Devotional Reading: John 14:1-7
Lesson Scripture: II Peter 3:1-15
Lesson Aims: To identify false doctrines; to understand that holy living is a sign of hope; and to anticipate Christ’s return.
Background: When it comes to false doctrines, churches today are no different from the early ones. Quite a bit of the false doctrines came from members of the congregation. Like the other apostles, Peter wanted to teach the believers practical applications of godly truths. The scoffers’ aim was to cast doubt. Having dealt with persecution from the outside in I Peter, the apostle then addressed the dangers of false teachers in his second epistle. The false doctrines will lead believers to become lax in their commitment to holiness. Peter began this letter by confirming their calling by God. “Having chosen to follow Christ, he wanted them to understand that they were empowered by God to do His Will (live holy) and to recognize that they were no longer mere mortals” (Richards’ Complete Bible Handbook).
He goes on to remind them about the qualities they should exhibit in their daily lives. Those qualities were love, kindness, self-control, knowledge, faith, goodness, perseverance and godliness. A life of holiness would indicate their faithfulness to God and their sure election. That was chapter one.
In chapter two, Peter identified where the false teachers came from (within the body) and what their purpose was. These scoffers presented doctrines that divide and destroy the body. Unfortunately, Peter stated that many will follow what the heresies taught. The believers were informed that God’s judgment had already been set in motion. He gave examples of rescue and destruction in 2:4-10. According to Peter, the false teachers were shameless, arrogant, sinful, greedy people who had no regard for the spiritual. They were like animals, controlled only by their flesh! Destruction for them is sure along with anyone else who turned from God. What were they teaching? The Day of the Lord (The Second Coming/Parousia) had not come; therefore it wasn’t going to happen. The false teachers also questioned, “Why live holy?” If there is no judgment, individuals could live as they pleased. These people were promised freedom (no restraints) but were actually bound to sin that would destroy the community! Peter’s disgust was captured in verse 22 – a dog eating its vomit and a pig wallowing in filth!
Lesson: Peter’s tender address shows his concern for the churches in Asia Minor (go back to I Peter 1:1 for the list). They are family; why would he not help his family? He reminds them that his words echo the prophets of old and the apostles. Both instruments of God were given authority to teach about The Second Coming and the preparations needed for It. The nay-sayers will come very convincingly, but they will not confuse or trick believers! God keeps all of His promises. If they would just examine their histories, evidence abounds that God intervenes in human affairs.
Scripture references are, for the Jews, throughout the Old Testament and for the Gentiles look in Isaiah 13:6; Jeremiah 46:10 and Ezekiel 30:3. God will judge when He is ready, not when we are ready. By the way, “Peter is the only New Testament writer to declare the world’s destruction by fire” (II Peter 3:7,10.12). The apostle also reminds them that God’s time is not like humanity’s. God will act based on His patience and desire to save as many as possible. Since they know everything will be destroyed, their value system has to be different from the world’s! God promised a new heaven and earth in Isaiah 65:17. Peter says prepare now for the future whenever God decides to intervene.
Application: We are like young children, we get impatient, too. With persecution, prejudice and false doctrines floating everywhere we are anxious for Christ’s return. Some of us even lose hope and walk away. We doubt because the false doctrine sounds so sweet to our ears. We can’t rush God – that’s a good thing! Yes, believers continue to wait 2,000 years later, but our wait is not in vain. God said that Christ will come again, defeating evil once and for all to establish a new heaven and earth. He said it, so believe it, because He is the Promise Keeper. We are to always remember that He wants the best for as many of us as possible. Just think for a moment. What if He had come before we chose to follow Him? Where would we be? Living holy is a sign of our faith and patience in God. We are confident that He will do exactly what He said He would. No false doctrine can entice us to go back! Our hope is not in self but in Him who is all powerful, ever present and all-knowing! False teachers, with their sweet mouths, will be crushed in God’s time, not ours. Are you preparing for Parousia?