Study 7 THE SPIRITUAL VALUE OF A GOOD MEMORY
THE SECOND LETTER OF PETER
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: 2 Peter 1: 9-15 and 3: 1-2
The apostle makes several references in this letter to the danger of forgetting and the great importance of having a good memory, when considering moral and spiritual things. Memory is a wonderful gift from God, but, like every other good gift, it can be used in a bad and a harmful way. Satan tries to turn the benefits of memory into a curse, by reminding us of things in the past about ourselves and about others which God wants us to forget (Philippians 3:13). By remembering when we should forget, we often harm ourselves, the church, and other people. If the opposite is also true, what does God want us to remember? (1) His great goodness to us, His mercy and His faithfulness (Deuteronomy 5:15; Luke 22:19). (2) All those things in the past which we can profitably use for comfort and warning in our lives (Deuteronomy 7:18; 24:9; Psalm 143:5; Luke 17:32; Acts 11:16). (3) All those things in other people’s lives which will help us to understand and to love them better (Hebrews 13:3).
Turning to Peter’s Second Letter, let us notice three clear exhortations we are given about using our memories in the right way:-
1. In 2 Peter 1:9 we are exhorted to remember what the Lord has done for us.
This verse describes those people whose memory had been made oblivious of the fact that certain great things had happened. We are all in danger of forgetting what the Lord has done for us. What are these?
- (1) He has cleansed us from our sins (2 Peter 1:9) - and to get the force of these words we should compare Psalm 51:7; 65:3; Proverbs 16:6; Isaiah 6:7; Hebrews 1:3. The first joy we experience when we become a Christian is the joy of sins forgiven and cleansed (Psalm 51:12), and never forget this!
- (2) He has given us ”everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) - and it also emphasises the fact that this ‘everything’ is brought to us and made real in our experience “through our knowledge of him”. In other words, when we come to know the Lord Himself we come into possession of every other worthwhile knowledge - compare Ephesians 1:3 and Philippians 3:10, and never forget this!
- (3) He has called us “by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3) - it simply means that He has given us a measure of heaven upon earth now and the promise of heaven for all eternity in the future. How wonderful that the Lord should do this for us! Do not lose the wonder of this great fact - never forget this!
- (4) He has given us “his very great and precious promises” by which to live the Christian life (2 Peter 1:4). How can we live in the light of verses 5-7 unless we can claim such promises as Isaiah 41:13; Philippians 4:19; 2 Timothy 4:18 and Hebrews 13:5-6? Glorious promises never forget that the Lord has given them to you!
- (5) He has provided the means whereby we may live lives of usefulness (2 Peter 1:8). How sad to have lived an unproductive life when God meant us to be fruitful! Look up John 15:5, 8, 16, and never forget that the Lord intends you to be a fruitful Christian!
2. In 2 Peter 1:12 we are exhorted to remember who the Lord is, and who has done so much for us. What are we to remember about the Lord Himself?
- (1) He is the One who came out of the glory of heaven to do His Father’s will (2 Peter 1:17). Compare Philippians 2:5-8. The cross was the purpose of His coming. In eternity past He vowed - Hebrews 10:7; and before Calvary He said - John 4:34. He came from heaven to earth for us - for you!
- (2) He is the One who is truly the Son of God, in whom the Godhead is perfectly enshrined and expressed (2 Peter 1:16). Peter was referring to the transfiguration of the Lord on the mountain, where he and others were “eyewitnesses of his majesty”. They heard the words of the Father and saw the Son (Mark 9:1-10). Always remember that the Lord Jesus is the one and only Son of the Father!
- (3) He is the One who foretold the martyrdom of His beloved servant Peter (2 Peter 1:14) - compare John 21:18. We learn that just as the Lord had a perfect plan for Peter’s life, so He has a perfect plan for the life of each of His children. Never forget this! He is the Planner - our Guide and our Guardian (Exodus 33:13; Psalm 27:11; 37:5; Proverbs 3:5-6; John 16:13). Always remember your Guide!
- (4) He is the One of whom the Scriptures always speak (2 Peter 1:21). The prophets spoke of Him; He is the Christ of all the Scriptures (John 5:39; Luke 24:27; Acts 18:28). Read your Bible and ground yourself deeply in its truth; gaze upon your Lord; always remember how great He is!
3. In 2 Peter 3:1-2 we are exhorted to remember the words of the prophets, the apostles and of our Lord concerning future things.
Notice the following:
- (1) Scoffers will come in the last days (2 Peter 3:3). We see these words being fulfilled around our world! - compare 2 Peter 3:4; Jude 18.
- (2) God will have the last word, and, as in former days, He will again send judgment on the earth (2 Peter 3:10). Read through Genesis chapters 6, 7 and 8, and compare 2 Peter 2:4-10; 3:5-7.
The conclusion to all this is in 2 Peter 3:17-18, and it is an encouragement to know that we have a divine helper to stir and refresh our memories about things that really matter - look up John 14:16.