition:

1)   Search your heart: As King David asking God to help him search his heart, we also need to search our hearts to see the things of the world: the filthy, the unclean, the polluted, and all that have been blocking our spiritual growth or keeping us from obeying God. Think deep, search hard, write them down and know your true self. (Psalms 139:23-24)

2)   Confess and repent: As John asked the early Christians, we need to come to God and ask for His forgiveness of our sins which have been blocking us from receiving His blessings. God is righteous and faithful. He will forgive our sins and cleanse us form all our iniquities. (1 John 1:9)

3)   Be connected with Him:  Jesus had given us a warranty to be fruitful and stay away from trouble: keep connected with Him. (John 15:5) Keep it regular your personal time each day with God, participate with zeal and hunger in worship and Bible study with other Christians, keep close to those who are godly and mature in their spiritual life. (2 Tim. 2:22) Keep your prayer life regular and sincere everyday. God will see your heart and give you power.

 

CONCLUSION:  If you feel no joy in your life, weak in spiritual appetite, aimless on your future, bored in things around you, lose dynamics and hope, lazy in Bible reading, prayer and worship, rough in relationship with people close to you or are attracted to things you know are wrong, you are close, if not already in, to the entanglement of the world. (I John 2:15) You are on a slippery slope.

        If you allow your heart be occupied by your selfish desires, things of this world or you act like your own master, there is no room for God. You can’t affort to stay this way to ruin your life, both present and spiritual. You need to wake up and come back to God. Turn around and ask God to save you from the snare of Satan. Just as the father waited for his prodigal son, God is waiting for you to come home.