FOLLOWING THE WAY OF BALAAM

2Pe 2:12-16  “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.”

The natural inclination as we read this is to draw the conclusion that those being described here cannot possibly belong to God. Only by God’s grace can we truly understand this (or any other) scripture. I do believe that God has given us some markers in the 15th verse to help us better understand who is under consideration here.

Verse 15 states that those being spoken of have “forsaken the right way.” If these verses are speaking of those who have no knowledge of God, how can they abandon (forsake) the right way. We can only abandon something that we have once held. I cannot abandon the true path (right way) if I have never been on the true path. In like fashion, I cannot stray from something I have never known. The thing that leads those who have known the right way to forsake it is the same thing that drew Balaam to attempt to curse Israel; desire for the supposed reward of unrighteousness.

When we follow our corrupt (carnal) nature, we are assured that we shall come to complete (utter) ruin (spoil). We will indeed receive the reward of the unrighteous, seeking pleasure in luxurious (riotous) living while the judgement of God condemns us in our hearts. Forsaking the right way carries with it the same idea as being willfully disobedient. Paul says of those that forsake the right way that “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge (Rom 1:28).” He goes on to describe all the corruptible practices that come from making the decision to not retain God in our knowledge (be willfully disbelieving). He concludes by declaring that he is speaking of a people who know the judgement of God, but do these things anyway. Not only that, but they draw others away with them.

Basically, both Peter and Paul are speaking of people who become ensnared with idols and teach others to do the same. There are many idols in the world. Anything that we love more than we love God has become an idol to us. This is a simple yet difficult truth. Is your field of labor a means to be able to do more in God’s kingdom, or has the labor become the focal point? Are we raising our children to understand that service to God and His people is of the highest importance, or are we setting an example that it is okay for things that bring satisfaction to the flesh to come first?

We need to recognize the idols in our lives that have led us into adultery against the things of God. That idol might be some notion of power or prestige; it could be our job, our home, our car, or our family. We need to take heed to what we allow to have preeminence in our lives. I will take Peter’s words as a personal warning to me. If I take more pleasure from seeking after the ways of this world than I do after the things of God, then my offering to God is not acceptable. I recognize that Jesus is the only true offering for the remission of our sins and Him God fully accepted; I am speaking of my offering as rendering unto God the praise and worship that is due Him.

Under Old Testament law nothing that had a spot (stain) or blemish (flaw) was to be offered to God. While we are not under Old Testament law today, there are principles that still apply. Am I attempting to “feast” with God’s people while living under some delusion of my own worth? Do I suppose that the church is a better place because I am in it? Do I go to church with the notion that service is something to be “gotten out of the way” so I can get on with what is really important to me (heading to the lake, the game, or my recliner)? Do I understand that “going to church” is more than showing up at the meeting house on Sunday morning? Going to church is about how we live our lives before God every day, because we are the church. When I fail to give God all honor and glory then I am a spot and a blemish; I am not an acceptable living sacrifice (Rom 12:1).

We don’t like to dwell on negative things. The truth is these scriptures are not showing any negativity. They are a positive declaration of the power, authority, and righteous judgement of God. This is God’s assurance to us that His righteous ways matter and He will not allow men to destroy what He has established. He will use even that which is lowly esteemed among us to testify to His power and majesty.

May we take the truth of God’s word and seek to understand how it applies to us rather than trying to figure out which of our brethren it most applies to!

 

 

 

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