Be On Your Guard

[2Peter 3:14, 17 ESV] 14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. … 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

 

As we approach the end of another year, I was reminded today in prayer of what my focus as a believer should be.  It is not difficult to get swept into the “Black Friday/Cyber Monday – 2 Week Deals” frenzy.  But realities like the month of November shed light on deeper and more important advertisements.  Last month my wife and I were made aware of at least 4 deaths (relatives, friends, acquaintances) and just yesterday a fifth person we knew.  The ages range from 20’s to 70’s and some were saved and some were not, some healthy and some not so healthy.  One died the day after he attended a funeral.  One died in her sleep two days after her son’s birthday and while she was in the middle of moving to a new apartment.  Another died within hours of reporting on Facebook that he wasn’t feeling well.  I have to admit this has not been the normal holiday news and festivities that I have experienced.

Added to these tragedies are the numerous reports of injustice and outrage in my country (USA) regarding incidents of unarmed African American men shot and killed by police officers.  The accumulation of these things can be the fuel to disturb and distract many Christians away from faith and out of peace.  However, the Lord has given me a word as a reminder to myself and any others who refuse to be offended by the Rock of our Salvation.  As Peter said, in his second letter,

[2Peter 3:1-2 NASB] 1 …I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

In order to be reminded of something, it would mean that you’ve heard it at least once before.  And if the Bible states that it is as a reminder, it is guaranteed that what follows would be a truth that goes beyond a one-time encounter.  It most likely is foundational to the understanding of the audience.  And in this case, the audience is not the world (those without Christ), but it is the saints (those who have received Christ).  The greatest tragedy in the world today is when the saints are living more in tune with the world then with the holy scriptures and the Holy Spirit.

[Philippians 3:18-19 NIV] 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.

ENEMIES OF THE CROSS

How does one know if this is true?  What proof is there in this statement?  It is clearly evident in what we give attention to the most.  The social media has been a good way for individuals to expose their own thoughts, feelings, and activities.  Through self-promoting posts, pictures, comments, people are advertising everyday where their affections are located.  What is damaging is when someone who professes Christ is voluntarily exposing their thoughts and actions to promote that which they were once ashamed of.

[Galatians 2:17-18 ESV] 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.

For those who would view this exhortation as condemnation, hear what Paul is saying.  He is saying that he died to the law in Christ.  But, dying to the law, in no way delivered him so that he should go back to sinning.  That would be undoing what Jesus Christ had finished in him.

  [1John 3:8-9 ESV] 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

SCOFFERS AND MOCKERS

So let me return to Peter and tie these together.  In 2Peter 3, Peter warns us that the last days will be filled with scoffers and mockers who follow after their own lusts (2Peter 3:3).  They will oppose everything that points to righteousness.  This group of scoffers and mockers include those who profess Christ, but are tearing down the testimony of Christ’s work in their life.  This is in agreement with what Paul says in 2 Timothy.

[2Timothy 3:1-5 ESV] 1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Paul’s description of the last days corresponds to the scoffer mentioned by Peter.

[2Peter 3:4 NASB] 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”

GOD MEANS WHAT HE SAYS AND SAYS WHAT HE MEANS

Here comes the exhortation, not from me, but from Peter.  Well, to some it is exhortation, but to others it is offensive condemnation.  It all depends on the condition of the heart.  Nonetheless, the emphasis to support his point rests on the power and authority of God and His word.

[2Peter 3:5-8, 10 NASB] 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. … 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Basically, we should take God at His word and not get distracted by the scoffing in our society.  He has already spoken.  If what He spoke has already manifested in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the flood of Noah, then be convinced that there is fire reserved for the earth as well.  The religious will cheer at this point, but they will miss the point.  The scoffer will cry “You’re not supposed to judge”, but I am only restating the facts. So, for the offended, that exist in both camps, and for those who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, come close.

WHY THE DELAY?

[2Peter 3:9-10 NASB] 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

God is not too slow in fulfilling His word and when it hits He can’t be accused of acting too fast.  In the end, He will be justified as being patient towards all because He never wished it on any to perish.

[John 3:16-17 ESV] 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

That is why it is the Good News.  And it is good news for all, so that as saved and unsaved, we can recalibrate our affections and see the goodness of God in its true light.  The trouble that the world experiences is in no way confirming that God does not exist or that He is the source of it.   God will not be apologizing to anyone, especially not to Sodom and Gomorrah for giving the people in the world time to repent.  But for Christians who are disinterested in keeping fellowship with the Holy Spirit, He may appear to arrive swiftly when you’re not prepared as in the story of the ten virgins. (Matthew 25:1-13)

TEMPORAL VS ETERNAL VIEWPOINT

In my walk, I have experienced the drift of focus to the temporal to the point I lost affections for the eternal.  I allowed sin in my heart to deceive me from seeing God as faithful and true.  I can think of two seasons that were tremendously devastating to my faith, one in 2002-2003 and even recently 2013 to the beginning of this year.  The problem with being deceived is that you will interpret your life incorrectly.  The voice you hear will not be the Lord’s but will be your enemy.  He will convince you that you are not blessed and that nothing is working out for your good.  He will convince you (if you allow it) that you might as well give up and just coast.  And through constant grumblings you will not even recognize that God is meeting your needs and providing blessings and fulfilling prophecies that He spoke over you years prior.  I have seen many areas of breakthrough and fulfilled prophecies in this year alone, but emotionally I was numb to acknowledge them because of wrong focus.  I even tried to avoid things that were thrown in my lap that has prospered me, because I allowed deceptive thoughts or feeling to hold me captive from believing.  So, to be tempted is not the sin.  For God expects that you will be tempted, but with the temptation He has supplied the way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

WHAT MUST I DO?

So what type of people ought we to be? We need to be a conscience people, acknowledging that God is able to perform that which He has promised. (Jeremiah 1:12; Romans 4:21; Isaiah 55:11)  And that especially concerns the future of the people in this world, for the saved and unsaved.  With this in mind, we should live according to what we have received.

 [2Peter 3:11-14 NASB] 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,

REMIND: to make (someone) think about something again : to cause (someone) to remember something (merriam-webster)

Again, not a condemnation but an exhortation.  Better yet, a reminder so that you truly come to experience the Grace offered to us in Jesus Christ.

[2Peter 3:17-18 NASB] 17 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, 18 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.