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The Scriptorium

Slaves of Passion

2 Peter 2.19, 20

19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.

The Story:Peter is continuing to warn the particularly vulnerable, those who have just barely “escaped” a lifestyle of fleshly and material self-indulgence. False teachers promise liberty – freedom from want, from bad health, from chronic ailments, from loneliness or depression, from fear and misery. They make the “secrets” of their teaching the “key” to knowing such freedom. What they do instead is make people slaves of their desires. They breed covetousness, which is idolatry, rather than contentment in Christ. Instead of teaching contentment, hope, and trust, they encourage greed and inculcate want, nurturing loyalty to themselves as the way to true freedom. But this is the way to enslavement. The knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which is eternal life (Jn. 17.3) and for which we are to give all diligence to make our calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1.5-11), liberates us from any enslavement to conditions or things and sets us truly free in the Word and Spirit of God. Someone who has “tasted” this knowledge, and then wants to go back to what he knew before, is in danger of becoming enslaved to the flesh once again.

The Structure:What does it mean to really “know” Jesus Christ? Peter dealt with that in chapter 1. If we aren’t being “all the more diligent” (v. 10) to reinforce our initial knowledge of Christ with virtue, the pursuit of holiness, and love, then we have to wonder whether that “knowledge” we claim is true knowledge at all. This is tough talk. Peter does not mince words. He has no room for “tolerating” various opinions about what it means to be a Christian. It’s his way or the highway. Either we are slaves to Christ or we are slaves to our passions.

How would you counsel a fellow Christian who seemed to you to be more “into” the things of the world than the things of Christ?

Each week’s studies in our
Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For this week’s study, “Beware False Teachers: 2 Peter 2.12-22,” simply click here.

T. M. Moore

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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