Making Good Our Escape
by Tim Haile
August 20, 2000
Three times in his second epistle, the apostle Peter speaks of the Christian's "escape" (Gr. apopheugo) from various things (2 Pet. 1:4; 2:18; 2:20). To escape is to "flee away from" something. The word has a negative connotation in the minds of many because they generally associate it with a criminal escape. However, there are ways to escape, other than breaking out of prison. We are about to consider some honorable kinds of escape. Three different areas may categorize them: sinful lusts, sinful influences, and sinful practices.
Escape from Lustful Corruption
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4).
Notice that an "escape" must take place in order for one to enjoy God's great and valuable promises. The thing that God has "promised" to the faithful is "eternal life" (Tit. 1:2). Second Peter chapter one goes on to tell us that certain conditions must be met in order for an "entrance" to be obtained into "the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:5-11). I have always found it interesting how First Peter 1:4 seems to perfectly correspond to Second Peter 1:4. Notice Peter's words there:
"...to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you."
Christianity takes one from corruption to incorruption; from a defiled inheritance to one that is undefiled; from condemnation to salvation. By escaping his corrupting lust, the child of God becomes a partaker (koinonos) or "joint participator" in God's nature. This doesn't mean that one shares in the possession of peculiarly divine attributes. It doesn't mean that he actually becomes GOD. It simply means that he has become an imitator of God. Paul told the Ephesians to be "imitators of God, and walk in love" (Eph. 5:1). While in the flesh, Jesus Christ provided us with a perfect model of behavior. He fully "declared" (explained) God to mankind (Jn. 1:18). By following His example we become partakers in His nature (1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Cor. 11:1).
Peter did not leave us in the dark as to how we might accomplish this task. He directed us to God's special revelation to man (2 Pet. 1:3). He said this revelation contains all information that "pertains to life and godliness." It is where we learn about our Lord's example, to which we earlier referred. Peter calls this message "the word of the lord," and "the gospel" (1 Pet. 1:25). Included in these general instructions pertaining to life and godliness, is a list of divinely revealed and divinely demonstrated qualities that we must constantly work to perfect. Peter tells us that once faith is obtained by one's hearing and acquiring a "knowledge" of Christ (2 Pet. 1:3; Rom. 10:17; 1:16-17), the believer must "add to his faith" virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love (2 Pet. 1:5-7). Through this process, the believer's life is "transformed by the renewing of his mind" (Rom. 12:2). He has been taught to "deny ungodliness and worldly lusts" (Tit. 2:12). He trains his mind to think about things that are "true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report" (Phil. 4:8). Death and sin "have no more dominion over" this person. He has escaped the world's clutches. He "lives to God" (Rom. 6:9,10,14).
Escape from a Life of Error
In 2 Peter 2:18-22, Peter discusses the tactics of false teachers. For now, let us pay special attention to verse 18:
"For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error."
Along with escaping the corruption produced from one's own internal desires, the child of God also escapes from personal vices and corrupting influences from without. This passage makes a clear connection between sinful practices and sinful influences. "Evil company corrupts good habits" (1 Cor. 15:33). The devil has children who have yielded their will to his own. Jesus told certain Jews that the devil was their father and, "the lusts of your father ye will do" (Jn. 8:44). Through ignorance of, and/or rebellion against God's law, these people have allowed themselves to be captured by the devil (2 Tim. 2:26). Unless they "come to their senses," learn the truth, and repent, the devil will continue to retain control over them and they will continue to work as his ministers (2 Tim. 2:25-26; 2 Cor. 11:15).
Peter warns that there will be others, even some who call themselves "Christians," who will work very hard to return these escapees to their former spiritual bondage of corruption (2 Pet. 2:19). The word "corruption" used here and in 2 Peter 1:4, is used in the sense of spiritual and moral corruption. False teachers will use empty promises of "liberty" to deceptively attract followers. They will use "swollen" (boastful), empty words to accomplish this. They make their appeal through fleshly desires, especially in the area of "wantonness" or lewdness. The term aselgia is here used and is often translated "lasciviousness." It is a broad term that covers all types of sensual pleasures and physical gratification. The word is used earlier, in 2 Peter 2:7, where it is combined with other words describing a generally hedonistic mode of life. The word generally includes things like debauchery, sexual excess, absence of restraint, and an insatiable desire for pleasure.
Any doctrine that promises people freedom from the guilt of sin, even while committing that sin, leads those people back into the spiritual bondage that they had previously escaped. Doctrines like the "umbrella of grace," and the application of Romans 14 to matters of faith and doctrine, break the yoke of God's law, and allow people to feel comfortable with their sin. These people may have "clean" (KJV) escaped their former life of sin, but the devil's helpers will recapture them through their empty promises. "Clean" escaped means "actually" escaped as the NKJV suggests. The word means really and truly. This explains why such strong language is used to describe their apostasy in verses 20-22. Their return to spiritual bondage is like a dog's returning to his own vomit and a sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. Such actions are detestable.
Escape From The World's Pollutions
Peter wrote, "For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning" (2 Peter 2:20). The word "pollutions" has to do with the contaminating vices of the ungodly. By making a clean escape, one escapes from sinful lusts, sinful influences, and sinful practices. Ephesians 4:17- 5:11 lists some things that we are to "put off" and "put away." The list includes ignorance, licentiousness, umcleanness, greediness, lying, anger, theft, foul language, bitterness, wrath and malice. Other passages are also helpful in defining sinful actions and attitudes that we are to escape (Matt. 15:19; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; II Cor. 12:20-21; Gal. 5:19-21; Col. 3:5; Rev. 21:8).
How can you and I remain free from sinful corruption and spiritual bondage? We must "give diligence to make our calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never fall" (2 Peter 1:10). Are you being diligent to "add to your faith...?" The word translated "give diligence" (spoudazo) means "to be eager; to make every effort to do one's best." Is that what you are doing? Are you making every effort to avoid corrupting influences? Have you forgotten that, "Evil companions corrupt good morals" (1 Cor. 15:33)? What about your religious authority? Where do you turn? Do you make every appeal to the scriptures for your authority in all matters that "pertain to life and godliness" (2 Pet. 1:3)? Are you "making good your escape?" I hope so.
by Tim Haile
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