Thursday, August 13, 2009

II Peter 2:9 A God of Righteousness Judges Rightly

In my job, I have to make judgment calls from time to time. As I examine audit evidence while doing work on the audit, I have to draw conclusions based on what I find. If I find something that indicates there is a problem, I have to decide how big of a problem it is. Sometimes, because they don’t want to be written up for having a problem (who would), the auditee tries to explain the issue in a different light and convince me and those in charge of the audit that the issue is really not that bad. In the end, there is a fair amount of subjectivity involved because even when facts are known sometimes there are other mitigating circumstances. In short, there’s no way as a fallible human being that I’m always going to come to the right conclusion and make the right call about every situation. However, in the end when our Lord judges, He will judge perfectly because He has seen everything, knows everything, and knows the exact right thing to do all the time.

Verse 9 is the capstone verse of the thought Peter has been building in this chapter. False teachers will come and they will lead people astray. However, God is a God of justice and He judges sin, as we see in the punishment of Christ in His death on Calvary’s Cross. In His judging, He perfectly administers to each person what is due to them thereby demonstrating His holiness and righteousness. For instance, God “knows how to rescue the godly”. You and I can take great comfort in this. While sometimes in our legal system (or on an audit) the guilty go free and the innocent are punished, that won’t happen when God judges. As we saw in the preceding verses, God saved Moses out of the midst of a world full of sinful, evil, anti-God people who were looking for newer, better, and faster ways to sin. Also, God rescued (pulled out of harms way) Lot from the city of Sodom. God knows how to make a distinction between the people who are righteous by faith and those who seek to serve another god of their own making.

Observe with me what He rescues them from—“temptation”. The word means usually some kind of testing and we know that it is by testing that our faith is proved genuine. Peter is not saying that we are going to be saved from having to endure temptation but rather that God will not allow any temptation to overtake us completely. We can be sure that no matter how difficult our life here on earth can be sometimes, we will be ultimately saved from the temptations. We have an eternal home in heaven that our Lord had lovingly prepared for us. Just as He rescued Lot and Noah, He will also rescue us.

However, that is only one side of the coin of God’s judgment. He will not only save the righteous, but He will “keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment”. The word translated “keep” means to guard or watch over like guarding a prisoner. God sees their evil deeds and their mockery of His word. While He rescues the righteous out of their temptations, He keeps the wicked, especially in this context the false teachers, “under punishment”. This world, with all its pain, trial, and turmoil, is the best life those who reject God and Christ will ever know. They have no salvation or redemption to look forward to in the future. They can only look ahead to a “day of judgment”. Those who live for themselves and serve a god of their own making may enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season but they will ultimately suffer eternal torment in the fiery pit of hell.

God will not allow His righteousness to be offended by the sin of men who will not repent forever. There is a payday. Just as surely as God has judged in the past, He will judge sin once and for all one day soon. Those who have a righteousness which comes by faith will be saved from His wrath. Those who don’t will suffer God’s terrible wrath as the due penalty for their sins.

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