Be on Your Guard
by Laura MacCorkle
Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. 2 Peter 3:17, NIV
Who of us doesn’t remember a film, television show, book or play with some swordsman in chainmail declaring, “On guard!” before engaging in a duel with someone else?
In that type of adversarial situation, the warning is said to alert the other party that “I’m armed, so prepare to defend yourself.” And in light of the current belief battles going on today within evangelical Christianity, that meaning has been front and center in my head and heart—especially after reading through today’s verse in 2 Peter.
I did a little further study and found what I read in the New Testament portion of The Bible Knowledge Commentary to be quite helpful in understanding this passage:
If [Peter’s] readers were not careful, they could be carried away by the error of lawless men … The verb “carried away” emphasizes a group or corporate movement. False teachers are not satisfied with ambushing one or two, now and then, here and there; they want to sweep large groups of people away from the correct doctrine of Christ. Those who keep company with such people are in danger of being led astray.
I don’t need or want to name prominent names or cite recent book titles or the like within the Christian bubble, as I’m sure that one or many have already come to your mind by this point in today’s devotional. Sadly, false teaching is everywhere these days and only seems to be gaining momentum as we head further into the twenty-first century.
It’s alarming, for sure, to hear those who are in pastoral, shepherding or leadership positions mishandle God’s Word or imply that there is suddenly a new “change” in the meaning of scriptural doctrines that trained theologians and Bible scholars have agreed upon for centuries prior.
But Truth is supposedly relative in the world where we now live, isn’t it? What’s true for you may not be true for me and so forth. Right? So how do we arm ourselves and follow Peter’s instruction to “be on your guard” as believers?
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
First, there’s grace. Unmerited favor from God. How do we grow in that? By reminding ourselves continually of what God did for each and every one of us. If we don’t understand grace, then we will never know who God is, what he stands for and what a right relationship with him looks like. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). When we get that, in turn, our lives will be lived from a place of humility and in testimony of what God has done through us.
And then there’s knowledge. We will only grow spiritually and know God as much as we can in this life if we know the Word. And that doesn’t begin and end only with what someone says the Bible says (which isn’t bad in and of itself). But it means reading the Bible for yourselfon a continuing basis, so that it will take root in your heart and inform your thinking and your actions. There is no better way to mature in the Lord and know Truth (and be corrected in your thinking, if it’s “stinking”) than to spend time getting to know God through the Word.
No one else can have your spiritual relationship for you. And anyone who leads you away from Truth is leading you away from a secure position. So be on your guard. And get in there, dig deep and know His unchanging truth.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Are you ready to confront false teaching and see through the devil’s schemes to trick and deceive—even in Christian circles? Always consider the source and always measure what you hear or read against God’s Word.