When I Refuse the Cure
2 Peter 2:20,21 If, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness…
I once met a woman who considered herself treatment-proof. She could not stop using drugs and she would not go back to treatment. She had been there 15 or 16 times. The first couple of times had resulted in a few months of sobriety, but with each successive failure, the effect of treatment withered and she now knew that she could not get better. She had believed once, that she could recover, but now, she lived in the saddest of conditions, utter hopelessness. I believe, that in her state, death was the only thing that would stop her drug use.
Though her condition was dreadful, it was hardly unique. It is a tragic reality that though we know Christ, many of us still live in our destruction. We know the truth. We have available to us the tools to live free from slavery to the flesh, but still, we return to the flesh. We are sick and we refuse the cure. We cannot claim ignorance. We know the truth yet our behavior denies it.
It is in this state of self-destruction that Peter says we are worse off than if we had never known the truth. It would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness… Peter says that this condition is so awful, that it would have been better to have never known God in the first place. This is a truly disastrous place to be.
Does this mean that the one who fails and returns to the destruction of the flesh has lost his or her salvation? The passage does not explicitly say that this person is beyond redemption, but I think it is still a fair question to ask in this state.
In my worst destruction (which was not my first time around), I had to ask myself if I actually knew Christ. I had known him and then refused to follow him. In that sad state, I had to at least consider the possibility that my soul was in real trouble. If I knew Christ and then refused to follow him, I had to ask if I truly belonged to him. I do not believe of course, that I was beyond redemption but I think Peter is insisting that I was on the brink of disaster.
If this makes us uncomfortable, then I think Peter hit his mark. We should consider it no small thing to be in this state. If we know Christ yet we continue in our pornography, drugs, pride, malice, self-obsessions, greed, and gossip, then we are worse off than if we never new the truth. If we know the cure and refuse it, our destruction will be tragic and magnificent. In this state however, we are not beyond redemption. We always have this choice to do whatever it takes to deny self and follow Christ.
I do not want to live in that condition of hopelessness and destruction. I want to live free from the misery of my flesh, so today, I will choose to do whatever it takes to deny self and follow Christ.