Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 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. 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. 2 Peter 3:14-18 (ESV)
We are traveling through the Sunday sermon series on Galatians, where the apostle Paul spells out what the good news of the Gospel is and what it isn’t. We learn through today’s text that the apostle Peter had similar conundrums with the people to whom he was teaching and writing. They were hearing all kinds of silly things and they were getting confused by what some people were teaching. People are really good at getting the Gospel message wrong, especially in adding conditions to it.
Peter is leading us back to hold fast to the basic premises of grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone. This is the Gospel in its impossible, blessed, life-saving simplicity.
When we get away from the clear teaching of Scripture we depart from the Gospel. On one side of the road we can get into strict legalism in which we try to earn our way to God by keeping the Law and by having all sorts of regulations imposed upon us. On the other we can fall into antinomianism (anti = against, nomian=law) and pretend there is no law at all and we just do whatever we want. Both errors are dangerous because they lead us away from the truth. Legalism takes our love of others away and makes us self-righteous, which never works out well. No law at all leads to no discipline, no boundaries and nothing but self-indulgence, which also does not work out well. Legalism and antinomianism are ditches on the opposite sides of the same road, but both errors lead us to take our focus off of Jesus and the saving Gospel truth and put our focus squarely on ourselves.
The best way for us to stay in the truth is to keep studying the Bible. What does the Bible say about our life in Christ? What does the Bible say about this or that teaching? Peter exhorts us: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It is important for us as Christians to pay attention to what we believe. Jesus is always at the center of everything. Our life is found in Him. The more that we read, study, pray and know the truth set out in Scripture- which points us to Jesus, the better equipped we are to hold fast to the truth when people try to teach us things in the name of God that aren’t the Gospel.