You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. — II Peter 3:17 (ESV)
My Thesis: Men must stand steadfast upon the Scriptures as the Law of God so that we do not yield to lawless error and lose our stability.
There are several key phrases in this verse that instruct us in how we are to stand steadfast. The first is the phrase ‘knowing this beforehand,’ which is translated from a single word ‘προγιν??σκω,’ meaning foreknow. This phrase means that one has knowledge of something before it comes to pass. When instructed to ‘take care,’ we are being warned to keep watch or stand guard against the false doctrine of ‘lawless people.’ These are the wicked who break restraint of God’s Law and seek to lead men away by error in order that they lose their ‘stability,’ or steadfastness, which is rooted in Christ and His Word.
This verse is in Peter’s final salutation, in which he instructs the church to be diligent and steadfast in their faith, beware of false teachers, and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Several parallel passages that also discuss the importance of having foreknowledge are below:
Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. — II Peter 1:12 (ESV)
Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. — II Peter 1:10 (ESV)
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. — I Corinthians 10:12 (ESV)
Derived from Peter’s exhoration are three arguments for standing steadfast upon Scripture. First, we must hold fast to the truth of God’s Word. If we do not keep a firm stance on the Word of God, how can we expect to resist false doctrines and heresies? Our only source of truth is in the Scriptures and upon these we must stand fast. Every thought, every action, every word, must come from a prepositionally Christian perspective rooted firmly in the Word of God.
Second, our stance for truth must be rooted in the Law of God. It is God’s Law that shows us the standard of righteousness; His Law which shows us what iniquity is. The apostle Paul said “if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’” (Romans 7:7 ESV) God’s Law gives us the standard by which we determine right and wrong. To judge our actions, deeds, and thoughts, we must hold them up to this standard of truth and stand firm upon it.
By rooting our epistemology in this standard we will have a principle by which to judge doctrine. Those ‘lawless people’ will be exposed for their wickedness when their heresies are held up to God’s Law, and the truth of the pure gospel will shine in all it’s beauty!
Finally, our authority comes from Scripture alone. It is the Word of God that we must know before hand; His Word which we must base our stability upon. There is no other source of knowledge or grace from which we we can grow, apart from the Scriptures. It is Scripture that “is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)
We must know beforehand that others will twist scripture — and counteract this by firmly rooting ourselves in the way of righteousness. Our conversation must presuppose the Word of God and its authority, striving to bring all things under the Lordship of Christ and away from error and lawlessness.
Though others twist the Scriptures in lawlessness, we must stand firmly upon the Law of God — stable and sure of our hope which is in Christ.
The Scriptures, as the Law of God, are our sole authority and source of stability. Upon this Law-Word we must stand — and stand steadfast. It is our only hope against error and lawlessness.