Foolish Return (2 Peter 2:22)

But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:22, AV)

Speaking of those who have heard and understand the gospel but have failed to experience true faith, Peter gave this picture. Just after a storm, a young boy was playing outside in a mud puddle. After a while the boy went inside. As soon as his mother saw him, she said. “Go right upstairs, take off those filthy clothes, and jump in the shower. This he did. After his shower, his mother made sure that he put clean clothes on.

A little while later, his friend from down the street came by and asked the boy to come out and play. The boy’s mother said, “Stay out of the mud, you just got cleaned up.” So, the two went outside. What do you think the young boy did? He and his buddy ended up playing in the mud puddle. He went right back after getting washed to the place where he was dirtied before.

This is a picture of a typical scenario that I have seen in the ministry. Peter was speaking about the false teachers and their followers. They heard and understood the gospel, but it had no influence in their hearts because they did not truly believe. They returned to their former lifestyles.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people make professions of faith, get baptized, and even attend worship services only to go back to their former self-destructive lifestyles. They are like the pig that is washed and then goes right back into the mire. I don’t know if you have ever been around a pig pen, but it is one of the smelliest places you can imagine. If you are downwind from one you definitely know it.

I have counselled many people regarding psychological and spiritual problems. Often, I discovered that the two issues were linked. The people had spiritual issues that resulted in psychological problems. I spoke of a man in a previous devotion who shared one time that “He had been saved seven times and every time it got worse.” The man was hearing voices and he was heavily involved with drug and alcohol abuse. I prayed for the Lord to deliver the man from the spiritual forces of evil that were plaguing him. He claimed that the voices ceased. After praying, I shared the gospel with him and he prayed to receive Jesus. However, I question the sincerity of his prayer.

The reason that I questioned it was because he did not take some sound advice. I cautioned him to abstain from hanging out with the old gang that was into the drugs and build relationships with other believers until he was spiritually strong enough to withstand the temptation. He told me that he was going to stop the drugs but would not break free from the old gang. The result was that he went right back to the old gang and doing the drugs that he told me he was not going to do. Further counselling was to no avail and he continued with the former ways.

His case was the extreme, but it was not an isolated one. Many people display some immediate excitement about the gospel and can even show some evidence of moral transformation. However, later on they fall away and go back to their former ways. In these cases, the metaphors Peter presented fit. “The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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