Truth can seem like an unattainable ideal in an avalanche of words and images. To figure out what is true today, we have to sift perspective from fact and bias from analysis. To avoid this hard effort we often default to what is most enjoyable and consume whatever comes our way. And as consumers, we can resemble the false teachers of 2 Peter who reveled in the daytime, caroused in deceitful pleasures, and had eyes full of desire and hearts trained for greediness (2 Pet 2:14).
In a world of so much information and so many diversions, it’s easy to “check out,” scoff at the future, and stop expecting that God is on his way (2 Pet 3:3–4). Second Peter calls us back to pursue “the prophetic word”—the teachings of Jesus that tell us how to live in this world (2 Pet 1:16–21). The expectation of Christ’s return motivates us to live in “holy behavior and godliness while waiting” (2 Pet 3:11–13).
Peter advocates a different approach to knowing what is true. We know Christ because we have experienced him; our transformed lives indicate that we know him (2 Pet 1:3–4). In addition, our transformed hopes give us the expectation that we can know him even more fully in the future (2 Pet 3:13). This explains why Peter can call false teachers ignorant even though they can be articulate and persuasive (see 2 Pet 2:12; 3:16).
If we place our hope in this world, we will find ourselves heading toward self-destruction (2 Pet 3:7). Left to our own wisdom and pleasure, we will become “waterless springs and mists driven by a hurricane,” like the false teachers Peter warns about (2 Pet 2:17). Second Peter assures us that we are not left to ourselves; our fate does not have to be that of the false teachers. Instead, when we place our hope in the truth of Christ—all that we know of it now and all that we anticipate—we “do not lose [our] own safe position]” (2 Pet 3:17).
Quote. We have no right to expect anything but the pure Gospel of Christ, unmixed and unadulterated—the same Gospel that was taught by the Apostles—to do good to the souls of men. I believe that to maintain this pure truth in the Church men should be ready to make any sacrifice, to hazard peace, to risk dissension, and run the chance of division. They should no more tolerate false doctrine than they would tolerate sin.
J. C. Ryle
Transformation of the entire person—thoughts, feelings, and actions—was very important to Peter. What areas of your life remain untransformed? How might God’s promises connect to Christ’s redemptive work in your life now (2 Pet 1:3–4)?
How has knowing the truth about Christ contributed to your growth in character and faithfulness to God (2 Pet 1:5–8)?
Peter says that “one day with the Lord is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day” and that “the Lord is not delaying [his return], as some consider slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:8–9). If this is the case, what needs to change about your life?
What are some of the most dangerous false teachings of our day? Which of these false ideas do you find attractive? How might you focus on the truth of Christ to purify your perspective (2 Pet 3:1–2)?
Pray to God, asking him to transform your entire being with his truth—to help you live in the power of Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to quicken your mind, strengthen your hands, and inspire your hopes. Request that wherever false teachings have crept into your life they be removed. Thank God for holding back his judgment, so that people might come to know him; request that he make you an instrument of that ministry—of bringing the gospel to the world.