Spiritually-minded people are often criticized for being “so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good.” Most of us at one time or another have affirmed this statement. After all, many people do think that true piety is passive and solitary, entailing withdrawal from society at large. This mindset can even affect one’s daily responsibilities and service in the church.
However, we must not let ourselves think that those who truly live in light of the world to come will be no earthly good. The Bible is filled with people who properly longed for the age to come by working for the kingdom here and now. Hebrews 11 lists many great men and women who, while seeking after the coming kingdom, worked to make the kingdom a reality in their own day.
Those who rightly understand the biblical view of the world’s final state will rightly be affected by it. Given that righteousness will dwell in the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13), Peter tells us in today’s passage that those waiting for them to come must be diligent to be found without spot or blemish and at peace (v. 14).
As Peter has shown us before, there is an intimate connection between doctrine and life. The false teachers who denied Christ’s return in order to embrace immorality show us that without right doctrine, right living is impossible. However, we must not think that we have properly understood doctrine if our lives are not affected by it. Our confession can be orthodox, but we have not really understood Scripture if we are not changed as a result of our study.
Those who rightly understand the world to come, those who truly and eagerly long for it, will be concerned with the transformation of themselves and of society to reflect the kingdom that is to be consummated. Those who really love righteousness will seek to be not blots and blemishes but spotless and pure. John Calvin writes, “He who waits for the new heavens, must begin with renewal as to himself, and diligently aspire after it; but they who cleave to their own filth, think nothing, it is certain, of God’s kingdom, and have no taste for anything but for this corrupt world.”
Only if we are in Christ will we be spotless and therefore pure enough to enter the world to come. His righteousness imputed to us in justification will be the only thing that secures our entry into heaven. However, our justification reveals itself in that we are concerned to be conformed to Christ’s blamelessness in our sanctification. As you rejoice in the gift of Jesus’ perfect righteousness, always remember that this gift must motivate you to manifest holiness yourself.
Passages for Further Study
Deut. 18:13, Phil. 2:14-16, 1 Peter 1:13-16, 1 John 5:1-5