Philippians 3:17-21; 2 Peter 2:10b-19
“Land of the free and the home of the brave.” These words that end the Star Spangled Banner are appropriate to describe the United States of America as we remember her splendor and celebrate her independence. But does living in the land of the free mean that you are free to do as you please? Some, having taken their personal rights and freedoms to the extreme, have actually sacrificed their freedom for slavery to addictions and over-indulgence.
Self-indulgence described: The term self-indulgence describes one with the inability (or unwillingness) to refuse or resist his own gratifications and desires. In 2 Peter 2:10, Peter goes so far as to call this kind of person “bold” and “arrogant.” The self-indulgent person has no fear of God or man and lives only to satisfy himself. Peter’s language is reminiscent of Paul’s words in Romans 1, where he writes that ungodly people “suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18) and that they are “filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness – God haters” (Romans 1:29-30). Those living this lifestyle believe that they are expressing their freedom. Unfortunately, they are actually living as prisoners of their sin, in desperate need of a Savior.
Self-indulgence rebuked: The self-indulgent do not escape the view of almighty God. In 2 Peter 2:15-19, Peter says that they are like “springs without water, mists driven by a whirlwind.” In other words, these people believe that they are free and are living in the luxury of that freedom. In fact, however, their actions which seem good to them on the surface lead to emptiness and are actually driven not by their own will, but by ensnaring sin, just as mist is driven by the whirlwind. Self-indulgence leads not to freedom and salvation, but to emptiness and destruction. Peter goes on to warn that those who abuse God’s authority are not content to live in their own sins, but seek to bring others into their lives of error: “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them” (2 Peter 2:19).
Self-indulgence rejected: Contrary to a life of sin and excess is a life of sacrifice and obedience to Christ. It is the cross-centered life. In Philippians 2:20, Paul encourages believers to live as citizens of heaven, not enticed by earthly things, but enticed instead by the things of God. The result of living in obedience and submission to Christ is freedom in his love and grace; it is the transformation of our humble bodies into bodies of glory under his loving care and authority.
The lies of Satan never change. Just as the serpent assured Eve and Adam that they knew better than God what they needed, we are tempted to believe the same lie today. Temptation exists at every corner to deny God’s commands and live for our satisfaction, but the truth is that our greatest satisfaction is found in obedience to God’s commands, not in sinful self-gratification.
- Lessons by Craig Thompson, pastor of Malvern Hill Church, Camden. Thompson earned his B.A from Presbyterian College and is pursuing a Ph.D. from Southern Seminary, where he also earned his M.Div.