11 “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:11-13)
What is to be the believer in Christ’s response to the soon return of our Lord? How are believers to live in anticipation of God’s coming judgment of the fallen world?
For some, a believer in Christ does not have to live any differently from anyone else who is not converted. The perspective seems to be that while it is a good thing to live a godly life, it is not really necessary because it’s all about going to heaven regardless of how one lives on earth.
However, the Apostle Peter stressed to believers then, and by extension to believers in Christ today, that Christians have a biblical responsibility before God, and before other people. What exactly is that responsibility?
In short, it is to live lives of holiness and godliness. Holiness (ἁγίαις; agiais) means to be set apart from sin. It is to be pure, righteous, and have superior moral qualities. If you recall from our study of I Peter, the apostle spoke of holiness in I Peter 1:13-16 when he wrote, “13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
It is the believer’s responsibility to no longer be conformed (συσχηματιζόμενοι; syschematizomenoi) or to shape one’s behavior in the passion of one’s pre-converted state or spiritual condition. God has called and commanded His children, or disciples, to be holy as He is holy (see Leviticus 11:44; 19:1-2; Matthew 5:48; Ephesians 5:1). This holy lifestyle is to be lived in light of the Lord’s return and the world’s increasing hatred of God.
Holiness is connected to godliness. Godliness (εὐσεβείαις; eusebeiais) refers to not only appropriate beliefs but also the devout practice of those beliefs. In other words, believers in Christ are to live out what they believe.
Christians are not to become so consumed with the anticipation of the Lord’s return that they lose sight of how to obediently live for the Lord’s glory in light of His soon return.
Yes, we are awaiting the new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness dwells. In the meantime, we are to live holy and godly while dwelling in this fallen and sinful world (Matthew 5:13-16).
Pray that the Lord will give you the strength to so righteously live for His glory.
Soli deo Gloria!