Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. – 2 Peter 3:14-18
I recently bought a new car. I believe I was treated fairly and that I got a good deal. But there have been times in the past when buying a new car has been a rather unpleasant experience. Think, “Let me go talk to my sales manager.” Or, “What would it take for you to do the deal today?” Thankfully my most recent experience was not so freighted. But I’ve been there. Deception. Manipulation. Bait and switch. Lemons. I’ve had my share of all these.
There is nothing new under the sun. Peter speaks of those who have an even more sinister agenda: being tools of Satan to lead people away from faith in Jesus Christ. The stakes were not simply about getting a good or bad car deal. It wasn’t about avoiding buying a lemon. It was about being carried away to lawlessness and eternal instability.
While it’s not good to be hoodwinked by a dishonest car dealer, it’s far worse when people distort the Word of God for their own purposes, and lead people away from Jesus. Sometimes it’s obvious: Islam nor Buddhism claim to point people to Jesus as the Son of God and our Savior. But there are those who do lead others astray – Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses – claiming to be following the true message of God.
Peter speaks of Paul’s letters here, admitting that some of them are difficult to understand. While that is true, it is also true that when we are well-grounded in the truth of Scripture by means of a very simple rule: if a teaching leads me to repentance from my sin to a confident faith in Jesus as my Savior, it is well-founded. If it leads me to any kind of self-righteousness, self-help, or reliance on anything other than Jesus’ perfect righteousness, reject it for what it is – a lie of Satan.
In short, “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”