I was reading 2 Peter earlier this morning in the ESV as I leaned in to God for a cuddle. A phrase struck me that I found immediately vivid and helpful:
Right at the beginning of the letter in 1:21, Peter refers to the human writers of Scripture who were “carried along” by the Holy Spirit. Right at the end of the letter in 3:17, he warns of not being “carried away” with the error of lawless men.
Carried along and carried away – two phrases that, though having different roots in their original Greek, are constructions Peter clearly contrasts with each other as a word play.
Bumbling Peter, the restored rock of the church who, on more than one occasion, knew what it was to be carried away by the deception and cowardice of Satan. But also Mighty Peter, the stalwart Great on whom Christ would build His church as its Spirit-carried leader.
Have you seen the new version of the Disney classic Jungle Book? We watched it the other day and loved it! But there’s a scene in the original 1967 animated movie that illustrates Peter’s point here better than the new one and that came to mind as I read:
- Do you recall Mowgli drifting down the jungle river sitting on Baloo’s cushion-like belly without a care in the world? This helps us to understand what Peter meant by being carried along by the Spirit, by Whom we become more than our mere human nature. Becoming like God Himself as He fills us and carries us every day.
- Seconds later, Mowgli is snatched by King Louie’s monkeys. This helps us to understand what Peter meant by not being carried away by the error of the lawless.
The point is that, positively, in order to be carried along by the power of the Holy Spirit and not, negatively, to be carried away by the schemes of the devil, we must do two things:
a) Be On Guard – (2 Peter 3:17) – Every day when we wake up, and every night when we go to bed, let’s make sure to pray. Pray that you would be alert to the schemes of the enemy and increasingly aware of the power of the Holy Spirit.
b) Grow in Grace & Knowledge – (2 Peter 3:18) – This ‘being on guard’ isn’t a passive hope; it’s an active priority to take your Bible and increase your knowledge of who Jesus is as we become more like Him in His grace.
In 2 Peter 3:-3-4 Peter tells us that in the last days there will be scoffers. This means that there will people and spiritual entities who will scoff at the reality of being carried along by the Holy Spirit.
So, let’s do what Peter tells us to do in response to this in verse 8:
Do not forget this one thing….with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day.
He is nearer that you think.
Read Acts 17:27 then ask Him to show you His nearness again.