By Andrew E. Courtis
As we come to the end of our series in 2 Peter, Peter provides his readers with some final principles as they respond to the reality of Christ’s return. This passage (3:14-18) gives us an overview of the repeated actions that ought to characterise the Christian life. These actions are delightful duties. They are, diligence, discernment, and doxology. These are to be the daily pursuits of the people of God as they walk through this world with their eyes on the coming Kingdom.
1. DILIGENCE (3:14)
Every day we are being bombarded with ideas and practices that stand opposed to the teaching of God’s Word. These ideas and practices are often packaged in such a way that they sound and look attractive. But the truth is, they are not in line with God’s Word and are therefore not pleasing to Him. We need to be aware that there is a warfare going on. Each and every day we are going to battle with rejecting sinfulness and perusing righteousness. While we await Christ’s return, we have a responsibility to be diligent in our pursuit to be holy. Peter wrote,
“Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (3:14)
Diligence is the first delightful duty for the believer in this passage. The word “diligent” means to make one’s best effort. The reality is, as we deal with temptations to embrace worldly thinking, to reject this is not an easy matter. It takes deliberate effort.
Specifically, Peter calls for his readers to “to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace”. This is a contrast to the description of the false teachers Peter exposed back in chapter 2. Peter wrote that they were “blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions” (2:13). What does it mean to be “to be found by him without spot or blemish”? It means that we be people making it our deliberate effort to pursue and practice Biblical purity.
As we walk through this world, we do at times receive the spots of sin and then become blemished. We sin publically and we sin privately. A part of this diligence “to be found by him without spot or blemish” is to cultivate a close daily relationship with our Lord. This means that we take regular time to be washed by the Word of God, and that we confess our sins to the Lord and repent. As filthy as we may sadly get, the Scripture tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
2. DISCERNMENT (3:15-16)
As we seek to be diligent in our walk with the Lord, we need to remember that not every idea or teaching that claims to be helpful is actually helpful. This brings me to the second duty of delight, and that is discernment. Tim Challies defines spiritual discernment as “the skill of understanding and applying God’s Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong” (The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment). The Lord desires for His people to be discerning. We are commanded to “test everything” (1 Thess. 5:21; cf. Heb. 5:14). In verses 15-16 we are reminded of the importance of not being influenced and deceived by those who twist the Scriptures. Evidently, the false teachers that Peter addressed in chapter 2 had twisted the teachings and writings of Paul so as to promote error. Peter’s point in these verses is that though Paul wrote some things that are hard to understand, Paul also affirmed the teaching that while we wait for the return of Christ, we are to be found faithful. Peter writes,
“15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.”
Though we don’t know for sure, it is likely that the false teachers twisted Paul’s writings to promote their loose lifestyles. This way the used the Scriptures to promote this way of life, making them sound Biblical. The reality is, they were twisting the truth. It is important to note that in 2 Peter 3:16 the apostle Peter classifies the letters of Paul with the Old Testament Scripture. Thus recognising that Paul’s letters are Scripture.
3. DOXOLOGY (3:17-18)
The third and final duty of delight Peter provides for us is doxology. The word “doxology” means to praise God. While we live out our days here waiting for the return of our King, we are to praise and glorify God. Consider the final verses of this book,
“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. 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.” (3:17-18).
As we take care not to be carried away by the error of the false teachers, we are to make it our pursuit to grow in grace. In these final verses we learn that growing in grace comes when we make much of Christ. The great doxology at the end of verse 18 says, “To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity”. The “Him” in this text is a reference to Jesus Christ. This clearly affirms the Deity of Jesus because God does not share His glory with anyone. Isaiah 42:8 says, “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols”. John Calvin notes that the significance of the word “now” “is designed for this end, that we may not rob Christ of his glory, during our warfare in the world” (Calvin’s Commentaries, 2 Peter). The glorify Christ now and to the day of eternity is the goal of our growth.
The salvation we enjoy as God’s people has come by means of the grace of God and is sustained by the grace of God. Peter began (1:2) and ended (3:18) his letter on theme of grace. Apart from God’s grace we would not be able to make it to the coming eternal kingdom. So while we wait for that great day, we are to strive with our delightful duties, fuelled by God’s grace, to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.