2 Peter #4 2 Peter 1: 12-21 Practicing the Basics Secures the Victory

 2 Peter #4 2 Peter 1: 12-21  


Peter is warning us about false teachers.  False teaching and inadequate understanding of God and the life believers are empowered to live, lead to unrighteous behavior. Peter believes he is coming to the end of his earthly journey, he is pretty sure he is soon to die.  Even though he knows the folks he is writing to have a true knowledge of God, he will remind them again knowing that this repetition serves as a safeguard for their souls.


 In this presentation, I wish to do something similar. I want to remind you of the key understandings that I have been teaching over these many years.  I hope that you too will remember them, and let them become an understanding through which you can experience real and whole life, living it to the full.


2 Peter #4 2 Peter 1:12-15 (MSG)


12 Because the stakes are so high, even though you're up-to-date on all this truth and practice it inside and out, I'm not going to let up for a minute in calling you to attention before it. 13 This is the post to which I've been assigned—keeping you alert with frequent reminders—and I'm sticking to it as long as I live. 14 I know that I'm to die soon; the Master has made that quite clear to me. 15 And so I am especially eager that you have all this down in black and white so that after I die, you'll have it for ready reference.


The stakes are high, and why? Because the butcher placed them on the top shelf.  No.  Bad dad joke. 


The stakes are high because the message of Jesus is one of life lived eternally in the presence of God or life lived eternally in the absence of God.  Considering a metaphysical observation living in the absence of God we see how bad a life can be lived.  Life can turn into a living hell all due to choices made when a person is clueless concerning righteousness, of being in sync with God.  Out of sync living becomes a wildfire consuming everything the scriptures promote as good.  Living in the absence of God is to forget how to be human.  In its grossest forms, a life devoid of the presence of God a person has no concern for anything but self.  What is best for me is what takes prominence in all things.  What often occurs is repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community (Galatians 5:19-21 (MSG).  


Love, compassion, and kindness, they flee from a life that rejects God.  Into the vacuum created by virtues leaving comes dishonesty, manipulation of truth to get what you want; greed, the ends justify the means to getting what you want; lust, that burning quest to acquire, to get what you want regardless of the cost;  envy, resenting others because you perceive them as having better than you; anger, being hostile towards anything that isn’t the way you want it;  excessive pride is an inflated sense of your importance; gluttony and not just for food, but that desire for more of everything; sloth especially in thinking, you don’t do your work; violence shows up in abusive behavior whether it is physical or emotional;  and blasphemy, oh especially blasphemy because blasphemy is rejecting God, disregarding His will and His way, rejecting the way He made you, the very moral laws written into the Universe, blasphemy is choosing to be out of sync. The life of a person who rejects God fills up with these types of soul cancers.


Romans 1:18 (MSG)

God's angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth.


God’s angry displeasure is allowing you to do what you want to do.  God’s displeasure is setting you free to pursue what you determine to be best for yourself. It must cause God distress to know that in doing so people are going to bring a world of heartache upon themselves. Manifesting in the life of a person who is determined to go their way is a life that falls short, one that fills with silliness and confusion so that there is no sense of direction left in their lives (Romans 1:21 (MSG).


The stakes are high for this life and even higher for the next.  In this life we have access to God’s grace, as long as we have His breath in our lungs we can change our choice from living in rebellion to bending our knee to the Lordship of Christ. We have these word pictures of Hell even if you have never read Dante’s Inferno the images fill our minds with flames and torment, demons and darkness.  In the book of Revelation the damned, those who have rejected God are thrown alive in the Lake of Fire, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 4:48).  With these word pictures to fire your imagination this is what an eternity living without the presence of God feels like. Since you wanted a universe in which all was as you would have it, you may end up in an eternity in which you are the only one in it, eternal solitary confinement. Take a look around and see the misery people have subjected themselves to because they rejected God, multiply it a million times over and that is the misery that awaits in an eternity devoid of the presence of God.


The stakes are high. As a pastor who is charged with the care of your soul, I can identify with Peter wanting to remind you of the things he has taught even though you are up-to-date on them in both knowledge and practice.


Everything rises and falls on relationships.  When the relationships in your life are good, life is good.  When those key relationships are bad, life is miserable.


God created humanity with four righteous relationships.  Righteous means in sync, as intended, and fully functioning as designed.  Those relationships are with God, others, self, and earth.  God walked with the Adam and the Eve a symbol of fellowship, unity, of familiarity.  The Adam and the Eve were naked a symbol of transparency, of openness, and honesty with one another.  For a time, the Adam and the Eve obeyed God’s only rule and in doing so were comfortable in their skin, they related rightly to themselves.  The earth is a symbol of God’s provision and the Adam was tasked with caring and nurturing the resources of nature, being a good steward of all creation.


The temptation to be like God; the thought that God was holding back on even greater blessings, lead to the human predicament.  The Adam and the Eve represent the entire human race.  When they disobeyed God it made all four relationships go out of sync. The Adam and the Eve covered themselves, they hid from God, the Adam refused to take responsibility for his actions, and the earth would no longer be willing to yield to the Adam’s care. The human predicament is one of estrangement from righteousness.  The once-good relationships have now gone bad and each child of the Adam is under this curse. Now every person does what they think is best for them based on their own experience, they become the chief arbitrator of morality. The result is all those inhumane behaviors previously mentioned cascading throughout all of humanity. 


The reason for the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus is that Jesus is born of a woman, a human, but not born under Adam’s curse because God held the Adam responsible. Jesus enters the world with a right relationship with God.


This first act of disobedience is called original sin.  Original sin is the human predicament of estrangement from righteousness.  As a result, people commit personal sins.  Sins are anything that deters, damages or destroys righteousness. Even without knowing it when we behave in a manner contrary to the will of God we deter, damage, or destroy what God desires to bless us with. These are actual sins. Actual sins can be understood in three categories, willful sin is when the will of God is known and the choice is made to disregard it, sin without intent is when a person was unaware that they inadvertently didn’t align themselves with God and relationships become strained or damaged, besetting sins are the unrighteous habits, attachments, and addictions that are like baggage from living a life apart from God. What differentiates willful sin from besetting sins is the intent to be rid of besetting sins.


The scripture reveals that the wages of sin are death, spiritual death that manifests itself in this life as the misery we inflict upon ourselves and others and separation from the presence of God in eternity.  The solution to the human predicament is forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God.


The good news of the gospel is that Jesus is the solution to the human predicament. 


John 3:16 (MSG)

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.


When we acknowledge that we are living apart from God, a sinner, headed for misery but know believing that Jesus can forgive our sins and reconcile our relationship with God we make a commitment to be Jesus’ disciple and ask God to accept our faith in Jesus’ ability to make us righteous. This revelation and action are all God’s gift of prevenient grace, the grace that awakens and convinces us of our need for a savior.


God’s replies to our sincere asking to be accepted with forgiveness of our transgressions, reconciling our relationship to Him and sealing us with the Holy Spirit.  This is God’s gift of justifying grace, the grace that declares us to be right with God. Justifying grace is what God does for us.


Being sealed with the Holy Spirit, God begins His work that transforms us into the righteous person He declared us to be.  This is sanctifying grace, the grace that daily perfects us, making us like Jesus in thought and deed. Sanctifying grace is what God does in us.


As we enjoy God’s grace we are empowered to live our lives to the full.  A life lived to the full is characterized by being loved and loving others, the joy of being accepted and belonging.  Your life is abundant because it has meaning and purpose which make you significant. 


The normative Christian life has four maturing seasons.  The first is experiencing a child-like faith characterized by wonder at this new life and a hunger for all things God.  The second is an adolescent-life faith in which one is troubled by their spiritual ups and downs, they recognize an inward saboteur.  At times they are obeying God, walking in His will His way, but then other times they are doing the very things they vowed not to do, or can’t seem to get done the things they know God wants them to do.  It’s like a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. The third season of maturing is adult-like faith.  This season starts when you recognize the inward saboteur and ask the Holy Spirit to break the power of egoism to hijack your best intentions.  You acknowledge, and repent of this on-again-off-again experience, you consecrate you all to Jesus and ask for this second blessing.  When God bestows it you now have power over temptation.  You are now fully responsible for the choices you make with love compelling you to make righteous choices. Finally, there is the eternal season of glorifying grace that allows us to enter life eternal.


That catalyst for growth in child, adolescent, and adult seasons of life is practicing the 7 Spiritual Habits of a Disciple. It is through bible study, prayer, fellowship, service, worship, obedience, and contemplation that you encounter God. It is because of these encounters we grow spiritually as we learn to live our lives to the full, becoming more like Jesus.  It is through the 7 habits that true knowledge of Jesus is gained.


I will do my best not to be boring, but these are the teachings I am constantly repeating for I know they will help you to live your life to the full.


There is an old football story about Vince Lombardi the great coach of the Green Bay Packers.  The team’s practices were scouted by an opponent; the report back was we don’t know what plays they are going to run, all they do is block and tackle.  Repetition of the basics was the secret to being the best they could be.  The same with our spiritual lives, putting into practice what we know is the secret to living an exemplary life. 





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