In the midst of so many negative influences Peter wanted his dear friends to:
Stay focused on Christ and His teaching
Identify scoffers and their influences
Trust the God of the promise while waiting for its fulfillment
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. Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:1-9).
Stay focused on Christ and His teachings
In both his letters to the churches in Asia Minor, Peter’s motive was to stimulate, stir up, to wake up, to constantly activate his dear friends to faith so they would live godly virtuous lives.
Peter seeks to fully awaken his brothers and sisters from their spiritual sluggishness. He is saying don't let the delay of our Lord's return cause you to "nod off" spiritually.
What does it mean to be sifted?
In that day, Israel was an agricultural society, so everyone was familiar with the grain-sifting process. Farm workers shoveled piles of grain onto a sieve, typically a four-by-four-foot wood frame with a screened bottom. The workers then shook the sieve vigorously, causing all dirt and chaff to fall through the screen to the ground. Only the pure kernels of grain remained.
Sifting is obviously a purifying process, separating the bad and useless from the good and fruitful. God sifts our lives to remove those things - thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, actions which are useless, unfruitful, unprofitable and even harmful.
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD (Lamentations 3:40)
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).
We must let the spoken Word of Christ have its home within us, dwelling in our hearts and minds, permeating every aspect of our beings (Colossians 3:16 AMP). Allowing the Spirit of God to teach us, convict us, cleanse us, comfort us and change the way we think and live so we are in right relationship with the Lord.
If Christ remains the center of our church, we will exalt His teachings not only in word but in our actions. We will be a loving and caring community because it is an extension, a reflection of the love and care we receive from Him personally and as a body of believers.
As a Christ-centered church we will seek to equip our brothers and sisters, and seek to commune with God and others in prayer. And lastly, we will endeavor to live out our faith by finding opportunities to serve and introduce people to the Savior.
This is why we have life groups and family ministry where the Word is central and where people can be cared for, equipped, and learn to serve and do good to others. This is why we will be offering hermeneutics/leadership sessions on Saturday mornings throughout the summer because as a church we believe,
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Identify scoffers and their influences
Peter warned the church that mockers, scoffers, false teachers would bring in destructive doctrines, philosophies and opinions that were sinister, sensual and seductive, luring them from their pure devotion to Christ. He warned them because he knew that in the last days, their faith would be greatly tested but if they stayed focused on Christ and His teaching, they would be able to identify the scoffers who twisted truth and created suspicion among the family of God. This is what people will be like in the last days. Paul in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Peter tells us, the church, how to identify the mockers and false teachers:
You will know them by their scoffing:
Scoffers refuse to submit to God's Word and instead stirs up trouble and find fault with God and his people wherever they go. Proverbs instructs us to:
Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out, even strife and dishonor will cease (Proverbs 22:10).
You will know them by their sinfulness
Peter says that the ungodly in the last days, will be almost entirely motivated by self-interest. They will be following after their own evil desires - These are "men whose only guide in life is what they want for themselves" (Phillips). They question Christ’s second coming, so they fearlessly seek to live a life of pleasure with a total disregard of any impending judgment.
You will know them by their skepticism
They have no fear of God and believe this short life is all that there is - there are no absolutes, no judgment, so you better make the most of it! How many Christians have been influenced by this world view?
They deliberately, persistently ignore the fact that God made the earth and "by His Divine Word" sustains the heavens and earth we now live in.
Peter wants his readers to understand that the world and all that is within it from beginning to end is dependent upon an omnipotent God.
Even though God may delay, His judgments have been and still are certain and we know that the Day of the Lord is nearer than before. This is why Peter is telling his reader to stay focused on Christ and His teaching while they wait for the promise of Christ’s coming to be fulfilled.
3. Trust the God of the promise while waiting for its fulfillment
In verse 8, Peter told the church “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends, don’t you shut your eyes to this one truth! That even though the scoffers rejected God’s mercy and showed contempt for His patience, He still extended His kindness to them, giving them an opportunity to repent, knowing that they may or may not ever do so. Remember “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise.” God’s so-called “tardiness” as viewed by some people (the scoffers) is only a delay with respect to their time schedules, not His!
Thankfully, God waited for us to respond to the gospel and is long-suffering in waiting for others as well. In this passage, Peter says that a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. For this reason, we can’t say that God is slow about His promises.
God’s timing is perfect, and He has a reason for everything He does, or in this case, doesn’t do. Even if we never understand His timing or reasons for what He does in our lifetime the question is, will we still trust Him?
God extended His patience toward us concerning the gospel. And what is the gospel? It is the good news of the eternal life and the inheritance that God has given us - it was not paid for with mere gold and silver which loses its value but with the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.
Through Christ you have come to trust in God, and you have placed your faith and hope in God because He raised Christ from the dead and gave Him great glory (1 Peter 1:18-19, 21). And in this passage in 2 Peter clearly states, without a shadow of a doubt, that God desires that every person would repent and in His mercy gives them time to turn to Him.
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent (2 Peter 3:9 NLT).
It is clear in this passage that God does not want anyone to go to hell but He knows that some will choose a life apart from Him and that that will be the consequence for their choice.
While we wait for Christ’s return, we need to continually re-center our focus on Christ and His Word. We will need to be aware of and be able to identify scoffers and their influences, so we aren’t led astray by them. Peter is calling us to live in light of the reality of His coming and not let anyone or anything distract us from that!
Don’t allow anyone or anything to distract you from knowing Christ and following Him, don’t let anything rob you of your reward.