November 25, 2021

Always Drink Upstream from the Herd

2 Peter 1-3

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Simeon 1 Peter, a servant 2 and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and...


Simeon 1 Peter, a servant 2 and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Confirm Your Calling and Election

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to 3 his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, 5 and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities 6 are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, 7 be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, 8 to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

Christ's Glory and the Prophetic Word

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, 9 with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

False Prophets and Teachers

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell 10 and committed them to chains 11 of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 12 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, 13 and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge 14 in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, 15 while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, 16 insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet's madness.

17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves 17 of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

The Day of the Lord Will Come

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, 18 not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies 19 will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 20

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.

Final Words

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.


[1] 1:1 Some manuscripts Simon
[2] 1:1 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface
[3] 1:3 Or by
[4] 1:3 Or virtue
[5] 1:5 Or excellence; twice in this verse
[6] 1:8 Greek these things; also verses 9, 10, 12
[7] 1:10 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters
[8] 1:13 Greek tent; also verse 14
[9] 1:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved
[10] 2:4 Greek Tartarus
[11] 2:4 Some manuscripts pits
[12] 2:6 Some manuscripts an example to those who were to be ungodly
[13] 2:9 Or temptations
[14] 2:10 Greek who go after the flesh
[15] 2:13 Some manuscripts love feasts
[16] 2:14 Or eyes full of an adulteress
[17] 2:19 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface
[18] 3:9 Some manuscripts on your account
[19] 3:10 Or elements; also verse 12
[20] 3:10 Greek found; some manuscripts will be burned up

Always Drink Upstream from the Herd

Key Verse | 2 Peter 2:1

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 

Bio | Steve Baxter

Saddle up, cowboys and cowgirls. This morning we ride!

God graciously called me to Himself when I was a child and in His loving kindness has grown my faith over a lifetime with Him. He really tweaked my "holy discontent" in my 40s and taught me how to walk more closely with Him and to see His creations the way He sees them. This allowed me to become more intentional with others in light of eternity.

I've been blessed with 37 years of "happily ever after" with the fetching Mrs. Baxter. Add to that three sons, three daughters by marriage, and four heart-filling grandchildren. . . . Blessed!

Central Truth

Through God's grace and sanctification, we construct the foundation required to discern and fend off the wiles of false prophets and teachers. God's infinite love for all people is reflected in His patience before Jesus returns. But the day of the Lord is coming!

Devotional | 2 Peter 1-3

Growing up, I worked as a cowboy every summer on a large cattle ranch, and roughly a third of the time we were on horseback, checking fences and gathering cattle to work calves. The ranch had many spring-fed streams...

Growing up, I worked as a cowboy every summer on a large cattle ranch, and roughly a third of the time we were on horseback, checking fences and gathering cattle to work calves. The ranch had many spring-fed streams providing an abundance of clear cold water for man and beast. Will Rogers famously quipped, "Always drink upstream from the herd." I saw this principle played out many times.

For my urban "Journeyers," cattle tend to foul the stream when they gather to drink; therefore, always drink upstream from the herd. In the same vein, Peter was concerned about the negative impact that false teachers were having in "polluting the stream" of the early church and was compelled to warn against their sinful lifestyles and bad theology.

My dad was sick for six months before he died, and in many quiet moments he implored me to seek God, grow in my faith, and avoid the paths of the ungodly. There was a growing sense of urgency to impart godly counsel to those he loved. Peter likewise was near the time of his martyrdom in Rome when he wrote this letter, and he urged his spiritual children in several specific areas (2 Peter 1:12-15):

  1. Because of the grace God has shown us, we can be partakers in His divine nature and should strive to pursue virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love—God's greatest attribute (2 Peter 1:5-7).
  2. Remember that Peter was an eyewitness to Christ's ministry and the glory He received, thus validating the gospel message that Jesus and the apostles taught (2 Peter 1:16-18). 
  3. Beware and avoid false prophets and teachers because they presume on grace in their sinful lifestyle and promote bad theology and blasphemy (2 Peter 2:1-3, 17).
  4. The day of the Lord is coming, but we serve a patient God who loves us as sinners and in His infinite kindness pursues us with His enduring love. The term day of the Lord, however, indicates a day of reckoning is coming (2 Peter 3:9-10).

In the meantime, Charles Spurgeon gives us this practical insight: "Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It's knowing the difference between right and almost right."

See Comments

Discussion Questions

1. In light of the heart change you have experienced in Christ, how are you "making every effort" to live a godly life and take on His character? What fruit is it yielding? (2 Peter 1:5-7)

2. What steps are you taking to build a foundation to discern rightly the heresy of false teachers in our day? How are you being equipped in Scripture?

3. How are you living today in light of the coming day of the Lord? Consider that actions speak louder than words (see Ephesians 5:15-17).

9 Comments available

Michael Scaman 8 months ago

It seems to me in the book there is

First - a lot of exhortations to escape lust and ‘sinful desires’. Knowlege of the Lord and godly character with brotherly love will help. John Piper says find better pleasures and better pleasures to defeat sin.

Peter also quotes the Proverbs that ‘A dog returns to his vomit’ showing a person may not be saved if his appetites and desires unchanged in the long run.

Second - a reminder Jesus is coming. It may seem long but God is outside time ( a short time for us is like a long time for Him, a long time for us is like a short time for Him).

Michael Scaman 8 months ago

Good Spurgeon quote.

Simon Peter introduces himself with his old and new name and addresses the people as having equal standing in their faith as the apostles in this second letter.

Peter in the first letter did similar. Although he was called a rock by Jesus he called the people ‘living stones’ and Jesus 'the stone" that one trusts in and won’t be put to shame.

Linda Green 8 months ago

Great analogy, Steve! To me “drinking upstream” is being in God’s word daily to know Him, And being so thankful for Jesus!

Have known a lot about what God says in His word from growing up in church. But God’s word didn’t begin to sink in until I completely surrendered and accepted what God says about Himself: Exodus 34: 6 “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,”

He is good, and being certain of this truth has changed my heart.

Was also struck by the protections Peter provides for love (2 Peter 1:6-7). The world says just love without restraints, but Peter starts with faith and then virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and then, when those are in place, love. Good boundaries!

Sue Bohlin 9 months ago

(1/2) Hi Steve, and thank you for your devo.

2 Peter 3:15 NLT really resonated with me today: “And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved.”

My husband’s father griped and complained about being 96 and still here in a continually failing and frail body. A few weeks ago the Lord strongly impressed his daughter (my sister-in-law) to share the gospel with him, so she asked him, “Dad, do you know where you’ll go when you pass?”

He said no.

Sue Bohlin 9 months ago

(2/2) She asked, “Can I tell you how you can know?” and shared the gospel with him. She then asked if she could pray a short prayer that he could agree with in his heart and he nodded yes, and she prayed a simple prayer of putting his trust in Jesus as God’s Son who died for his sins then rose from the dead.

Hearing this story, we (the believers in the family) prayed he said “yes” to Jesus in his heart . . . because he died on Monday. I’m pretty sure that’s why he lasted so long—so he would cross over into God’s family before facing Him. I am thankful for this precious verse in today’s reading.

Happy Thanksgiving, JTJ fam!

Greg Jones 9 months ago

Called as a child, later tweaked resonates with me. Simply explained external experiences cause you to look internally and when you do you this relationship with God in the orbit of your life but your life is not orbiting around that relationship with God.

I call that tweak the work of the Holy Spirit. From childhood always taught from God’s word to keep him center, it still took a tweak to orbit around God rather than a teaching.

Some, now probably most, Bible scholars would say 2Peter was tweak to the New Testament. Some say if it is a tweak it couldn’t be inspired by the Holy Spirit as inspiration is understood. In my experience I have found the Spirit in me inspiring/renewing the teaching, always.

Hugh Stephenson 9 months ago

3 of 3

Today’s false teachers tell me this is all a myth. CS Lewis, who knows something about myth, say otherwise; as does Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell and many others.

So, my gut reaction makes me angry at all the lies I was told, (and willingly believed). Years ago, a theologian told Amy “The Bible is a collection of true stories that may or may not have happened that way.” What?!?!

In digging deeply into the words and actions of the false teachers my better heart prays for them to know the truth. Knowing their higher level of accountability and the penalty that waits them calls me to pray for them to come to a saving and surrendered faith.

Shane and Shane praise and pray about Living Water

Got Qs on 2 Peter

Bible project on 2 Peter

Hugh Stephenson 9 months ago

2 of 3

I read the descriptions of the lies they are telling and wonder, again, if this is written current day.

How close are we to this day being that day?

As I learned a few years ago, I am called to always be ready.

I link to 2 Peter 1:12-15 – his reference to my needing to “confirm [my] calling and election” and be (constantly) reminded of the need to supplement my faith with Peter’s list of the fruit of the Spirit, (Galatians 5:22-23). The notes remind me Peter’s starts with faith and ends with love.

Also, I’m reminded that I must be in community.

Confirming my calling – and being in community.

These two elements protect me from succumbing to the temptations of Satan, (1 Peter 5:8).

Hugh Stephenson 9 months ago

1 of 3

GM Brother Steve!! Awesome devo. Love your take-a-ways from the passage.

Being a child of the suburbs, it took me awhile to learn the “upstream” message. Eventually I took in enough bad water to seek the Living Water.

In 2 Peter what stands out to me is the reality of the Gospel, the truth of God’s Word and the certainty of judgement.

I find myself underlining line after line in this passage AND in the ESV SB Notes. What a powerful and detailed statement of the truth!

I’m taught that in the OT if the prophecies of a “prophet” turned out to be false then he was killed. SO, the link from false prophets to false teachers is an easy one to understand.

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