BEWARE, BE STEADFAST
2 Peter 3:17-18a Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The subject text is Peter's final admonition for the Christians to whom he is writing. He begins, in Chapter one, by telling them the necessity of adding all Christian graces to their faith in order to make their calling and election sure, telling them if ye do these things ye shall never fall (Vs. 10). To achieve this, they must listen to the voice of God, as contained in His holy word, the bible. They are to beware of the "false prophecy" of men, for God's word came to us not by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (Vs. 21).
Chapter two was, in its entirety, a warning to beware of false prophets and false teachers (Vs. 1), who were driven by covetousness (Vs. 3), to deceive Christians into abandoning God's ways, and into following and supporting their selfish ways of the world. Using examples of the fallen angels, ungodly people in the days of Noah, and the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, Peter shows us how God deals with evil. He assures us this same judgment will come to false teachers (Vs. 4-10), referring to them as natural brute beasts (Vs. 12), spots ...and blemishes (Vs. 13),cursed children (Vs. 14), wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest (Vs. 17). They promise ...liberty, but overcome their hearers and lead them into bondage (Vs. 19).
In chapter three, Peter reminds us that throughout all ages, we have been warned about false teachers, referring to them as scoffers, walking after their own lusts (Vs. 3). Their message will be one of deception that casts doubt on the second coming of Christ and on the Day of Judgment. Peter, in no uncertain terms, tells us that God is longsuffering ...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He warns Christians against such deceitful teaching by telling them, as well as us today, to be not ignorant of this one thing ...the Lord is not slack concerning His promise ...the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, and the world, and all the evil therein, will be destroyed (Vs. 8-10).
This summary of the second epistle of Peter leads to his final remarks, which serve as our lesson text. The basic thoughts of this summary are the things about which they had been forewarned - the things Peter refers to when he writes seeing ye know these things before. With this warning in mind, Christians are to beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.
From this warning, Peter tells us that false teachers can mislead us. No one is ever safe from following the error of the wicked. No one is ever safe from the wiles of the devil. All can be led astray. All should understand that this could happen to them. In order to beware, or be on guard against false teachers, one must realize they too could be led in error. This warning also tells us that steadfastness is not a firm, fixed resistance that is not movable. Rather, steadfastness comes in degrees. One can be more or less steadfast, more or less established, more or less wavering in one's convictions. The inference is that the greater the degree of steadfastness in God, the less apt one is to being led away with the error of the wicked.
How does one prevent being led astray, and become more steadfast in the Lord? Peter tells us: But grow in grace, and in knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The grace of God bestowed on a person the day they are baptized into the body of Christ, is not sufficient to carry them into Christian maturity. Growth is required. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby (1 Pet. 2:2). Growth is attained by, beginning at faith and adding virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (from 2 Pet. 5-7). To beware of error, and be steadfast in the Lord, we must know that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ, our Savior. This we learn initially, but our faith must continually be strengthened through the study of God's word. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Grow in Grace and Knowledge. Beware; Be Steadfast.