Guard and Grow

9 Sep

GrowYou can listen to the podcast for this message here.

Last week Peter reminded us of a couple of things that Paul wrote. We are to be, “found at peace in Him, blameless and spotless,” and we are to, “Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” We are diligently pursuing (present tense) 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. It’s easy to say, but not as easy to do. We’re to be careful of those that twist or distort the Scriptures to make God something He is not. This morning, Peter closes his letter with a very important conclusion that includes one of Peter’s favorite tools . . . a contrast.

2 Peter 3:17-18 says, You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

We get to Peter’s conclusion in this first verse. We’ve been on this journey through Peter for a while and it’s interesting that he can package everything up so neatly. He reminds his readers of what they know. They know the second coming of Jesus Christ is still to occur and that should motivate them to live lives that exemplify the power of God. They know that mockers and false teachers are in their midst. These people are intentionally trying to deceive believers and push them off of, “The way of truth” Peter mentioned in 2 Pet. 2:2. Since Peter’s readers know these things, he tells them to, “Be on your guard.” This is a very serious warning. It’s a verb in the imperative mood meaning it is a command. 2 Thes. 3:3 says, “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” These are not contradictory verses. This is along the same lines when Jesus said, Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt. 7:15) If we heed the warnings Peter has given us throughout this letter, we’ll be okay. If you ignore the warnings, trouble will likely come. When you get in your car, you buckle up. It doesn’t guarantee no one will crash into you, but the damage probably won’t be as bad. Peter’s warning is far more serious. If we are not on guard, are not vigilant, are not watchful we’ll be, “Carried away by the error of unprincipled men.” When you think of the phrase carried away, think about being swept down a river. The longer you’re in it, the farther away you get. So how do we be on guard? When we’re in the car, we look ahead. We wear our seat belts, we use our mirrors; we don’t text. In our walk with Christ, we maintain our alert status by keeping up with what the holy prophets and apostles wrote. We keep alert by diligently pursuing our faith. Peter tells us to heed this warning so we won’t, “fall from our own steadfastness.” Remember Peter is combating the notion of the false teachers and mockers who are intentionally deceiving believers by saying that Jesus is not coming back and since He’s not, it doesn’t matter how you live. Peter has consistently argued that how we live does matter. It matters to Christ, it matters to the church, it matters to our community; it matters to our families. It should be difficult to knock us off of our beliefs. When we allow ourselves to be deceived by those unprincipled men, it’s not a testament of how deceptive they are, but of how ungrounded we are.

Now Peter turns from guarding to growing in his last verse. He begins it with a contrast to v. 17. When we heed the warnings, we aren’t going to be carried away by unprincipled men and we aren’t going to fall from our steadfastness. Instead of falling, we’re going to, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We don’t just ward off the onslaught of false teaching and false doctrine out there. In the midst of all that we’re supposed to grow, specifically grow in grace. When we look at the complete letter, Peter opened it by saying that grace was instrumental in our saving faith through the righteousness of God. He prayed that grace would be multiplied in our lives. He said that God’s grace granted us everything we need to live a life of godliness. Grace is the foundation of our lives in Christ, it is given as a gift of God through unmerited favor yet we are commanded to grow in grace. Grace is not static; it is a dynamic force that should be growing from the moment of salvation until the day we die. Peter’s expectation is not just growing in grace, but we grow in knowledge of Jesus. Growing in knowledge is essential for living the Christian life. (2 Pet. 1:5-7) Authenticity as a Christian means we are progressing in the godly virtues Peter says we have and should be increasing. Those virtues indicate our relationship with Christ is fruitful according to 2 Pet. 1:8. Growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ is not an elective of an authentic relationship with Jesus. It’s not an offering on the spiritual buffet that you can pass by because you don’t like it, you don’t think it applies to you, or you have wrongly concluded you’re too busy. It is essential for eternal life and that’s why Peter puts it as a concluding exhortation of the letter.

Peter assumes that we will follow the principles, guidance, and direction provided in the Bible and the end result is, “To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.” Whatever good things happen in our life is because of God. When eternity is impacted because of our life, God gets the glory. When we boldly share the Gospel in love, God gets the glory. When we unashamedly live our life as an example of the power of God in our lives, God gets the glory. When people are drawn to God because of us, God gets the glory. When we choose to allow God to use us in His unfolding plan, He gets the glory.

Paul said we are to, “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:10) May our goal be to walk with Christ today and bear fruit that glorifies Him.

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