There used to be false prophets among God's people, just as you will have some false teachers in your group. They will secretly teach things that are wrong -- teachings that will cause people to be lost. They will even refuse to accept the Master, Jesus, who bought their freedom. So they will bring quick ruin on themselves.
Many will follow their evil ways and say evil things about the way of truth.
Those false teachers only want your money, so they will use you by telling you lies. Their judgment spoken against them long ago is still coming, and their ruin is certain.
When angels sinned, God did not let them go free without punishment. He sent them to hell and put them in caves of darkness where they are being held for judgment.
And God punished the world long ago when he brought a flood to the world that was full of people who were against him. But God saved Noah, who preached about being right with God, and seven other people with him.
And God also destroyed the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrahn by burning them until they were ashes. He made those cities an example of what will happen to those who are against God.
But he saved Lot from those cities. Lot, a good man, was troubled because of the filthy lives of evil people.
(Lot was a good man, but because he lived with evil people every day, his good heart was hurt by the evil things he saw and heard.)
So the Lord knows how to save those who serve him when troubles come. He will hold evil people and punish them, while waiting for the Judgment Day.
That punishment is especially for those who live by doing the evil things their sinful selves want and who hate authority. These false teachers are bold and do anything they want. They are not afraid to speak against the angels.
But even the angels, who are much stronger and more powerful than false teachers, do not accuse them with insults before the Lord.
But these people speak against things they do not understand. They are like animals that act without thinking, animals born to be caught and killed. And, like animals, these false teachers will be destroyed.
They have caused many people to suffer, so they themselves will suffer. That is their pay for what they have done. They take pleasure in openly doing evil, so they are like dirty spots and stains among you. They delight in trickery while eating meals with you.
Every time they look at a woman they want her, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lead weak people into the trap of sin, and they have taught their hearts to be greedy. God will punish them!
These false teachers left the right road and lost their way, following the way Balaam went. Balaam was the son of Beor, who loved being paid for doing wrong.
But a donkey, which cannot talk, told Balaam he was sinning. It spoke with a man's voice and stopped the prophet's crazy thinking.
Those false teachers are like springs without water and clouds blown by a storm. A place in the blackest darkness has been kept for them.
They brag with words that mean nothing. By their evil desires they lead people into the trap of sin -- people who are just beginning to escape from others who live in error.
They promise them freedom, but they themselves are not free. They are slaves of things that will be destroyed. For people are slaves of anything that controls them.
They were made free from the evil in the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But if they return to evil things and those things control them, then it is worse for them than it was before.
Yes, it would be better for them to have never known the right way than to know it and to turn away from the holy teaching that was given to them.
What they did is like this true saying: "A dog goes back to what it has thrown up," and, "After a pig is washed, it goes back and rolls in the mud."
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.