There are times when passages from the sacred Scripture speak with startling accuracy about the crisis of our times. It is as if the inspired writer stands in our midst, witnessing the abandonment of truth in word and deed that more and more forcibly strives to darken and pre-empt the "faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." It has tragically become the norm to read accounts of Christ followers in the U.S. and elsewhere
- threatened with legislation; penalized for specious crimes;
- gravely injured in their livelihoods by anti-constitutional court decisions; and
- deprived of the first and most important of their constitutionally guaranteed civil rights
for the specious "offense" of faithfully adhering to God's will for prayer, human procreation, sexual identity, marriage and the understanding of familial rights and authority it entails.
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I find it profoundly reassuring that the Apostle Peter so presciently foresaw the self-idolizing apostasy of some avowed disciples and preachers of Christ who would, over the centuries (including our own) deceitfully claim to stand in line with the first Apostles, bearing witness to the truth of God's salvation in Christ. I hope the accuracy of his foreboding will reassure others. It challenges us to look past mild-sounding claims of compassion and love, used to mask the spiritually deadly betrayal of the greatest love of all. For that love, like Christ who embodied it, manifests the mercy and goodwill of God by honoring His truth, even when it identifies and convicts us of our sins. False evangelism may briefly tickle itching ears, but that worm turns into a powerful parasite, burrowing deep to undermine the knowledge of Christ, which alone reveals the saving presence of God in and throughout our existence.
First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; from of old their condemnation has not been idle, and their destruction has not been asleep.
For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven other persons, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example to those who were to be ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the wicked (for by what that righteous man saw and heard as he lived among them, he was vexed in his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
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Bold and wilful, they are not afraid to revile the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a reviling judgment upon them before the Lord. But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and killed, reviling in matters of which they are ignorant, will be destroyed in the same destruction with them, suffering wrong for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their dissipation, carousing with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet's madness.
These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm; for them the deepest gloom of darkness has been reserved. For, uttering loud boasts of folly, they entice with licentious passions of the flesh men who have barely escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire. (2 Peter 1:20-2:22)