Today’s read of 2 Peter is so relevant for us that Peter could have written it last week. The believers are discouraged because it seems that Jesus is not fulfilling His promise to return; they expected it would happen quickly, in their lifetime, and they are beginning to doubt. In addition, there are many false teachers in their midst who are distorting the gospel and leading people astray by proclaiming that one can be saved and still participate in ungodly, sinful lifestyles.
Peter reminds us that with the Lord, “a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day.” God doesn’t operate on our schedule. He exists outside of time, and He will keep His promises. He tells us the reason for the delay: He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance.
In the meantime, what do we do? The world is growing more wicked every day. False teachers are deceiving many. How do we live so that we are not carried away by empty doctrines and our old sinful desires?
First, we need to “make every effort to confirm your calling and election.” (1:10) We should examine our hearts for evidence that we are truly saved. Has there been a time when you felt God’s conviction for your sin and repented? Have you asked God to forgive you and grant you salvation?
Second, we need to take hold of what salvation has truly done for us: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (1:3-4) Because we are “in Christ” and the Spirit of God is “in us” we now have access to the divine power and nature of God to overcome sin and temptation. Our desires change. We begin to hate the sin that separated us from God, and by His power are able to do what Jesus told the woman caught in adultery…”Go and sin no more.”
How do we put this into practice? We increase our knowledge of God. We dedicate our hearts and minds to know God through His word and obey it. Peter urges us to “make every effort” (indicating it’s something we have to work at) to “add to your faith, goodness (do what God says to do), and to goodness, knowledge (learning), and to knowledge, self-control (daily taking up our cross and dying to self, putting to death the deeds of the flesh), and to self-control, perseverance (not giving up when it’s hard), and to perseverance, godliness (holiness, avoiding sin), and to godliness, brotherly kindness (caring about others), and to brotherly kindness, love (self-sacrifice, a decision of the will to do what benefits others).
I don’t know about you, but that list is plenty long enough to occupy me until Jesus comes! Peter knows from personal experience what happens when we get our eyes off Jesus and onto ourselves. If we want to live holy, Spirit-filled, joyful, abundant lives we can.
While we will never completely be free of sin’s presence and temptation in this life, God never intended us to wallow around in it or be held by it.
His divine power overcomes sin.
We don’t have to be led astray by false teachers.
His divine knowledge destroys deception.
We don’t have to be “ineffective and unproductive.”
His divine nature lives in us.
“For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (1:11)