As I think about this life and everything that pulls my attention, I am torn because I have so many passions and desires and dreams. While they can be good and used for ministry (every Christ follower is in ministry), the pursuits of this world can actually lead me away from God. In high school, I was preparing for a career in graphic design. I had even completed several college credit courses toward that goal. Graphic design is still a passion of mine, but if I pursued that as a career, it would have been for me, not for God because God wanted me in ministry. Many of you have passions that are so strong within you and that you plan on making a life out of. Some of you have a career in mind, a school to go to, sports to be involved with and these things can be so good; but we are about to read Peter’s warning that these things should not control our lives. Sometimes, we have to deny these worldly pursuits in order to not be drawn away from God, whom we love and who loves us.

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But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God. The heavens will be on fire and be dissolved because of it, and the elements will melt with the heat. But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.

Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found at peace with Him without spot or blemish. Also, regard the patience of our Lord as an opportunity for salvation, just as our dear brother Paul has written to you according to the wisdom given to him. He speaks about these things in all his letters in which there are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.

Therefore, dear friends, since you know this in advance, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of lawless people and fall from 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.[1]

 

Last time, we discovered why God might wait to renew the earth and eliminate all sin, suffering and evil. According to Peter, it is because of God’s desire that all people repent and gain eternal life. God waits to send His judgment on the sinfulness of this world because of His great love and great mercy. He doesn’t desire that any would perish. Here, Peter follows this up by telling people that when God does judge the world, it will happen like a thief coming in the night. God’s wrath will be poured out and all the works of the world will be disclosed (or revealed for what they truly are).

I usually will not teach the Greek, but here I find it important because there are two traditions. The earliest and best manuscripts for this text are written with the verb εὑρεθήσεται, which means “will be found.” Another tradition of manuscripts are written with the verb κατακαήσεται, which means “will be burned up.” These words could mean two completely different things so knowing that both are used here in different manuscripts is important, but I am inclined to believe that the earliest and best word is the correct one.

So, we will say that on the day of the Lord, the works of the world will be revealed for what they truly are, but they will also be tested with fire because that is mentioned earlier in this verse. Peter reminds us that we should conduct ourselves as holy people (this is what he has been urging throughout this letter). We strive for holy conduct (or to do the right things for the right reasons) because we are waiting for the new heavens and the new earth. We live for our eternity, not for our temporary existence on this earth. This is clear in Peter’s letter, and one day no matter how holy we appear to be, our works will be revealed for what they are. Here’s my first challenge. Please do not pretend to be more holy than you are. Be honest about your struggles and strive for true holiness. Strive to genuinely please God because everything will be revealed for what it truly is.

Fakers will be exposed and work that claims to glorify God but doesn’t will be revealed for what it is, so we should not be fakers and our work should be genuine. As I think about this, I have to test everything that I’m doing and be sure that God is my motivation and that I do it for Him, not to glorify others or myself. So on this earth, we do everything we can to make sure we are at peace with God, understanding that God forgives sin and judges the motives of the heart. We stay on our guard, not letting the things of this world keep us from serving God because everything in this world will try to pull our attention from God. This simply means we may have to say “No” to some of the pursuits this world offers to us so that we are not pulled away from God by that pursuit. It is not laziness, it is in fact a prioritization of the things God wants from us over the things that either we desire for ourselves or the worlds desires for us. This is how we invest in our eternity: by choosing not to invest in an earthly reward. I will close just as Peter closes this letter: To Jesus Christ be the glory now and to eternity. Amen.

[1] 2 Peter 3:10-17 (HCSB)

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