14 May Be On Guard – Episode 12 Peter 3:14-18
In his second letter, Peter warns believers not to let false teaching affect them. In fact, it can be considered a growing Christian’s role to Be On Guard.
In this episode Michael teaches through 2 Peter 3:14-18 where Peter writes with an urgency and command seen in four main verbs:
Be Diligent, Regard the Patience, Be on Your Guard, Grow.
Situational Awareness is living in a condition of paying attention to what you’re paying attention to.
Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper’s Situational Awareness color code:
Condition White – Relaxed unaware (basically oblivious)
Condition Yellow – Relaxed alert (paying attention. Not paranoid, but aware)
Condition Orange – Threat identified (trouble’s brewing, tunnel vision)
Condition red – Go mode, adrenaline high (fight mode)
The posture of a person who lives in Condition Yellow – relaxed alert – goes a long way in preventing a threatening situation.
Spiritually speaking, this is an excellent illustration.
In his second letter, Peter warns believers not to let false teaching affect them.
In fact, it can be considered a growing Christian’s role to Be On Guard.
In a world corrupted by lust, Peter instructs that we are to be diligent in our faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.
False teaching’s going to be with us forever, so we are to be relaxed alert, condition yellow.
2 Peter 3:14-18
“In the third chapter, Peter refutes the mockers’ denial of Christ’s return, presents the correct view of Christ’s return, and concludes with timely exhortations to his readers in view of the dark and dangerous days facing them” – Cited by Constable, Idem, Directives for Living in Dangerous Days, Bibliotheca Sacra 141:564 (October-December 1984):330-31.
In this last section, Peter writes with an urgency and command seen in four main verbs. These are all 2nd person plural, or “all you all”:
Be Diligent, Regard the Patience, Be on Your Guard, Grow
Diligent: Quickly, hurry up, taking pains.
Do I run to obey as regularly as I run to sin?
Spotless: highest quality, without defect, pure in character. This is a reference to God. Peter used the same word in 1 Peter 1:19, and James used it in James 1:27
While we are in Christ, we are given the responsibility to be diligent in our obedience.
The good news is that we are justified positionally in Christ (Romans 8:1), and yet we are to faithfully obey in the day-to-day.
In the Greek, “in peace” is at the end of the statement and seems to underscore that our diligence “pays off” in the sense that we face no fear or uncertainty, but a welcoming assurance, now and in the future.
“A deep feeling that we are soon to stand in the presence of a holy God, our final judge, cannot but have a happy influence in making us pure” -Albert Barns, D. Edmond Hiebert, Second Peter and Jude: An Expositional Commentary
Regard the patience of our Lord’s return as salvation
Peter gives pastoral reassurance and encouragement to have a patient perspective on God’s timing.
We can wait patiently knowing He is good, not wanting any to perish.
While we wait, others come to faith.
*Notable: Peter refers to Paul as “our beloved brother Paul”
Recall in Galatians 2:11, Paul opposed Peter. But as the gospel advanced, Peter had both love and respect for Paul.
Peter’s citation of Paul affirms a similar “time-frame” for Christ’s return.
Paul’s letters would’ve been well circulated so his readers would’ve been familiar with Paul’s stance on this timing.
Peter also acknowledges that some of Paul’s writings are hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16). We could say the same thing about Peter’s writing. If you’ve studied Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, perhaps you identify with this!
Peter’s acknowledgement reminds us of Paul’s academic/legal pedigree. He was a Jewish legal scholar.
This also shows us that Peter clearly considered Paul’s writing to be Scripture. This can be called “internal evidence” i.e., what the scripture says about scripture; here, what Peter says of Paul’s letters.
This is insightful and instructive to Peter’s audience and to us:
- We can learn from these writings
- Some “remain” untaught and unstable, and distort the scriptures
- Untaught is an interesting word – ἀμαθής (am-ath-ace’), unlearned or ignorant. The word for disciple is μαθητής (math-ay-tes’), so one who is “untaught” is almost literally a “non-disciple.”
- Unstable (ἀστήρικτος, [as-tay’-rik-tos]) is unique here and means not keeping sound doctrine, someone who cannot be relied on.
- The untaught and unstable are ignorant and will distort (or twist) other passages as well.
“They [the untaught, unstable] Being ignorant of the fundamental principles of hermeneutics [the way we approach the Bible – letting the Bible be its own authority, not our perspective], they fail to see that one must interpret a passage in harmony with its context and the teaching of the book as a whole…They lack spiritual stability and are thus unable to adhere to the moral demands of Christianity, which conflict with their inner desires for self-indulgence.” – D. Edmond Hiebert
- We’re going to have difficult passages
- Such passages have a correct interpretation
- Those passages require what false teachers are unwilling to do or are intentionally not doing: learning and guarding doctrine.
- Such passages have a correct interpretation
It is no surprise, as Peter tackles false teaching in his day, that we will face it in ours.
Peter also does not minimize the devastating consequence of distorting Scripture. False teachers mislead, misinterpret, twist, distort scripture to their own destruction
“Like Satan, the false teachers and their followers can quote scripture out of context for their purpose.” – Edwin A. Blum, Peter in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation
“In attempting to destroy the Bible men destroy themselves” – Nathaniel Williams, Commentary
Be on Guard
- It’s not common in Peter’s writing to use the word beloved but he uses it frequently here. He’s pastoring his readers with compassion throughout this letter.
Recall that Peter denies the Christ 3 times, and the resurrected Christ restored Peter in asking “Do you love me?” three times, and instructs “Tend my lambs, shepherd my sheep, tend my sheep”
Here, the apostle shepherds Jesus’ sheep by warning them.
- Knowing this beforehand – As if to say if you didn’t know, now you know: false teachers will work to distort the truth of Scripture and recruit us to do the same.
- Be on your guard. Take careful measures since we know that false teachers are at work. Remember 2 Peter 2:13-14
Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ
Now that we know culture and false teachers will always challenge us, we are to remain steadfast in our view of Scripture. There’s military nuance here, be on guard so we aren’t carried away.
Lessons from 2 Peter:
- Are you discerning?False teaching doesn’t change: Health & wealth, prosperity gospel, redefinition of men and women, marriage, sexual roles, self-absorption, and many more. Being on guard requires a “Spiritual Condition Yellow”
- Are you growing?Sanctification is a spiritual process where we are becoming more like Christ and less like our sinful selves. If you are growing, you will be on guard, you will be discerning. Stagnation breeds disease. Growth breeds health.God’s Word, God’s Spirit, God’s People – we need all three to grow.
“The christian life, it has been said, is like riding a bicycle. Unless you keep moving, you fall off!” – Michael Green
A temptation is for us to sit on our laurels convinced that we’ve done it, we know it all. We get sedentary and smug spiritually, but we must keep growing.
- Are you glorifying Christ?
In recent years in the west there’s been a movement toward horizontal Christianity – I, Me, My. It’s been a subtle shift but seems almost like its now indelible. We’re asking God to bless things, but its all about our life- not about glorifying Christ.Self-help trends have moved into self-success trends: How am I going to be successful in my business, in my social media platform, etc. Many of these goals are good, but how do we keep that from becoming our life to the point that we’re just praying for God to make this thing work as opposed to working to the glory of God.If God answers this prayer, does He get glory or do we?We seek to glorify God is by remembering what is eternal: People and God’s Word. On what do we we spend time, money, energy, sweat, focus, discipline – things eternal or things temporal?We can encourage people in their walk with Christ, in their coming to Christ; and undergirding it all is not our emotion, passion, vision, wisdom, or business plan – but His Word. Eternal, true, never fading, never changing.
Have a Biblical or theological question? Ask Dr. E! Call us at 615-281-9694 and leave a voicemail with your question or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Michael will answer it on an upcoming Ask Dr. E episode!