Warning against separating Christianity from a Holy Life
1 But there were false prophets also in the nation, just as there will be false teachers among you, people who will secretly introduce ruinous divisions, disowning even the Lord who bought them, and bringing speedy ruin on themselves.
2 There will be many, too, who will follow their licentious courses, and cause the way of the truth to be maligned.
3 In their covetousness they will try to make you a source of profit by their fabrications; but for a long time past their sentence has not been standing idle, nor their ruin slumbering.
4 Remember, God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them down to Tartarus, and consigned them to caverns of darkness, to be kept under guard for judgment.
5 Nor did he spare the world of old; though he preserved Noah, the preacher of righteousness, and seven others, when he brought a flood on the godless world.
6 He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and reduced them to ashes, holding them up as a warning to the godless of what was in store for them;
7 but he rescued righteous Lot, whose heart was vexed by the wanton licentiousness of his neighbours;
8 for, seeing and hearing what he did, as he lived his righteous life among them, day after day, Lot's righteous soul was tortured by their wicked doings.
9 The Lord, therefore, knows how to deliver the pious from temptation, and to keep the wicked, who are even now suffering punishment, in readiness for “the day of judgment” —
10 especially those who, following the promptings of their lower nature, indulge their polluting passions and despise all control. Audacious and self-willed, they feel no awe of the celestial beings, maligning them,
11 even where angels, though excelling them in strength and power, do not bring against them a malignant charge before the Lord.
12 These people, however, like animals without reason, intended by nature to be caught and killed — these people, I say, malign those of whom they know nothing, and will assuredly perish through their own corruption,
13 suffering themselves, as the penalty for the suffering that they have inflicted. They think that pleasure consists in the self-indulgence of the moment. They are a stain and a disgrace, indulging, as they do, in their wanton revelry, even while joining you at your feasts.
14 They have eyes only for adulteresses, eyes never tired of sin; they entice weak souls; their minds are trained to covet; they live under a curse.
15 Leaving the straight road, they have gone astray and followed in the steps of Balaam, the son of Beor, who set his heart on the reward for wrong-doing,
16 but was rebuked for his offence. A dumb animal spoke with a human voice, and checked the prophet's madness.
17 These people are like springs without water, or mists driven before a gale; and for them the blackest darkness has been reserved.
18 With boastful and foolish talk, they appeal to the passions of people's lower nature, and, by their profligacy, entice those who are just escaping from the people who live such misguided lives.
19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves to corrupt habits; for a person is the slave of anything to which they give way.
20 If, after having escaped the polluting influences of the world, through knowing our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, people are again entangled in them, and give way to them, their last state has become worse than their first.
21 It would, indeed, have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn away from the holy command delivered to them.
22 In their case is seen the truth of the proverb — “A dog returns to what it has vomited” and “A sow after washing to her wallowing-place in the mud.”