2 Peter Devotions

Back in the mid-to-late 1990s, my pastor preached a series in 1 John. Almost every Sunday in that series, he hammered home a phrase that has remained with me ever since: Belief affects behaviour. What John’s readers believed about Christ worked its way out in the way they lived.

John is not the only New Testament writer who emphasises this truth. Second Peter and Jude are known as letters written to combat false teaching and confront false teachers. But even as we think about the way in which these writers confronted false teaching, we must bear in mind that their goal was more than mere orthodoxy. They were not heresy hunters, on the prowl for anyone who said anything remotely unorthodox. They did not run ministries committed to exposing false teaching. Their concern was far more significant than that.

We can see this in that, while Peter was obviously burdened about false teaching that had infiltrated, or was threatening to infiltrate, the church, his only explicit reference to false theology is in 3:3–4. Throughout the letter, he shows far more interest in protecting his readers from the false teachers’ bad behaviour than their bad teaching.Their teaching was not insignificant, but he realised that belief affects behaviour, and if his readers caved to the errors of the false teachers, they would soon begin to live like them. It was more important to him that his readers be delivered from a destructive lifestyle than it was that they be technically correct in every doctrinal discussion. The false teachers promised freedom but were themselves slaves of corruption (2:19). If his readers embraced the teaching of the heretics, they would soon become slaves themselves to corruption.

This, then, is the burden of 2 Peter. Since belief affects behaviour, Christians must be wary of false teaching—not so that they can boast in their orthodoxy but because false teaching will inevitably lead to superficial living. False teachers are known—and always have been known—by their tendency to treat sin lightly. Peter warned his readers that they could not treat sin lightly with impunity.

As we work devotionally through 2 Peter, we must be careful to guard the truth of Scripture because right belief will lead to right living. We should pray that God will protect us from false teaching and, thereby, from godless living.

Finite Patience (2 Peter 3:14–18)

Finite Patience (2 Peter 3:14–18)

Several years ago, Rob Bell created waves with his book Love Wins, which suggested that God might ultimately save every human being who has ever lived. Once considered a significant voice in evangelicalism, Bell’s apparent embrace of universalism cemented his position...

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End Times Madness (2 Peter 3:11–13)

End Times Madness (2 Peter 3:11–13)

Gary DeMar has written a profoundly helpful book titled Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church. In it, he illustrates just how obsessed Christians in the last century or more have become with end times prophecies, which has led to all sorts of fanciful...

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The God who Breathes (2 Peter 3:8–10)

The God who Breathes (2 Peter 3:8–10)

Over the years, as I have listened to people’s prayer requests, a common theme has emerged: Almost every Christian I know has, at one point or another, requested prayer for patience. This is hardly surprising: Even if it says that patience is a virtue, the society in...

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The Divine Intruder (2 Peter 3:1–7)

The Divine Intruder (2 Peter 3:1–7)

James Edwards has written a book titled The Divine Intruder: When God Breaks into Your Life. He argues that God is in the business of breaking into people’s lives and changing them forever. To prove his point, he draws on eight biblical accounts of encounters with...

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No Turning Back (2 Peter 2:17–22)

No Turning Back (2 Peter 2:17–22)

One of the most enduring children’s Sunday school songs is “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” There are different versions of the song’s history but its theme is clear: It proclaims the singer’s commitment (decision) to follow Christ regardless of the cost. The refrain...

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