“Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” 2 Peter 3:11
What manner of person ought you to be? What a question! Were anybody to ask you this question, how will you answer? Friend, what will your answer be? This is a question that calls for a deep reflection. A deep reflection of what you are right now. Honestly, it will be difficult to answer this question without first asking yourself; what am I now? It is when this is addressed through an honest self-assessment that the clear picture of what manner of person ought you to be will be clear. I hope as you read this piece, the Holy Spirit will help you to see clearly the manner of person you are right now, and the manner of person you ought to be. And I hope none of us will try to hide from himself, but rather be opened to the dealings of the Holy Spirit.
For this, we will have to run briefly through the entire chapter three of second epistle of Peter. I trust the Lord to open our eyes to see in this letter what he wants us to see.
Looking at the entire chapter three of this epistle, it may be assumed that all is not yet well with the manner of person we are now, and that may be the reason this question is being asked. There could still be the possibility of a few things we need to take care in out lives and relationship with God. But even at that, the first word of the chapter is a very warm one, a very comforting word. Beloved! It is very assuring, that in spite of whatever might not please the Lord in our lives, in spite of the fact that the manner of person we are now is being questioned by the Lord, we are still His beloved. Whatever it may be, the Lord still loves us. We are far from being hated by Him. We are still precious and dear to Him. Friends, you are at the centre of His heart. Satan may have buffeted you here and there, making you to lose your faith grip. Be of good cheer, God loves you still. If God could love you so much to have died for you when you were ungodly, if your rebellion against Him could not stop Him from paying such a high price for your soul on the cross of Calvary when you were still His enemy, He won’t love you less even now that you have a covenant with Him. He said; “For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall my covenant of peace be removed. Says the Lord who has mercy on you.” Isaiah 54:10. No matter the circumstance or whatever the devil may make you to think, God is not a covenant breaker. As long as you don’t deliberately separate yourself from His love and you don’t exclude yourself from His covenant of peace, the Lord loves you still. True, He may not love the situation or the sin, but the absolute truth is that He loves you still. You are still His Beloved. He loves you with a passion you cannot understand and that is why He wrote the epistles and the entire Bible to you. Beloved, I write to you . . . The essence of this message is not necessarily because you are living in sin now, or contemplating on sinning, but that you may not sin, in the words of Apostle John. It is not even to condemn or judge you, it is to make you run quickly to the Cross where the Blood was shed for you. In case you have sinned or living right now in sins the church is unaware of, God loves you still and there is a deep fountain of mercy and forgiveness flowing from His throne like a river. For such times like these is the reason behind the Cross.
Even though neither we nor the angels know the hour of the coming of the Lord, but every Christian conversant with the Bible knows that we are at the edge of the end. One definite proof that this world will end is the fact that people die every day. Somebody just dropped dead now! For such person, the world has ended. But the Bible here makes it clear what signs we would see to indicate the coming of the end, so that we may be prepared to meet the Lord. “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, `where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. ´ for this they wilfully forget: . . .” 2 Peter 3:3-5. We see here that one of the signs of the end is when people begin to ridicule God and make mockery of His word and name. Scoffers will put the credibility of God to question and the reliability of His word under scrutiny. When the word of God ceases to be the standard, but rather the newspapers or human intelligence or pleasure overthrow the Bible, then the scoffer is at work. When church tradition, human philosophy, constitutions and even theology takes precedence over the word of God, then the scoffer is in place. When the church becomes the target for mockery, then the scoffer is at work. Are we not experiencing all these now? Should we not recognise that we are closer to the end now? Then in all these, what manner of person ought you to be?
We should be careful not to think these scoffers are necessarily the ones outside the church. The unbelievers, the atheists and everyone who does not believe Jesus as the Saviour is only a part. The other part are the insiders of the faith, they only belong to the same family of “The Scoffers”. These are those who still attend churches and house fellowships. They are also those who once had believed and testified that Jesus is Lord. Some of them have fallen out of the Way out rightly while some still appear to be part of the faith, at least in attendances. How do we know this? Verse five tells us; “For this they wilfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water.” (Emphasis mine). Now look at that . . . they wilfully forget. For whatever reason, they deliberately make a choice to make mockery of God in spite of their knowledge of Him. They deliberately and with all consciousness ridicule the word of God. They wilfully erase the knowledge of God in their memory, wipe off His trademark from their lives and stop to acknowledge Him as Lord. This does not mean they have forsaken the assembly of the brethren, they might not. They may even be visibly active in the church, but yet they are still full-fledged members of the scoffers united. They may be wearing collars, they may have different assorted religious titles, or they may just be members of a congregation, yet they are scoffers. How? A person can be a worship leader or even a preacher, but with his lifestyle mocks God every day. When a Christian’s life; in privacy of his home or in the public contradicts the Word of God. That is mockery. When a Christian’s words and character challenges the Biblical instructions on issues of life, no matter his or her position in the church or society he’s a scoffer. When people sin and excuse it in spite of adequate knowledge of the Word, it is scoffing at God. Unless it is genuinely repented, no matter what such person does or preaches, it is nothing but mere comedy. Such person would do better in Hollywood. It is worse, when such person still claims he’s a Christian, that would mean misrepresenting the word of God and giving a false standard of God’s word. It is mockery of God when a Christian’s person is not what he ought to be.
Walking according to their own lusts and saying . . .
Jesus said we will know the kind of a person by the types of fruits or character he exhibits. We see here that what identifies a scoffer is the way he walks and the way he talks. The “walking” here is not in terms of moving one foot after the other, but rather in terms of what a person takes or accepts as the standard value for living. These are things that mould a character and identify a personality or identity. Lifestyle! A scoffer normally walks and talks according to his own lusts, the primary intent is to hurt and discredit God with their mouths and living. They say; “Just forget about God, since thousand years ago he has said he’s coming back. Now I’m already old, nothing has changed. Friend, just live as you wish, it’s enough if you go to church or pay the tax.” They just wave God off with a hand and live on as if there won’t be an end to this world and they crucify Christ all over again. Apostle Paul captured them well in Philippians 3:17-19 “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you weeping, that they are the enemies of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame-who set their mind on earthly things.” We see here that Paul indicates there is a pattern of life, a system of living that separates scoffers from those born of God in truth. A definite value and standard of Christian living that lifts Jesus up and draw all men to God. The fruit a tree produces tells what kind of tree it is. The way they walk and the way they talk. But then there are those whose pattern of walking is contrary to those who bear on their bodies the mark of Christ. But in truth, their real god is their belly. Self! The lust of the eye, lust of the flesh and the pride of life. These are things the devil took advantage of to destroy the beauty of mankind. When people give full attention and satisfaction to these things that satisfy the flesh at the expense of relationship to God, they have practically chosen whom to serve; the belly. One day the anti-Christ will appear, but the truth is that there are already many the anti-Christ on duty. Bible refers to those whose lives do not conform to the image of Christ as enemies of Christ. The belly of a man in this context may be the pride of his financial, family, educational or racial background. He values these things so much and enjoys the glory and the status he cannot compromise them for anything, even God. Some other people’s belly is the pleasure of food, sex, profession, gossip and some other things they cannot give up so that God can have His way in their lives and other people’s lives through their testimony of conformity to the image of Christ. Though they know this contradicts their confession of faith in Christ Jesus, it contradicts the bible they read and perhaps which some of them preach, yet they hold on to those things that turn them to the enemy of Christ and will lead them to destruction.