Have you ever known someone who was all talk and no action? They would sound impressive and make a big spectacle of themselves but they had not the slightest clue how to deliver on their promises. You can apply the same sort of title to false teachers—both in Peter’s day and today. They make nice, pretty, pleasant sounds with their voices. They’re attractive and charismatic. However, they have nothing to offer people who are searching for real answers and real truth.
Peter described these people as “springs without water” in the beginning of this verse. Here, he applies the metaphor that these false teachers are “mists driven by the storm”. Now, these “mists” (or “clouds” depending on the Greek text you use—by the way, if you have the time or inclination to fight about this textual variant, you have way more time on your hands than I do. I’m just saying.) might cloud the sky and make things somewhat grey, but they are void of any real substance. However, they are “driven by a storm”. There is a lot of sound and fury behind them. As J. Vernon McGee writes about these “mists driven by a storm”:
"As a boy I lived in West Texas. We left there in the third year of a three-year drought. I can remember when we would go into the fields and chop cotton—believe me, in those days cotton didn’t grow well in that country even if there was rain. But sometimes late in the afternoon big thunderheads, big clouds, would gather overhead, and there would be lightning. We’d think, My, we are going to have rain —but we didn’t have rain. How dry it was! Many people are following false teachers who are like that. They are “wells without water.” They are like clouds, beautiful clouds. Oh, how tremendous it is to see and hear these folks. They are very impressive, but there is no water in the well, and there is no rain in the clouds. People are thirsting today for the Word of God, and yet it is not being given to them."
These false teachers look impressive. They tout their years of experience, their education, and their spiritual gifts. In fact, there may be evidence of some fruit in their ministry. They may exposit some scriptures, pray great prayers, visit the sick in the hospital, and minister to people in great and wonderful ways. But in the end, they are in the ministry for what they can get out of it—and by golly they deserve what they get as they will be the first to tell you so. They seek power, acclaim, money, possessions and ultimately it is this greed that corrupts their ministry. They have no integrity because they preach truth when it suits them and bend the truth when the situation demands it. Or they may, as is the case with prosperity gospel preachers, completely twist and distort the gospel, promising God’s blessing in exchange for money. In either case, the doctrine of false teachers is ultimately empty and worthless.
These men, driven by immoral lust, reject the truth and sell a perversion of the truth as a commodity. Like Simeon in Act 8:18, they look to use the gospel as a means to an end—that end being the acquisition of wealth. As we will see in the latter part of this verse, what these false teachers will actually obtain is a final doom from which they will never recover.