“You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:17–19

We live in increasingly strange days. Hardly a news cycle passes without some expression of a novel opinion based on half-baked thinking. And if, perchance, someone shares sound, principled, clear-headed truth it is almost a shock to your system.

This past week a judge was responsible for making a decision to halt one state’s full-size gun magazine ban by citing three home invasions where life and death were at issue. According to the PBS radio report, one person defended herself successfully because she had enough rounds due to a higher capacity magazine and two people failed to defend their lives because they ran out of rounds, due to restricted capacity magazines. To my way of thinking, the judge finally made a step toward a real common-sense gun law. Five to ten rounds may not be enough when determined aggressors want to do you bodily harm. I have often been concerned about ill-informed, option-reducing, doctrinaire legislation that may restrict the women in my own household from being able to defend themselves from evil people. When the story broke last week, and the judge’s rationale was expressed, I was struck by how rare such logical common sense is in our world today. It was a breath of fresh air.

I do not mean to dismiss the seriousness of the matter at issue. But in a case of such sharp division it is imperative that all parties apply wisdom, based on the realities of sinful human nature, and honoring the God-given rights our Constitution is designed to protect. We live in dangerous times and that which is good needs to be able to defend itself against that which is evil—whether in speech or in deed. Times such as ours require maturity, borne of moral growth and godly knowledge, not diminishment by driving people to a common core of societally approved behaviors and options.

Spiritually speaking, navigating our day of murky culture, tortured logic, knee-jerk opposition to morality, and ready defiance of God in any aspect whatsoever, demands that we grow in grace. Accountability to God demands your utmost attention. Your one life is a stewardship and must be cherished as such. Though authentic believers often grow heart-sick at the news, and feel over-burdened by the brow-beating, over-sensitized cultural winds, and the unbelief on shameless public display, we have no excuse to simply “tune out” and “check out.” Engaging the culture, and the lost, requires mature thought seasoned by growing in grace.

Peter was dealing with the same challenges as he closed out his second epistle. His letter begins with an expose of spiritual growth. Our verses quoted above are his final appeal for taking charge of your spiritual growth in the face of foolish thinking. Verse 15f sets the stage, “Paul, according to the wisdom given to him….speaking…these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” Poor spiritual thinking led people to distort the Scriptures to their own devices, excusing moral laxity. Peter uses the word twist to describe their handling of God’s truth. In the noun form, the Greek word was used to describe an instrument of torture for dislocating limbs. It is quite an instructive term for cultural thinking in our day!

Their poor thinking not only harmed others around them, but it was a twisting that lead to their own destruction; relaxed morality will always bring a payday. Consequences of evil cannot be avoided. In the face of this overwhelming, over-reaching, and over-intrusive evil, Peter says, “You,” believer, remain faithful!

In order to combat spiritual poverty, blindness, and evil, every believer must steel himself to error, embrace God’s truth and make God’s commands his own fondest wish. Peter advises “beware [be on your guard] lest you also fall from [out of] your own steadfastness being led [carried] away with the error of the wicked [lawless].”

Living things grow, and your spiritual life is no exception. Peter exhorts to “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” In our Lord’s High Priestly Prayer (John 17:3), He prays, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Eternal life is in both duration and in quality. Believers must grow “inward, outward, upward, and onward” in the sphere of grace. Pursue Christian maturity, increase in knowledge, strength, and experience in the things in which Christ is the author and Christ is the subject. Grow deep in your knowledge of Christ and His Word. With the Holy Spirit as your teacher you will find stability, steadfastness, usefulness, and your life’s stewardship will be rewarded!

1 Peter 2:1f admonishes, “Therefore laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word that you may grow thereby.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3 reads, “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other.” Make it your aim to grow in grace and knowledge so you stand firm in Christ. Trust and obey.