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Quite frankly, there are many phony preachers and teachers out there.  Some call themselves “Christian” and support biblically immoral activities.  Other preachers promise that one can become financially successful if they give money to their ministry.  Still others advance a false gospel that teaches placing one’s trust in a wrong Jesus and/or that works are necessary for salvation. 

Unless one is well-grounded, it is easy to fall prey to their schemes based upon their distortion of Scripture through persuasive presentations.  A Christ-follower always ought to be careful to study (not merely read) God’s Word and be ever vigilant to detect fraudulent religious leaders and not buy what they are selling. 

For Day 165, in light of the above context, the passage that stood out was 2 Peter 3:17-18.   

Let’s take a brief look at these verses and find out how we can avoid being led astray by “lawless people.”  Because verses 14-16 impact the interpretation of verses 17-18, I phrased 2 Peter 3:14–18 (ESV), which reads:

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 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.

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.

Verse 14 uses the Greek conjunction (logical inferential) dia which the ESV translates as “therefore” because it refers to something in the preceding text.  The “therefore” of verse 14 references Peter’s discussion about the upcoming “day of the Lord” for which they are waiting and hastening.   Peter urges his audience to be diligent to make every effort to live in such a way so that at Jesus’ second coming, they will be found without spot or blemish and at peace.   He urges them to see the waiting period until Jesus returns as a time in which people are saved.

 In verse 16, Peter describes some things in Paul’s letters as “hard to understand” which those who are “ignorant and unstable twisted to their own destruction.”  Most likely the “some things” relate to Jesus’ second coming (possibly, e.g., 1 Thessalonians 5:2), but the “ignorant and unstable” (or “lawless people”) also twisted “other Scriptures” to their own destruction. 

Verse 17 includes the Greek conjunction oun which the ESV translates as “therefore” and which refers to these false teachers and preachers, i.e., the “ignorant and unstable” in verse 16.  Peter then points out that his audience knows about these charlatans.  In other words, his audience has experiential knowledge about their deceptive ways even before such deception would take place.  The tornado siren has sounded so his audience knows there is danger nearby and must take appropriate precautions.

In light of this danger, Peter instructs that they continually “take care” to not be carried away with their error, i.e., “the error of lawless people.”  The ESV translates the Greek verb phylassō as “take care.”  It is a military term that has the sense of to take extra precaution to become secure and kept under watch without ending.  One can never let down their guard against false teaching.

The ESV translates the Greek verb synapagō as “you are … carried away with … and” and it means to be deceived together or along with others.  This carries the sense that these lawless people can deceive a group of people and not just one person.  Such deception leads to the result that they (i.e., a group) would “lose” their “stability.”  The ESV translates the Greek verb ekpiptō as “lose” and it means it is probably to fall out of a certain state or condition having the concept of falling out of an area.   The ESV translates the Greek noun stērigmos as “stability” and it means a state or position of security and safety

It is apparent that Peter is greatly concerned that his audience, not merely individually but in groups, will head in the wrong direction under the leadership of a lawless person who had already twisted the Scriptures to his own destruction. 

Verse 18 presents the solution against being carried away with error, and that is for one to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  The ESV translates the Greek verb (present active imperative) auxanō as “grow” and it means to become larger or greater or increase or expand.  Spiritual growth, i.e., sanctification, is a continuous process.  Every mature Christian knows they he or she will never “arrive.”  As one commentator (Walls, D., & Anders, M. (1999). I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude (Vol. 11, p. 144). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers) writes:

No true Christian believes, “I have arrived.” The Christian life is a continual, growing life and was never intended to stand still. That growth finds its focus in an ever-increasing awareness and understanding of the person and character of Jesus Christ. To him belong all praise and glory.

The more a believer gets to know Jesus Christ, the more he or she will exhibit grace in their lives and receive grace from God so as to not experience being carried away by a false teacher or preacher.

I believe what Peter intended to convey to his intended audience was a warning to be very careful about the danger, of which they were already aware, of being led astray by false teachers and preachers whereby they could fall from spiritual stability to a position of spiritual instability with specific reference to Jesus’ second coming. 

There are at least three applications of this text to the life of a 21st Century believer. 

First, a Christ-follower should remain patient when it comes to Jesus’ second coming because during the time interval more people will be saved.  Of course, that is a good result.

Second, a believer should be 100% confident that Jesus will come a second time and something much, much better is coming.  This confidence ought to help us through the struggles inhetent in the Christian life.

Third, in these days many false teachers and preachers will come and the way to avoid being led stray is to intensify one’s Bible engagement.  In other words, know the Bible well enough so that you are spiritually discerning and can detect error.

If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell.  But, your destiny can change.  Today can be the day of your salvation.  Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved.

The Professor Grant Horner Bible Reading System is a great 500 day Bible reading plan.   The following link presents a description of the plan ( https://sohmer.net/media/professor_grant_horners_bible_reading_system.pdf).  My goal is to briefly share my thoughts on the passage that stands out the most for me each day. 

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