2 Peter 3:3-4
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,…
I. THE NATURE OF THE VICE.
1. It is not the serious inquirer that I complain of, let his objections be raised against whatever doctrines they may, but the individual who treats the subject with a spirit of levity, derision, and contempt.
(1) In some instances this unhappy and unholy disposition goes so far as to despise every kind of religion, natural as well as revealed.
(2) In other cases, the scorner appears in the character of a deist, who, while he professes to believe the truth, and to submit to the obligations of natural religion, attacks the system of Divine revelation. He reviles the Scriptures as forgeries.
(a) Much unhallowed ridicule is thrown by some on what are considered by us as the most sublime and important doctrines of revelation — I mean the trinity of persons in the Godhead, and the atonement of our Lord.
(b) The scorner will not unfrequently be found avowing his belief in the important articles which I have just mentioned, while, at the same time, he ridicules the only legitimate influence and valuable results of these doctrines. Has not the term saint, that highest appellation which can be given to man or glorified spirit, been bandied about society as a term of reproach?
(c) Another way of scoffing at religion is to pitch upon the imperfections of good men and to expose them to public ridicule. But how hateful is the malignity which delights to throw all the praiseworthy parts of the character into the shade of one ludicrous trait.
(d) It is a miserable device, which many have had recourse to, to select the absurdities of fanaticism and the hollow pretences of hypocrisy, as they have been exhibited in some false professors, and thus to raise a prejudice against all genuine religion.
2. To inquire where and when the practice of scoffing is indulged in.
(1) In the theatre.
(2) How often the social circle is the scene of this unhallowed sport and the entertainment of the convivial party is heightened by profane ridicule.
(3) How saturated with the sin of scoffing at religion are many of the publications, and much of the periodical literature of the present day.
II. THE CAUSES OF SCOFFING.
1. There are many subordinate and proximate ones.
(1) Of these, pride and an unmortified opinion of self takes the lead.
(2) Scoffing is sometimes the result of a prevailing and indecent levity of mind, an habitual and indulged frivolity, which alike indisposes and unfits a man for any serious pursuit.
(3) A silly affectation of novelty combined with a wish to be thought superior to the terrors of superstition, leads in many cases to the sin of ridiculing piety.
(4) Many are led on to assume the character of the scorner by the power of fashion and the contagion of evil company.
(5) Inability to attack religion in any other way induces some to assail it with their scorn.
2. But the chief source of scoffing is that which the apostle has mentioned in the text, "Scoffers walking after their own lusts."
III. THE CHARACTER OF THIS VICE.
1. It is irrational. Ridicule is neither the test of truth in others nor the way to obtain it for ourselves.
2. It is rude and uncivil. A decent respect is due to every man's convictions on the subject of religion, though they may be erroneous.
3. It is a most cruel and inhuman sin. Did he but consider how many there are who, amidst the vicissitudes and the trials of life, have no ray of consolation from any other source to fall upon their dreary path, would he follow them to their last refuge and attempt to drive them by unhallowed scorn even from thence?
4. It is a most hardening vice. The sacred writers speak of a scorner as almost irreclaimable.
5. But its impiety in the sight of God surpasses all description. Religion is at once the production and the image of Deity; and to scoff at religion, therefore, is to scoff at God.
6. It is a contagious and injurious vice. Scorners are the chief instruments of Satan, the promoters of his cause, his most zealous apostles, his most able advocates, and his most successful emissaries.
IV. THE PUNISHMENT OF THE SCORNER.
1. Are there, tell me scoffers, no midnight scenes of terror and self-reproach? How will this be increased on the bed of death?
2. I cannot conceive of any character with whom Jehovah will be so awfully severe as the scoffer; his is the loftiest height of vice, and his will be the lowest depth of punishment. God's patience in bearing with such impious creatures is wonderful; and His justice in punishing them will be in proportion.
3. And then, who shall tell the secrets of his prison, or conceive of what the scorner shall endure in the dark world of hell? There will be no saint near him there on whom to utter the effusions of his ridicule. Not one flash of wit will for a moment relieve the darkness of eternal night; not one sally of humour resist the oppression of eternal despair.
(J. A. James.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,