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Last week Peter told us to live intentionally; that’s what God expects. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the Holy Spirit can take up residence in your heart and nothing changes. This morning, Peter continues drawing from the conclusion he started in v. 14 and adds some additional instructions.
2 Pet. 3:15-16 says, “And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
But wait there’s more! Verse 15 is tied to v. 14 by the article, “and.” In addition to being, “found at peace in Him, blameless and spotless,” Peter says, “And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” We’re diligently pursuing a life of holiness because the power of God resides within us giving us not just a desire to be blameless and spotless, but the power to be blameless and spotless. Since we are zealous in our pursuit of Christ, the delay in His coming should be regarded as providing us with additional opportunities to tell people about Jesus, to share the Gospel with people so they can repent and be saved. Remember God’s deepest desire is to reconcile humanity with Himself through the finished work of Christ. Once He returns, it’s game over for lost people. They cannot make a decision for Christ when, “He descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God.” (1 Thes. 3:16) No time for lost people to say, “Okay, now I believe.” The door that is Jesus Christ will close. At the same time, I wonder how many professing believers will be ashamed at the lack of zeal they had for Christ on earth. I wonder how many Christians that are content to live a life of mediocrity now will look back at the lives they lived. Our perspective would change if we’d look at things through the eyes of God. We know the answer to life’s problems and challenges and His name is Jesus! Let’s not use our time on earth to pursue temporary things. Let’s use our remaining time on earth to live a life that pleases the King and brings glory to His name. It’s not about us, it’s about Jesus! Remember what Peter said in the beginning of this letter in 2 Pet. 1:3, “God has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” We have the power to live a life that is spotless and blameless because of Jesus. Use this transformed lifestyle along with God’s patience and His delay in sending Jesus back as an opportunity to evangelize.
Here’s an interesting tidbit. Peter mentions Paul. Don’t you just love people that name drop? It seems to creep into all aspects of life. Peter drops a name, but is it the same thing we do? He says in v. 15, “Just as our beloved Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you.” It’s not a casual name drop like we do when we don’t really know the people. Paul wrote about these same two exhortations Peter mentions. Scripture always interprets Scripture. The pronoun, “our” links Paul with Peter and the other apostles. Paul’s letters are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit of God. So why did Peter feel the need to say that Paul taught these things too? It seems that some of these false teachers and mockers had twisted the words of Paul to fit their own agendas. Remember these people are not misinformed students of God’s Word that have taken some verses out of context. They’re not overzealous teachers eager to teach people the way of truth and somehow messed it up. These people are intentionally leading infant Christians astray with their unbiblical teaching.
Look at v. 16 and see how Peter explains it. Peter acknowledges that some parts of Scripture are hard to understand, but that should not prevent us from trying. Paul told Timothy very clearly, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.” (2 Tim. 2:15-18) The best way to combat false or wrong teaching is to be a student of God’s Word. Imagine being named in Scripture as someone that has gone astray. Someone that has gone off the path of righteousness. Remember the false teachers were pushing a licentious, sensual lifestyle saying it didn’t matter how you live because Christ was not returning and therefore there is no coming judgment. They twisted Paul’s words in passages like Rom. 6:1-7. When you read and understand this foundational letter, “I can’t help” it is not an acceptable excuse to ignore or excuse sin. Paul is clear that once you enter a relationship with Christ, you are no longer a slave to sin; sin doesn’t have dominion over you.
“The untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their destruction.” Before we analyze this phrase, we need to understand some words. Untaught literally means ignorant. Unstable means likely to change or collapse. Distort means twist out of shape. One of the worst things a Bible study teacher or leader to ask is what do you think that means? Back in 2:14, the false teachers were, “enticing unstable souls.” Now the unstable are distorting or twisting Paul’s writings, and they do it to their own destruction. We’ve seen throughout 2 Peter that destruction refers to an eternal punishment. What they were doing was not an issue of a minor point of doctrine, but they were using Paul’s words to justify their immoral lifestyles. This isn’t the first time Paul’s writing were misunderstood. In 1 Cor. 5:9-11 Paul said, “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler – not even to eat with such a one.” The Corinthians misunderstood what Paul said. Paul was not the kind of preacher that taught a feel good message that changed with the times to remain relevant. His words are the words of God Himself.
1 Cor. 14:37 says, “If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.” The Word of God is not just another book. It is God’s history, instructions, commands, expectations, and promises for us. We don’t use it as a weapon to destroy people, but as a light to show people the path to salvation. We use it to get to know the One that transforms our mind, heart, and soul. We don’t need to make it more attractive, or more palatable for the lost, or more relevant to the hip crowd, or more entertaining for the over stimulated teenagers. The Bible is the book of the Lord. (Is. 34:16), the book of the Law (Neh. 8:3, Gal. 3:10), the good Word of God (Heb. 6:5), the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, it is the Word of Truth; it is the Word of Life!
Significant damage has been accomplished by people that attempt to shape God into something He is not. They twist the truth of God and the Bible to fit what they believe God to be without ever attempting to get to know God through His revelation to us. They wrongly conclude things about Him that are not in keeping with the character revealed throughout His Word and throughout history. We cannot allow people to morph God into something He is not. We are to lovingly refute those that contradict sound doctrine.