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The Folly of Returning to Vomit

April 22, 2008

Proverbs 26:11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit
is a fool who repeats his folly.

2 Peter 2:20-22 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

*(May be a graphic post. As you read you will see why; because I want to show the putrid nature of SIN.)

This morning as I was preparing to go to work, I happened to look out my bathroom window. I saw my oldest dog using the restroom and my youngest dog immediately walking up waiting for something. Well if you knew my dogs you would know that can only mean one thing. I thought to myself, “how absolutely disgusting!” Then it occurred to me: you do the same thing but much worse! Then I thought, “wow, how foolish am I?”

Let me explain. Dogs have a tradition of throwing up from gorging themselves or being sick and then immediately eating what they have thrown up. Whether its for sheer medicinal and biological needs or its just their innate fallen sin nature, I don’t know (Its one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen). But the Bible is clear that this type of behavior is comparable to one principle: Just as dogs return to their vomit, so also fools return to their folly. Proverbs is referring to the one who does not learn from the destructiveness and disgust of his folly so he therefore, like a dog in its vomit, returns to his folly. So also Peter in his second letter is speaking contextually of false teachers and those who follow their ways as those who return to their vomit; those who after being cleaned go right back to the mud like pigs.

Peter here is referring specifically to those who have been teaching and living falsely as well as those who are following these false teachers. He refers to them…

  • secretly bring in destructive heresies (vs. 1)
  • denying the Master who bought them (vs. 1)
  • bringing upon themselves swift destruction (vs. 1)
  • many will follow their sensuality (vs. 2)
  • because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed (vs. 2)
  • those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority (vs. 10)
  • Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones (vs. 10)
  • 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 (vs. 12)
  • suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing (vs. 13)
  • count it pleasure to revel in the daytime (vs. 13)
  • blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you (vs. 13)
  • They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin (vs. 14)
  • They entice unsteady souls (vs. 14)
  • hearts trained in greed (vs. 14)
  • Accursed children! (vs. 14)
  • Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray (vs. 15)
  • They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing (vs. 15)
  • waterless springs and mists driven by a storm (vs. 17)
  • speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error (vs. 18
  • promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption (vs. 19)
  • after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first (vs. 20)
  • better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them (vs. 21)

I also think this applies to sinners period, even those who have been truly regenerated by the Spirit. Just as it occurred to me this morning: I have tasted of the heavenly gifts and the Spirit and have been born again to be delivered from this slavery to sin unto slavery to righteousness….and here I am returning back to my sin like a dog to its excrement or vomit (Its amazing how God speaks to us, but you have to just run with it and learn).

Then I dug deeper and thought, who else does this list describe? The inner false teacher of every Christian: the FLESH! Isn’t it true? Our flesh is a constant and ever loud voice of deception and hostility towards God. Our flesh lies to us and wars against our spirit on a daily basis (Romans 6-7; Ephesians 6:12). Our flesh daily attempts and usually succeeds to teach and preach to us truths that God hates. Our flesh is often our loudest teacher, and yet it is the one who is the most wrong: Our flesh…

  • secretly brings in destructive heresies
  • not only denies but hates the Master that has bought our soul
  • will bring to us swift destruction, and always does
  • gets us to follow its sensuality
  • because of it the way of truth is blasphemed
  • speaks loud boasts of folly and entices our souls
  • promises us freedom but gets us more slavery.

So this passage seems to apply also to every child of God’s inner false teacher. This is why we are called to murder and destroy our flesh daily, like Paul said in Romans 6-7.

If we, who were saved by the Spirit through Jesus Christ the Son for the glory of God go on continuing in sin over and over again, then there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:26-31). It is absolute insanity to go on living as a debtor to the flesh when we have been filled and saved by the Spirit! But we give in everyday to this smooth, crafty, wise, and experienced false teacher. We give him our ears, our eyes, our heads and hearts, and our allegiance. Jesus Christ died to set us free from this idol in our hearts to make our allegiance Him. He died to rescue us from our sins. How can we who have been enlightened with the holy of holies and have had light shined into our hearts being rescued from the depths of darkness then return back to this darkness and death? Its because the flesh offers us what we hate to love and should love to hate: SIN!

This is why I believe God has placed an urgency in my heart over the last 6 months to fight and war against the worst enemy in my life: ME! No one else will I fight more in this life than myself. I have no bigger enemy that I should hate than my flesh. It is the height of foolishness to return back to the vomit that we have been rid of. The vomit of sin and hostility towards God that He retracts out of our inner most being. And all we can think to do is go to that vomit and eat it back up. As gross as a dog slopping up its vomit and as insane as a pig running to the mud after being cleaned, how much more infinitely worse is it for God’s children to run back to their upchucked sin and filth we have just gotten rid of? Saints, SIN is the most putrid vomit and filth ever to be found. God hates sin and wars against it everyday. We must have a biblical and Godly view of our sin and our sinful struggles: the refuse of refuse and the filth of dirt and grime and depths of darkness and wickedness! Without an accurate view of the destructive nature and end of our sin, we will not feel the weight of the urgency to hate it, kill it, and live for Jesus.

So today, are you going to run back to your vomit? After being cleaned, will you run back to the mud to wallow in it? Don’t be quick to say no. Remember Peter? Shortly after he told Christ “to whom will we go, you alone have the words of life” he denied Christ three times. We also quickly deny this Christ and willingly give in to our flesh. Detest your vomit today. Hate the mud you came out of. Leave your vomit and feast on the Bread of Life that satisfies and the Living Water that fills. Don’t be a fool and return back to the disgusting state of your flesh. Be wise. Listen to instruction and the way of truth and freedom. Christ and His Gospel are the answer to this rescuing. He is supremely more valuable than the vomit of sin. Run to the cross and embrace the Gospel. Preach it to yourself today!

5 Comments
  1. Deb permalink

    Thank you.

  2. Sara permalink

    Someone paraphrased this scripture (in such a way that the true meaning was lost–I believe) and related it to remarriage. I’m wondering if you can speak to how this particular scripture applies not only to remarriage but also to reuniting with a spouse after separation (not legally, mind you, but simply a period of living in two separate households without filing any sort of paperwork with the courts).

    • Sara,

      I would simply say that that is a gross misuse of scripture. Context is always key in biblical interpretation, or hermeneutics. The context of that Proverb used by Paul is to speak specifically of false teachers and false livers who return back to their former sinful ways denying the truth and embracing shame and folly. I don’t think it has any implications for marriage or remarriage. It would be a huge scriptural stretch to apply it that way.

      thanks for stopping by.
      sincerely,
      jonathan c.

  3. joe karl permalink

    st. Francis of Assisi told a rich brother one time.
    “return to your vomit”, after he had found out that
    The rich guy hid some of his wealth.

  4. I enjoyed the article. I will be sure to check out your archive.

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