“Therefore Beloved, looking for these things (new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells- verse 13) be eager to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and consider the forbearance of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given to him; and also in all the epistles, speaking in them concerning things in which he is hard to understand, which certain ones, those unlearned and unstable will distort, as also the remaining scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:14-17).
The “unlearned” are those who take upon themselves the doctrines of men; they are not unlearned in worldly terms, but “unlearned” of the Holy Spirit. They are also “unstable”, Greek asteriktos, which means unsteady in knowledge, or having a tendency to change one’s views. They “will distort” the scriptures, Paul said, the Greek strebloo meaning to twist or pervert; it derives from the Greek word streble, which was an instrument of torture. If we look about us today we will see an abundance of these “certain ones”, who are trained up in the doctrines of men and who are running to and fro, chasing after the latest religious fashion.
Probably no part of the scriptures are more able to make artificial saints than the writings of Paul; that is not the fault of Paul but of those who take the teachings contained in his epistles and consider them to be game, set and match. This is to ignore the revelation of the nature and character of God that emerges from a study of the prophetic scriptures; it is also to ignore the spiritual import of the words of Jesus in the gospels.
The sad thing is that the Pauline epistles can be taught with fidelity to the text and yet leave the hearer completely unmoved in terms of moral action; this is because the speaker lacks spiritual enlightenment and is merely regurgitating something he has learned from men; the Word taught without the Spirit is the surest way to deception, leading to lawlessness and unrighteousness. Today’s preachers just feed the flock and let them alone; the notion that people may be living lives inconsistent with the scriptures is not even hinted at; any suggestion that things should be put aright is totally ignored.
Today’s Christianity belongs to men, not God; it is the creation of men, not God; it is little more than modified truth, sweetened with a bit of song, with the whole dish being made palatable by some religious entertainment.
But if you can find a man somewhere who preaches the truth and applies it to the lives of his hearers, you will see a man whose congregation is dwindling numerically; but, on the other hand, assuming that such an almost extinct creature can be found, you will also find that his congregation is growing spiritually.