SUNDAY NIGHT CROSSTRAINING NOTES
Do Not Lose Your Own Stability
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Sunday, March 20, 2011 - 6:00 p.m.  Sermon #: 1455
Pastor Don Horban

2 Peter 3:17-18 - “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. [18] 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.”

“Do not lose your own stability”(17). Peter would have a particular passion in his heart as he penned those words. He, more than most people, knew what it was like to lose his stability. As Jesus faced the cross, He had labored to brace his disciples against panic and fear. He had warned them of His coming death and promised them future glory and life in His resurrection from the dead.

Peter knew the promise of the Lord of resurrection and future glory. Yet, under the pressure of the moment, he cursed Jesus and denied even knowing Him. Peter fell from steadfastness with a crash that has sounded throughout history. So Peter closes his letter with a plea that is close to his heart. He wants to give words that will hold people up - brace them against false religion and trial - keep them steadfast until the Day of the Lord.

It’s interesting to note how the remarks in these two closing verses of chapter three actually summarize Peter’s teaching, first of all, in chapter two and then in chapter one. First, he issues a warning, and second, he urges them forward with an exhortation.

Verse 17 restates the warning about false teaching and corrupt examples that was the subject of chapter two. Verse 18 picks up the theme of chapter one - an exhortation to keep growing in the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Let’s look at each of these themes in turn:

1) FAILURE IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE COMES, MORE COMMONLY, FROM A LACK OF CAREFULNESS THAN A LACK OF ABILITY

Jesus will give strength to the weak. What He won’t give is diligence to the careless. In citing weakness as the cause of our sins, we cleverly shift the blame away from ourselves to the lack of help from above. Peter will allow no such scheming in his closing words.

2 Peter 3:17 - “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.”

“....Knowing this beforehand....” You know what the problem is. You know where the dangers lie. I’ve given you the resources. Now be careful. If you fall from a stable position in Christ, you have no one to blame but yourselves.”

Like working with your computer, Peter is trying to install something that our world is constantly trying to delete. He’s trying to keep people alert to some contaminants to strong and stable faith. The culture you inhabit daily is obsessed with an effort to make all ideas seem to have equal weight and value. Our world is orchestrated, more than it knows, to lower your spiritual immune system.

That is the primary area where Christ and culture collide. And Peter says, having been warned about the nature of the battle, we will only face increased guilt and punishment for our carelessness in this matter. Being forewarned should make us all forearmed - “Knowing this beforehand, take care that you’re not carried away....” (3:17a).

There is another point that follows logically from this first one:

2) RATHER THAN BEING WEAKENED AND DISCOURAGED BY THE SIN AND FALLING OF OTHERS, I SHOULD CONSIDER MY OWN POTENTIAL TO THE VERY SAME SINS AND DISCIPLINE MY LIFE TO THAT MUCH MORE CAREFULNESS.

2 Peter 3:17 - “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.”

Other people - and this is even more true in our image and data drenched age - can make the same sins that sound gross on paper look attractive and life-giving in an attractive person or glamorous life situation. Whatever sin or temptation or failure I see in others who profess Christ, there is a friend to those same sins in my own heart if I don’t rule it and keep it in check.

Galatians 6:1 - “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

But why am I more vulnerable to those same sins just at the point of contact with the person I’m trying to help? Because now any number of emotions can weaken my own spiritual resolve. Sympathy, confidence in my own spiritual maturity, and even deep respect and friendship with the sinner can all soften my convictions.

That’s why the person Paul says is “spiritual” is the person who is fully aware of his own potential to the same sin he sees in others. This spiritual person is going to stay spiritual by his own alertness to the dangers around him and the dangers within him. Without such carefulness, no one will stand - not even the best of us - for long.

“Pastor Don, we already know all this stuff. Why spend all this time on it?”

Listen, most of us live in homes where we have taken more pains to insure the smoke detector goes off in the event of fire than we do setting up alarms that will sound when things impure and immoral are entertained in our family rooms. What if an alarm sounded - actually rang out loud - every time something contrary to the commands of God or the way and life of the Holy Spirit entered your house through t.v. or movie or internet or magazine? That lack of carefulness is the problem with the mind set of many contemporary Christians. And that’s what Peter is warning about in his last words to the church.

Proverbs 4:23 - “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Your heart needs more protecting than your BMW or your Mercedes. There is more than just temporal loss at stake. I can lose my soul through carelessness. And Jesus said when you lose your soul, it’s incredibly difficult to get it back - “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?” (Matthew 16:26).

You can’t take everything indiscriminately into your mind and keep your spiritual stability. Put one of those carbon monoxide monitors over your heart. Stay alert to the danger of drifting from Jesus.

3) THE ONLY SURE WAY TO ENTER THE KINGDOM IS TO PURSUE CONSTANT GROWTH IN GRACE UNTIL JESUS COMES AGAIN

2 Peter 3:18 - “....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.”

Peter is saying something profound in these words. This is the reason such carefulness and diligence is urged and required. A lazy Christian is a doomed Christian. Here’s why: You and I, as followers of Jesus, can never successfully just maintain spiritual life. Our only option is to grow in spiritual life if we want to enter the kingdom. You grow into God’s kingdom, or you don’t enter it at all.

We are so accustomed to looking at the receiving of grace as a one time event. We received God’s grace when we were saved. Now we just have it. Peter sees the reception of grace as the ongoing, deepening quest of the believer.

It’s just like sowing and reaping. The planting of a seed isn’t the completion of the growth process (how much food would our farmers harvest if the seeds they planted never advanced beyond what was put into the ground?). The reception of God’s grace in Jesus Christ must continue to multiply and flourish in my experience and understanding if I’m to reap a harvest of righteousness and spiritual life.

That’s what Peter is saying in these closing verses. “Don’t fall away from steadfastness in Jesus. I must grow! Don’t be caught trying to preserve or maintain. You will die a slow spiritual death that way.

So, how do I not fall away? Constantly look for new life. Keep exercising fresh sacrifice and increasingly muscular commitment. Seek out new areas of service. Keep reading and studying Scriptural truth. Grow in your apprehension of the things of God. Look for fresh areas of self to prune and cut back. Keep growing in all these things!”

Jesus stressed the very same truth: Mark 4:23-25 - “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." [24] And he said to them, "Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. [25] For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."

These are very strong words. Over time, you will lose what you have unless you deepen and multiply it. If you fail to multiply what the Master graces into your life, you will find it running out of power and influence in your heart and mind. That’s what Jesus said.

Notice how this is all tied together by Peter under the general theme of staying steadfast and holy until Jesus comes. Just as the fact that you were once on a diet will not keep you slim, the fact that you once said the sinner’s prayer will not keep your heart “spotless and blameless” at the coming Day of the Lord.

As Peter has already taught in great detail, it’s not nearly enough to have faith. Peter puts the emphasis on adding to our faith:

2 Peter 1:5-8 - “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, [6] and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, [7] and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. [8] For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Holy Spirit reverses the basic laws of material physics in increasing the spiritual momentum of our beings. Remember those words. It’s not what you have. It’s how much it is increasing that determines the shape of your soul.

4) GRACE WON’T EXPAND IN YOUR HEART WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD GROWING IN YOUR MIND

2 Peter 3:18 - “....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.”

Sooner or later, we all have to make the discovery in the school of discipleship that the Christian life isn’t Sesame Street. God is not Big Bird. And learning isn’t always fun. It takes diligence and hard work. Jesus never came to help us relax. He came to train us as servants. After coming into your life as Lord, the first part of you that he wants to dominate is your mind. If you want to see the power of His grace in your heart, learn to love His truth with your mind.

This is a recap for Peter. It is not the first time he has outlined this powerful truth: 2 Peter 1:2 - “ May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Grace and peace are obviously tremendously important. How are they multiplied in my life? Peter says it has much to do with knowledge. Specifically, the knowledge of “our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (3:18).

Keep your attention on Jesus and his saving work. Train and use your mind as an instrument of the Spirit. Not just with emotional worship choruses. Not just with sentiment. You need to know everything Jesus ever said. When did He say it? To whom was He speaking? How did He pray? When did He fast? When did He talk about His Second Coming? What did He say about it? What did He say about healing? What did He say about the Holy Spirit? How did He say He wanted to make His presence real and powerful in my heart?

That’s the kind of knowledge of Jesus Christ Peter is talking about. His truth must be learned before His Person can be properly loved. His truth must be carved into the mind before I can obey it with my will. Above all else, grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

5) AS LONG AS YOU HAVE BREATH, GLORIFY JESUS ABOVE ALL ELSE

2 Peter 3:18 - “....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.”

There is such simple, practical wisdom here. Notice how Peter balances knowledge and the affections. He has the wisdom to put knowledge first. It is the terribly frustrating experience of many Christians that they try to make themselves love Jesus through worship when they don’t know Him with their minds. That route will only make you feel empty and phoney and hypocritical. You must start from the ground up. You must know before you can properly love or obey.

But knowledge must never be an end in itself. Jesus is looking for people who both know Him and glorify Him. When you truly know Jesus, never be intimidated out of passionately expressing praise and worship to Him just because someone else will think you’re just empty headed and emotional.

True, there are empty headed fanatics. True, there are mindless trancers who just follow the crowd in whatever they’re told to do. But while both those examples are displeasing to the Lord, they are no more displeasing to Him than those who know the truth inside out, but refuse obedient passion in praise and worship and the glorifying Jesus now as we will in eternity.

“Well, glorifying Jesus - that means glorifying Him with your life, pastor Don”

That’s absolutely true. But isn’t praise a part of your life? If it isn’t, why isn’t it? It’s clearly commanded in the Scriptures. There is absolutely no denying its biblical base. I’m not arguing that the rest of my life shouldn’t glorify God. I’m only saying that glorifying Him with praise and worship doesn’t exclude my glorifying Him with the rest of my life. I want all of my life to glorify Him - including my praise and worship.

So don’t allow yourself to set up false arguments on either side of the issue. Know Jesus and His truth with your mind. And let glory reign both now and forever more! Because when your mind is brimming with Christ-centered truth, and your heart overflows with a burning, unashamed love for your Lord, you will indeed be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in your work for the Lord.”