26. Wholesome Thinking

Meditations in 2 Peter : 26 :  Wholesome Thinking 

2 Pet  3:1,2    Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.  

In the previous meditation we reflected on the fact that this was Peter’s second reminder letter. Now we need to think some more on why he wrote it. This has come through clearly a number of times, especially in the early part of it, but the fact that he repeats it means he wants us to think about it even more. He didn’t write just because he thought it was a good idea; he wrote because he was aware that his time was limited and he had a burden to ensure that he had done everything possible to ensure that he left the early church with good foundations that would stand in the face of the various forms of opposition that was coming from the enemy. It was a time of great battle for the truth. Satan had failed in his attempts to halt or distract Jesus and the Great Work had been accomplished; there was no taking that back.  But he could try to lead the church astray so that they forgot the basic truths of what had happened and what it meant, and distort the way they saw it,  so they lived lives of struggle just like the rest of the world. Peter is going to do all he can to counter these things.

And so he says now that he has written both these letters first as reminder, and then as prompts to help us to have wholesome thinking. We’ve covered in an earlier meditation our need to be regularly reminded but now he says he wants to stimulate or prompt or stir us to have wholesome thinking. Whatever ‘wholesome thinking’ is, it doesn’t come automatically; we need to be stirred up to reach it. But isn’t this true of all learning – and the Christian faith, as we’ve noted previously, is one big learning curve – that we need stimulating to think. That’s what good teachers are doing constantly, trying to get their students to think for themselves – to think, to reason and to work things out. One of the enemy’s strategies is to get us to focus on the problems and stresses of life from a purely human and godless viewpoint.

So Peter says, I want to stir you to ‘wholesome thinking’. Now those two words are, of course, the words of translators trying to record best what the original meant. The Message version ducks the issue with, “to hold your minds in a state of undistracted attention,” which would suggest that distractions prevent wholesome thinking. J.B.Phillips did, we believe, a slightly better job with “minds uncontaminated by error”.  The NKJV simple speaks of “I stir up your pure minds”.

So ‘wholesome’ thinking is good thinking, healthy thinking, sound thinking, complete or full thinking. But then, thankfully, Peter gives us some help: I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.”   In other words, the sort of thinking that he has in mind is that which focuses on the very basics or foundational truths that he has already in this letter referred to – the revelation of Jesus Christ brought throughout the Old Testament by God’s prophets, spurred on by Him, the revelation of what had happened and who Jesus was, seen in the fulfilment of those prophecies, and attested to by the many witnesses who saw and heard Jesus and so who were also able to pass on his words.

It is the same flow, the same unity, that we have observed previously  but being reiterated by Peter to ensure we take it in – God’s will declared by His prophets, God’s will fulfilled through His Son, God’s will attested to by the apostles and God’s will now passed down to us through His written word.

When we focus on and hold on to, and meditate on these truths and live them out in daily practice, then we may be described as having a ‘wholesome mind’. It is a mind that holds the truths conveyed by God, and it is a mind committed to those truths. It is also a mind that is sufficiently clear about those truths and understands the importance of those truths, that it will also be committed to passing them on to the next generation.

We may also add this sort of mind filters everything in the world through the truth thus received that we have been describing. When we hold the Bible up and let it shine on modern life, it will reveal the failures and foolishness of much modern life. It will also show us the way ahead, the way to live out our lives in accord with God’s design. When we allow it to do that, it will transform us and the world around us as we act as salt and light. THAT is why Peter keeps on repeating these same things in different ways; it is because he knows the potential of the truth to change the world, as long as we hang on to it and live it out! May it be so!

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25. A Second Reminder

Meditations in 2 Peter : 25 :  A Second Reminder

2 Pet  3:1,2    Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.

There are those who question whether 1 Peter is in fact Peter’s first letter referred to here, but we would suggest the links are very strong. Peter says he has written them as reminders. At the beginning of this letter he stated, “I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body.” (1:12,13)

Yes, they were established Christians but he was going to keep on reminding them of the basics, which is exactly what we find in 1 Peter: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pet 1:3-5) There were the basics – God our father, Jesus our Saviour who brought us through the new birth to be receivers of an inheritance, lived out today and reassured by his death and resurrection, and kept for eternity. They are all there.

But he’s gone to some trouble in this present letter to remind us that the truth is assured because he and the other apostles were eyewitnesses of that which the prophets of old had spoken and which was now fulfilled. He had spoken of this in his previous letter: “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” (1 Pet 1:10,11)

In this letter he has instructed, “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.” (1:10). In the former letter, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.” (1 Pet 1:13,14)  In both there is a call to hold on to that which we have been given. In both there is the recognition that we live in a world with opposition.

In the first letter he said, “For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do–living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.” (1 Pet 4:3,4) referring to the past ways of the world. In this present letter he aims more specifically at those who were once believer but have now fallen into that life of licentiousness (2 Pet 2) In both cases there is a reminder to what we have been called so that we might avoid the ways of the world which are so contrary to God’s ways. It is in both a calling to a holy lifestyle.

In many ways Peter’s first letter had been a more practical one where he worked out specific issues for different people in living out the Christian life. Yet the same call under girds his teaching in this second lesson. We would not expect him to repeat the same things in the second letter that he had said in the first. We would expect him to have the same overview and so it does. Certainly it goes on to encourage people even more to hold to their faith, especially in the light of people questioning about Jesus coming again (which we’ll see later in the letter), but it is still another letter that reminds of the basics, reminds of the origins of those basics as seen in the Lord Jesus Christ and previously spoken about by the prophets.

A firm grasp on these things should then lead us to be more secure in our daily walk with the Lord, avoiding being led away by deception or temptation. The first letter lays out details and the second letter reiterates the general thrust that we have just described. We’ll see more in the next meditation of what he wants to achieve in us.

24. Condemnation (2)

Meditations in 2 Peter : 24 :  Condemnation (2)

2 Pet  2:13  They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.

I have recently been reading an account of how the West was won, and of the people who trekked the thousands of miles across the States to find gold or even just somewhere new to settle. One particularly memorable bit was how they came down one particular pass only to find they were into a desert that stretched sixty five miles infront of them. I’m afraid I feel this a bit about this part of Peter’s second letter, that appears like a desert in the midst of a green and pleasant land! He is warning his Christian readers against a group of people who appear at times to have a spirituality and yet are very far from spiritual.

We don’t know if Peter has any one people group in mind when he writes these words because he doesn’t say, but obviously he has in his mind clearly a group of people who have really got under his skin. He is really outspoken about them. Already in verses 10 and 12 we have seen him describe them: “Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings… They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.” Strong language!

Let’s note first of all the things he says they have done, “the harm they have done” (v.13a). They “carouse in broad daylight” (v.13b), With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed,”  (v.14) “They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son,” (v.15) “they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error,” (v.18) “They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity–for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” (v.18)

How do we summarise all that? They teach a licentious freedom that brings destruction and they live it out! Listen to how he describes them: “They are blots and blemishes,” (v.13b) “an accursed brood,” (v.14) “springs without water and mists driven by a storm,” (v.17) But will they get away with it? No! “They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done,” (v.13) “Blackest darkness is reserved for them,” (v.17).

But then comes the clearest condemnation: “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.” (v.20) These were believers who have gone off the rails!  Listen more to his condemnation and explanation of what they have done: “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” (v.21) And he uses a proverb to describe their actions: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.” (v.22)

These are people who once knew Christ, who lived the Christian life but who have now fallen prey to deception and temptation. They have been deceived by the enemy into believing lies – that as a Christian you can do anything and it will be all right. They have fallen to the temptation to live profligate lives. In every way, these people who were once clearly people of God are now clearly people of the world.

This is what this ‘desert’ in Peter’s letter is all about, It is a warning to avoid failing to deception and therefore, by implication, a call to hold firmly to the truth. It is a warning not to give way to temptations to live just like the world lives but, by implication, to live holy lives.  Yet the bigger warning that comes with it is that if you do you will end up being destroyed by it. It is a terrible condemnation and a terrible warning.

This may not be a gloriously edifying piece of scripture but it is there as a clear warning to us. Very simply the warning comes: don’t let anything or anyone seduce you away from the truths of the Gospel that are so clearly laid out in the New Testament. Don’t let anyone lead you into the lifestyle that is shown in these verses. Hold firmly to the truth and live the holy, Christ-like life. May it be so!

23. Condemnation

Meditations in 2 Peter : 23 :  Condemnation

2 Pet  2:10-12     This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

Peter has just said, “the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.” Thus when he continues, “This is especially true of those…” he is expanding his previous description of ‘the unrighteous’. Although we didn’t pick it up previously, he seems to indicate two sorts of God’s dealings with the unrighteous. The ultimate one is His judging them on the final day of judgment when they stand before him and will be condemned to hell. However there was also the reference at the end of that previous sentence: “while continuing their punishment.” This suggests that God does punish the ungodly and the unrighteous here and now.

The apostle Paul would agree with this way of thinking in his descriptions of God’s activity in Romans 1: “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.” (Rom 1:24) and “God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.” (Rom 1:26,27) and “Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.” (Rom1:28). In other words all of these increasing levels of sin are God’s punishment!!!!!

This increasing licentiousness is in fact bringing bad into the lives of these people and it is a direct outworking of God lifting off His hand of restraint. Now the more you turn from God the more this works, for this is God’s way of trying to show foolish men and women the error of their ways so that they may, perhaps, come to their senses and turn back to Him.

This is especially so, says Peter, of those who follow their corrupt sinful desires, are arrogant  and despise authority, say stupid things about angels and heaven’s activities. Now this isn’t a particularly easy passage to understand. When he talks about these people slandering celestial beings, we might say they are slandering all that goes on in heaven. Now if we put it in such general terms as that, we immediately see that this is exactly what the crusading atheists of today are doing. Without naming any well known and obvious names, sometimes the boldness and arrogance that is seen in their writings and their pronouncements on TV or in the press, are breathtaking.

Some of these men seek to convey a respectability, and one well-known American atheistic writer started his last book off with the tone of an elderly sage who was graciously tolerating these religious children who he hoped would one day grow up and abandon their silly ideas. However as the book developed the underlying harsh, arrogant, spiteful and hateful attitude in this writer became more and more obvious. These men are writing out of self-centred, godless arrogance and Peter says they are like animals in that they are operating purely on instincts and, by implication, not rationally and reasonably thinking through the issues. Although the media currently give these men credibility, one day we may look back on them and see them for what they are and will wonder how anyone ever believed what they said. It is interesting to note that one of these well known crusaders is particularly good at throwing up ‘possibilities’ and making them sound ‘probabilities’ if not facts! Yet I observe that other credible scientists now casually say, “Of course the idea of …. has now been generally discounted,” so that within a few years of them being put up even these ‘possibilities’ are seen for what they are – hot air!

Whenever we teach on cults, we always say, don’t only look at their teachings but also look at the people who started them off, see their lifestyle, see their character, and then judge. Look at the spite and venom that comes out of these people, these crusaders, and think again.

The reason these people that Peter is talking about, are doomed to destruction, is not so much the silly things they say or do, but the attitude that is fixed and unmovable and not open to correction. These are the people who will be condemned in the long ruin for these people will not come to repentance and will thus not be saved. (Please understand that we are not saying that individuals cannot be saved, but that if you absolutely refuse to ever think openly, refusing God until the end means you have no hope for eternity.) Shocking words, but the truth!

22. God of Mercy

Meditations in 2 Peter : 22 :  God of Mercy

2 Pet  2:5-9  if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment

So we took the hard side of these verses in the previous meditation. He had cited two specific historical catastrophes that we find in the early part of the Bible – the Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Previously we consider the validity of God’s judgements but now we find something else.

We find two other examples, examples of God saving men from those catastrophes. First there was Noah who was saved from the Flood and then there was lot who was saved from Sodom. Prior to the Flood we read, “The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” (Gen 6:6) This was the Lord anguishing over His world which was on a runaway course with Sin. But then we read, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” (Gen 6:9)  That explains why the Lord saved him, but when we come to Lot I find Peter’s description of him very gracious.

When you read the accounts of Abram and Lot, we find Lot choosing what, at first sight, seems the best part of the land, when they divided it up, and we read, “Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.” (Gen 13:12,13) Clearly Sodom had a reputation and yet Lot still went and lived near there. Not long later we find he is living actually in Sodom (Gen 14:12). By the time God’s angels go to Sodom we find, Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city.” (Gen 19:2). Now the gateway was the place that the elders of the city sat to preside over the affairs of the city – that was the extent to which Lot had now gone. I always feel, therefore that Lot doesn’t show up very well thus far. He certainly does take care of the two angels and protects them from the crowd, even been willing to sacrifice the purity of his two daughters to do it.

But it is to Peter that we turn for a fuller picture: a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard).”   Peter portrays a man who has got himself to a place that he regrets, where the society is godless and unrighteous and this tormented him. Well that is good news. That paints a better picture of Lot.

So the Lord saved these two men (and their families) from the destruction that He was bringing because they were righteous. But Peter hasn’t finished. In fact he is about to bring us to the climax of his argument for all that we have considered so far is the basis for a logical conclusion to follow. See his “If… then…” argument. if this is so, then.”   If God rescued those two men from the judgments He was brining in their days, then we may conclude something else. What is that?  It is twofold.  First, the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials.”   Even when the rest of the world is going bad, the Lord will save His righteous children from the midst of the judgment that He is bringing. That is the first part. The second part is, to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.”  The unrighteous may appear to be getting away with their unrighteousness but God is just waiting for the appropriate time to bring it to an end by bringing His judgment. The wicked will not get away with it!

These are the two crucial points that Peter has been working towards in this chapter. There has been a clear train of thought that started from, “I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” (1:14,15) He then emphasized that the gospel wasn’t made up and he knew that because they had been eye-witnesses to all that had gone on. More than that, it all conformed to the prophetic Scriptures which had come through prophets inspired by God.

Then, as a continuation from all that, it’s as if he says, “But be careful because not all prophets are good prophets and there will be those who will teach wrong things and seek to lead you astray – and you will see much of that in the world – but hold onto this truth: while the world is going astray, as long as you remain faithful, God will keep you and save you and bring you through whatever days of judgment He brings, and don’t worry about the unrighteous, God will eventually deal with them. Their time WILL come. Understanding all this – be at peace!” That is the gist of what he has said so far.

21. God of Judgment

Meditations in 2 Peter : 21 :  God of Judgement

2 Pet  2:4-6  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people….if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly

These following verses are a mixture of God’s judgment and God’s mercy so first of all we’re going to separate out the elements that point towards God’s judgment. It is not a subject that the modern Church likes facing and it is a subject that crusading atheists relish to show how horrible God is. We need to seek for understanding.

Now there is within the verses above, mystery and clarity. Some things are quite mysterious and some things are crystal clear. The area of mystery comes in the first part, the reference to the angels which is nowhere clarified anywhere else in the Bible. Perhaps Jesus taught the apostles about what had happened; we just don’t know. Note that it doesn’t say all angels but just refers to them in a loose sense. Some angels didn’t sin and perhaps some were sent to hell and some allowed to remain on earth as evil spirits to serve God’s greater purposes. In Revelation 12 there is allegorical language which seems to indicate that Satan rebelled and led astray a third of the angels who were cast out of heaven. Some, presumably, were sent to hell. Whether God uses them there in some capacity is a matter of speculation.

But the reference to the angels is just one of three references to God’s judgments. The other two were historical incidents recorded in Scripture – the Flood in the time of Noah, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Abraham’s time. Having considered the facts of the Flood in some detail my conclusion has been, first, that however bad we might think it is when confronted with the evidence from around the world of wars and violence at national levels and rising crime rates at the level of the individual and society today, this was obviously a time of unparalleled human abuse that was clearly getting worse and worse. The truth has to be that God, seeing the downward spiral of humanity, with the knowledge that only He has, saw that unless it was brought to an end now, it would result in ever increasing anguish from which the world would not recover.  The same would seem to be able to be said about the two cities that were utterly destroyed.

The point of clarity that I referred to earlier is that sometimes in history God sees that the ONLY course open to bring the best to the world is destruction that we call judgment!  God’s judgment is never the hasty, spiteful action of a capricious god as the crusading atheists would make out.  No, when God brings judgment it is always a calm, clinical action that is a necessity in the face of all the prevailing circumstances.  Whenever we talk about God’s judgment we always need to remind ourselves of what the Lord said: Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezek 18:23) and if we missed the import of it, He repeated it: “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (Ezek 18:32)

There in theses verses is the key to God’s judgment: when He sees that whatever disciplinary action He brings there is such a hardness of heart He can see there will never be repentance, and when He sees if left it will harm His earth, then and only then it appears in Scripture will He bring judgment that removes the individual or group of individuals. I think it is also worth while making the point that whenever I use the word ‘judgment’, I am referring to an act of God that removes the individual or group from the earth, i.e. they die. Otherwise what we see is disciplinary action designed to bring about change.

What is the essential sin that eventually incurs God’s judgment? Twice in the above verses Peter refer to ‘the ungodly’ meaning people who have set their hearts against God. What is the unforgivable sin of the New Testament? It is ongoing refusal to believe, unbelief that is set in concrete if you like!  Although ungodliness is the measuring stick it will always be accompanied by unrighteousness for the one always follows on from the other, and it is that harmful unrighteousness that God moves against.

The Bible clearly declares that “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16) but don’t let the unbeliever challenge you on that. A loving parent disciplines their children to bring change; a loving parent acts to protect their children, and where there is ultimate violent threat against his children, a loving father will demand the law steps in and takes away the threatening offender.  We pull down buildings with structural faults; we cut out malignant tumours and we demand that violent criminals be removed from our streets. It is all the same thing; it is just a matter of scale. We might even say that if God DIDN’T act to remove some people, that might raise questions about His love for the rest of us. Be clear in your understanding of this whole subject.

20. Led Astray

Meditations in 2 Peter : 20 :  Led Astray

2 Pet  2:2,3  Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

I think it was C.S.Lewis who said that if people give up believing in God, they will end up believing in anything. So much of what we have been reading in Peter’s second letter so far has been about the truth – the truth of the prophecies of the Old Testament, and then the truth of the testimony of the apostles who were witnesses to all that had happened with Jesus and what followed with the Holy Spirit.  As we said, the Christian Church is a unique body in that it has a unique body of truth, the Bible, that explains its existence. There is no other document like it in the world and the more you read it, the more you realise that. Let’s reiterate that statement because it does stand up under intelligent and honest scrutiny: there is no other document like it in the world and the more you read it, the more you realise that.

But Peter doesn’t live in an ivory tower or hasn’t been shut away like a hermit; he has lived in the world and he knows what is going on and he knows what will come in the days ahead. In the opening verse of this new chapter he had said, there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies.” There could almost be a link inserted between verses 1 and 2 – “And so…” and our verse now continues, “Many will follow their shameful ways.” but what was even more worrying it will appear that these teachers and these people departing from the truth will appear to be Christians and that will “bring the way of truth into disrepute.”

This has been, is now and always will be a problem – people who appear to be Christians but by their words or their lifestyles portray something else to the world, who often then criticise Christianity because of them. The fact that Christianity does not have a single ruling body means that all over the world individual Christians or individual groups are left to follow their own ‘brand’ of Christianity which may have wrong elements in it. Even the Roman Catholic wing of the Christian Church is not immune from this as the whole shameful episode of the revealing of paedophile priests shows. We, the Christian Church, have given the likes of Richard Dawkins, and other crusading atheists, large amounts of ammunition with which to criticise the Church (but NOT the Faith) and more often than not, the criticism is just. In terms of daily practical righteousness, many of us have a long way to go.

It sound incredible what Peter says: In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.”   Regrettably TV programmes have shown that even today such things happen. Even today apparent religious leaders dupe the flock with deception, with means and techniques that seek to get the flock to believe a lie – and then give their money! This is the side of religious life we would rather avoid or forget – Christians are still human beings and some of them go off the rails and their moral integrity slips. Wrong thingsARE done sometimes by those who purport to be Christians and, even worse, Christian leaders.

When Peter says, “their condemnation has long been hanging over them,” the first thing that strikes me is the word ‘long’. Unfortunately these things often go on for a long while. How can that be? I believe there are three answers.

First, people are gullible and so many simple-minded people who have not been well-taught believe such men, and flock to these people. Second, because of their apparent popularity and success, others of us hold back on criticizing what is patently obviously wrong. Third, because I believe the Lord holds back because He is waiting for His people to take action themselves. He would prefer that His own people grew up and disciplined those who have gone off the rails, rather than move in and deal with it Himself.

When Peter says,and their destruction has not been sleeping,” he is saying that the destruction that is due to these people, has not gone to sleep; it is just waiting in God’s hands. He will reveal the truth and modern history shows many men who have been revealed as charlatans or liars or cheats, and destruction (of their ministries and their lives) has come and some have even been imprisoned. It may take time, while God waits for His church to move, but history shows that again and again, when His church fails to move, He will and the individual’s sin is revealed to the world.

This is the dark side of the human race and of Christianity but we shouldn’t shy from it. Instead we should learn to be people who are discerning, who question and challenge that which is dubious, who aren’t afraid to challenge the freaky and weird. We will only be able to do that when we ourselves are well founded in the truth of God’s word and are living in the power of His Spirit. May that be so!