But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
(2 Peter 2:10-22 KJV)
Two great errors of false teachers
There were and are false preachers and teachers in the Christian church, just as there were false teachers among the Jews. We are warned to mark them and beware of them (Mat_7:15-16; 2Ti_4:3-4).
2Pe_2:10. These false teachers and preachers (besides denying the true gospel of redemption through Christ alone—2Pe_2:1) are guilty of two great errors.
‘They walk after the flesh’ in the lust of uncleanness; that is, their tenor of life is the satisfaction, pampering, and attention to the flesh. Their bodies, not their souls, are their main concern. The emphasis today in their circles is healing, fleshly entertainment and enjoyment, and financial well-being.
‘They despise dominion’ or authority. They are always advocates of man’s free-will and enemies of the absolute sovereignty and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. These false teachers and their followers never preach the sovereignty of God in salvation, they never declare the Lordship of Christ in a believer’s life (Christ is accepted as Saviour only), they never emphasize the authority of the man in the home and church (their women lead, teach, and usurp authority on an equal basis). They seldom have any local church authority but are usually a movement or organization outside the church, denouncing the churches, pastors, and doctrine. Their cry is usually, ‘let’s forget doctrine and let every religionist do his own thing.’
They are presumptuous, bold and daring, not fearing to speak of holy things in the most familiar fashion. There is no reverence or fear of God in their hearts or words.
They are self-willed, pleased with themselves, proud of their accomplishments, vain in their reports of numerical success.
They are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. The name of our Heavenly Father rolls off their tongues carelessly. They use the word ‘god’ as frequently and meaninglessly as they would the name of a fellow human.
They speak of ‘Jesus’ as if he were a next-door neighbor (rarely calling him, ‘Lord’). They won’t hesitate to correct or take issue with the apostle Paul. Reverence, holy awe, and humility are things unknown to them.
2Pe_2:11-12. Even the elect angels (who are superior in might and power to any man, who are guardians over particular men, and who preside over kingdoms) do not bring charges and accusations against the other angels that fell nor against magistrates nor those in authority (Jud_1:9); but these false teachers who are like dumb beasts, made to be killed and consumed, do not hesitate to speak of mysterious and holy things which they neither understand nor love. They shall perish in their corruption.
2Pe_2:13-14. These false religionists shall receive a fit reward for their wrong—doing (Mat_7:22-23). They are interested only in living luxuriously and comfortably in this world of daytime, but the night cometh. They claim the name of Christ and the fellowship of the body of Christ; but they are only spots and blemishes, reveling in their own deception and hypocrisy. They have lustful, adulterous eyes, they have hearts that are filled with covetousness and materialism, and they prey upon unstable people who are easily led astray with their fleshly promises and preaching.
2Pe_2:15-16. Balaam was promised great reward and honor to curse the people of Israel (Num_22:17). Balaam entertained these men (not just once, but twice) because of his covetousness. False teachers forsake the right way, the way of truth, and the gospel of truth for the rewards of unrighteousness, greedy of money and praise.
2Pe_2:17. They are wells without water, which look large and deep and promise much, but have nothing in them. They promise much to their followers, but in the end prove to be but dry, empty wells. Christ is the well of living water. To drink of him is to never thirst again (Joh_4:14; Joh_7:37-39).
They are clouds that are carried with the wind. We see large, dark clouds overhead and expect a refreshing rain on our parched land; but we discover that they are empty and only driven by a dry wind. They have excited our hopes and expectations only to disappoint us–nothing but dry wind.
2Pe_2:18-19. They bestow flattering words, titles, and praise on the flesh for their own interest and worldly advantage. They beguile and lure the people with their promises of health, happiness, prosperity, and eternal life, while they, themselves, are in the gall of bitterness and depravity. The people who are led astray by the false teachers are not the elect of God (who cannot be deceived); but they prey upon the ignorant and the untaught who have religious interests, who have reformed their lives, and who are trying to establish a righteousness before God. But in following these false teachers, they become enslaved to a greater bondage than worldliness, and that is self-righteousness! (Mat_23:15.) It is a deadlier form of worldliness.
2Pe_2:20-22. If a man temporarily escapes the pollutions of this world through an exposure to the gospel and again becomes entangled and overcome, his condition is worse; for he is hiding in a false refuge, whereas before he had no refuge! He makes God a party to his evil, whereas before he sought mercy. He is sinning against the light, whereas before he could plead ignorance.
Henry Mahan (Bible commentaries)