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This is a very important portion to consider.  2 Peter 2:20-21says, “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.”  To put these words in their proper perspective, let’s find out who these verses are talking about.  If we go back to the beginning of the chapter, we read in 2 Peter 2:1-2, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”  This chapter deals largely with warnings against false prophets and teachers, of which there are plenty of today.  Much of this chapter details the characteristics and teachings of these false prophets.  We are also told that “many shall follow their pernicious ways”.  This warning, then, is also for those who have been led astray by these false teachers.  I encourage you to read and spend time in meditation on this chapter.

What is being taught in verses 20-21?  Are we being warned of some who were saved and then lost their salvation due to being taken up with worldly things?  Let’s consider the words of these verses carefully so that we might gain a true understanding of what the Lord is trying to tell us.  We see that these people had, “escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…”  Does knowledge of the Lord Jesus bring salvation, or is it the confession of the Lord Jesus as our personal savior and Lord that saves?  While knowledge ABOUT the Lord is required in order to believe, it is FAITH IN the Lord that brings salvation!  The Apostle James spoke to this in James 2:19, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”  If someone believes there is only one God, that is a good thing, but that is not salvation.  Even the demons acknowledge that truth.  It takes more than ‘head’ knowledge to be saved, it takes ‘heart’ knowledge.

The people mentioned in verse 20 obviously had ‘head’ knowledge of who the Lord was, and that knowledge led them to lead good and moral lives.  They “escaped the pollutions of the world” by following after Christian principles.  These people had been ‘reformed’, but had not been ‘redeemed’.  Reformation without salvation can be a very dangerous thing.  Luke 11:24-26gives us a perfect example of that.  That says, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”  Notice that no one drove this demon out of this man; he simply left.  When he returned, he found a clean house.  In other words, this man had reformed himself and was living a moral life…but he wasn’t saved.  The demon returns, bringing seven more demons more wicked than himself.  Then we read that, “the last state of that man is worse than the first”. 

So it is as we read in the latter part of 2 Peter 2:20, “…the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.”  With great privilege comes great responsibility.  Having “known the way of righteousness”, these men had the responsibility of truly accepting God’s salvation.  Instead, in time, they went back to the worldly lusts and behaviors they had left behind.  It would have been better for these people to have not known the way of righteousness, because now, their responsibility before the Lord is greater.  Their punishment will also be greater as we read in Luke 12:47-48, “And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”  Dear ones, if today you have known the way of salvation, but have never bowed your knee and trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior, it is so important that you do it now.  Do it now before the truths that you have learned become foolish to you.  Do it now before you return to your old ways.  Do it now because, according to 2 Corinthians 6:2, “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  (142.3)