2 Peter 3:11-18
Stephen Caswell © 2004
Someone asked a concert violinist in New York's Carnegie Hall how she became so skilled. She said it was by planned neglect. She planned to neglect everything that was not related to her goal. Peter encourages believers to neglect everything associated with this present earth. He argues that it has been reserved for destruction. Peter tells believers to focus on the new earth because it will last forever.
About a month ago we saw how Peter reminded Christians to remember Christ's Coming. He explained the reasons why sinners scoff at this and why God has delayed the Second Coming. The Lord is giving sinners the opportunity to repent before judgment falls. In the final verses of his epistle Peter commands believers to live in the light of eternity. Peter highlights two things in this section. Be Diligent To Be Godly, Be Diligent To Be Growing.
Firstly, Be Diligent To Be Godly
a. Living As God Desires
2 Peter 3:11: Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.
Peter asks a question in verse 11, How should we live in light of God's judgment? He then answers it for us. Our lives should be marked by holiness and godliness. To be holy ἅγιος means to be set apart for God's service. Christians don't belong to the world but to God. The word godliness εὐσέβεια means godly living, piety, devotion. The word manner ποταπός literally means exotic, out of this world. Drawing all of this together we conclude that Christians must live pure lives that are devoted to service for God.
We don't belong to this world but to the next! In fact, God has revealed the future to us so that we will live godly lives. Prophecy about the Blessed Hope should inspire us to godliness. 1 John 3:2-3: Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Bible Study And Godliness
A U.S. Army officer told of the contrast in his pupils during two different eras of teaching at the artillery training school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In 1958–1960 the attitude was so lax that the instructors had a problem getting the men to stay awake to listen. During the 1965–67 classes, however, the men, hearing the same basic lectures, were alert and took copious notes. The reason: these men knew that in less than six weeks they would be facing the enemy in Vietnam. One reason that Bible study seems to be irrelevant to many Christians is that they have no interaction with non-Christians, no vital ministry to growing believers, and no personal and internal struggle for godliness, all of which are factors that bring the truths of the Bible to life.
b. Looking For God's Day
But how can we maintain a godly standard when the world continually chips away at our values? Peter gives us the key to this problem next. He uses the word look in verses 12, 13 and 14. The word look προσδοκάω means to wait for, to look ahead for, to be expectant. By looking to the future world and not the present one believers are motivated to godliness! Philippians 3:20: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
To Be Like Him!
What can it mean to be like Him? I, to be like my dear Lord?
I could not believe it, had I not - The promise of His precious Word.
I, with follies and failures, I, with my weakness and sin,
To be like the Lord in His beauty, Perfect without and within?
He, whom the angels, adoring, Veil from His glory their eyes,
He, who one glad day will take me - To dwell in His home in the skies?
O, I am weary with waiting, Sick of this old self of mine!
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come quickly, And give me a spirit like thine!
1. Destruction Of The Corrupt World
2 Peter 3:12: looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
Firstly, believers can look forward to the day when God will punish sin. He will purge this earth of all the sin that has marred creation and spoiled it. God can see the sinful works of mankind all over this planet. The Lord won't allow the works of man to tarnish His world for eternity. This is why He purges the earth and its atmosphere with fire. If God is going to destroy this present world why do believers get so attached to it? Why do we play around with sin? Why do we store up treasure in it like Lot who was reluctant to leave Sodom?
Let's set our heart on the right world! Let’s lay up treasure in heaven. How can we hasten the coming of Christ? By praying that the Lord will bring in His kingdom as Jesus encouraged us to do in the Lord's prayer. By reaching out to the lost and saving God's elect. Are you looking forward to the day that God removes sinners and sin from the world? After God removes the wicked and their works from the world He will create a new world. Peter discusses this in v 13.
2. Creation Of The New World
2 Peter 3:13: Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Secondly, believers can look forward to the day when God creates a perfect world. Because the present earth is corrupt God must destroy it. He will then create a new heavens and new earth for His people. The new creation God establishes will be one marked by righteousness and holiness. Nothing evil will spoil the new creation. In the new creation there will be no sin, sickness, sorrow or death. The curse will be replaced by God's bountiful blessings.
Revelation 21:1, 5a: Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then He who sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. In the new heavens God's people will not sin. They will live blamelessly before God! If God’s people will live sinless lives in eternity why are we so reluctant to give sin up now? Shouldn't we want to live righteously now?
3. Collection Of His Children
2 Peter 3:14: Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;
Peter said the third motivation for believers is meeting Christ. Peter commands believers to be diligent in their Christian life. By doing this they will be found blameless when Jesus comes. At the rapture we will be caught up to meet Christ in the air. After this we will enjoy wonderful fellowship with Christ. If you are serving Christ when He comes you will be glad at His appearance. If you are wasting your life on sin you will be ashamed. 1 John 2:28 says: And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. Would you rather be found serving Christ or self?
Mexican jails are not known for their tidiness or orderliness. Shortly after having taken office, the President of Mexico, Luis Echeverria, decided to do something about this. Without giving any advance notice, He chose to visit the jails at midnight. He found guards away from their posts, prisoners not taken care of, and other discrepancies between the expectations and reality. Because the jailors weren't following the guidelines laid down for them, the President proceeded to fire people and clean up the system. We never know when our Lord may come. Let us not be lax in our responsibilities so that the Lord finds us lacking.
What is the main purpose of prophecy? The coming of the day of the Lord should motivate us to live for Christ now. If God is going to destroy this world because of its corruption why do believers engage in sinful practices? Why do they treasure material possessions so much? It's all going to be destroyed by fire. If Christians are going to live with the Lord in a perfect world shouldn't they want to enjoy victory over sin now? After all this is our eternal destiny! What would you rather be found doing when Jesus comes; serving or sinning? Then practice living righteously today!
Secondly, Be Diligent To Be Growing
a. Listening To God's Word
2 Peter 3:15: And consider that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation - as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you.
1. Saints Receive the Scriptures – Salvation.
God patiently warns men so that they might receive it and be saved. He sends His people to preach the Gospel. This is why it's important to listen carefully to God's Word. 2 Peter 3:15 ties in with verse 9, where Peter explained why the Lord had delayed fulfilling His promise. God had every reason long ago to judge the world and burn up its works, but in His mercy, He is long-suffering with us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. This is the Day of Grace, not the Day of Judgment. Peter says that Paul writes the same things he does. Paul, more than any other New Testament writer, explained God’s plan for mankind during this present age.
In all his epistles Paul writes of God's mercy and grace to undeserving sinners. In fact it was God's patience that lead us to salvation. Romans 2:4: Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? This is another reason why we must persevere in witnessing to the lost. Some will believe and be saved from the judgment to come. Very few people believe the Gospel the first time they hear it. Yet God continues to reach out to them even though they resist Him. Usually we take considerable time before they receive Christ as their Savior. God perseveres with stubborn sinners because He's long suffering. He knows some will repent and be saved!
2. Sinners Resist the Scriptures - Destruction
2 Peter 3:16: As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
Now, unlearned and unstable people have a difficult time understanding Paul’s teachings. The false teachers listen to the Scriptures and resist them. Peter says that they twist them to their own destruction. Some Bible students, in their attempt to harmonize seeming contradictions Law and grace, Israel and the church, faith and works, twist the Scriptures and try to make them teach what is not really there. Today many people say that a God of love won't send sinners to hell. They teach annihilation or universal salvation. They do this because they can't reconcile God's love and justice, His mercy and wrath.
The word translated wrest, στρεβλόω, means to torture on the rack, to distort, to pervert, to twist. Most heresies are the perversion of some fundamental doctrine of the Bible. False teachers take verses out of context, twist the Scriptures, and manufacture doctrines that are contrary to the Word of God. Peter probably had the false teachers in mind, but the warning is good for all of us. We must accept the teaching of the Scriptures and not try to make them say what we want them to say. We must use the historical grammatical approach. What did these words mean to the original audience?
Saving More Souls In Utah
Years ago a wealthy lady from the east made many trips to Salt Lake City to be baptized for the dead. Over the years she was baptized 30,000 times! She did it for relatives and friends and former people like Alexander the Great, Nebuchadnezzar, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, and Cleopatra. A Mormon elder commented: I believe that this lady, in the day of judgment, through being baptized for the dead, has saved more souls than Jesus. This doctrine is founded on a wrong interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:29. These people are lost of course.
b. Learning From God's Word
2 Peter 3:17: You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;
1. Guard Against Falling - How should believers respond to these false teachers who twist the Scriptures? We must be on our guard. The word beware φυλάσσω means to keep, to observe, to guard, to watch. We must defend God's Word! There can be no compromise on it!
What special danger did Peter see? That true believers would be led away together with the error of the wicked. That they would fall from their own steadfast position on God's Word. True Christians cannot fall from salvation and be lost, but they can fall from their own steadfastness. So, Peter commanded them to be constantly on their guard lest they fall from their own steadfastness into error. There is no place for complacency in the Christian life. Peter’s readers knew the truth, but he warned them that knowledge alone was not sufficient protection. They had to be on their guard; they had to be alert. It is easy for people who have a knowledge of the Bible to grow overconfident and to forget the warning given in 1 Corinthians 10:12: Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
What was this steadfastness? Being established in the present truth. He is warning us against breaking down the walls of separation that must stand between the true believers and the false teachers. There can be no communion between truth and error. The apostates live in error, while true believers live in the sphere of the truth. Christians must receive God's Word and take their stand on it. They mustn't allow anyone to move them away from the clear teaching of Scripture. We must get to know God intimately through a regular study of the Scriptures. We must live by His Word continually.
World’s Largest Press
Who owns the largest printing press in the world? The New York Times? Look? No! It is the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have one press that puts out 500 pieces of propaganda every second. From that one press alone, comes out 84,000,000 books and pamphlets.
2 Peter 3:18: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
How can we as believers maintain our steadfastness and avoid being among the unstable souls who are easily beguiled and led astray? By growing spiritually. But be constantly growing is the literal translation. We shouldn't grow in spurts, but in a constant experience of development. It's not enough to hear God's Word or even defend it, we must also grow in it. Christian maturity is the best safe guard against false teachers. Firstly, Christians must listen to God's Word. Secondly they must share it with the lost and defend it. Thirdly, we must apply it in our lives and grow. Learning God's Word isn't accomplished until we apply it.
2. Growing In Grace - We must grow in grace. This has to do with Christian character traits, the very things Peter wrote about in 2 Peter 1:5–7. Our God is the God of all grace, who gives grace unto the humble. As we study His Word, we learn about the various aspects of grace that are available to us as children of God. We are stewards of the manifold grace of God. There is grace for every situation and every challenge of life. Growing in grace often means experiencing trials and even suffering. We never really experience the grace of God until we are at the end of our own resources. The lessons learned in the school of grace are always costly lessons, but they are worth it. To grow in grace means to become more like the Lord Jesus Christ, from whom we receive all the grace that we need.
How To See Growth In Christ — D. L. Moody
Dr. Bonar once said that he could tell when a Christian was growing. In proportion to his growth in grace he would elevate his Master, talk less of what he himself was doing, and become smaller and smaller in his own esteem, until, like the morning star, he faded away before the rising sun.
3. Growing In Knowledge - We must also grow in knowledge. How easy it is to grow in knowledge but not in grace! All of us know far more of the Bible than we really live. Knowledge without grace is a terrible weapon, and grace without knowledge can be very shallow. But when we combine grace and knowledge, we have a marvelous tool for building our lives and for building the church. But note that we are challenged to grow, not just in knowledge of the Bible, as good as that is, but in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is one thing to know the Bible, and quite another thing to know the Son of God, the central theme of the Bible. The better we know Christ through the Word, the more we grow in grace; the more we grow in grace, the better we understand the Word of God.
Believers are disciples or learners. A modern equivalent would be an apprentice. When someone wants to learn a trade they do an apprenticeship. Apprentices study their trade at college. They have to learn a lot of facts and figures and they are tested on it. But that's only half of their training. They also do on the job training where they can develop their skills. Knowledge and practical application are both necessary. One with out the other will not produce a tradesman. The same is true in the Christian life. Maturity requires us to grow both in knowledge and grace.
In light of Christ's coming Peter shares 2 things. Be Diligent To Be Godly and Growing.
Firstly, Be Diligent To Be Godly
Firstly, Peter commands believers to live in holiness and godliness. We are to live holy lives in devotion to God. Is your life set apart for God’s service? How is your life different to the sinners living next to you? Secondly, Peter encouraged believers to maintain our godly values by continually looking for Christ's return. Are you looking for Jesus to come back? Are you excited about it? Do you want Jesus to come again or are you comfortable here? Are you looking forward to the creation of a new earth?
Secondly, Be Diligent To Be Growing
Firstly, Peter commands to listen to God's Word. The Scriptures reveal God's salvation. Of course some resist the Gospel message and bring destruction upon themselves. Are you carefully listening to the Word and obeying it? Are you guarding against false teachers? Secondly Peter encourages believers to learn God's Word and grow in it. Christian maturity is the best defense against heresy. Are you studying God's Word? Are you growing in your knowledge of Jesus Christ? Are you applying the Word in your life through God's grace?
2 Peter 3:17-18: You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.