The Apostle Peter, in his second epistle, closes his letter by acknowledging that some of the teachings of the Apostle Paul are “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16), a point to which Christians who read the Pauline Epistles quickly relate. Then, Peter says that “the ignorant and unstable twist [them] to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” By the way, Peter’s saying “other Scriptures” is one piece of evidence that the Apostles considered some of each others’ writings as being Scripture, having the same authority as the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament. The word translated “Scriptures” is from the Greek graphe, which is only used in the Bible to talk about the word of God.
Peter says people twist these Scriptures, which leads to their own destruction. And this is certainly true today as it was in the First Century. The devil has been crafty in helping people to misuse the Bible in order to create totally false worldviews. They are counterfeit copies of the truth, and in the end, those who twist the Scriptures will face judgment. We don’t say this with pleasure. It’s heartbreaking that there are people who think they’re right with God without actually knowing Him. But they get a sense of security from having “holy books”. Twisting scripture is a serious offense, which carries its own judgment; people don’t come to a saving faith in Jesus, which is the only way to God.
Then, Peter gives two commands, one negative and one positive. The negative command is to not be “carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability” (v. 17). In other words, Christians need to have their guard up. We need to “no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14). So, whenever we hear an explanation of the word of God, we need to test it. We have to be careful not to just take everything as true. Like the Bereans, we need to be “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
The positive command is that we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18). Notice that this is an imperative: grow! Christian growth doesn’t come automatically. God is ultimately the one who works in us, but He pleases to work with us to that end. We are commanded to grow.
In most sports and in warfare, it isn’t enough to have a good defense. You must also have a good offense in order to win the game or the battle. The way that we proactively avoid being carried away with error is to continually grow in Christ. The more we know Him, the easier it will be to spot falsehood. Tellers at a bank quickly become experts at spotting counterfeit bills, not mainly because they’ve studied counterfeits, but because they know authentic bills very well just from constant exposure.
And so may we guard ourselves from false doctrine and seek to grow in the Lord.