September 10, 2015
Peter opens this section of his letter with a quick note concerning wholesome thinking and refreshing the memory of the Christian audience to whom the letter is addressed. And before we fully address the theme of the chapter (The Day of the Lord is Coming) we should spend some time considering the quality of our thinking. Specifically, how wholesome is it? Are our minds in tune with the things God wants or are we distracted with other things that take our minds to places God does not intend?
How worried are you? We all carry concerns about our daily existence but do your concerns dominate your thinking and the resulting actions from those thoughts? Are you like Sarai (who later became Sarah), whose worry about not having any children led her to convince her husband to have sex with another woman in an effort to produce an heir (Genesis 16). The less than desirous results of that decision for Sarai, and the rest of her children and their descendents, are further detailed in Genesis 16. Perhaps your worries center on things like paying the rent or mortgage, or making sure you have enough food to eat, or maybe your job search has turned up fruitless to this point. Jesus spoke to worries like these in Matthew 6, and his words are reflected in Peter’s letter. In Matthew 6:31-33 Jesus says “So don’t worry about having enough food, or drink, or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs and He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.”
God knows what we need from day to day…better than we do. So first we need to get with God and find out what our needs truly are. Then we need to remember if God knows what His children need, then God also has a plan to meet His children’s needs. Check your faith in Him and if you find your faith lacking, God can help with that too (see Philippians 4:6-7).
Now if sin is polluting your thinking, wholesome thoughts are completely out of the question. Jesus tells us in Mark 7 how sinful thoughts can lead to sinful actions which result in a sin filled person (the crux of that lesson is how the things we keep in our minds, and not the things we put in our stomachs, can truly corrupt us if we are not careful). So how do we keep our minds clear of all the evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride and foolishness that Jesus talks about in Mark chapter 7? Change your thinking. And how do we change our thinking? We may need to change the places we go, books we read, internet sites we visit, music we listen to, people we spend our time with and possibly some other things in order to guard our minds. Understand that influences leading to the sinful actions listed by Jesus in Mark chapter 7 are easier than ever to access. Thankfully influences leading away from the sinful actions listed by Jesus in Mark chapter 7 are also easy to access. Which do you want enough to go and pursue?
With a wholesome mind we can now deal with the words Peter lays down in verses 3-7 because those days have arrived. Peter says “Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same, since the world was first created.”
There are many voices telling anyone who will listen how they can gain access to eternal life with God without accepting Jesus as your savior. They say you can buy your way, stretch your way, build your way, kill your way…basically get yourself into God’s heaven. There are other voices saying there is no heaven at all and there is no God at all and that Jesus was just a man and that the records of his time on Earth in the Holy Bible are just really good fiction. All of these voices (and others as well) spout things designed to separate us from God’s love and God’s truth. Hell awaits those separated from God’s love and God’s truth.
So what is taking so long? Verse 9 tells us that God is giving everyone enough time to repent and turn towards his love and truth. He is patiently waiting for us to accept what He gives so we can then enjoy the eternity that is to come. All the things that are valued and treasured on this earth will face eternal erasure, to be replaced with something far more amazing, beautiful, powerful and holy (See Revelation 21 for more on the new heaven and the new earth).
In preparation for this we should “make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.” That peace is easier to access with a wholesome mind too. Go back to Philippians chapter 4 to read about how prayer with God alleviates those worried thoughts and grants access to God’s peace, which guards our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus.
September 3, 2015
The entire chapter of 2 Peter 2 is a warning to Christians about false teachers. Peter reminds the early Christian church of the false prophets in Israel and warns there will be false teachers in the early church. And since God’s word rings true now and forever, there are false teachers in the contemporary church. Peter writes how their delivery of their destructive falsehoods will ring as clever, which will lure many to follow what they are saying. He even goes far enough to say that their lies will separate people from their money.
How many times have we seen persons claiming that a cloth, or a stone, or a jewel or some other object they are selling can get your prayers through to God? These were tricks used in Peter’s day and they are still used today.
We are also to stand our guard against false teaching, regardless of how good it sounds to our ears. The best defense against this is to maintain consistent study of God’s word and consistent communication with God, known as prayer. Through the reading of God’s word we grow more in tune with what he wants for us. And a strong prayer life teaches how to speak to God, and how to listen to when He speaks to us. These facets will protect us from the false teachings Peter warns about.
God is fair and just and loving and consistent. There will be a reckoning for those who follow their own evil and lustful desires (the false teachers) and who despise authority. Peter further describes these false teachers as “…unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, who are born to be caught or killed. They laugh at the terrifying powers they know so little about, and they will be destroyed along with them.”
It seems more and more people are denying the existence of, or mocking, the supernatural. Their thinking roots in only what can be seen with physical faculties and that God is not real and that Satan is not real. Denying the existence of the spiritual realm is to also deny the effects of following of false teaching on our lives here and now. Have you noticed the decreased levels of compassion in contemporary society? Or the increased levels of anger, fury and violence? What about the news reports of children slaughtered in school, parents killed by their children or the latest ponzi scheme leaving people without their life savings? Somewhere along the way the perpetrators of these horrible crimes gave themselves to false teachings and were ultimately destroyed for it. Unfortunately the impact spreads to the victims, which deepens the states of sadness, sorrow, pain, frustration and anger. God’s love (and truth) can offer hope and answers in the midst of all these things. If left unchecked however, things will only grow worse.
So what does a false teacher look like? Verse 13 says they love to indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight. Verse 14 says they commit adultery with their eyes, their lust is never satisfied, they make a game of luring unstable people into sin and they train themselves to be greedy. Verse 15 says they have wandered off the right road and they love to earn money by doing wrong. Verse 17 says they promise much but at the end of the day they deliver nothing. Verse 18 says they brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting and with lustful desire as their bait, they lure back into sin those who have just escaped from such wicked living. Verse 19 says they promise freedom, but they are in fact slaves to sin and corruption.
If you know of any people like this stay away from them. If you find yourself described in the previous paragraph, turn yourself immediately to God’s will and way or you will suffer the reckoning described in this chapter.