God spares no condemnation against false prophets. The entire chapter of 2 Peter 2 details His intense passion concerning these men from times past to today who lead people astray. Their heresies are fueled by greed and lust. They exploit others for monetary gain and to satisfy their base instincts of sensuality. The false words they speak will bring them destruction.
So great is the sin of false teachers and prophets in the eyes of God, that He compares and equates it to the sons of God (bene Elohim) that transgressed their heavenly boundaries as outlined in Genesis 6. In fact, 2 Peter 2:4 states:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment…
The text speaks of angels having sinned. It seems that New Testament writers generally tried to simplify the description of the members of the heavenly host when they described them. We can have no doubt, however, that these are the bene Elohim. Here is Genesis 6:1-4:
When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days and also afterward, when the sons of God came into the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men of old, the men of renown.
We notice a couple key points in this text. The sons of God came to earth because they lusted after human women. In their lust, they took them as they pleased. In the 2nd Temple Period book of 1 Enoch that describes this event, it also points out that these spiritual entities – in disobedience to God – imparted forbidden knowledge to mankind. In effect, they expanded upon the sin committed in the Garden when the serpent (another of God’s rebellious sons) tempted Adam and Eve with the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
In this transgression committed by the “angels,” it appears as though they may have profited in some manner besides satisfying their lustful desires. Our text, in discussing the iniquities of the false prophets in the comparison with the divine beings that fell, states in 2 Peter 2:14-15:
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…
Balaam was all about the money. Peter goes on to condemn these false prophets and teachers with a disturbing statement. He says in 2 Peter 2:20-21:
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 overcome, 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.
What I’m about to say is extremely controversial, but I don’t know how else to interpret this passage, also in light of similar verses elsewhere. It certainly seems as if the men referenced here once knew the Lord in a saving relationship. If they had escaped the defilements of the world and previously knew the way of righteousness because they’d been given the holy commandment of God, doesn’t it appear as if they’d previously been saved? After all, the sons of God, a.k.a. the angels, that rebelled all certainly knew of God’s complete saving grace – they were in heaven for goodness sake – yet they freely chose to disregard it. Keep this analogy in mind in comparing those men who similarly decided to spurn the mercy of God.
As the final verse says, they returned to their vomit to wallow in the mire of sin in the world (2 Peter 2:22). How else would they return to this condition unless they were graciously delivered from it? Is it possible these men with their abominable agendas indeed tasted of the liberty of salvation but chose to walk away from it?
Is it conceivable that a person can be indwelt through the Holy Spirit and decide to reject Him? Nothing or no one can snatch a person away from the saving hand of Christ. Can there be an exception, i.e. the person himself who has free will to deny the Savior?
I don’t know the answer to this question; I can only read the text and interpret it through my personal Biblical lens. Few teachers even want to approach this subject. But what is the plain, literal meaning that we read?
The one truth I do know about this is that when we remain in the Word of God and continually seek Him, He imparts truth to us. Through His Word He will also supernaturally keep us. What’s a sure way to wander away from Him? By not reading the Bible with a seeking heart that desires to know Him more. When we are diligent in our pursuit of the Lord, I have no doubt that indeed, nothing or no one can take us away from the love of God, not even ourselves. Because we’ll have no desire to go anywhere else.