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2 Peter 2:20

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The pollutions of the world - Sin in general, and particularly superstition, idolatry, and lasciviousness. These are called μιασματα, miasmata, things that infect, pollute, and defile. The word was anciently used, and is in use at the present day, to express those noxious particles of effluvia proceeding from persons infected with contagious and dangerous diseases; or from dead and corrupt bodies, stagnant and putrid waters, marshes etc., by which the sound and healthy may be infected and destroyed. The world is here represented as one large, putrid marsh, or corrupt body, sending off its destructive miasmata everywhere and in every direction, so that none can escape its contagion, and none can be healed of the great epidemic disease of sin, but by the mighty power and skill of God. St. Augustine has improved on this image: "The whole world," says he, "is one great diseased man, lying extended from east to west, and from north to south; and to heal this great sick man, the almighty Physician descended from heaven." Now, it is by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as says St. Peter, that we escape the destructive influence of these contagious miasmata . But if, after having been healed, and escaped the death to which we were exposed, we get again entangled, εμπλακεντες, enfolded, enveloped with them; then the latter end will be worse than the beginning: forasmuch as we shall have sinned against more light, and the soul, by its conversion to God, having had all its powers and faculties greatly improved, is now, being repolluted, more capable of iniquity than before, and can bear more expressively the image of the earthly.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world - This does not necessarily mean that they had been true Christians, and had fallen from grace. People may outwardly reform, and escape from the open corruptions which prevail around them, or which they had themselves practiced, and still have no true grace at heart.

Through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesses Christ - Neither does This imply that they were true Christians, or that they had ever had any saving knowledge of the Redeemer. There is a knowledge of the doctrines and duties of religion which may lead sinners to abandon their outward vices, which has no connection with saving grace. They may profess religion, and may Know enough of religion to understand that it requires them to abandon their vicious habits, and still never be true Christians.

They are again entangled therein and overcome - The word rendered “entangled,” ( ἐμπλέκω emplekōfrom which is derived our word “implicate,” means to braid in, to interweave; then to involve in, to entangle. It means here that they become implicated in those vices like an animal that is entangled in a net.

The latter end is worse with them than the beginning - This is usually the case. Apostates become worse than they were before their professed conversion. “Reformed” drunkards, if they go back to their “cups” again, become more abandoned than ever. Thus, it is with those who have been addicted to any habits of vice, and who profess to become religious, and then fall away. The “reasons” for this may be:

(1)that they are willing now to show to others that they are no longer under the restraints by which they had professedly bound themselves;

(2)that God gives them up to indulgence with fewer restraints than formerly; and,

(3)their old companions in sin may be at special pains to court their society, and to lead them into temptation, in order to obtain a triumph over virtue and religion.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The word of truth is the water of life, which refreshes the souls that receive it; but deceivers spread and promote error, and are set forth as empty, because there is no truth in them. As clouds hinder the light of the sun, so do these darken counsel by words wherein there is no truth. Seeing that these men increase darkness in this world, it is very just that the mist ofdarkness should be their portion in the next. In the midst of their talk of liberty, these men are the vilest slaves; their own lusts gain a complete victory over them, and they are actually in bondage. When men are entangled, they are easily overcome; therefore Christians should keep close to the word of God, and watch against all who seek to bewilder them. A state of apostacy is worse than a state of ignorance. To bring an evil report upon the good way of God, and a false charge against the way of truth, must expose to the heaviest condemnation. How dreadful is the state here described! Yet though such a case is deplorable, it is not utterly hopeless; the leper may be made clean, and even the dead may be raised. Is thy backsliding a grief to thee? Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1114

The gospel message is far from being opposed to true knowledge and intellectual attainments. It is itself true science, true intellectual knowledge. True wisdom is infinitely above the comprehension of the worldly wise. The hidden wisdom, which is Christ formed within, the hope of glory, is a wisdom high as heaven. The deep principles of godliness are sublime and eternal. A Christian experience alone can help us to understand this problem, and obtain the treasures of knowledge which have been hidden in the counsels of God, but are now made known to all who have a vital connection with Christ. All who will may know of the doctrine (The Review and Herald, July 18, 1899). 6BC 1114.1

4. See EGW on 2 Peter 1:10. 6BC 1114.2

4, 5, 11 (Romans 8:29, 30; 1 Peter 1:2). God's Predestination—The Father sets His love upon His elect people who live in the midst of men. These are the people whom Christ has redeemed by the price of His own blood; and because they respond to the drawing of Christ, through the sovereign mercy of God, they are elected to be saved as His obedient children. Upon them is manifested the free grace of God, the love wherewith He hath loved them. Everyone who will humble himself as a little child, who will receive and obey the Word of God with a child's simplicity, will be among the elect of God.... 6BC 1114.3

[Ephesians 1:2-11 quoted.] 6BC 1114.4

In the council of heaven, provision was made that men, though transgressors, should not perish in their disobedience, but, through faith in Christ as their substitute and surety, might become the elect of God, predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will. God wills that all men should be saved; for ample provision has been made, in giving His only-begotten Son to pay man's ransom. Those who perish will perish because they refuse to be adopted as children of God through Christ Jesus (The Signs of the Times, January 2, 1893). 6BC 1114.5

Eternal Covenant Given to Abraham—[Ephesians 1:3-5 quoted.] Before the foundations of the earth were laid the covenant was made that all who were obedient, all who should through the abundant grace provided become holy in character and without blame before God by appropriating that grace, should be children of God. This covenant, made from eternity, was given to Abraham nineteen hundred years before Christ came. With what interest and what intensity did Christ in humanity study the human race to see if they would avail themselves of the provision offered (Manuscript 9, 1896). 6BC 1114.6

(Ezekiel 18:20-24; 33:12-16; Romans 11:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:10; 2:15-21.) No Unconditional Election—[2 Peter 1:2-10 quoted.] Here is the condition of the only saving election in the Word of God. We are to become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. We are to add grace to grace, and the promise is, “If ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 6BC 1114.7

There is no such thing in the Word of God as unconditional election—once in grace, always in grace. In the second chapter of Second Peter the subject is made plain and distinct. After a history of some who followed an evil course, the explanation is given: “which have forsaken the right way, ... following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” ... [2 Peter 2:15-20 quoted.] Here is a class of whom the apostle warns, “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” ... 6BC 1114.8

There is truth to be received if souls are saved. The keeping of the commandments of God is life eternal to the receiver. But the Scriptures make it plain that those who once knew the way of life and rejoiced in the truth are in danger of falling through apostasy, and being lost. Therefore there is need of a decided, daily conversion to God. 6BC 1114.9

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Ellen G. White
Faith and Works, 18

The danger has been presented to me again and again of entertaining, as a people, false ideas of justification by faith. I have been shown for years that Satan would work in a special manner to confuse the mind on this point. The law of God has been largely dwelt upon and has been presented to congregations, almost as destitute of the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His relation to the law as was the offering of Cain. I have been shown that many have been kept from the faith because of the mixed, confused ideas of salvation, because the ministers have worked in a wrong manner to reach hearts. The point that has been urged upon my mind for years is the imputed righteousness of Christ. I have wondered that this matter was not made the subject of discourses in our churches throughout the land, when the matter has been kept so constantly urged upon me, and I have made it the subject of nearly every discourse and talk that I have given to the people. FW 18.1

In examining my writings fifteen and twenty years old [I find that they] present the matter in this same light—that those who enter upon the solemn, sacred work of the ministry should first be given a preparation in lessons upon the teachings of Christ and the apostles in living principles of practical godliness. They are to be educated in regard to what constitutes earnest, living faith. FW 18.2

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 535

While exalting the “sure word of prophecy” as a safe guide in times of peril, the apostle solemnly warned the church against the torch of false prophecy, which would be uplifted by “false teachers,” who would privily bring in “damnable heresies, even denying the Lord.” These false teachers, arising in the church and accounted true by many of their brethren in the faith, the apostle compared to “wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever.” “The latter end is worse with them,” he declared, “than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” AA 535.1

Looking down through the ages to the close of time, Peter was inspired to outline conditions that would exist in the world just prior to the second coming of Christ. “There shall come in the last days scoffers,” he wrote, “walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” But “when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Not all, however, would be ensnared by the enemy's devices. As the end of all things earthly should approach, there would be faithful ones able to discern the signs of the times. While a large number of professing believers would deny their faith by their works, there would be a remnant who would endure to the end. AA 535.2

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (EGW), 1093

In this our day men have placed themselves where they are wholly unable to fulfill the conditions of repentance and confession: therefore they cannot find mercy and pardon. The sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit does not lie in any sudden word or deed; it is the firm, determined resistance of truth and evidence (Manuscript 30, 1890). 5BC 1093.1

Sin Against the Holy Ghost—No one need look upon the sin against the Holy Ghost as something mysterious and indefinable. The sin against the Holy Ghost is the sin of persistent refusal to respond to the invitation to repent (The Review and Herald, June 29, 1897). 5BC 1093.2

34-37. See EGW on Psalm 19:14; Isaiah 6:5-7. 5BC 1093.3

37. A Sanctified Tongue Needed—Cease to dwell upon the shortcomings of others. Keep the tongue sanctified unto God. Refrain from saying anything that might detract from the influence of another; for by indulging in these words of criticism, you blaspheme God's holy name as verily as you would were you to swear.... 5BC 1093.4

We need especially to guard against having a tongue that is sanctified to Satan. The tongue that God has given is to be used to glorify Him in speech. Unless it is, we shall be standing directly in the way of God's work in this world, and the judgments of heaven will surely fall upon us (Manuscript 95, 1906). 5BC 1093.5

42 (Luke 11:31). A Greater Than Solomon—Christ knew that the Israelites regarded Solomon as the greatest king that ever wielded a scepter over an earthly kingdom. By special appointment of God, he had built their first magnificent temple, which was a marvel of beauty, richness, and glory, and gave influence and dignity to Israel as a nation. He was endowed with wisdom, and his name had been glorified by them. To be superior to him was, in their eyes, to be more than human, to possess the prerogatives of Deity [Matthew 12:42 quoted] (The Youth's Instructor, September 23, 1897). 5BC 1093.6

43-45 (Luke 11:24-26). No Neutrality Possible—[Matthew 12:43-45 quoted.] Christ shows that there can be no such thing as neutrality in His service. The soul must not be satisfied with anything short of entire consecration—consecration of thought, voice, spirit, and every organ of mind and body. It is not enough that the vessel be emptied; it must be filled with the grace of Christ (Manuscript 78, 1899). 5BC 1093.7

(Isaiah 57:12; 2 Peter 2:20, 21.) The Curse of Self-righteousness—The garnished house represents the self-righteous soul. Satan is driven out by Christ. But he returned, in the hope of finding entrance. He finds the house empty, swept, and garnished. Only self-righteousness is abiding there. “Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” 5BC 1093.8

Self-righteousness is a curse, a human embellishment, which Satan uses for his glory. Those who garnish the soul with self-praise and flattery prepare the way for the seven other spirits more wicked than the first. In their very reception of the truth these souls deceive themselves. They are building upon a foundation of self-righteousness. The prayers of congregations may be offered to God with a round of ceremonies, but if they are offered in self-righteousness God is not honored by them. The Lord declares, “I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee.” In spite of all their display, their garnished habitation, Satan comes in with a troop of evil angels and takes his place in the soul, to help in the deception. The apostle writes, “If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (Manuscript 78, 1899). 5BC 1093.9

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 284

“Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.... Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.” 1T 284.1

1 John 3:1: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” 1T 284.2

1 John 2:15-17: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” 1T 284.3

2 Peter 2:20: “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.” 1T 284.4

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