I’ve been studying through 1st and 2nd Peter for awhile now. Too long, probably, but I’m pressing on slow anyways. And a few days ago, these words seemed to hang out in front of me in the air, waiting for me to grasp their significance.
“They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”
2 Peter 2:19
Peter is discussing false teachers: their lives, their deceptions, and their destinies. He was warning the church against listening to or being led astray by false teachers.
The defining feature of false teachers in this passage was…
They promise freedom, but they themselves are not free.
As I read, I paused to think on this…that we can’t offer to others what we ourselves don’t have. And it struck me that this is exactly what our adversary the devil tries to do.
He offers peace, but he has no peace to offer.
He offers power, but he knows that his power will be taken away.
He offers riches, but he will ultimately be stripped of all he has.
He offers happiness, but he is fueled by rage and envy.
He offers freedom, but he himself is bound to earth and destined for eternal death.
All the promises of this world, all the riches and fame and joy and peace promised are simply lies of the deceiver himself, just reshaped and repackaged by those who have unknowingly fallen for his lies.
And I wonder what we’re listening to and what we’re preaching…
Because you can’t offer what you don’t have, and if you try then you’re following in the steps of the deceiver, the Father of Lies.
My pastor has said over and over, “If I’m not filling up on Jesus, then the best I can give people is myself.”
And I once again find myself looking deep inside and asking…
What do I have to offer?
What do I promise to others?
What has overcome my life?
What am I filling up on?
I don’t want to be a false teacher.
I don’t want to resemble a false teacher even for a moment.
I don’t want to promise freedom if I myself am in bondage.
And I don’t want to give anything other than Jesus.
…because, in Jesus I am alive and can offer life to the dying.
In Jesus I am forgiven and can offer forgiveness to others.
In Jesus I have peace and can offer peace to a broken world.
In Jesus I’ve been given freedom and can offer freedom.
We are free and can offer the freedom that is in Jesus to a broken and bondaged world.
This post is full of more questions than answers, because only you know your answers to these questions. I’m unsettled in writing this because it doesn’t feel tidy. But sometimes we need to simply be left with messy questions…messy because they dig into the messiness of our own hearts and lives.
So I’m not leaving you with a tidy post today…just the mess of questions that I’m asking myself. And I’m inviting you to join me in asking them. Will you?