What Manner of Persons

In 11 Peter 3:11, the question is asked, “What manner of persons ought you to be?” This chapter of 11 Peter is the last letter from the apostle Peter. In the first chapter, he tells us that very soon he is going to die. He knows that, just as the Lord predicted to him, he will very soon be crucified. In the second chapter, he predicts a worldwide apostasy in Christendom after his death and describes the awful apostasy that will come into the Christian church. In the third chapter, he speaks of the times in which we are living, and he tells the people how they can be sure of obtaining eternal life. He tells them that the word of prophecy is surer than what they see or hear.

Verse 3 of 11 Peter 3 says, “This knowing first, that mockers shall come in the last days.” What is this mockery? What are these mockers going to say? Peter goes on to list other things that will happen in the last days.

Promise of His Coming

People will ask, “Where is the promise of His coming?” This is a statement of unbelief. The last days are described in the Scriptures as a time of great unbelief. Most of the world does not believe. Are we living in that time? Yes, it is recorded in our history books. Many historians refer to the period of time that we often call the Middle Ages and the Dark Ages as the age of faith. It was a very wicked time, a time when millions of Bible-believing Christians were martyred for their faith, but it was still an age of faith. Even those who were killing other people claimed they were Christians who believed in God and in the Bible. But the last days are described as a time of unbelief. Jesus described them in that manner—He said it would be like the days of Noah. (Matthew 24:37.) Were the days of Noah a time of unbelief? Well, there were only eight people in the ark! The last days are repeatedly described as a time of great unbelief.

I was reading recently that various mathematicians have tried to figure out what the population might have been at the time of the flood. Remember, people before the flood lived to be nearly 1,000 years of age, so if you consider that, a woman could probably have borne children for 300 to 400 years. How many children would a woman have during that time? One mathematician said that it would be the easiest thing in the world for the average family to have 18 to 20 children, so he used the lower number of 18 in his calculations. There are people in our time who have a dozen or more children, so 18 is not an unrealistic number. We know that people in the Old Testament had many children. In Genesis 5, we are told that Enoch lived for 365 years; his first child, Methuselah, was born when he was 65. Then it states that after that he “begat sons and daughters.” (Verses 21, 22.) He would have had at least two sons and two daughters in addition to Methuselah, so Enoch would have had a minimum of five children. It could have been six or eight or ten. This mathematician calculated that at the time of the flood, if the average family had 18 children, the population could have been between 700 and 800 million people! If the average family had been 20, the population would have been over a billion. Ellen White says that there was a vast population in the world at that time. (See Patriarchs and Prophets, 102.) It is almost certain that, at a minimum, there were hundreds of millions of people, and there could easily have been over a billion.

Out of those hundreds of millions, there were only eight people in the ark. Was that an age of unbelief? Jesus foretold that it will be like that again at the end, and Peter foretold that it would be a time of great unbelief. The people will be mocking those who are expecting the Lord to come. They will say that we expected Him to come years ago, and we cannot contradict that.

Lust, Unbelief

People will be going after their own lusts. In other words, they will be following their own human cravings.

People will be expressing unbelief. People will say, “Since the fathers fell asleep, everything continues as it has from the beginning of creation.” That is the Uniformitarian Theory that was developed in the last 200–250 years. This Theory states that if you cut into a mountain to observe the sediment and you determine that two-tenths of an inch of sediment is being laid down every year in this mountain, by cutting down so many feet, you can say that this mountain is so many million years old, because you believe that the same amount of sediment being laid down now has been laying down for centuries.

In 1979, I toured the geology building at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. I went through the entire building—looking for their evidence that things were many millions of years old. I went to every display in the whole building, and there is only one piece of evidence—the Uniformitarian Theory. The whole field of geology is built on this Theory. Almost 1,800 years before this Theory was developed, Peter said that that is what people would say in the last days. According to Bible prophecy, this Theory is proof that we are living in the last days.

Willingly Ignorant

People are willingly ignorant that this world came into existence by the Word of God. This world is not something that just developed over a long period of time. It came into existence by the Word of God. People want to be ignorant; they do not want to remember this. We have the most startling proof of this today. I have read a book about the researches of an orthodontist who went to Europe and other areas to study the skulls of people such as the Neanderthal man and the Promagnum man, who were supposed to be millions of years old. He secured permission to take x-ray pictures of some of the skulls. He began doing some measurements and calculations and found information that was so startling—and that so startlingly disproved previous theories—that his life was actually in danger.

Robert Gentry, the man who wrote Creation’s Tiny Mystery [Earth Science Associates, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1986], which describes how stones were created, challenged some organizations in court. He has written 11 different research reports of his findings on his rock research. No one has been able to fault his research. In court, when the evolutionists were asked to refute his research, they said, “That is just a tiny mystery that we cannot explain.” He has submitted his reports for publication, but the journals refuse to publish them. Do you know why they refuse to publish them? Because the Bible says that in the last days people willingly, wantonly desire to forget. It is exactly what the Bible says. They do not want to remember that the heavens and earth came into existence by the Word of God.

The world that was deluged by water during the Flood was destroyed. The Flood is one of the things of which the people are willingly ignorant. If any of you find a geology or biology textbook that teaches that there was a worldwide flood about 4,400 years ago, let me know. I have never seen one. Our textbooks never acknowledge a worldwide flood; they only tell of an ice age. Notice what Peter says: “But the heavens and the earth which now are, by the same Word, are kept treasured up for fire unto the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” Verse 7.

Fire Coming

The Bible teaches that there is fire coming. The third angel’s message teaches that there is fire coming. I have never preached much about hell. I do not like to think about it. I do not like to preach about it. I do not like to talk about it, but it is in the Bible. We need to recognize that each one of us has a heaven to win and a hell to shun. (See Selected Messages, Book 1, 96.) We need to always have this in mind when we are speaking with other people. Perhaps it would help us overcome some of our timidity. When we are witnessing, we are trying to save them from hell and motivate them to choose heaven, if they will listen.

Peter says that fire is coming; a time of judgment for the ungodly is coming. Jude 15 talks about the same thing. Jesus spoke about it in Matthew 13.

Big Surprise

An overwhelming surprise is coming upon our world. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief.” 11 Peter 3:10. It is going to be an overwhelming surprise. The verse continues, “. . . in which the heavens with a great rushing sound will pass away and the elements will be burned up. The earth will be destroyed and the works in it.” It is all going to be burned up—our cars, our houses, our possessions. The only possessions we have that will not be burned up, if they are saved, are our children. People can be saved; things cannot be saved. Realizing that everything is going to be burned up helps us to evaluate what is important and what is not important.

Peter’s Query

It is in this context—seeing that everything around us is going to be destroyed—that Peter asks, “What manner of persons should we be in all holy manner of life and godly conduct?” Verse 11. Is this something important to study? If everything around us is going to be destroyed, and we hope to escape the destruction, what manner of people should we be?

Peter gives us hope. He says, “New heavens and a new earth, according to His promise, we expect, in which dwells righteousness.” Verse 13. He tells of the re-creation wherein righteousness dwells. What is righteousness? It is right doing. Romans 7:12 says, “The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.” A righteous person lives according to God’s Law. An unrighteousness person is someone who does not live according to God’s Law. (See 1 John 5:17.) “Little children, do not let anyone deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous just as He is righteous. He that sins is of the devil, for the devil sins from the beginning.” 1 John 3:7, 8.

Peter asks what manner of persons we should be. Consider these things:

Moral Excellence

Moral excellence is a holy manner of life. In 1 Peter 1:15, it says, “You be holy, because I am holy.” Holiness is God-likeness or piety. So often, in religion, we use certain words over and over again, and most of our children cannot understand them. The average child probably cannot tell you what the word holy means. Piety, sometimes translated virtue, means moral excellence.

“Wherefore, beloved, expecting these things, be diligent, spotless, and unblemished [or blameless] to be found by Him in peace.” 11 Peter 3:14. What does it mean to be spotless? Paul uses this term repeatedly. What makes the character spotted? Sin. So, if you are without spot, you are without sin. Remember that the sacrifices were to be without spot or blemish.

The Bible tells us what it is that brings the character into condemnation and what constitutes a person with a righteous or holy character. You may study this in 11 Peter 1:3–8 and Galatians 5:22, 23. The Bible actually gives us more lists of those things that bring the character into condemnation. (See Romans 1:29–32; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:19–21). Jesus says that these are the things that defile a man (Matthew 15:17–20); and John gives three lists in the last of the Book of Revelation.

God must have known that we needed to have these things spelled out. In Revelation 21:5–8, it talks about the one that overcomes, and then it gives a list, and it says that the people with these defiling characteristics are going to be in hellfire. Revelation 21:27 includes a short list; a longer list is cited in Revelation 22. We usually quote verse 14 regarding those who keep the commandments and who will enter in through the gate, but then, if you look at verse 15, a list is given of people who will be on the outside. The Bible gives us lists so we will know which people are spotted and which people are blameless—who will be accounted pious and holy.

Notice 11 Peter 3:17: “Therefore, you beloved, knowing these things beforehand, guard yourself in order that not with the error of the unprincipled one, sometimes referred to as the wicked one, you might be led away and fall from your own steadfastness.” This is a command. Do you suppose, when the Bible gives us a command, that we should pay special attention to what we are to do?

Guard Your Association

This is a general command, but it is a command. It says, “guard yourself.” From what are we to guard ourselves? “The one who walks with wise men, also he will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20. According to this verse, we need to guard ourselves concerning our associations. Will there be those who will lose their faith because they associated with the wrong crowd? People think this happens only to children and young people, so we are very concerned with whom our children associate. As adults, however, we are not immune from our associations. Do you realize that every social association has an effect on us? We affect the other person, but they also affect us. This verse can make all the difference between hell and heaven for a lot of people.

The very same principle is discussed in Psalm 1. We need to guard ourselves regarding our associations. Someone may wonder, then, whether we should be social in order to save people. Yes, we should. But Ellen White says that is our only reason for being social with the ungodly—we should associate with them for one purpose only, and that is if we are trying to save them. “Let us ever bear in mind that our Saviour left the heavenly courts, and came to a world polluted by sin. By his own life he has shown his followers how they can be in the world, and yet not be of the world. He came not to partake of its delusive pleasures, to be swayed by its customs, or to follow its practices, but to seek and to save the lost. With this object, and this only, can the Christian consent to remain in the company of the ungodly.” Sketches From the Life of Paul, 299.

Yes, we have to do business with the ungodly. We could not exist in this world if we did not do business with them, but we do not need to associate with them socially, except as we are trying to win them to Christ. If we are not doing something for their salvation, we had better watch out, because we will be destroyed in the process. “The world is not to be our criterion. We are not to associate with the ungodly and partake of their spirit, for they will lead the heart away from God to the worship of false gods. . . . It is by leading the followers of Christ to associate with the ungodly and unite in their amusements that Satan is most successful in alluring them into sin.” The Adventist Home, 459, 460.

Guard What You See

“I will not put before my eyes the wicked thing.” Psalm 101:3. Peter says to guard yourselves lest you be led away with the error of the unprincipled ones and you fall from your own steadfastness. (11 Peter 3:17.) This is happening today with frightful speed among those who profess to be waiting for the coming of the Son of man, because they are not guarded. Are you guarding yourself? Are you saying, “I have a moral responsibility to God, not just for with whom I associate, but for that at which I am looking?” When you look at something, are you evaluating whether you need to know about it, whether it is going to help you to be ready for heaven, or whether it is some base, wicked thing, just for entertainment?

In my observations, I have learned that people in our society believe that they are simply being entertained by what they are looking at, but the fact of the matter is, they are being educated, and it is not the Holy Spirit who is educating them. Always remember that.

If you are a Seventh-day Adventist, you claim that you are waiting and preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus. Peter cautions to guard yourself, and David says he will not put any base thing in front of his eyes; he speaks of his hatred for such things. This is an important principle, and the Bible emphasizes it in more than one place. This is something to take to the Lord in your own devotions. Pray about it and ask the Lord to give you wisdom and willpower and self-control to look only at that that is pleasing in His eyes. Ask yourself, “Would the Lord be pleased with what I am looking at? Could the Lord sit right beside me on the sofa and could we watch this together?”

I am very fearful that many, many Seventh-day Adventists will lose their way to heaven and end up in hellfire as a result of what they are looking at on their videos and on their television sets. I am not out to point fingers; I just want people to think about what they are looking at and what they are listening to—is it helping them get ready for heaven or not?

“The sinners in Zion are terrified. Terror has seized the profane ones. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? The one who does righteousness; who speaks uprightly, who rejects the gain of oppressions, the one who will not accept a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed, and who shuts his eyes from seeing evil.” Isaiah 33:14–16. When there is terror in Zion among the profane ones, who is it that is going to dwell with the devouring fire? Remember, the Bible says, Our God is a devouring fire. (See Exodus 24:17; Isaiah 30:27.) When God comes, wherever sin is, it will be devoured.

Do you want to be one of those who shuts his ears from hearing about bloodshed and shuts his eyes from seeing evil? That is how we must be living if we are going to be ready when Christ comes. We will have to be guarding what we hear and see.

Guard What You Hear

We not only need to be guarding what we see, but we need to be guarding what we hear as well. To what are you listening? To what kinds of music are you listening? What kinds of videos are you watching and to what kinds of programs are you listening? Are the programs you look at or listen to ones you could enjoy with Jesus sitting beside you? Could you have a good conversation and enjoy the programs together? We need to be guarded.

Guard Your Appetite and Imagination

We need to guard what we taste, what we eat, and what we drink. There are many texts in the Bible regarding this, such as Isaiah 55; 1 Corinthians 10:20, 21; Daniel 1:8. The Bible teaches us that we need to be guarded concerning what we eat and drink. Paul says, “Whatsoever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31.

We need to guard our imaginations. Very often sin begins in the imagination. After a person has been thinking about something for a long time, he begins to talk about it, and than he eventually does it. The Bible has a lot to say about the imagination. Psalm 19:14 speaks about the words of the mouth and the thoughts or imagination of the heart—that they may be acceptable to the Lord. In 11 Corinthians 10:5, we are told that every thought is to be brought into subjection to Christ. We are not ready for Jesus to come until that occurs.

Guard your imagination, “In order that you might not be led astray by the error of the unprincipled ones.” 11 Peter 3:17. What does it mean to be unprincipled? The unprincipled ones are lustful or licentious. It has reference to unbridled lust, shamelessness, outrageous conduct, unchaste handling of males or females, and lawless works. That is the way it is described in 11 Peter 2:6–10.

There are good things on which to exercise the imagination. Ellen White says that we should try to picture the home of the saved; we should spend time trying to imagine what heaven is like. (See Marana-tha, 319, 355.) It is a good exercise for the imagination. There are good uses for the imagination, but the devil tries to divert the imagination to evil causes so that it is like it was before the Flood.

Avoid These Things

Those are the five things. We need to guard our association; we need to be guarded in what we see; we need to be guarded in what we hear; we need to be guarded in what we taste; and we need to guard our imaginations.

We must avoid these things, or we will all perish. “And the Lord saw that great was the evil of man upon the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all day long.” Genesis 6:5. That is how it was before the Flood. The people’s thoughts were evil all day long. That is the reason for the Flood, and Jesus said that it will be this way again just before the Second Coming of Christ.

Grow in Grace

To the people who have guarded themselves, who are not being led away by the error of the unprincipled ones into lustful, lawless conduct, the Bible says, “But grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 11 Peter 3:18.

Very soon after penning these words, Peter would be crucified. He knew it, because the Lord had told him that he would be crucified just as He had been. Before his death, he had wanted to write one last time to the churches. As he came to the close of his letter—the last communication that he, as a human being in this world, would have before his own crucifixion—he wanted to appeal to the Christians to not become part of the great apostasy that he saw coming (described in detail in 11 Peter 2). He was telling us how we should be guarded and prepared, without spot and blameless, and as he closed his letter, he made this final appeal: “Grow, grow in grace.”

Will there ever be a time in this world when we do not need to grow in grace? No, there will never be a time in this world when this will not be applicable. This is something that we can pray about every morning. We can say, “Lord, I am commanded in your word that I am to grow in grace, and I am surrendering my life to you today, choosing to guard myself, choosing to do my part, but Lord, only You can supply the grace.” We need to do our part—to guard ourselves—but we need to ask the Lord to bring that miracle of grace about, because only He can supply it. The promise in the Scriptures is that He has all of the grace that we need for whatever our struggles may be—appetite, passion, the desire for pleasure, impatience, losing our temper. We need grace if we are going to overcome, and God has all of the grace that we need. We only need to ask for it.

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life Ministry and pastor of the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: historic@stepstolife.org or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.