One of my proudest moments as a parent is when we as a family were sitting down to watch a little boob tube and I asked my children what they wanted to watch. They said without hesitation “Scooby Doo!!” Kinda brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it? Ok, maybe not. But it is a show that we can all watch because it’s harmless, silly fun. Probably my favorite part is when they decide to set the trap and catch the ghost (or rather, they guy/girl wearing the disguise). Of course, what do they need to complete the trap and make the whole thing work—live bait. Shaggy and Scooby end up being volunteered with promises of dog food (as an aside, how was that something that Shaggy was motivated by? My whole life I’ve wondered that) and they dutifully get into position and the trap is set. As we read here in this verse, the targets of these false teachers are likewise baited into a trap that will seal their doom if they fall for it.
As we observed last time, these false teachers with their cotton candy style teaching use their empty words as a means to “entice” (delazo -to bait or entrap by using bait) people to follow their false teaching. As we know from reading God’s word (Romans 3, for instance) the human heart is naturally rebellious against God and His law. In our unregenerate state, we will gladly believe a lie before we will bow to the truth. Knowing this, these false teachers tell people what they want to hear. They bait the hook or put down a pile of birdseed on the road and stand on a cliff waiting to push a bolder onto their unsuspecting prey. Their motives are sinister and their methods are unscrupulous. These men, for their own selfish motives, purport to speak for God and lie through their teeth while they lead souls to hell.
The apostle Peter goes on to describe the hook they use. He says, first of all, these false teachers appeal to the “fleshly desires” of their listeners. Most people have some self discipline in regards to their wants. They know there is an appropriate time to eat, sleep, and work. However, the passions of our flesh are always present and, as Paul tells us in Galatians 5, these desires of the flesh are at odds with the desires of the spirit. While certainly asceticism or abuse of our bodies is not a sound reaction to these passions, we must remain in control—we must remind the body that we are the master, not it, and that we submit to our Master, Christ Jesus. In contrast to having mastery over these “fleshly desires”, the false teachers appeal to them.
In fact, they not only appeal to them, but they propose the same mentality that Madison Avenue has been promoting in our culture for years “Just Do It”. These false teachers appeal to the fleshly desires by “sensuality” (aseigeis -literally not content). Not only do they appeal to the fleshly desires but the implication is that they appeal to the unrestrained gratification of fleshly desires or, in other words, “There is no such thing as too much of a good thing”. The promise they make, and false teachers today still make, is that you can stuff yourself to the gills with pleasure and in fact gratifying yourself is the end all be all of existence. Rather than taking up our cross and becoming slaves of Christ having been set free from sin, those who were deceived by the false teachers are promised the right to indulge their passions and live however they see fit.
As those of us who know the truth and worship Christ know, there is only One who is truly sovereign in all the universe and that is God the Father. Even Christ submitted Himself to the will of His Father for our salvation. The truth is the kind of freedom these false teachers promised is a freedom to sin. The freedom with which Christ made us free is the freedom from sin so that we became truly free to live lives holy to God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Praise be to His name!