I use the computer everyday in my job. Sometimes, as part of my assignments, I have had to use the computer to sort through billions of dollars worth of financial transactions to find stuff (i.e.—how much was spent on payroll for each employee, transactions involving small items such as computer equipment). Most of the time, I am able to find what I’m looking for without a ton of problem but I have on more than one occasion put the wrong search criteria in, waited 15 minutes, and gotten nothing out of the data only to realize I made an error. I found out the hard way how the adage “Garbage in/Garbage out” is very true. In much the same way, Peter in this verse shows us how these godless false teachers are corrupted inwardly and how that corruption is displayed outwardly.
First of all, as with all sin, we find that these false teachers depraved character begins in their minds—in the appetites they allow themselves to cultivate. In the previous verses, we’ve seen how their sinfulness is evident in their attitudes and their actions. They do what comes naturally and are so brazen in their sinfulness that they don’t even wait for the cover of darkness. Peter now shows us why they behave this way. He tells us they have “eyes full of adultery”. Now, you would point out, and rightly so, that I said the problem started in their minds but here Peter says “eyes”. That is true. However, what do you look at? Well, you look at what you want to look at, don’t you? You direct your eyes with your mind. Your eyes do not have a mind of their own but rather you focus them on the things that you want to see.
Now, we see these men who claim to speak for God, as we see here, focus their eyes on objects of sexual lusts. They don’t just take casual, passing glances. Rather, their eyes are “full”, which is used here it seems to describe how frequently they lust with their eyes. These men, in positions of trust and responsibility, use that position to abuse those who trust them. In all churches throughout the world this sort of thing has happened. The saddest, most heart wrenching part of that fact is that there are men who have helped to cover up these abuses. While Peter does not specifically say that sexual activity has taken place, these men have at the very least lusted with their eyes, which is just as sinful from God’s perspective. In fact, the verb in this phrase, “having”, is in the present tense which means this is an ongoing activity for them. Also, Peter tells us their eyes “never cease from sin”. Further, since Peter says their eyes are full of “adultery” we know that the looks are not simply a passing glance but rather a lingering gaze. As Warren Wiersbe has written, it is possible for a man to look at a woman, know that she is beautiful and not lust after her (I don’t suggest trying to convince your wife or girlfriend of that-joe). What Peter describes here is a look that is intended to gratify some sexual desire in the mind of these false teachers and it is intentional.
Their depraved character is also evidenced in what they say. From out of their mouths come words intended to entice “unstable souls”. Now, in the context, this could very well be descriptive of false teachers who seduce “weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses” (II Timothy 3:6). However, I believe this could apply to other kinds of false teaching as well. The human heart is wicked and depraved to the core. We want to reject the truth of God’s word and the authority it represents. Satan uses all the means at his disposal in his attempts at “enticing” (delazo -to bait or trap) us to sin. For some, it may be the promise of a life of comfort (“God never meant for you to be broke or sick”). For others, it may be a license to sin as some suggested in Paul’s day (Romans 6:1). Others still may be beguiled by the suggestion that they can earn their own way to heaven or in someway cooperate with God in their justification and thereby be made righteous through their own efforts. It should be noticed that those who follow are described here as being “unstable souls”. Rather than being grounded and established in the truth, these people are able to be swayed by the false teachers because their doctrine is shaky and unsteady. They may know what they believe but they don’t know why. They would most certainly not be students of the word who are prepared to defend the truth and give an answer for what they believe. These people willingly follow a false gospel because their heart has not been transformed by the truth.
The words and thoughts of these false teachers indicate the depth of their depravity. They are truth godless and not only have rejected the truth but attempt to lead others astray. As we serve the Lord, we must constantly be on guard for false teachers among us so they can be refuted and their false doctrine rejected.