“These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.” (2 Peter 2:17–18, ESV)
Most everyone has had the experience of driving down an asphalt road in the heat of the summer. As you are driving, you can look in the distance and see on the road surface puddles of water. Yet, when you get to the place where you saw the puddle, you discover that the road is completely dry. What you have experienced is a mirage.
Plenty of movies have depicted mirages. The most typical is that of a person or group of people stranded in the desert without any water. Dying of thirst, they see in the distance what looks like an oasis. They are convinced that when they arrive that they will find a spring fed pond in which they may drink and save their lives. However, they never find such water, because it does not exist. It was an illusion, a false hope. There was no refreshing and lifesaving water.
Peter did not have anything good to say about the false prophets and teachers of his day. In fact, he wrote of them in an extremely negative way. Here, he likens them to “waterless springs.” They are “waterless springs,” who speak of great things, but offer nothing. He stated that they “entice” people by appealing to the fleshly passions. In this manner, they offer freedom, which ultimately makes them slaves of sin.
The word translated “entice,” deleazo, brings to mind the idea of baiting and snaring an animal or a fish. The false teachers use speech that sounds good to the ear. It appeals to a person’s sensual desires. It may conform to the contemporary culture’s view of morality. They speak such words in order to bring people to their fold. The problem here is that it is a deadly trap. Paul wrote of such a time when church people, “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3, AV).
The very sad part of this is that this false teaching sets a deadly trap. Peter wrote that the false teachers offered freedom to those who followed. It sounds good to say that you are free to do anything your flesh desires, yet it is a false teaching. Yes, believers have been set free, but it is not the type of freedom of which these false teachers spoke. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh” (Galatians 5:13, AV). The freedom of which the Bible teaches is the freedom from the power of sin and death. Those who follow these false teachers ultimately are not truly free, but are willingly slaves to sin.
Is this a pertinent thought for today? Absolutely. False teachers abound today. Some lure people in with false teachings of prosperity. Others through a teaching of openness to unbiblical forms of human sexuality. Those who preach with a hedonistic philosophy must be avoided. They are a mirage without living water. Jesus stated, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38, AV). The Christian life is not about living in the flesh. It is about life in the Spirit. True freedom is found through faith in Jesus Christ alone.