Scripture Can be Hard to Understand: Beware of those Who Claim it is Easy
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
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, 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. 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. 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.
(2 Peter 3:15-18)
When we are doing battle with evil, we must be certain to have a firm footing. The stability of faith in God’s promises and revealed truth is vital, else we will lose our balance and be shaken. Peter warns and encourages us here in this regard. He acknowledges, even though he is an apostle, that some of the things his brother Paul writes are hard to understand. Think about that. An apostle acknowledges that some Scriptures can be difficult for even him to grasp. This is the mark of a true servant of Christ. The wisdom and humility to admit things like this.
False teachers on the other hand, puffed up by their pride and evil intent, claim to have all the answers and to be able to comprehend every depth of God’s Word with ease. They make no room for other opinions or interpretations. They never simply admit, “that is a tough verse to understand. I’m not positive what it means.” In their thinking, they have advanced far beyond Peter in the knowledge of the mysteries of God!
Now, notice something here carefully which I think will be a good encouragement to you. Peter says that “ignorant and unstable” men twist the Scriptures. They do this to their own destruction. They will pay for their evil one Day when Christ calls them to final account. They are false shepherds, false sheep, and their end will be destruction. That’s pretty final. And more, Peter tells us that it is the difficult, hard-to-understand texts of God’s Word that these kind particularly love to “carry us away” into their own errors, such errors being characterized as lawlessness. Their teachings, supposedly based upon these Scripture twistings which they so love to do, are actually against God’s law, the very antithesis of Christ’s truth which sets us free. So our part is to walk carefully, evaluate every teaching thoroughly, lest we be lured onto Broadway and put into the bondage of these wicked ones.
Now, our experience with the evil of abuse bears this out, does it not? What more difficult passages of Scripture are there than some of those on marriage, divorce, and remarriage? We should not be surprised, therefore, that these are some of the Scriptures that today’s unstable, lawless teachers run to, twist and pervert, and use them to draw us away from the grace and knowledge of the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Think of how many “Christian” leaders, pastors, authors, and theologians (generally of the celebrity genre) confidently declare with God’s own supposed authority, that their interpretation of every detail of these passages is the plain and obvious truth and anyone who holds to a different take on a verse is without doubt wrong and in some cases under God’s curse! No divorce for any reason at all! Anyone not obeying what I say is God’s Word will be ex-communicated from this church, if not consigned to hell for all eternity. That is no exaggeration, right? We hear if from these kind.
Now, I can hear these types protesting. “Why then, you are opening the door for all kinds of errors if you say that we cannot be certain of the precise meaning of every passage of Scripture. You are allowing for anyone to make any interpretation of Scripture they want and opening the floodgates for wickedness to come in.” No. What we are saying is that we must be wise and reject the perversions of especially difficult passages of Scripture which are laid upon us by ignorant and unstable people who make a habit of twisting Scripture so that their teaches oppose the truth and character of God and promote lawlessness. In fact, it is these false teachers who, often through their confident interpretations and applications of Scripture, who are the ones promoting lawlessness. They are the ones opening the floodgates for evil.
True godliness is characterized by humility. A humility that evidences itself especially when those verses that Peter says are hard to understand, are handled. Our God is incomprehensible. He has not revealed in equal clarity everything about Himself. In fact, what do you suppose we will be doing in the New Heavens and New Earth for eternity? We will be growing in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Think of that. How infinite is the nature and glory of God? Infinite! That means He will forever and ever be showing us new facets of His being. Truths about Him that we have not even imagined. Do not let arrogant, Scripture-twisting people draw you into their error and shake the stability we enjoy in God’s clear and revealed truths.