Warning about False Teachers
1In the past there arose false prophets among God’s people, just as there will continue to be false teachers who will secretly infiltrate in your midst to divide you, bringing with them their destructive heresies. They will even deny the Master, who paid the price for them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow immoral lifestyles. Because of these corrupt false teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3They are only out for themselves, ready to exploit you for their own gain through their cunning arguments. Their condemnation has been a long time coming. But their destruction does not slumber or sit idly by, for it is sure to come.
4Now, don’t forget, God had no pity for the angels when they sinned but threw them into the lowest, darkest dungeon of gloom and locked them in chains, where they are firmly held until the judgment of torment.
5And he did not spare the former world in the days of Noah when he sent a flood to destroy a depraved world (although he protected Noah, the preacher of righteousness, along with seven members of his family).
6And don’t forget that he reduced to ashes the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, condemning them to ruin and destruction. God appointed them to be examples as to what is coming to the ungodly. 7Yet he rescued a righteous man, Lot, suffering the indignity of the unbridled lusts of the lawless. 8For righteous Lot lived among them day after day, distressed in his righteous soul by the rebellious deeds he saw and heard.
9If the Lord Yahweh rescued Lot, he knows how to continually rescue the godly from their trials and to reserve the ungodly for punishment on the day of judgment. 10And this especially applies to those who live their lives despising authorities and who abandon themselves to chasing the depraved lusts of their flesh.
The Arrogance of False Teachers
They are willfully arrogant and insolent, unafraid to insult the glorious ones. 11Yet even angels, who are greater than they in power and strength, do not dare slander them before the Lord. 12These individuals are nothing but brute beasts—irrational creatures, born in the wild to be caught and destroyed—and they will perish like beasts. They are professional insulters, who slander whatever they don’t understand, and in their destruction they will be destroyed. 13For all the evil they have done will come crashing down on them. They consider it their great pleasure to carouse in broad daylight. When they come to your love feasts they are but stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions as they feast with you. 14They are addicted to adultery, with eyes that are insatiable, with sins that never end. They seduce the vulnerable and are experts in their greed—they are but children of a curse!
The Example of Balaam
15They have wandered off the main road and have gone astray, because they are prophets who love profit—the wages they earn by wrongdoing. They are following the example of Balaam, son of Beor, 16who was rebuked for evil by a donkey incapable of speech yet that spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
17These people are dried-up riverbeds, waterless clouds pushed along by stormy winds—the deepest darkness of gloom has been prepared for them. 18They spout off with their grandiose, impressive nonsense. Consumed with the lusts of the flesh, they lure back into sin those who recently escaped from their error. 19They promise others freedom, yet they themselves are slaves to corruption, for people are slaves to whatever overcomes them.
20Those who escape the corrupting forces of this world system through the experience of knowing about our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Messiah, then go back into entanglement with them and are defeated by them, becoming worse off than they were to start with. 21It would have been much better for them never to have experienced the way of righteousness than to know it and then turn away from the sacred obligation that was given to them. 22They become illustrations of the true proverb:
A dog will return to his own vomit
and a washed pig to its rolling in the mud.