What Sort of Person (Sermon 11-6-2022)

Some people are very intuitive and learn things very quickly while others tend to learn at a slower pace. To illustrate, there is a story that some of you may already know about. It seems there was typical blacksmith located on the edge of town. Some of the retired gentlemen gathered there to swap stories, whittle, and just hang around. It was a normal thing even though the smithy did not particularly encourage the guys loitering around his shop.

Well, it seems that one day old Jake ambled up to the blacksmith’s shop. Jake was fairly smug about his knowledge of so many things and he didn’t hesitate letting everyone know of his vast store of knowledge. Jake walked over to the forge and reached for one of the horseshoes on the firewall. Jake did not realize that those shoes were glowing red-white hot just seconds ago. Jake quickly dropped the hot horseshoe with a clang and shoved his hand into his pocket.

The smithy saw all this out of the corner of his eye.

``Might warm, warn't it?'' asked the smithy with a near-smile. ``Nope,'' asserted Jake. ``Just don't take me long to look at a horseshoe.''

Some of us learn from watching others or observing things around us. While others of us may learn that it doesn’t take us long to look at horseshoes. We have often heard that we are to become new creatures in Christ. Some intuitively know what this means and we may readily adapt. Some may read this yet never fully understand what this looks like in daily practice. Perhaps we have never had an example whom we might emulate. Let’s spend a few minutes this morning looking at what it means to be that sort of person.

This morning we will read from the last letter written by the apostle Peter. In the passage we will read, Peter points out what sort of person we need to be. Let us consider this as we look at a few verses found in the 3rd chapter of 2nd Peter.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:10-13 NASB)

Peter clearly tells us that when Jesus returns, the earth and heavens will burn up in intense heat. This destruction was predicted even by the prophets of the Old Testament.

In Zephaniah we read about the fiery end of the earth; Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them on the day of the Lord’s wrath; and all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth. (Zephaniah 1:18 NASB)

Isaiah speaks of a new heaven and earth (images found in Revelation) where the old heaven and earth are no longer even remembered.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing and her people for gladness. “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; and there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying. (Isaiah 65:17-19 NASB)

Since this world and all of the things we see, touch, and feel are passing away when Jesus comes, Peter poses a rhetorical question; what sort of people ought you to be?

Peter tells us that we should be looking for the coming of the Lord. In the early church, the expectation of His return was anticipated and even prayed that it would happen soon (1 Corinthians 16:22 maranatha). Peter tells us that we should not only be looking for Hs return but praying for it to happen soon.

We are more than 2000 years removed from the time of Peter. Satan may be whispering in our ears that this is dribble. Hasn’t happened yet and everything continues as it always has. Yet, Christians are to look forward for this coming event and even pray for it to happen.

We should be looking for and looking forward to His coming not for the destruction of the earth but for the creation and coming of the new heaven and new earth. Thus, we are people with a vision.

While we have a vision and are looking for these things, we are to behave in a certain manner.

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:14-16 NASB)

Peter now calls for us to be the sort of people who live a peaceful life. We are called to be spotless and blameless. We should not be the sort of people who are caught up in the sin and debasement of this world.

We are called to be patient like Jesus was patient. Peter tells us that he is calling for us to be the sort of person that Paul wrote about in his letters. We are to live our life securely living as Jesus lived and bearing the fruit of the spirit; But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NASB)

We are to live differently than those who are of the world. We are to live peacefully. After all, we have salvation. Why should we be anxious? We are to live spotless lives. Oh, but I’m not perfect! No, none of us are perfect. However, when we follow God’s will, when we align with His will; the world will see that we are different.

While we are looking forward to the return of Jesus and living lives that are aligned with God’s will, Peter calls for us to be steadfast in our life and our resolve.

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:17-18 NASB)

One of the things that may be troubling to a new Christian is the belief that we are instantly changed into the new creature. Yes, our sins are instantly removed by the blood of Christ. But when we read that we rise up to live in newness of life (Romans 6:4), we find that we feel like the same old person. We have the same desires and appetites; we are just as susceptible to the same sins as before. What happened? Did we do something wrong? Doesn’t Christ blood transform me into a new creature? Doesn’t God’s grace work for me?

The answer is contained in the passage we just read. We start off as infants in Christ. We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In the first chapter of this same letter, Peter lays out the steps of growth. Turn back a few pages to 2 Peter 1 and let’s begin with verse 5.

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. (2 Peter 1:5-7 NASB)

We are not in this alone. We are together to mutually help each other to grow and remain motivated to stay the course. The writer of Hebrews shared these words about staying the course and helping each other: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25 NASB)

God is always faithful and keeps His promises. He wants us to remain faithful to the new life into which we have been born into as we are reborn.

As a new child of God, we are to be people of vision, looking forward to the promise of His return. We are to be people who live in this world without letting this world soil us. We are to live steadfastly in fellowship with Him and each other as we grow each day. We are not alone, Jesus has promised that He will always be with us, even until the end of this age (Matthew 28:20).

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