For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.” 2 Pet 2:21-22
Last week we looked at the last Old Testament quote cited in the first letter from the apostle Peter preserved for our edification; this week we’ll consider the only Old Testament quote by Peter found in his second epistle. Once again, the apostle is moved to lift a passage from the book of Proverbs. As a matter of fact, if you look closely at the Old Testament quotes referenced by Peter through the Holy Spirit in his letters, you’ll notice that he quotes predominantly from three books, Psalms, Proverbs and Isaiah. The original passage is found in the twenty-sixth chapter of Proverbs, verse eleven. “Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” (NAS)
As we mentioned in last week’s article, Proverbs is the Lord’s how-to manual. It’s the practical part of His Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth that has a bearing on your eternal abode. The life skills taught within it, when put into practice produce not only a right lifestyle lived sensibly, but produce a life that is pleasing to God. This is the desire of our heavenly Father and has been for both Old Covenant and New Covenant faithful. Just read through the New Testament book Titus, and notice how the theme of sensible leaders preaching sound doctrine (spiritual life skills) produce a sensible lifestyle pleasing to God.
Wisdom or Whimsy?
The Hebrew word (mashal) that is translated as “proverb” in English comes from a root word that carries the meaning of similar or parallel. So the book of Proverbs typically teaches through the means of comparison, contrast and amplification.
The walk of the faithful is rooted in reason and wisdom, as in the wisdom from the Lord. Thus Solomon through the Spirit sets forth a foundational statement in Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The purpose in the preservation of the book of Proverbs is so the child of God will know wisdom and instruction and discern their meanings (Prov 1:2), receive and implement them (vs 3), and appraise them properly knowing they are of great benefit for the naïve, to the young, and even the aged wise man. All will increase in their learning and serve ultimately as wise counselors to their generation (vss 4-6).
On the other hand we have the supposed wisdom offered by the world. They believe the wisdom from the Scripture is whimsy, a pipedream. It’s no longer good practical advice since it’s too constricting and judgmental while not allowing for the “human experience”.
Oh, worldly wisdom can appear to be “good” on the surface, particularly to the carnal minded. But you must remember from whence it comes, the god of this world, the Devil. It is rooted in jealousy, selfish ambition, self seeking glory and it’s demonic! Just go back and read what James has to say about it in James 3:13-18.
Like God or like a dog
We’ve all heard the old joke, “Did you hear about the dyslexic atheist? He doesn’t believe in doG.” In the case of the true proverb quoted by the Peter, this has application.Satan is clever and he’s been very effective in conforming the world to a mindset that’s deadly. Having suppressed the truth of God’s wisdom with a lie, in particular evolutionary teaching, he has flipped the world into dyslexic reasoning (reverse reasoning).
By utilizing the “sages of the ages” in all generations, who base their assumptions upon what they observe in the behavior of fallen man, the Devil through them has convinced the world they’re really just a bunch of animals operating on instinct or acting out what they’ve been taught or seen. How could anyone be held responsible for any action since they’re born with these innate impulses? If I repeat a pattern of foolish behavior, it’s either faulty parenting or an addiction, which is a disease by the way, not a choice. You’re “like a dog that returns to its vomit”.The Bible speaks otherwise. Everything we do is a choice and that includes controlling carnal impulses. When the gospel is presented to us, we make a choice to go with it, because the word of God has been proven to be true. Having our spiritual eyes opened, we see and appreciate the truth in the wisdom of God. We moved out of darkened understanding (Eph. 4:18) no longer participating in the deeds of darkness but rather exposing them (Eph. 5: 11). No longer blinded, we see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4b). We walk as children of light (Eph. 5:8) having escaped the snare of the devil no longer held captive to do his will (2 Tim 2:26) and the defilements of the world. All through the process of reasoning rooted in truth which develops a faith that overcomes the wiles and wisdom of the world. You walk and act like God.
How does Satan combat that? Ah, you’re just a black-hearted sinner and you’ll always be one. You really can’t overcome (even thought the Bible is clear we can). So he turns the believer once more through dyslexic reasoning to a lie. Employing false teachers who are daring and self-willed, they give excuse to the weak or carnal minded to once more “indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.” (2 Pet. 2:10) In particular God’s authority through His word, which includes the tenets revealed in the book of Proverbs. Don’t act like a fool and return to acting like an unreasoning animal, “like a dog that returns to its vomit”. The Bible’s clear, there’ll be no pity for that fool!