“But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
The paragraph that extends from verse eight through verse thirteen sets before us the outcome of the coming of Christ. Scoffers said in verse four: “Where is the promise of His coming?” Their idea is that it has not happened, so it must not be true.
Peter shifts his attention to Christians. Has God forgotten about his plan? It has been many years since this promise has been made. Christians should not become discouraged at God’s delay in executing His judgment. He is faithful to His promises, even though it may take time. The wheels of God grind exceedingly slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.
Peter speaks to Christians with tenderness – “beloved.”
do not forget
Peter used the word “forget” for the scoffers in verse five; now, he uses the word for Christians. “Forget” means escape notice, to be hidden from, unnoticed. The Greek indicates that Peter’s readers were in the process of forgetting. These Christians allowed certain skepticism about Christ’s return blunts the impact of His return on their lives. This passage says that “forgetting” is culpable ignorance.
The scoffers “forgot” (v.5), but Christians are not to forget (1:9). Christians tend to forget how the nature (essence) of God works. We get so caught up in finite ways of doing things that we forget that God operates from a completely different viewpoint than we do.
Forgetfulness has a great negative impact on how we apply truth to experience.
Forgetfulness is a term of application. When we forget about who God is, we cannot apply who God is to our lives.
How is it that people can learn and forget so quickly? How can people learn the truth and proceed to forget what they learned quickly? There are several reasons for this. Some people never truly learned the principle in the first place. They are ignorant that they are ignorant of the principle. In this case, the application is not the issue, but they have not formed clear enough principles to apply truth to their experience.
In another situation, the person knows the principles of God’s Word, but they operate on false criteria such as emotion as their primary operating principle. We all have emotions, but the point here is that we can use our emotions falsely. Emotions should be the result of principle rather than the cause of principle. If we live out principle, pertinent emotions should follow. Emotions get out of whack when we live inherently in emotions without principle.
Some people use emotion as the criterion of their soul. Eventually, they base their whole evaluation of the Christian life on how they feel. This leads to psychological hedonism and keeps people from applying God’s truth to experience. Some people try to solve their problems with tantrums. They blow their cork and exhibit childish behavior. This is living by manipulation. Emotions rule in this situation. When this happens, we become slaves to emotions. This destroys the Christian life. We cannot absorb and apply God’s truth in this environment.
If we stay out of fellowship long enough, this will also destroy our capacity to apply God’s truth to experience. We eventually lose conscious awareness of God’s principles because we do not think that those principles work anymore. The longer we stay in this situation, the more deprived we get. This is one problem of “forgetting” in our verse here.
Another problem that comes from “forgetting” is displaced orientation. When we fail to categorize God’s Word into proper principles for living, we live fragmented lives. We all need standards of conduct. Much Bible preaching today strictly revolves around inspiration and not teaching. No wonder people cannot apply truth to experience because they only see one issue at a time! They respond to one inspiration after another inspiration and not to the whole counsel of God. They fail to categorize God’s principles to structure their entire lives around God’s philosophy of life.
Failure to orient to God’s Word as integral principles for living is like throwing all our clothes into one big pile. When we want to wear a certain combination, we must dig through the pile until we find things that match. By the time we do this spiritually, we may end in spiritual disaster. This is a problem of categorization of God’s Word for our lives. If we hang God’s principles into categories, we can sort out what we need when we need it. We no longer have to say, “I wonder where that principle can be found in the Bible for my life.”
Many people do not apply truth to their lives because other things distract them from the principles of the Word. Learning and applying principles to experience requires discipline. It does not come with casual Christianity. If we put learning God’s Word on the outer edge of the periphery of our lives, we will not live out the Bible in our lives.