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Living on the Bright Side [4-21-24]




April 21, 2024

2 Peter 2:4-11

“Living on the Bright Side”


We have a wonderful opportunity to reflect the light and truth of God in a wicked and fallen world.


It’s not being cynical or negative or pessimistic to say we live in a wicked and fallen world. Every church in every generation has experienced its own variation on a familiar theme…manifestations of sin both in the church and in the culture. That is an undeniable truth of life.


Let’s start with 2 Peter 2:10. We’re not working our way backwards. We’re simply setting the stage:

“And especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.”

What this means is that those who are false teachers or who buy the lies of 

false teachers are showing dishonor to God. They are despising the truth of Jesus. Another way to put it is they think little or nothing of the truth. Who wants to bet money on those kinds of people?


Here’s something you might want to write down:

WHEN YOU COMPROMISE WITH THE CULTURE, YOU ARE SHOWING DISDAIN FOR THE TRUTH.

And that is never a good thing.


Moving on to a truly good thing, here’s 2 Peter 2:4-11. As you’ll see, these verses {through verse 10} are comprised of one long sentence:

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.”


That describes a world where people, both inside and outside the church, are up to no good. Whether it’s money, sex, or power, they ignore God’s Truth. The rewards are temporary. The negative consequences are eternal.


2 Peter 2 calls us to live out of God’s Truth. We know what Jesus did for us on the cross. We saw what 2 Peter 1:5-7 invited us to do…For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. Those are the ways in which we embrace and live out of God’s Truth.


Listen to Isaiah 65:16:

“So that he who blesses himself in the land    shall bless himself by the God of truth,and he who takes an oath in the land    shall swear by the God of truth;because the former troubles are forgotten    and are hidden from my eyes.”

Who is God? A God of Truth.


Listen to Psalm 57:10:

“For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,    your faithfulness to the clouds.”

The word translated “faithfulness” can also be translated, “truth.”

Listen to Psalm 119:160:

“The sum of your word is truth,    and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.”

If someone is teaching or doing something that isn’t Biblical or contrary to what the Bible teaches, then what is that person? Right…a false teacher.


Finally, listen to Revelation 15:3:

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and amazing are your deeds,    O Lord God the Almighty!Just and true are your ways,    O King of the nations!”

We can only speak and pursue the Truth of God.


God is a God of Truth. That’s one of His attributes. That is why God 

opposes liars…those who misrepresent Him and twist His Word with their lies. Do you know what is worse than to lie? To teach lies. And that’s exactly what false teachers do. They proclaim their truth, motivated by greed and sins of the flesh. Yet, as 2 Peter assures, their punishment is swift and sure.


So, what do we do? We know it’s God’s business to judge. The eternal fate of the wicked is between them and God. It’s not our call to make. Who would even want to make that call? Eternal salvation is a decision left to God’s sovereign purpose and His sovereign purpose alone. Judgment of deceivers and liars and false prophets and false teachers belongs to God and God alone.


The Greek word for the place of judgment, from verse four, is tartarosas. Funny thing, when I googled that word, the seventh result was a recipe for classic tartar sauce. Not even close. It means, literally, a doleful and dark subterranean region, where people suffer punishment for their evil deeds. The wicked will have to answer to God. 


We, on the other hand, guided by what we’ve already seen in 2 Peter 1:5-7 and our great affection for Galatians 5:22-23…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…we find good things to do and we do them. We worship God with our hearts, minds, and souls. We make a difference in our own little corner of God’s world. We shun false teachers. We reject the wickedness of our culture. We set our hands to the plow of God’s truth and move forward, one positive step after another. We plant our field with goodness and love.


We will always support the work of the Care Pregnancy Center. No matter what Michigan does, we will save one baby’s life at a time from the horrors of abortion. It’s who we are as followers of Jesus Christ. It’s grounded in our commitment to Biblical truth.


In the 1920s, the work of three men led to the discovery of insulin. Nobel Prizes were awarded to two of the men. One of them, Frederick Banting, declined to have his name included in the patent. Instead, he sold it to the University of Toronto for one dollar. He believed it unethical to seek profit from a discovery destined to save countless lives. “Insulin belongs to the 

world, not to me,” he said. God’s sovereign purpose can work through anyone…anytime…in anyplace. 

There’s always going to be wickedness in the world. Don’t let it stop you from doing good.





This is Milton West. He’s holding little Bob Wayne Shugart.


Bob Wayne’s father, Cody, grew up without a father. But the good Lord surrounded him with great men. Milton West was one of them. He worked for DOW Chemical. He lived next door to Cody. Cody grew up knowing him as Mr. Chip. Mr. Chip taught Cody the value of education. He taught him how to take care of a yard, taught him to see people for who they are, not what they look like, taught him how to treat his mother like a saint, and many other life lessons. Cody is forever grateful to God for putting Mr. Chip in his life.


Fast forward a few years. Cody married. He and his wife had a son. When 

Mr. Chip and his wife Shirley first saw the little boy, they knew they wanted to be like grandparents. The little guy now calls Mr. Chip “Pop” and Shirley, “Lolli.” Cody says they are blessed to have Lolli and Pop as a part of their son’s life.


This is just one story from a little place called Victoria, Texas. There are millions more stories from all over America. Stories of love and kindness and goodness. God’s sovereign purpose is at work in the world.





In 1963, photographer Richard Avedon took this picture of William Casby.


William Casby was born in 1857. So, he was 106 years old here. He was holding his great-great-granddaughter, Cherri Stamps-McCray.


I love that picture. It seems to capture a quiet joy…a tenderness. Casby, born into slavery, died seven years later, at the age of 113.


His great-and-great-great grandchildren are alive today. Many of them remember him.

It sort of puts things into perspective. There are people alive today who loved and were loved by a man who was once a slave. Casby, in spite of his circumstances, not only persevered, but he flourished. Again, the sovereign grace and mercy of God, at work.


Oh, this is a wicked and fallen world. Yet God’s sovereign grace and mercy continues to show itself. When we are faithful to the truth of God’s Word, we push back against the darkness. What a privilege and joy it is to push back.


Together, we are learning to spot false teaching so we can reject it and walk away from it. That is always a good thing. But then we have to take the next step. Knowing the truth of God’s Word, we then get to make choices reflecting God’s glory to a broken and hurt world. How incredible is that? You will never have an unsatisfying life when you do that.


Here’s something I love from C.S. Lewis:

“A CHRISTIAN IS NOT SOMEONE WHO NEVER GOES WRONG, BUT IS SOMEONE WHO IS ENABLED TO REPENT AND BEGIN OVER AGAIN AFTER EACH STUMBLE BECAUSE THE CHRISTLIFE IS INTERNAL, MAKING REPAIRS ALL THE TIME.”


A wicked world, full of sin and despair, does not have to be our lot in life. Rejecting false teachers, we embrace the goals of chapter 1 – “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” False teachers pursue lies. Rejecting that, we let God’s truth make us better people. We choose to be light shining on a hill.


Let’s close with a marvelous statement of purpose from Philippians 3:12-16:

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”


And together the people of God said:

SOLI DEO GLORIA…

To the Glory of God Alone







 


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