Returning to Vomit

Returning to Vomit

17These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity–for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”  2 Peter 2:17-22 NIV  

This passage can be used as a sobering wake-up call for us to avoid returning to our old sin habits after having found freedom.  Our old habits are like traps baited with the things we used to enjoy sinning with.  Our old nature is drawn to the bait, but we must realize that it’s up to us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to put that old nature to death daily.  Paul wrote:   

13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  Romans 8:13-14 NIV 

Sometimes the devil uses 2 Peter 2 passage to condemn “backsliding” Christians and convince them there is no hope of recovery.  Looking at the context of the passage, Peter was writing about false teachers who had been leading Christians astray.  They were unrepentant “slaves of depravity” for whom God had certain judgment reserved.  When we approach God in repentance from our sin, having a sincere desire to walk in righteousness, we can have confidence that God will forgive us.  Jesus bore ALL of God’s wrath due to us because of our sins.   

We can call to God for help no matter what situation we are in.  If we don’t call to God for help, we can’t expect our situation to improve.  We’ll simply continue to feed on our vomit and wallow in the mire of sin.  We are not dogs, but rather, children of the Most High God.  God has given us power to choose life through Jesus instead of death through sin.  If we’ve been backsliding, we may be worse off than when we started, but Jesus can still set us free.  “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36 NKJV).  With God, all things are possible. 

Questions for further thought:

  • What method did the false teachers use to lead people astray? (18-19)
  • Were these false teachers genuine Christians at one time? (20-21)
  • What things can we do to keep a distance from the trap of our old habits? (i.e. so we don’t get entangled)
  • What does the Holy Spirit enable us to do that would otherwise be impossible? (Romans 8:11-13)


“Lord God, Thank you for revealing the truth to me and granting me salvation through Jesus Christ.  I heed Peter’s warning concerning backsliding into sin.  Lord I want to be free and walk in that freedom without ever wavering.  Please forgive me for any sin that I’ve gone back to entertain since knowing you.  Please protect me from ever being deceived by false teachers.  Holy Spirit, please cleanse my heart with the blood of Jesus and help me to put all of my old sinful nature to death each day.  Thank you for your life flowing through me, enabling me to live as a new creation.  I praise you, Father!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.” 

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