Serving Christians Seeking to Live a Holy Life

The Eight Virtues of the Most Successful People

"A Study in 2 Peter"

Leon L. Combs, Ph.D.
Writing Initially Started August 30, 1996

This is a commentary on 2 Peter. This essay examines the concept of success and the eight virtues that guarantee success for those willing to dedicate themselves to the mastering of the techniques required to exhibit these virtues in their lives. The remainder of the essay presents a brief study of the remainder of 2 Peter.

Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION

We are going to examine the eight virtues that the most successful people of all time have in common. But before we start talking about successful people, we must all have the same definition of success. How do we define success? Webster's dictionary says that success is "Favorable termination of a venture; often, specifically, the attainment of wealth, fame, etc." and this definition is certainly one with which most people would agree. Think of a person that most people in the United States would consider very successful: Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, Hillary Clinton, Ross Perot. How about Billy Graham? Well, most people would probably say that they admire Rev. Graham, but probably not classify as one of the most successful.

My wife and I saw a TV movie one time, "The Closer", which was about a very "successful" business man who was a real wheeler-dealer about closing business deals and made a lot of money doing this. The movie had a lot of bad language in it and we almost shut it off several times, but something kept us watching it. Towards the end, things were not going very well in the man's life and in the end scene he is standing on the roof of a building and we hear the quote of Mark 8:36:

"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?"

What a great movie after all, for it demonstrates in a very graphic way the Ecclesiastes answer to Jesus's question.

We also read in 2Cor 4:18, "while we look not at the things which are seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal". This scripture tells us that the only reality is in things which have an infinite lifetime, and that is only the spiritual area of reality. We see then that Jesus was telling us that the only measure of real success pertains to the status of our soul. Thus, real success would be in achieving things related to our soul that last forever. We also read in 1Tim 4:7b-8: "On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come". Now we are getting somewhere in our pursuit for a meaning of success and the attaining of success. A disciplined pursuit of godliness will profit us both in our physical and spiritual life here and in the life to come. This is a double dose of success!

Success then is defined according to how much godliness we attain during our life here on earth.

Now we have a goal: achievement of godliness. So we must discipline ourselves to the attaining of this goal in the same manner that an athlete disciplines himself/herself toward the achieving of the athletic goals or the persons with academic goals or business goals discipline themselves toward the achievement of their goals. We live and breathe the process of attaining the goal. We let nothing interfere with the attainment of the goal. The goal is always foremost in our minds.

Chapter 2

A. THE ANSWERS

So how do we approach this goal of attaining godliness? We find the answer to that question in a study of 2Peter 1:1-11, and we will start with the first verse and examine all the verses in some detail for we see that this goal is of critical importance and will give real meaning to our lives and to the question of "Why am I here?"

The following numbers correspond to the paragraph numbers in the first chapter of Second Peter.

1. First we see who wrote this letter. The author is Peter who was an apostle and a bondservant of Jesus Christ. A bondservant is one who was a servant to someone and, after being set free, willingly becomes a servant to someone else. The Christian's freedom was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ (1Peter 1:18,19 and 1Cor 6:19-20). We Christians were once servants to Satan, but after Jesus paid for our freedom from that slavery, we now are willing servants of Jesus. As His servants we want to do his will and to obey His commands. We also see that this letter is written to those who have received a faith. We see in Rom 12:3 that God has allotted to His children a measure of faith. We, today, are children of God (John 1:11) so we have also received this faith and thus Peter is also writing this letter to us readers of today. So let us read on.

2. There are many rewards for life today mentioned in this verse. Our grace and peace can be multiplied -- not added, but multiplied to us now. How? Our grace and peace can be multiplied by knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. This word knowledge occurs 11 times in this short letter. The knowledge of God is a central theme of the Bible. Many false teachers claim to know God (Titus 1:16). But false knowledge does not lead to a multiplication of grace and peace.

3. True knowledge will lead to a multiplication of grace and peace in our lives and provides everything we need for our spiritual life. This is really good news! All this is granted to us by His divine power so we know that it will not ever fail.

4. We can become partakers of the divine nature. His promises are ours. We can sit at the table with God and receive His blessings endlessly. The fact that God will share his nature with us is a concept that is as difficult to understand as why He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us while we were sinners. We are His adopted sons and daughters and, as such are joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Incredible. I worry about you if the concept of being adopted children of God doesn't excite you.

B. THE VIRTUES

5. Now we start detailing the eight virtues of a highly successful person. The three verses (2 Peter 1:5,6,7) tell us these virtues. They are like a ladder; the attaining of one leads to the next, and so on. But note where they all start: faith. Without faith, nobody can have these virtues, and only Christians can have faith as we have seen above. So in our faith we supply moral excellence. This moral excellence is, of course, as taught in the Bible. We then see that the world cannot accept our Biblical moral standards because they don't have faith.

6. After we have attained some knowledge, we add self-control, or self-discipline. This is the opposite of the excess of the world. Having self-control means that we do not let our lusts, any kind of lusts, rule our activities.

Having added self-control to our virtues we can now add perseverance. Having perseverance means that we now view the unfolding of time with God's eyes. In 2Peter3: 8-9 we read: "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."

Seeing the unfolding of time with God's eyes means that we will not count the sufferings of this age as comparable to the magnificence of what waits for us. We will persevere as we fix our eyes on Jesus and seek first His kingdom.

Having added perseverance, we are now ready to add godliness to our virtues. This virtue means that we have a very practical awareness of God in every aspect of our life. We begin to learn what it means to pray without ceasing. We begin to learn how to look at every aspect of life from God's perspective.

7. Now we are ready to add kindness to our virtues. You think it strange that it took this long to get to be kind? You think that you are already a kind person? Well you probably are, but what is described here is "philadelphia", the kind of love that we have for brothers and sisters. This kindness is a love for those within the family, a very special feeling about the people that leads us to actions of love toward them. This love utilizes all the preceding virtues to show love toward others. So this virtue goes beyond our usual definition of kindness.

But now we are ready for the top rung of the ladder, the most magnificent virtue of all: Christian love. This love is "agape" and results in self-sacrificing action for another as described in 1 Cor 13. This love goes beyond kindness and is toward anyone, regardless of his actions toward us. God showed that love for us: John 3:16 and we are to be ready to show it toward our brothers and sisters in Christ: 1 John 3:16, "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (As an aside, note how John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16 tie together.)

8. Now we see that if we indeed have these virtues as an integral part of our being, and if they are continuing to increase as we apply them, then we lead a useful, fruitful life for Christ. How do they continue to increase? Well, the ladder is actually a ladder whose step 9 is step 1 again, but at a different level. As we have climbed up to have Christian love, we are now able to develop a deeper faith, an even better moral excellence, more knowledge, more self-control, more perseverance, more godliness, more kindness, and even a higher level of Christian love which can then lead to an even better moral excellence, etc. And our perseverance helps us to continue this spiral ladder as it leads us closer to the kingdom of God in our life. Stop a minute and visualize this spiral ladder with its 8 rungs continuing to lead into the heavens.

9. I can't amplify on this verse. It is very clear: " For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins." This is a severe admonition to those who do not have these virtues as an integral part of their life!

10. Now, another aspect of these virtues. As long as we practice these 8 virtues, we will never stumble! Anyone never stumble? Me neither. But, we have the secret here to being able to live a life for Christ without ever stumbling. When we do stumble, look back at the rungs of the ladder and see what you were lacking when you stumbled. Then you have the reason for your stumbling and you can do something about it. Renew your determination, your dedication to the virtues and continue climbing.

11. Now the real payoff. Not only do these virtues magnify the grace and peace in our life here, but also by becoming experts in them we have our entrance into the Kingdom modified. Those who diligently pursue holiness with the amplification of these 8 virtues in their lives will be abundantly welcomed into the Kingdom, not as one who "barely makes it" (1Cor 3:15 -- all who have Christ as their Lord will be welcomed into the Kingdom, but some will enter a little singed.) Some will receive the pat on the back (Matt 25:21) more than others. The analogy here in the Scripture is to the Olympic champion who won the gold medal and is coming home. The hometown people would prepare a hole in the city wall with the person's name over it in honor of the gold medal winner. In the same way, we have an entrance into heaven with our name over it. The more virtuous our life, the more magnificent is our entrance. What a great thought to prompt us up the ladder here.

Chapter 3

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Now let us look at a primer for obtaining these virtues in our life. We are ready for the pilgrimage that will last a lifetime. Let us take the steps one at a time, just like climbing a ladder. On the first day of every week, Sunday, take just one aspect of each step as suggested below. After we have completed step eight, we continue spiraling upward with another step on Faith, etc. When do we stop climbing? We shouldn't stop until God stops us!

Step One: Faith

As a first step, we must have faith. This step is the foundational step and all other steps are based upon it. Thus we must examine ourselves to make certain that we are indeed disciples of Jesus Christ. Having that assurance, we can then begin to study more deeply about faith. So faith is step one and later will become step nine as we start over again in our study. Faith is such an important first step that you might want to spend two weeks on it. Some critical Scriptures to read are Heb 11:1; 12:2; Rom 12:3; and Rom 10:17. Also note that our faith can grow (2 Cor 10:15). I have also included all the places that faith appears in the Bible at then end of this paper as appendix I. I think that the concept of correct faith is so important that I have attached another paper that I wrote on faith at the end of this paper as appendix II. So please read the article on Faith, read some of the Scriptures on faith, and pick someone in the Bible that you can see how his/her faith influenced his/her life. Be sure to spend some of your time meditating on some of these Scripture verses during the week.

Step Two: Moral Excellence

So in our faith we supply moral excellence. This moral excellence is, of course, as taught in the Bible. We also see here that the world cannot accept our Biblical moral standards because they do not have faith. Our attitude about God's law should be as in

Psa 119:97 "O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day."

So I suggest that we now spend a week studying the First Commandment as told to us in Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before Me."

Whatever is loved, feared, delighted in, or depended upon more than God has become a god to us. We must also differentiate between a god and an idol for the Second Commandment deals with idols. My understanding is that a "god" is an abstract concept and an idol is a physical something that someone has made that is worshipped. People make up "gods" all the time. Any time we modify our understanding of God by taking from or adding to the Biblical description of God, we have made a "god". We might hear people say that "God is love and He would not send anyone to hell." That concept of God is false and therefore those people worship a god. Here are some other errors that can turn the worship of God into the worship of a god: Jesus was not born of a virgin, Jesus was not God, Jesus was not resurrected from the dead, Jesus could not forgive sins, Jesus was just a great teacher. Read 2 Cor 11 for warnings against another Jesus, a different spirit, a different gospel, false apostles, and false brethren. We then need to pay especial attention to 2 John 1:9:

"Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son."

So we spend this week studying and meditating on the First Commandment and some of its ramifications. We will think about ways that we have not abided in the teaching of Christ, and worshipped a false god. Also we will pick a couple of people in the Bible and study the difference made in their lives by not breaking the First Commandment (Daniel and Job are suggestions). Also pick a couple of people who broke the First Commandment and see the result of such actions (Ahab, Jehoram, and Achan are suggestions).

Step Three: Knowledge

After moral excellence has been added, we then add knowledge. What knowledge should we try to add? We know that all worldly knowledge is of no value from the eternal perspective and we want knowledge that has value beyond this life. So the knowledge that we want to add is knowledge about God. And how do we obtain this knowledge? We read, study, meditate, and pray in the Word of God. We continually learn more about the one who loved us so much that He sent His son to die for us. So we need to pick some attribute of God that we want to add to our knowledge base. I suggest that we begin with the holiness of God and spend a week studying it. We read in Isa 6:3:

"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts."

This is the only attribute of God that is repeated three times in the Bible. God is love, but it is not repeated three times. So holiness is the primary attribute of God. Holiness must never be violated by utilizing some other attribute. In other words, God's love for someone will never mean that the sins of that person will be allowed to go unpunished for that would violate the holiness of God. We read in Rev 15:4:

"Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For Thou only art holy."

Only God is holy and some time everyone will fear His holiness.

God's holiness is revealed in His works. We read in Psa 145:17:

"The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works."

He declared the original creation good, because He had made it. The creation remained holy until sin entered it. Although the creation is now corrupt, we can still learn about the holiness of God from studying the creation (Rom 1:20). A temptation about studying the creation to learn about God is that we can become so enraptured with the marvel of the creation that it becomes an idol, so we need to guard against that happening in such a study.

God's holiness is revealed in His law. We read in Rom 7:12:

"So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good." We also read in Psa 19:8,9:"The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord s pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether."

Therefore we should love the Law and meditate on it day and night. Josiah 8:1

"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success."

By studying His Law we can then obtain knowledge about the holiness of God.

Because God is holy, He hates all sin (John 3:36, Psa 5:5, Psa 7:11). God's will is that some day we will be holy (1 Peter 1:16) and some day He will sanctify us totally (1 Thess 5:23). Before the Holy God, I am now holy, because the payment of Jesus as been appropriated to me, and now when God looks at me He sees the holiness of Jesus. However I am not now totally sanctified, because I still have a sinful nature that reveals itself all too frequently. When I die, I will then be totally sanctified outwardly and inwardly. Praise God!

So spend the week studying the above Scriptures and others on the holiness of God. An excellent text is R. C. Sproul's book titled "The Holiness of God".

Step Four: Self Control

Now let us use the previous two steps to build this next step. Using your knowledge of the holiness of God, consider how you can build on your self-control regarding the first commandment. For example, one god that we could have is money. How does worshipping money interfere with the achieving of God's holiness in our life? Let's look at a few Scriptures on self-control to help us develop a plan for the week:

1Cor 9:25-27 "And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then {do it} to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

"The games" is a reference to the Olympic Games of which everyone was aware. If you or someone you know was/is a professional track athlete, you understand what Paul means here. A track star must dedicate his/her entire life to the event(s) in which they participate. Having done a bit of it myself, I certainly can understand. One has to build "muscle memories" for every stage of the events so that he/she does not have to think about what the muscles are to do. Every stage of the event must be played over and over in the mind of the athlete to visualize everything that is happening during the event. Diet and exercise must be completely under self-control. All thoughts must be under self-control as no negative thoughts can be allowed to enter the mind of the athlete. The day of the event means total concentration on the event and all else has to be kept out of his/her mind. During the running or throwing of the event, all the self-control physically and mentally comes to a peak as all strength and will of the athlete is poured out into the competition. All of this activity and self-control is awesome and admirable, but note what Paul says about it: "they do it to receive a perishable wreath". The wreath of flowers will certainly not last long and if the athlete also receives a gold medal, that too will perish with time.

Note Paul also says "but we an imperishable". We must go through exactly what the athlete does all of our life, and our reward is imperishable. Imperishable means that it will never tarnish, it will never fade, it will never go away, it will always be shining bright as the sun! Because Paul notes that the reward is so important, look at what he says next: "Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified." Our "muscle memories" become translated as spiritual memories that come into play whenever we practice the life of the Christian. We don't have to think about them. They are a habit just as the muscle memories are for the athlete. We have to train to keep our lusts under control and the best way to control one bad habit is to substitute for it a good habit. So whenever we are tempted let our spiritual training immediately substitute a spiritually based response. For example if gossiping is a bad habit that one has, when the temptation comes to gossip again, let our tongue immediately respond with something good to say about the person.

We must then run with a goal (Heb 12:1,2) and we must control our body to make it our slave. All temptations that come our way must be dealt with swiftly and completely. Look at what can happen to someone who does not control his lusts:

James 1:14 "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." It is the person who does not practice self-control who gets carried away by his own lust.

Self-control is also a fruit of the spirit:

Gal 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

Also note the reaction of Felix when Paul was preaching righteous, self-control, and the judgment to come as reported in Acts 24:24

"But some days later, Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul, and heard him {speak} about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, "Go away for the present, and when I find time, I will summon you.""

It was when Paul got to the part about self-control in righteousness and judgment that Felix became frightened. Felix knew that if he listened to more of this and became convinced of the truth then he could no longer do much of what he was doing such as the orgies and other such events that the leaders of his day practiced regularly. A severe change of lifestyle would be required and he was afraid of such a commitment. He also did not want to hear about the judgment that would result for failure to commit to a faith in Christ.

As Christians we know what are the righteous things to do and we know that there will be judgment for us for not doing them. It is to our great advantage that we work on developing the self-control needed to control our lusts and to do what is the righteous thing to do.

Study someone in Scripture who did not control his lusts and did not practice self-control and study the consequences of his actions (certainly David comes to mind in this instance). Then study someone who did practice self-control as an example for us. Apply what you have learned from steps one, two, and three to step four in whatever way God leads you. Be honest with yourself and with God!

Step Five: Perseverance

This virtue means to view time with God's eyes. 2Peter 3:8 tells us

"But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

If we could view one day as if it were drawn out over one thousand years then we could clearly view every minute detail of it. If we could view one thousand years as in one day then we would see the big picture. Only God has the total perspective on everything, so we trust Him and continue to pursue His goals. We just keep plowing ahead, keeping our eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:1,2).

Is perseverance something that we generate totally on our own? Since I asked the question, you probably are suspicious about your answer being "yes". So we read Rom 15:5

"Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus;"

We see that indeed it is God who gives us perseverance. We must practice it to make it a daily part of our life. You know, the more we learn about what God does for us, the less room we have for any pride! We are told that we must repent, and that is true, but where does the repentance come from? I can hear you saying "Oh, no, is he going to say that repentance comes from God also?" Well, let's just read it in the Book in 2 Tim 2:25

"with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,"

It is good that we find out more about what God does for us, for our life should be devoid of any pride in ourselves and total glory and praise to God for all that He does for us. When tough times come and we see members of the visible church not persevere, we have to remember sadly the words of John in 1 John 2:19

"They went out from us, but they were not {really} of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but {they went out,} in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us."

Remember the parable about the sower (Luke 8: 1-15)? The parable ends as Jesus explains it and His last explanation is in Luke 8:15

"And the {seed} in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance."

The seed is the Word of God, the good soil is the person that God has prepared with an honest and good heart, and whom God has granted perseverance so that the person can bear fruit, which is manifest in our lives by the Holy Spirit.

Here are the Scripture references to perseverance: Luke 8:15; Rom 2:7, 5:3-4, 8:25, 15:4-5; 2 Cor 12:12; Eph 6:18; 2 Thes 1:4; 1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 3:10; Tit 2:2; 2 Pet 1:6; Rev 1:9, 2:2-3, 2:19, 3:10, 13:10, 14:12.

The word "persevere" only appears once in Scripture in 1 Tim 4:16

"Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you."

To study this virtue, I suggest that we study one person who personified this virtue: Moses. Although he too had his failures, and one cost him his entrance into the earthly promised land, he did practice perseverance that God gave him. It is also important that we consider a time in our life when we persevered through some difficult times without wavering appreciably from the goal set before us by Christ. Then begin to think about what you are going through now in your life and apply this perseverance virtue to that time. Remember Rom 5:3-5

"And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

A reward of the application of this virtue is peace within, a peace that passes all understanding. Now you can reap the peace of the perseverance that you sowed.

Step Six: Godliness

This virtue leads to a very practical awareness of God in every aspect of our life. I think that we are beginning to understand this from practicing the preceding steps.

For our study, here are all of the Scriptures that mention "godliness": 1 Tim 2:2; 2:10; 3:16; 4:7; 4:8; 6:3; 6:5; 6:6; 6:11; 2 Tim 3:5; Tit 1:1; 2 Pet1:3; 1:6; 1:7; 3:11. It does seem that "godliness" was an important concept for Paul's letter to Timothy, doesn't it? Let us now take a few of these verses and see what they can confer to us about godliness.

The Scripture paints a very ugly picture of men at the end times (these very unfavorable characteristics are areas of vulnerability for men). Look at 2 Tim 3:1-5:

"But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these."

Since these men will be holding to a form of godliness, it must be a virtue still to be admired in the culture in which they are living. However they will deny the power behind the godliness, that is, the God of godliness. So these men will be men who perhaps are pasturing a "church", or men who are televangelists, or in some other "church" role. We have seen some such men in our times, who have believed as indicated in 1 Tim 6:3-5:

"If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited {and} understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain."

Such men may have started out as leaders of a sound doctrinal ministry, but who then became embroiled in discussing issues around the meaning of such concepts as the virgin birth, the resurrection of Christ, the true words of Christ, etc. Being not really possessing saving faith these men then got carried away from the sound doctrinal ministry into a cult of some sort. Perhaps they started a ministry around prosperity, that God intended everybody to be prosperous in this world. Or perhaps they entered a ministry that promised health for everyone; that God intended everyone to be physically healed in this world of all ailments and afflictions. Or perhaps they entered a ministry in which they promised security from the world and love within their isolated community if the people would flee from the world and give all of their possessions to that particular ministry. I think that we can all see many possibilities, some of which we can see have already occurred. Remember that these perturbations of the truth originated from minds that saw godliness as a virtue that was admired by their culture and that would lead them to worldly gains.

And who does the Bible say will be the people who are the primary attractants to such false religions? Look at 2 Tim 3: 6-7:

"For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

We saw an awful role for some men previously, and now we see an equally awful role for some women. These traits are then characteristics that women must guard against. Generally speaking it is easier for women to be carried away by emotions than for men to be so carried away. This Scripture describes some women who are weighed down by sins, and these sins could be their own or the sins of members of their family or friends. The Scripture says that they are led on by various impulses, which are quick reactions that are not carefully studied (could be emotional impulses). The Scripture also says that these women are always learning, but are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. So these women could be women who are in as many Bible studies and self-help groups as they can find time to attend, but none of these studies are able to help them with their problems. They are never able to really understand what they study in these various groups. Then along comes a man who offers compassion, understanding, and uses some Scripture out of context to lure the woman into his group. Having lured the women into the group, he then works on the woman to get the entire family into the group. The man sees that his wife seems to be much happier and content so he wants to find out what is going on. If the man is also not firmly rooted in the faith, then he too will be drawn into the false ministry. Does anybody out there see any similarities to anything that has been publicized in our time?

Well, the above is an application of false godliness. What about true godliness? Let's read 1 Tim 6:6-12:

"But godliness {actually} is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance {and} gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

This Scripture is a continuation of what we read previously about men seeing godliness as a form of gain. Paul says that indeed true godliness is a means of great gain. Of course he is not talking about worldly gain. He goes on to say that godliness can be of great gain if we are truly content with what God has given us in the world. Those who are not content can b led into some of the traps that we have seen above. Note that Paul says that we are to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. So true godliness is only present in a person who is truly content. John Piper has a great saying: "God is most glorified in our lives when we are the most satisfied in Him". That saying certainly addresses contentment in God, doesn't it? So a good question for us is "Are we really satisfied in Him now?" Apply that to many different areas of your life: family, home, work, friends, etc.

This week then let us all study ourselves and see if we indeed are truly content with what God has given us now. Let's also study a person who exhibited godliness in his/her life. The person who demonstrated much godliness in his life to me was Paul. There are many other heroes such as John Wesley, Billy Graham, C. S. Lewis, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Watchman Nee, John Calvin, John Bunyan, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, etc. I mentioned these others for your reference for future weeks of studies on godliness. For this first week on this study, let us take the life of Paul and examine it from the perspective of how he was so aware of God in every aspect of his life.

Also take some time during the week to purposely ensure that you are aware of God's presence in your life in some times where you might not usually have such awareness. A common example might be in some aspect of your work, or in some aspect of your home life.

Step Seven: Brotherly Kindness

This is a special love ("philadelphia") that we have for people of the family of God. The word is also used in Rom 12:10, 1Thes 4:9, Heb 13:1, and 1 Pet 1:22 and I suggest that we study these verses for context. So let's first look at Rom 12:10

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;"

God says that we are to be devoted to one another and to honor others above ourselves. Are we truly devoted to other members of the family of God? One way we can tell about our devotion involves how we honor others. To honor means to give recognition and to show appreciation. Since this recognition and appreciation is based upon the other person being a new creation in Christ, the honor is based not upon the external characteristics of the person (attractiveness, human charisma, etc.), but the inward characteristics (righteousness, peace, joy, etc.).

Now let's look at 1 Thes 4:9:

"Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for {anyone} to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;"

Taught by God does not refer to any Old Testament Scripture such as Lev 19:18 or even the teachings of Jesus as in John 13:14. This phrase refers to a divine relationship with the indwelling Holy Spirit (1Thes 4:8 "Consequently, he who rejects {this} is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you." And John 6:45: "It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me."). At conversion, each believer becomes a lifelong learner with the Holy Spirit as the teacher and the Holy Spirit bears witness of the unique family love that exists between members of the Family of God.

Now let's look at Heb 13:1:

I started with Heb 12:28 for in verse 13:1 the writer begins to show us ways in which we can show gratitude to God for what He has done for us. One of these commands is to let the love of the brethren continue. "Continue" is present perfect tense, which means that it never ceases, it is always continuing. Nothing should separate us from the love of other members of the Family of God.

Finally in 1 Peter 1:22 we read:

"Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,"

As obedient children of God, an evidence of such a state is our sincere love of other members of the Family of God. Look at a Scripture verse that tells us characteristics that should NOT exist between or among members of the Family of God:

Gal 5:26 "Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another."

The "us" refers to children of God. These three awful characteristics often do exist between and among children of God and we must fight against such happening to us. As a Biblical example, let us take the case of Jonathan and David who exhibited this type of love for each other. Then we can think about the actions of this Sunday School class when the people have ministered in love to other members in need. Such is wonderful "philadelphia". Also try to think of one action that you can purposefully do this week for some brother (or sister) in Christ.

Step Eight: Christian Love

Now we have reached the real "toughie". There is no way that any person can do this one on his own. This is a self-sacrificing action love for another human being (fellow Christian or not). Some verses are John 3:16, 1John 3:16, 1John 4:7-20, and all of 1Cor 13. Jesus Christ is the primary example of this love. He died for us while we were yet sinners. The depths of this love are awesome and probably not attainable for us while we are in this body. This week let us meditate on the love ("agape") of Christ for us as our example. Read the above and other Scriptures relating to the love of Christ. The next time we come to this step, we could add Joseph and his attitude toward his family and other enemies. Although we can never get to the bottom of studying the love of Christ, it is good to add some other people to the study. In future studies come back to the love of Christ.

Now think about one person (not a fellow believer) that you can show some aspect of this love towards. One way we can show this love is by not responding in a worldly way toward someone who wrongs us. Instead of getting mad at that person who takes your parking place, you can think thoughts of love toward that person. Instead of honking and getting mad at the person who cuts in front of you on the interstate, you can focus love thoughts at that person (Romans 12:14). I guarantee you that if you want to practice this virtue; God will give you plenty of opportunities!

Step Nine: Faith

Now we start to climb even higher by using all of the above steps to add to each of the virtues even more depth. Faith is a gift of God and not something that we generate. However our faith does mature: "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom 10:17) and our studying of the word of God then grows our faith. So we come back to faith and study it again in light of all the previous studies. You will see aspects of faith that never occurred to you before. Take your concordance and study more verses on faith. Pick other people from the Bible who demonstrated exceptional faith and study their lives. Think of times in your life when your faith carried you through some rough times.

Step Ten: Moral Excellence

I suggest that we take the Second Commandment now for a week and then climb to another level of self-control, etc. After we progress through Christian Love again, we then continue until all Ten Commandments are covered. Then we will go where God leads us to elaborate on more aspects of faith.

Keep a notebook as you continue to practice these virtues for the rest of your life.

As we study and practice these steps of the ladder, we will also be studying much of the Bible for there are many Scripture verses related to these steps. As you read your Bible on your daily studies outside of these steps, also let your mind think about how your other studies relate to these steps. For example, Rom 12:9-21 gives us some guidelines on how to act out our Christian nature. But all of these attributes of a Christian will be developed from our study.

Always have a partner, at least one, in your studies of these steps for sharing of your mutual insights will aid each of you in your spiritual growth "up the ladder". The best partner to have is the one that God gave you, if you are married and your spouse is a fellow believer. Also make a habit of praying over the Sunday School role that each person will be successful in his or her climb.

May God richly bless you in this endeavor. I will be praying for you.

Now let us continue to study the remainder of the book of 2 Peter.

First read again 2 Peter 1:1-1:15 and meditate on the 8 steps of the sanctification ladder. Then we will be ready to began to study the rest of Peter.

1:16 False teachers had made up cleverly invented stories denying the resurrection of Jesus and the coming kingdom. The coming that Peter references is the second coming of Jesus. That some apostles were eyewitnesses of His majesty refers to the transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8). Peter, James, and John were eyewitnesses of the transfiguration of Jesus and the appearance of Moses and Elijah with Him. Note also that Peter knew that the other two people were Moses and Elijah.

1:17, 18 The transfiguration was witnessed by Peter, James, and John (Matt 17:1-9). They heard the words of the Father saying that He was well pleased with Him and commanding them to listen to Him.

1:19 We have the prophetic word made surer, meaning that we actually see its fulfillment. The dark place refers to the world in which we walk and we must pay close attention to the revelation from God as a lamp (like Psa 119:105). The "day dawns" refers to the Parousia (like also Rom 13:12. Parousia is a Greek word brought into English meaning the Second Coming, Matt 24:1-14). The morning star refers to Jesus (Rev 22:16) and "arises in your hearts" refers to the illuminating transformation that will take place in believers.

1:20-21 Verse 21 tells us that prophecy comes by men moved by the Holy Spirit, as David said in 2 Sam 23:2 and Jer 1:7,9. Men were actually speaking about their individual experience regarding the situation, but God so worked in them that what they said was His word. This prophecy from God is not dictation, but the men were under control of the Holy Spirit so that what they said was indeed God's words. Verse 20 tells us that the prophecies given us by God also have only the meaning originally meant by God and not many different possible interpretations of men. So God guides His people to speak His communication to people and the interpretation must be the one interpretation meant by God. When in doubt about an interpretation, let the Scripture interpret the Scripture.

Chapter 2

2:1 Now remember that what follows is building upon what we have just studied, and in particular 1:20-21. People do try to twist the Word of God to their purposes and Israel has been plagued by false prophets (Deut 13:1-5; 8:20; 1 Kings 18:19; 22:6; Jer 5:31; 23:9-18). The "people" always refers to Israel. Now Peter tells us that the church also will be attacked by such false prophets (also Acts 20:29). These false prophets will bring their destructive teachings into the church to deceive people (Gal 2:4, 2Coe 11:13-15). The central point of all such heresy is Jesus Christ as the false teachers seek to create another Jesus (2 Cor 11:4) more suited to their goals.

2:2 False teaching that brings pleasure or happiness to the hearers has always been a problem, particularly if it involves sensual activity (1 Peter 4:3-5). The knowledge of God should lead to a godly life. How awful that Christ would be given the credit for an ungodly life style. Those who profess Christ on Sunday and live life otherwise also bring dishonor to God. On my way to work this morning I saw a young woman driving recklessly and when we stopped at a light, I saw the fish symbol containing the word "Jesus". I then later saw her run a red light. Now perhaps she had some sort of dire emergency that prompted her to drive so dangerously, but it is not uncommon for me to see people driving recklessly with a "Jesus" sticker of some sort on their vehicle. The situation makes me want to lovingly ask them to please either stop driving so dangerously or to take off any reference to Jesus, for they are poor representatives. When we are at work if we act in ungodly ways we also are poor representatives of Jesus. We need to all remember that wherever we go we are always representatives of Jesus, if we indeed are His disciples. Our happiness is not a godly goal. Our joy and the glorification of God are Godly goals for life.

2:3 Another way to spot such false teachers is in their greed. They commercialize religion and we see many cases of such now as we hear teachers talking about prosperity theology: "God wants everyone to be rich". It is really easy to show that this is not a goal of God in our lives.

2:4 Gen 6:2 refers to "sons of God" referring to fallen angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). It then seems that some angels are free to plague mankind as fallen angels (demons) and some are imprisoned as stated here.

2:5 Noah is also called a righteous man in Gen 6:9. We see the righteous judgment of God here, sparing only 8 people. Seeing what Noah did after getting on dry land makes us wonder a bit about the righteousness of Noah, but God does show us that even His people can still sin.

2:6 This destruction is also an example to the ungodly of what awaits them (Gen 19:24-28).

2:7-8 It may seem strange to call Lot righteous for he had to be dragged out of Sodom (Gen 19:16). But God rescued Lot by His grace just as he rescued me while I was a sinner (Rom 5:8). God also had to drag me as He does everyone as stated in John 6:44 "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day". Peter may have then inferred Lot's righteousness since he was delivered before the wrath of God destroyed the cities. To what extent are Christians today living in a godless society tormented by what we see?

2:9 This is comforting for the Christian and should be terrifying to the ungodly.

2:10 Some special people reserved for special wrath are sexual perverts and despisers of authority (because their rebellion against authority reveals their true heart of rebellion against God). Such people respect no one and nothing restrains them. They don't even show any fear when they blaspheme angelic majesties. They believe in nothing but themselves.

2:11 Even angels, more powerful than men or fallen angels (Rev 12:7,8) don't bring charges against these cruel people before God. I presume that this means that the angels respect that God already has plans to take care of such people (2:9b).

2:12 These people have no true knowledge of God (2 Peter 1:3) but that doesn't hinder their arrogance. They are truly dead people (Eph 2:5) destined for destruction. Few people that I see today who are so angry against Christians for Whom they represent have much real knowledge about the Bible and about God. They usually make claims such as the Bible is full of errors, but they cannot identify any of the supposed errors.

2:13 These are such awful people. We normally think of most evil being done at night (1 Thess 5:7), but these people participate in their evil in the daytime. They have no shame. They parade their sins before the public and claim to be righteous (remember that there are false prophets. With all they do it is hard to remember that they claim godliness!). We see churches ordaining homosexuals. We see homosexuals parading in Atlanta and praising Atlanta for being such a welcome place for them.

2:14 It gets worse! They want to turn church gatherings into a time of dissipation. They desire every woman that they see. The unstable are those without a firm foundation who are easily persuaded to some other way. We are supposed to be firmly established in the truth (2 Peter 1:12) and thus inherently resistant to such abominations. It is especially important for us to be discerning children of God judging teachings by the Word of God at all times. Young Christians who have not yet developed a firm foundation need to be protected and taught by more mature Christians.

2:15-16 The false teachers resemble Balaam who loved money and pursued it instead of obeying God (Num 22:5-24:25). Balaam also taught immorality (Num 31:16; Rev 2:14). The false teachers then are slaves to the love of money and sexual impurity. Actually Balaam was rebuked (Num 22:27-35) by the donkey and by the Angel of the Lord.

2:17 Christ provides a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:13-14). These false prophets have no such water. They have nothing to offer except an appeal to the lusts of the world. Our enemies remain the world, Satan, and the flesh, and they are just as active today as they were thousands of years ago. The false prophets have a date with black darkness, and we must keep that firmly in our mind.

2:18 Since these false teachers have nothing to offer, they don't appeal to the more mature, discerning Christian but to the people who have just been attracted to Christianity. Thus soon it will become clear, which of the seeds on the soil parable the people really are (Matt 13:3-23).

2:19 They promise freedom, but freedom from what? They themselves are slaves to sin (Rom 6:16-20)

So their offer of freedom must be from righteousness, but they are slaves to sin just as we once were. Everyone is a slave to something. They were free in regard to righteousness and we presume that they were trying to entice these new Christians to free themselves from righteousness, but such "freedom" would just put them back to being slaves to sin! An empty offer!

2:20 This is a difficult passage, but to us it certainly does not mean that someone can lose his or her salvation, if indeed such salvation was real. We also cannot be sure who "they" are, but to me it can mean both the false teachers and the people in the church who are not really Christians (2 Cor 13:5; 2 Tim 2:18-19; 1 John 3:7,8; 2:19). These people knew Christ in the sense that they had been to the church services, heard who Jesus was, perhaps believed who Jesus was (James 2:19 "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.") But they had not put a true faith in Jesus so they were not saved people. Once knowing who Christ really is, and then in effect crucifying Him again, is unforgivable. So these people are apostates. A similar passage to this is Heb 6: 4-6; 10:26.

Heb 6:4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
Heb 6:5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
Heb 6:6 and {then} have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.

Heb 10:26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

2:21 The "sacred commandment" is the whole of the Christian doctrine, including ethical behavior. We are judged by what we know. Remember Jesus said:

Luke 23:34 "But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves."

It would be better in the final judgment for the people to have not known the truth than to have known it and to have then rejected it.

2:22 People will eventually reveal who they really are. An unregenerate person can make a "profession of faith" and serve in a church in any capacity (SS teacher, deacon, elder, pastor, etc.) but if the person is not truly a regenerate person, that person will eventually reveal his/her true character by returning to the environment in which he/she is really still a part. I have seen this happen a number of times and it is such a sad event to see someone like that leave the church and go into a life in the world with no hint of ever having had any Christian character.

Chapter Three

3:1 Peter admits that this is the second nagging letter that he has written them. Remember 2 Peter 1:13 in which he said that as long as he lived he would continue to stir them up by way of reminder. When we commit to the Lord, we commit to His people, and that commitment lasts as long as we live in this body. Nagging of our brothers and sisters in Christ is an obligation that we have. Have you nagged someone lately?

3:2 And exactly what is it that we should keep nagging them about? We all need someone to keep reminding us to remember everything that is written in the Scriptures. It is not enough to study some few minutes every morning. We must study the whole Bible and remember what we read. That means that we keep it all on our minds and everything that we do should in some way remind us of some portion of Scripture.

3:3 "Knowing this first of all" means that we should always remember that there will "always" be people mocking the church and the Christians. It should not surprise us when we see and hear the mocking, but we should not let it bother us. The mockers are in a spiritual battle, even though they may not know it, and they are waging war against the One that they say is not who He said that He was. So we don't take such mockery as a personal assault against us individually, but an assault against God. God is not worried!

3:4 These mockers are going to come around saying that we are so foolish to be putting our trust in the words of Christ who said that He would return. They will say that He has not returned and that all of creation is just going forward in its evolutionary path, guided by nothing but some basic laws of the universe that have been operating since the beginning. They might say "Isn't two thousand years long enough to wait for this supposed 'second coming'? Come on and get on with life with the rest of us who do not trust in any such nonsense."

3:5 The sayings of the mockers reveal that they do not know the true origin of the universe. They don't know that creation was formed by the word of the One Whom they mock. They don't know that it was God Himself Who spoke the heavens into existence and Who formed the earth out of the water and by water. I am reminded of Job chapters 38 and 39. How dare the created question the wisdom of the Creator! Here are a few verses from Job:

Job 38:1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
Job 38:2 "Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge?
Job 38:3 "Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
Job 38:4 "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell {Me,} if you have understanding,
Job 38:5 Who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it?
Job 38:6 "On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone,
Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Job 38:8 "Or {who} enclosed the sea with doors, When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
Job 38:9 When I made a cloud its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band,
Job 38:10 And I placed boundaries on it, And I set a bolt and doors,
Job 38:11 And I said,' Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop'?
Job 38:12 "Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, {And} caused the dawn to know its place;
Job 38:13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it?

3:6 These mockers don't know that it was God Himself Who destroyed the world one time with water. That was the first worldwide judgment. The second great judgment will be universal and these mockers will included in the judgment at the time set by God at the beginning of time:

Isaiah 46:10 "Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying,' My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure';"

3:7 Not only did God create everything, He also is maintaining everything, the heavens and the earth, in its existence and He has set a time of judgment and destruction for the ungodly such as these mockers. By His word He created everything and by His word He is holding it all together. Now I certainly don't understand this, but it gives me great comfort to know that the Sovereign God Himself is in control of keeping the heavens and the earth functioning until the time of judgment established also by Him. Note also:

Col 1:17 "And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."

3:8 We must always remember that God is not limited by time. He created time, and so He controls it also and is not controlled by what He has created. Augustine also realized that the creation included the creation of time (Gen 1:1). Peter takes God's time perspective from Psa 90:4

Psa 90:4 "For a thousand years in Thy sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or {as} a watch in the night."

Getting impatient is a human problem, not God's problem. There are many Biblical warnings against being anxious (there are several in Matthew 6), which also occurs when we let our time constraint interfere with our judgment in spiritual matters. Note also God's help for us when we do become anxious:

Psa 94:19 "When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Thy consolations delight my soul."

We should certainly never let the mockers disturb our peace with God, for we fervently want to have His perspective on life.

3:9 Some people may say that the Lord is slow to come back, but His timing is perfect as it always has been. We have to be careful with the portion of the verse that says "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance". Some say that this verse is teaching universalism, but we know that the rest of the Bible does not teach universalism, so this can't be the meaning here. We have to realize to whom Peter was writing:

2 Peter 1:1" Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:"

So Peter is writing to those who have received faith from God, and not to everyone in the world. And who has received this faith? Those whom God has chosen to receive faith, will receive faith. Faith is a gift of God:

Rom 12:3 "For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith."

Eph 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God;"

For all of those to whom He has given faith, this verse says that He wants all of them to come to repentance and so He will lead them:

Rom 2:4 "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?"

So what this verse says is that God is patiently waiting for all those whom He has chosen to receive His gift of faith and to be led by Him to repentance. [faith belief repentance salvation sanctification glorification]

3:10 We need to always know that the day of the Lord will come when we least expect it (like a thief) and it will come suddenly. At His preordained time, even the very elements themselves will be destroyed with intense heat. The present heavens and the earth that the Lord is maintaining for this Day of Judgment will be destroyed, as will any earthly works done by the present inhabitants.

Joel 2:31 "The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes."

Rev 6:12 "And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth {made} of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;
Rev 6:13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind."

Zeph 3:8 "Therefore, wait for Me, declares the Lord, For the day when I rise up to the prey. Indeed, My decision is to gather nations, To assemble kingdoms, To pour out on them My indignation, All My burning anger; For all the earth will be devoured By the fire of My zeal."

Mark 13:32 "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father {alone.}"

Acts 1:7 "He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;'"

Don't get attached to anything material! Don't waste time trying to guess when all this will happen! My opinion is that those who spend a lot of time trying to determine what we are not allowed to know (Acts 1:7) are procrastinating about their sanctification.

3:11 So since we can't know when this end will come, how should we spend our time as we wait for Him? Since we know that this end will occur one day, what should we be doing now? Well certainly we should be of holy conduct and godliness (2 Peter 1:6). Peter will address other behavior that should be ours a couple of verses later.

3:12 We should be in anticipation of this day that will come quickly and when we least expect it to occur. Our anticipation should be one of peace and joy, knowing that our Sovereign God is on His timetable. But how in the world can we "hasten the coming of the day of the Lord"? Certainly it does NOT mean proceeding faster than God has planned. What it must mean then is a hastening from our time-limited perspective. Well remember above (3:9) we said that God has appointed some people to receive His faith and to be brought to repentance by Him. If we could have some part in what God is doing in giving faith and bringing to repentance, then we would indeed be hastening the time when these people receive these gifts of God. Let us read what Peter himself said regarding this hastening:

Acts 3:19 "Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
Acts 3:20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,
Acts 3:21 whom heaven must receive until {the} period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time."

We also have the following Scriptures to guide us in this question. The first regards prayer and the second regards preaching.

Matt 6:10 "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven."

Matt 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come."

So prayer and preaching are two ways that God uses to bring people to repentance and these things we can and should do. We can then be involved in the hastening of the coming of the Lord!

3:13 The promise of Sovereign God leads us to rest in the assurance that one day there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and only righteousness will dwell in this new creation. It is of this time that Isaiah spoke as noted below. The first verse is a reference of what will eventually come to pass.

ISA 65:17 "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.

This next verse starts with a "but", which introduces an interlude to the final new heavens and new earth - the millennium. Now God goes on to tell us of a new period of time before eternity of God with His people in which there will be no death, sickness, or sadness.

Isa 65:18 "But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem {for} rejoicing, And her people {for} gladness.
Isa 65:19 "I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.
Isa 65:20 "No longer will there be in it an infant {who lives but a few} days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Shall be {thought} accursed.
Isa 65:21 "And they shall build houses and inhabit {them;} They shall also plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
Isa 65:22 "They shall not build, and another inhabit, They shall not plant, and another eat; For as the lifetime of a tree, {so shall be} the days of My people, And My chosen ones shall wear out the work of their hands.
Isa 65:23 "They shall not labor in vain, Or bear {children} for calamity; For they are the offspring of those blessed by the Lord, And their descendants with them.
Isa 65:24 "It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.
Isa 65:25 "The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain," says the Lord.

John saw the vision of the glorious future with no death, sickness, or sadness as recorded in the following.

Rev 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer {any} sea.

This new creation will also only be inhabited by the righteous as noted below.

Rev 21:8 "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part {will be} in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Rev 21:27 and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

What a glorious promise! What a future we have promised us by God!

3:14 With such a future promised land, we should be in complete peace as we wait. We should be diligently seeking a life now that is spotless and blameless. In 2:13, the words used of the false teachers, stains and blemishes, could also be called blots and blemishes. So Peter is telling us not to be like the false teachers and mockers. We should seek after such a life with every fiber of our being as we want to bring glory to the Lord. We already are spotless and blameless before God (Eph 2:5-7), but we are also created for good works that we are to do (Eph 2:10). While we are in this body, we must practice righteousness even more than the professional golfer practices that game. We must be more upset over not being righteous as the golfer is at not making the cut of a tournament.

3:15,16 From what we have learned above, we can see that the patience of the Lord is salvation to many people. If He came back yesterday then the people that are saved today would not have been saved. There will come a day when all the people that God has ordained for salvation will have been saved, and then will come the day of judgment. Peter affirms that Paul has the wisdom of God and that some of Paul's writings are so deep in this God-given wisdom that they take considerable study to understand. Improper exegesis is a problem that the church must always reject. There were people in Peter's time and there are people in our time that are untaught and do not have a proper foundation who contort the Scriptures for their own purpose. We must be very wary of these false teachers and we must be always prepared to see them as who they are. We can only properly recognize false teaching if we ourselves are schooled in the proper understanding of the Scriptures.

3:17,18 We have now been taught by God that there will be false teachers and mockers, so we should be always on guard to recognize them and not be led away from the straight way by them. If we do not judge the teachings properly we could be led astray from our steadfastness to the Word of God. This urging by Peter here also goes back to the sanctification ladder. We should all have the climbing of the steps as our daily goal. Peter then leads us back to the beginning of his letter. Peter now urges us to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus and that we should always give Him the glory.

So now we should go back to the "eight virtues of the most successful people" and continue to climb that ladder as long as the Lord lets us live here. My prayer is that nobody who reads this will let a single day go by without concentrating on at least one of the steps. God will bless your efforts.


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Web Author: Dr. Leon L. Combs
Copyright 2001 by Dr. Leon L. Combs - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED