"...forsaking the right way, they went astray, having followed the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the hire of wrong-doing." - 2 Peter 2:5
Who was Balaam? A prophet. What was his way? Making a market of his gift. The New Testament speaks in three different ways about Balaam: "the way of Balaam," "the error of Balaam" (Jude 11) and "the teaching of Balaam" (Revelation 2:14). The 'way' of Balaam is to make a market of one's gift, presuming on it, putting yourself in God's show-room. 'I am here as a specimen of what God can do.' Immediately a Christian begins to put himself into the 'show business,' that is the way towards backsliding. The 'error' of Balaam is seeing only the standard of natural morality and never discerning God's ways behind. Immediately a Christian gets into the way of following his own wise common-sense morality, rather than the dictates of the Spirit of God backing the Word of God, he is on the high road to backsliding. Beware how you guide your Christian life and your Christian experience. Are you simply taking the ordinary high standards of the world in your business? Beware, that is an error that leads to backsliding. 'Oh, well, they all do it, I must do the same.' That is the ordinary standard; if it conflicts in the tiniest degree with the clear standard of God, beware! It is an error that leads to the false doctrine which is the very heart of backsliding, making a judicious mix-up between corrupt worldliness and godliness. That is the way backsliding will begin, it is fixing your eyes on the wrong thing. The 'teaching' of Balaam is the corrupting of God's people. Balaam taught Balak to corrupt the people by enticing them to marry the women of Moab. That is the Old Testament incident, but what does it mean? It means trying to compromise between corrupt worldliness and Christian profession. These are three dangerous characteristics pointed out in the New Testament, and they are fruitful in backsliding.
-Workmen of God (The Cure of Souls) by Oswald Chambers