Like an Animal
But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. 2 Peter 2:12-13
Our dog is pretty intelligent, quickly learning from consequences and changing his behavior accordingly. Using treats and timeouts, we’ve trained him to be an obedient dog who follows the rules. . . most of the time. He does, however, have some instincts that we’ve not been able to override. He’s territorial, barking ferociously at any new guest in our house. No matter how many timeouts he gets, when the doorbell rings, he barks. It’s instinctual. So, we must lock him in a bedroom whenever we have people over. He hates that, but still, he can’t draw a line between his barking and consequences in such a way that allows him to change his behavior. It’s an irrational instinct that causes him misery but which he can’t not do.
This is how Peter described man in today’s passage. In it, he spoke of those who follow their self-destructive nature instinctively, comparing them to irrational animals who seek and cause their own calamity, but cannot help it. They simply don’t know any better and they don’t know any other way. They do whatever they want, following their nature, never being able to draw a line between their actions and their misery in such a way that makes them change.
Most of us have a little of this in us. We all have some self-destructive behaviors. We make ourselves miserable, but we fail to draw a line between our behavior and consequences in such a way that causes us to change. We hate getting up in the morning because we’re so tired, but we like to stay up late watching TV. We want to weigh less, and we don’t like being overweight, but we can’t stop overeating. We want a healthy marriage, but we keep looking at pornography. We want to be sober, living in recovery, but we can’t stop using drugs. Like irrational animals, we follow our instinct, suffering self-inflicted wounds, but unable to stop the very thing that makes us so miserable.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. We all have unhealthy behaviors but we don’t, like my dog, need to live enslaved to them. Because of Christ, we’ve been restored to a new life in God and now, we may daily abandon the old life for this new one. This is hard work, but if we desire, we can learn, grow, and change. In daily abandoning the old nature, we may trade our old misery for new life, joy, and peace.