We are called to live as salt and light in this world. Truthfully, many people have speculated as to exactly what Jesus meant when he used the metaphor of “salt”. I submit to you that He meant we should be distinctive as Christians. People should see our conduct and see that we live differently because of our faith. As Peter continues in this verse, he further describes the conduct of these false teachers. As we will see, it is decidedly not Christlike.
First of all, in their conduct they show themselves to be soiled. The church of Christ is called to live holy lives, worthy of the calling with which we have been called (Eph 4:1). When sin is discovered in the church, it is to be dealt with (Matthew 18:15-17). In fact, it is the purpose of Christ to present the church to Himself as a bride not having any defilement whatsoever (Eph 5:27). In contrast with this purity, these false teachers pervert the truth of God’s revelation and live with their pleasure as their first priority. Therefore, they are rightly called “stains and blemishes”. They defile the church with their false doctrine and their sensual lifestyle.
Further, instead of preaching true doctrine, these false teachers conduct themselves by using subterfuge to gain an audience. In fact, they are proud of that fact. Peter here says that they spend their time “reveling in their deceptions”. I can picture them sitting around in meetings with other ministers, patting each other on the backs, forming little more than a mutual congratulation society. Instead of preaching truth, they ensnare people with a false gospel that does not and cannot save. In fact, the sadder truth is that not only do these false teachers preach lies but they believe them as well to the point that they take pleasure in them. They were able to gain popularity then and we can see that false teachers are still able to gain popularity today. Some of the most successful preachers (Olsteen, Warren, Schuller) preach doctrine that flatly denies scripture. However, they are “reveling in their deceptions” all the way to the bank.
Finally, we see their conduct was sensual. Peter says the false teachers would “carouse” with others. The word “carouse” means to feast lavishly. Now, there is nothing wrong with having money and enjoying that money because God has blessed you with it. However, if the first thing that you think of is “How can I use my resources to bring pleasure to myself” may I suggest that your priorities are not in line with God’s will. We should be willing to spend ourselves—our time, talents, and assets—to further the kingdom of God. These false teachers prove themselves to be interested only in their own indulgence and they themselves are blind to the truth and spend their time deceiving others.
We are called to be distinctive in our behavior to bring glory to God. Our Christian witness demands that we submit to the Lord and not the desires of our flesh. Of course, we can only do that with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. May we pray for God to conform us to the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ.