This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 2 Peter 3:1-3 ESV
We are living in the last days before the return of Christ. Where we are in that timeline of events, though, only God knows. But, he says that we will know when the end is near by the signs. And, he told us what those signs are, too, so that we will know them when they happen (Matt. 24; Mk. 13; Lu. 21; 1&2 Thess; Revelation; Isaiah; Jeremiah; Daniel; Joel; etc.).
Although most certainly scoffers and evil doers have always existed, there is an intensity in which these things will increase as we are closer to the time of our Lord’s return. True godliness will be hard to find. Many will desert the faith. False teachers will be in abundance. Deception will be all over the place, in every corner, in the church, in the government, in the media, etc.
So, what is a scoffer? He is one who makes fun of others, who mocks them, who laughs at them. Now, we haven’t had a TV since 2008, so I know that I can’t speak from recent experience here, but when we did have a TV, one thing I noticed is how much mocking and making fun of other people was prevalent across the board in TV shows, movies, and in the news, too. So, I am certain it has gotten much worse in the past 11 years.
But, it isn’t just on TV. It is in the church, too, and coming from many pulpits. And, they are even mocking the scriptures from the pulpits, too, and making jokes about God and about the Bible so that people will find the Bible humorous, and what is serious will be made light of. This has become so common place, and I found it to be true in the Bible translation called “The Message,” too. But, so many Christians are desensitized to this.
But, what I have seen take place in the past twenty years, which A. W. Tozer was seeing in the 1940’s, has been a huge shift away from taking God and his Word seriously, and taking holiness seriously, to taking God and His Word lightly, and to taking holiness lightly, too. It has been a shift away from the deep doctrines of the Christian faith toward fun and entertainment, too, and toward feel good messages and gospel lite.
And, with regard to people following their own evil desires – wow! There has been an explosion! And, it is in the church big time, and among the leaders of the church, too, and it has led to the vast majority of professers of faith in Jesus to adopt a cheap grace gospel that coddles them in their sins, and which gives free license for them to keep on in their sinful practices without guilt and without remorse. They can keep on in their sinful addictions guilt free, because they have been promised heaven no matter what.
And, I do believe that personal computers, then tablets, and then smart phones, especially in the hands of children, have contributed largely to this explosion of professing Christians, and even pastors, now living by the flesh, rather than by the Spirit. And, the cheap grace gospel just opens the door wide for that, for it makes no requirements for repentance, for obedience to Christ, or for surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives.
They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 2 Peter 3:4-7 ESV
The way that a lot of people today live, and this includes many who profess faith in Jesus Christ, it is obvious that they don’t take God seriously about the judgment that he said is coming against the ungodly. And, the cheap grace gospel has largely contributed to this, too, for it has convinced so many people that they can have salvation from sin and the hope of heaven when they die but that it doesn’t have to impact their lifestyles.
And, so they are convinced that if they pray a prayer and ask Jesus into their hearts that now heaven is guaranteed them, and it doesn’t matter if they keep on in their sinful practices and ignore God’s commandments. But, when God talks about judgment against the ungodly, he is talking about the ungodly, i.e. those who make a practice of sin, i.e. those who live ungodly lives, whether or not they professed faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:7-8).
For, his Word teaches us that it is those who walk (in practice) according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, who have eternal life with God. It is those who say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and who live self-controlled, upright and godly lives. It is those who turn away from their sinful lifestyles, who are reborn of the Spirit of God, and who live to Christ and to his righteousness, not in absolute perfection, but in practice, as a matter of course, daily dying to sin and self and putting on Christ and his righteousness.
[Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; Eph. 4:17-24; Eph. 5:3-6; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Jn. 14:23-24; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Jn. 8:31-32]
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. 2 Peter 3:8-9 ESV
Just because God has not yet come in judgment doesn’t mean he isn’t coming. It just means that he is a loving and merciful God who is not willing that anyone should perish in their sins, but that all should come to repentance. But, he could come at any moment. You could die at any time. No one is guaranteed tomorrow.
And, notice with me here that “perish” and “repentance” are opposites. If we don’t want to die in our sins and spend eternity in hell, and if we want to live with Christ for eternity, we need to leave our sinful lifestyles behind us, and we need to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience to his commands. We have to walk, in lifestyle, according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.
Confusion for Some
This causes some people confusion. Some people go overboard one direction and claim that every time we sin we lose our salvation, and that if we should sin, and fail to confess it before we die, we will go to hell, not heaven. This is not grace. And, this is like walking around with a hammer over our heads, so it is definitely not freedom, either.
But, then others take it to the other extreme. They claim that a mere confession of faith in Jesus Christ assures them heaven when they die no matter how they live their lives while they are on this earth, and so they give themselves carte blanche to continue in their sinful practices unhindered. This, also, is not grace, and it certainly is not freedom.
So, how do we know when we have sinned too much? Honestly, I think that is the wrong question, and even by asking that question, it can be an indication of lack of true surrender to Jesus Christ. But, this is what I understand of what scripture teaches on this subject.
True faith in Jesus Christ is evidenced by surrender of our lives to Jesus Christ, by walks of obedience to his commands, and by the forsaking of our sinful practices and our idols.
It doesn’t mean we are sinless, though (see 1 Jn. 2:1-2). It doesn’t mean we will never fail. But, it does mean that sin no longer is our master. It does not control us. We are no longer enslaved to it, but now we are slaves of righteousness. Sin is not what we practice. It is not our habit. Godliness is what we practice. It is our habit. We are continually growing and changing, by God’s grace.
We don’t have a hammer hanging over our heads ready to strike us every time we fail. But, we can’t use our freedom in Christ as free license to continue in sinful practices, either, while claiming heaven as our home. We can’t keep practicing sin and expect God’s grace to just cover it all, or use the excuse of “I’m not perfect” to cover up willful, premeditated and habitual sins, either.
The key is in surrender to Christ. It is in daily dying to sin and self and daily living to him and to his righteousness, by God’s grace, in His power.
Songs in the Night
An Original Work / December 18, 2013
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84
Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.
I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!
Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.
I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!
Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!