Summary: Freedom is a concept that is very important in today's world, yet not everybody really understands what the word means. False teachers promise liberty, but this not a promise they can fulfill. The freedom they offer is an empty freedom
2 PETER 2: 17-22 [Our Precious Faith Series]
Though the ultimate judgment of heretics is assured, Peter wrote as he did because of the damage they wreak in the church. It is a frightening fact that many people who are now zealous members of cults were at one time attending churches that at least professed to believe the Christian Gospel. They participated in the Communion service and saw the death of the Lord Jesus portrayed in the bread and the cup, many even recited the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's' Prayer. Yet today, these people will tell you that they "feel free" now that they have been "liberated" from the Christian faith.
You will also meet people who have rejected all religious faith and now profess to enjoy a new freedom. They boldly confess, “I used to believe that stuff, but I don't believe it anymore. I've got something better and I feel free for the first time in my life.”
Freedom is a concept that is very important in today's world, yet not everybody really understands what the word means. In fact, everyone from the Communist to the "playboy" seems to have his own definition. Nobody is completely free in the sense of having the ability and the opportunity to do whatever he wants to do. Yet even if you could do whatever you wanted, that would not lead to freedom, but to the worst kind of bondage. [Wiersbe, Warren. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Vol 2. 1989. Victor Books. Wheaton IL. P. 457.]
Apostates offer freedom to their converts, and this "bait" entices them to abandon the true faith and follow false teachers. The teachers promise them liberty, but this not a promise they can fulfill (CIM). These misguided converts eventually find their freedom causes terrible bondage. The freedom they offer is an empty freedom, and Peter gave three reasons that explain why it is an “Empty Freedom.”
I. THE FREEDOM OF EMPTY SUBSTANCE, 2:17-18.
II. THE FREEDOM OF EMPTY PROMISES, 2:19-20.
III. THE FREEDOM OF AN EMPTY LIFE, 2:21-22.
Verse 17 pictures the cruelty of empty substance. “These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved.
Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. A pagan may have great faith in his idol, but the idol can do nothing for him. I have a friend who put his faith in a certain investment scheme and lost almost everything. His faith was strong but the company was weak. When you put your faith in Jesus Christ, that faith will accomplish something, because God always keeps His promises. "There hath not failed one word of all His good promise" (1 Kings 8:56). [Ibid, p. 457.]
Peter uses two vivid illustrations to em¬phasize the apostates’ empty offerings. Despite the great claims of their teachings they bring only emptiness. A thirsty traveler is filled with gladness coming upon a spring expecting cool refreshing water, but finds it dry, empty, with nothing to sustain him. The dry land awaits in anticipates as mists are driven by a storm, yet the clouds drop no nourishing rain. So it is with the claims of false teachings. They picture satisfaction from their “truths” but the reality is they have only empty allusion to offer. They offer a great deal, but produce emptiness.
In both cases one would look for some benefit or blessing (a cool drink from an overflowing spring; a refreshing shower from the clouds) but in each case he is disappointed.
False teachers are like clouds which you see coming your way, but they have no life-giving substance. These teachers may seem to offer spiritual refreshment, but their words are full of vain, empty claims which extract hope for sustaining spiritual life. [The very nature of hypocrisy is that one does not have what he pretends to have.]
Unlike these false teachers, it is only the one who is drawing water from the ever living spring of Christ who can truly supply living water. Those who have come to Christ can not only drawn from the wells of salvation, but they have the source of life give life sustain refreshing living in them (John 4:13-14, 7:37-38). [A drink from a spring is used to describe the satisfaction the saints will expe¬rience for all eternity (Rev. 7: 17; 21:6).]
But those who would mislead people concerning such a life and death issue have perpetrated great evil upon them and the society in which they live. So once again (2 Peter 2:1, 3, 9, 12–13) we are warned of their coming judgment. “Black darkness” denotes the darkness regions of hell. The description suggests a darkness that is so black that there is no hint of light. Since they have rejected the light of God’s revelation and have chosen to live in darkness, God will give them the desires of their fruitless lives and let them live in the blackness of hell forever.