Most people are aware that over time words can change their meaning. For example, “nice” originally meant “ignorant,” “silly” meant “happy,” and “pretty” meant “crafty.”
Over the past 50 years, another word that has experienced a change in meaning is the word “truth.” Truth once referred to something objectively true regardless of historical or cultural context. It represented absolute and unchanging propositions one could trust to apply equally to all situations.
In recent decades, it has come to refer to that which is true for each individual. Truth has lost its absolute and objective qualities and has become relative and individualistic. It now is common to hear that what is “truth” for one person may not be “truth” for another.
While such a philosophy is certainly attractive to those wishing to emphasize a respect for diversity and tolerance for different opinions (both of which are proper attitudes to a point), the denial of objective truth removes a vital anchor for life within a world of change. Without objective truth we are left without an answer for Francis Schaeffer’s famous question, “How should we then live?” As he begins his second letter, Peter affirms the reality of objective truth and instructs his readers on how they might live their lives in line with that truth.
Enabled through his power (2 Peter 1:3-7)
Followers of Christ know the truth we are called to live but many often struggle to do so and wonder why. Yet as Peter points out, when a person becomes a follower of Chist, God gives her or him all that is needed to live a life of godliness. All believers already have the power to live life fully in line with the truth. We simply sometimes do not realize the depth of power that is available.
As a follower of Christ, we are full partakers in the divine nature of God. This does not mean we become God, but we are filled with the very Spirit of God that was there are creation and which empowered the ministry of Jesus. It is a power over all of the world’s corruption and the power that makes it possible for us to live the truth that distinguishes us from the world. It is the power that enables us to move from faith to love by producing the qualities Peter lists in verses 5 through 7.
Through the power God places within his followers, these represent not merely polished human qualities, but qualities reflecting the character of Christ to the world and lead to Peter’s second characteristic of living the truth.
Evident in distinctive living (2 Peter 1:8-11)
Those who seek to live life in line with God’s truth possess three important attributes which distinguish them from the world. Verse 8 states such individuals are fruitful and effective in life. Seeking to live according to God’s truth brings a person in line with his or her divine purpose and thus leads to a true sense of fulfillment. Living by a standard beyond self multiplies the results of all one’s activities.
In verse 9, Peter tells his readers the one who seeks to live the truth has a clear vision of what life can be. The one who fails to develop the qualities listed in verses 5 through 7 lives life nearsighted, focused only on self and the immediate circumstances. The implication is that developing those qualities allows one to look beyond self and circumstances to the greater truth of what life was intended to be.
Finally, verses 10 and 11 indicate the one who lives life according to God’s truth experiences a deep level of security. Such individuals know God always will be there to hold them up regardless of their circumstances, and they will be rewarded with an eternal home with God. Fruitfulness, vision and security are characteristics which would certainly distinguish anyone’s life.
Confirmed by personal experience (2 Peter 1:12-16)
Even in the midst of living the truth, it can become easy to question the purpose of doing so. We live in a world in which we have come to expect instant rewards. When we do not see immediate payback for “living right,” we may forget its benefit and give up.
This is especially true when, like Peter’s initial audience, we experience persecution or any opposition for our efforts. That is why three times in these verses Peter encourages his readers to remember. He states his intention to remind them of these things so once he is gone, they will remember the ways God always honors those who seek to live for him.
Each of us have times in our lives when we have seen the benefits of living the truth. In addition, we have the biblical record of how God always rewards faithfulness. These times not only serve as encouraging reminders to us, but also as confirmation to others that living life in the light of God’s objective truth leads to God’s blessings. Living the truth by faith is not based on wishful thinking but on the confirmation of our personal experiences.
Based on his word (2 Peter 1:17-21)
Personal experience alone, however, is not enough. After all, the relativity of personal experience is the primary (if not sole) basis for the world’s definition of truth. The objective authoritative truth we know is found in God’s word alone and is then confirmed by experience as it is lived. As we live it and those around us see the effects and ask what makes our lives different, we are able to lead them to the source, the word.
The world tells us the the Bible is simply an ancient religious text. But as we go beyond reading and even studying it to fully basing our lives on its truth, we clearly demonstrate it is in fact the only sure foundation and constant unchanging light able to guide one through the chaos of our constantly changing world.