2 Peter 3:8-10 ESV
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Some people have the mistaken notion that, just because Jesus has not yet returned to take his bride to be with him, and to judge the earth, that it means he is not coming again, and/or that there will be no judgment. So, God reminds us that, just as he once destroyed the earth with a flood, he will come again and he will destroy the earth with fire (See: vv. 1-7).
Other people believe he is coming again, and that he will judge the earth with fire, but they believe that is a long way off and/or that it will never impact them. And, so they live much of their lives in direct opposition to God’s Word, in dishonor to God, because they believe that how they live doesn’t really matter – that it will not impact their eternal salvation.
Yet, just because Jesus has not yet returned, it doesn’t mean he isn’t coming or that judgment is also not coming to the earth. And, just because this judgment that is promised hasn’t happened is no guarantee that all people will escape it, or that all professers of faith in Jesus Christ are guaranteed freedom from all judgment and/or that they will never have to suffer.
But, the reason the Lord has delayed this judgment is that he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. And, this tells us something else, and that is that repentance is required in order to escape this judgment, so that we don’t come under condemnation, and so that we do not perish in our sins.
And, repentance is not a mere change of mind about Jesus Christ and a decision to believe in him. In nearly all scriptures related to repentance it is clearly speaking of a change of mind resulting in a change of behavior. It is leaving our sinful lifestyles and our idols behind us, being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and now turning to walk in obedient faith to Jesus Christ as Lord (owner-master) of our lives.
2 Peter 3:11-13 ESV
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, because this judgment is real, and it is going to happen one day, and it could happen in our lifetime, as well, this reality should impact how we live. And, this tells us something else, and that is that how we live does impact our eternal salvation. We don’t just say some magic words and then we are saved for life, no matter now we live our lives.
For, so many people have this mistaken notion that salvation is a one-time deal that secures us eternal life with God, and that once we have that, it doesn’t really matter how we live from that moment forward. But, that is a lie straight from hell. For, scripture teaches us that it is those who walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit who have eternal life with God (Rom. 8:1-17; Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8).
Yet, it is because that so many people have this mistaken notion about what all our salvation entails that they feel the freedom to continue living for the flesh, while many of them largely ignore the Spirit of God. They think that going to church or serving in some kind of ministry capacity within the church fulfills their religious duties, and that the rest of the time is theirs to live however they want.
Yet, the scriptures teach the opposite of that. The scriptures teach us that there is a direct correlation between how we live and our eternal destiny. It isn’t that we do good works of the flesh to earn or to deserve our salvation. It is that those who are genuinely in Christ Jesus, by God-given faith in Jesus Christ, will have a change of heart and mind about sin and about God, and that they will desire to please the Lord and not the flesh.
This is not saying that we will all be perfect, or that we will never sin again, or even that, at some point in our lives, we will never fail God or that we will never stray from our pure devotion to Christ (See: Rev. 2-3). But, it is saying that true faith in Jesus Christ will result in changed lives away from living for sin and self to now living for Jesus Christ in obedience to his Word.
We should be those who are living holy (set apart from sin unto God) and godly (upright, pure) lives, in the power of God at work within our hearts and minds, as we submit to the Lordship of Christ Jesus over our lives. And, we should no longer be living, in lifestyle (in habit, in practice) according to our sinful flesh.
For, if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (decay, death). But, if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. So, again, our behaviors do impact our eternal salvation (Gal. 6:7-8; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).
2 Peter 3:14-18 ESV
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 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, 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. 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. 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.
Again, we are encouraged here that, because we are anticipating a judgment to come on the earth, that we should be diligent to be found by Jesus Christ walking in purity of devotion to him, totally at peace with God, not guilty of compromising with the world of sin.
Again, this is not saying we will never sin again, but that sin should no longer have mastery over our lives. It should no longer control us or consume us, but we should be walking in victory over the flesh by the power of the Spirit of God within us.
I like it here how it explains that some things in Paul’s letters are hard to understand and so ignorant and unstable people twist the scriptures to their own advantage. I agree, but I believe that even the easy to understand scriptures, which could not be more plain and simple to understand their meaning, are also being twisted or just plain ignored by the unstable, as they find so many ways to excuse away their sinful lifestyles and to lead others to do the same.
And, so there is a caution to all who profess the name of Jesus, that we be careful and diligent that we are not carried away from our pure devotion to Christ by these liars and deceivers who would try to convince us that our lifestyles will not impact our eternal security. For, many are preaching a half-truth gospel (a lie) absent of the cross of Christ in our lives. For, they are not teaching that we must die with Christ to sin and live with Christ to righteousness if we want to have eternal life with God.
Instead, they are teaching that a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ is enough to secure us heaven no matter how we live while we are on this earth. And, so many people have bought into this lie, and so they are dishonoring God by their lifestyles, and they are still walking according to the flesh, and they are not walking according to the Spirit, because they believe heaven is guaranteed them no matter how they live.
So, please know the truth. Please read the New Testament from beginning to end, word for word, in context, comparing scripture to scripture, and you will soon learn that it is not what we profess that guarantees us eternal life with God, but that it is what we live or how we live that matters for eternity. For, again, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, and by the Spirit, then we have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 6:7-8; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
Victory in Jesus
Words and music by Eugene M. Bartlett
O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.