In this section, Peter continues to address the issue of false teachers, and to warn the faithful people of God about them. As is clear from the Old Testament example used (Balaam), this was a problem that had been around for a long time. It is a problem that continues today, but perhaps in a way different than we first might think.
Interestingly, there seems to be two telling behavioral manifestations of the false teacher’s willfulness—sexual sin (eyes full of adultery) and greed. Just think of how many teachers in our own day have used their position in the church to gratify these “basic instincts”. For them, the gospel is merely a way to get what they want.
It is perhaps worth asking—is the Gospel any different for us?
Many people see in the Gospel a way to live like they are blessed by God while others suffer terribly. In other words, they think God actually approves of their selfishness and greed while their brothers and sisters literally die of hunger or thirst.
Others see in the Gospel a reinforcement of their rigid categories of who is in and who is out that in reality only affirms their prejudices.
Still others see the Gospel as approving an agenda that looks very much like the agenda of the world around us, where everybody is in with no regard for the seriousness or severity of sin.
It’s always easier to be negative than positive, to criticize and condemn others rather than change ourselves, to leave rather than come to grips with the hard work love requires if one were to chose to stay, to forsake the straight road and walk our own path instead.
But that is not the Gospel. The Gospel is meant to deliver us from ourselves. It is meant to reform—re form—us as it frees us from our various corruptions. It is meant to create a new world, not soothe those comfortable in the ways of the old one.
Knowing our basic desires—towards anger, judgmentalism, self righteousness, self centeredness and so on—how is God in Christ Jesus delivering us from them? Or is it possible that we, like the false teachers, are self deceived, following our own paths and thinking it is God who is doing the leading?