2Pe_3:17-18. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
HOWEVER averse men are to receive warnings and exhortations from each other, there is, in reality, no greater proof of affection, than the administering of faithful cautions, and salutary advice, to those whom we love. It is evident how much St. Peter’s mind was warmed with affection towards his brethren, since he, no less than four times in this short chapter, addresses them by that endearing term, “Beloved.” And how did he testify his love, but by guarding them against the dangers to which they were exposed, and by prescribing to them the most effectual means of deliverance and safety?
Let his word then be thankfully received by us, while we consider,
His caution against apostasy—
[The wicked will take occasion from God’s forbearance to question his remunerative justice [Note: ver. 3, 4. with Ecc_8:11.] — — — and even the godly need to be on their guard against the influence of this delusion [Note: Eph_4:14. 2Pe_2:18.] — — — Certain it is, that they are liable to fall from their own steadfastness; and that, without the greatest vigilance, they will do so [Note: 1Ti_1:19. 2Ti_2:18. Mat_24:12. 1Co_9:27. Whether God will restore his elect, is a distinct question, that, if introduced in this place, might uphold a system, but would weaken the force of the Apostle’s caution.] — — — But they “know” the certainty and awfulness of the day of judgment, and should therefore be afraid of meeting it unprepared. It will then be too late to rectify their “errors,” or repent of their instability [Note: Mat_25:11-13.]; and this consideration should make them doubly cautious against every occasion of falling [Note: This argument is thrice urged; ver. 11, 14, 17.].]
His direction for preventing it—
The Christian should seek to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”—
[None, who have received grace, will be satisfied with the measure they have received; but they will be seeking to attain more and more [Note: Php_3:12-14.]. Nor will any, who know Christ, think they “know any thing yet as they ought to know:” they will perceive that there are in him “treasures of knowledge,” which they have never explored [Note: Col_2:3. St. Paul, after preaching Christ for above twenty years, yet sought above all things to “know him.” Php_3:8; Php_3:10.], and which to all eternity will be progressively opening to their view.
Hence the Christian’s duty is to be continually advancing in every part of the divine life; and to “make his profiting appear unto all men.”]
This will be his best, his only, preservative against apostasy—
[Painting or statuary admit of intermissions in labour: such work, left for a season, may be resumed without any increased difficulty: but, in religion, every intermission is a positive injury: if the work proceed not, it declines: it always either waxes or wanes. Now every declension weakens the vital principle within us—restores to activity our dormant corruptions—exposes us to the assaults of our great adversary—and provokes God to withdraw his accustomed aid [Note: Mark these particulars very distinctly, pausing at the end of each. And do the same in that which follows.]: consequently, our downfall begun, will, if not prevented by sovereign grace, be speedy, gradual, irretrievable. On the other hand, a progress in grace confirms every good habit—fastens round us the whole armour of God—keeps our enemy at a distance—and secures to us the continued protection of heaven. Go on adding to your grace, says God, “and you shall never fall [Note: 2Pe_1:5; 2Pe_1:10-11.].”]
Reflect much and often on the day of judgment—
[Through a forgetfulness of that day we become the sport of every temptation: but if we would frequently endeavour to realize the strictness of the scrutiny, and the severity of the judgment which will then take place, we should be more fortified against error in principle, or evil in practice. We must expect our Lord’s coming, if we would be found ready on his arrival [Note: Mat_24:42-44.].]
Be diligent in the use of all the means of grace—
[It is in vain to hope that we shall grow in grace or knowledge, if we do not use the means which God has appointed. But, if we watch unto prayer, and conscientiously devote ourselves to him, he will “bless us with all spiritual blessings:” “our faith and love shall grow exceedingly;” our “hope shall abound through the power of the Holy Ghost,” and, from being “babes,” we shall become “children, young men, and fathers in Christ [Note: 1Co_3:1 and 1Jn_2:12-14.]:” and, having attained at last “the measure of the full stature of Christ [Note: Eph_4:13.],” we shall “enter into his joy,” and be partakers of his glory for evermore.]