Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 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. -- 2Peter 3: 14-18 (ESV)
Beloved, the Bible represents for us as believers insight from God Himself into our lives here on earth and the future promise of life in Christ in overcoming death. It is inerrant, which means it is never wrong. It is infallible, which means it is not even capable of being wrong. In a church that is often so desirous to hear from God they often turn away from His primary means of communication to us -- the Bible. People would rather hear from snake oil salesmen and huckster prophets than open up the final revealed will of the Lord and seek to hear what He has to say. Our biblical illiteracy is only surpassed by our biblical apathy. The result is the infiltration of many egregious false doctrines into the mainstream and the vast acceptance of things God never said and is still not saying today. Instead of exegeting the Word, preachers leverage it to support pre-packaged sermonette points they want to make. Realize at the end of that process all we are left with is thus sayeth the pastor.
The key verses today provide some background about the nature of Scripture for believers. We would be wise to seek what God is saying through these verses today. The referent to "waiting for these" is regarding the second coming of Christ according to the surrounding context. The next thing we need to take note of is that God Himself here understands that some of the truths of Scripture are hard to understand. This is why the Bible differentiates between milk and meat when it comes to teaching the Word of God. This is why the Bible speaks about believer maturing in the and through the Word. The more we grow on solid food, the more we can understand the deeper truths and discern better -- being deceived less and less. What is interesting next is that God gives two categories of people who twist Scripture falsely. The first is the ignorant. I once did a devotional about these people calling them "accidental wolves." I believe there are plenty of false teachers who think they are doing the right thing. You can however be sincere and sincerely wrong. This is why the number one defense of false teachers is never about doctrine. There is no argument about the falseness of their teaching! It is always about their heart, love of Jesus, or some other intangible. To which I say -- who cares? If your taxi driver was the sweetest, most caring and dedicated person you ever met but drove you off of a cliff would you really care about his sincerity?
The second type of false teacher are those that are unstable. Now certainly ignorance will lead to instability. We see all the time preachers who seemed to be genuinely ignorant devolve over time into something far more nefarious. The truly unstable are tossed around by winds of doctrine. They blatantly accept nearly any doctrine; seemingly without exception or question. This is the principle of the small amount of leaven eventually spreading throughout the entire batch. Compromise always begets more compromise. God assures us however that the ignorant and unstable twist Scripture to their own destruction and that is a point we should not just gloss over. Here is how Gill's Exposition views this point:
"unto their own destruction; for by so doing they either add unto, or detract from the Scriptures, and so bring the curse of God upon them; and they give into doctrines of devils, and into heresies, which are damnable, and bring upon themselves swift destruction, which lingers not, and slumbers not. Now from hence it does not follow, that the Scriptures are not to be read by the common people; for not all the parts of Scripture, and all things in it, are hard to be understood, there are many things very plain and easy, even everything respecting eternal salvation; there is milk for babes, as well as meat for strong men: besides, not the Scriptures in general, but Paul's epistles only, are here spoken of, and not all of them, or anyone whole epistle among them, only some things in them, and these not impossible, only difficult to be understood; and which is no reason why they should be laid aside, but rather why they should be read with greater application and diligence, and be followed with fervent prayer, and frequent meditation; and though unlearned and unstable men may wrest them to their perdition, those that are taught of God, though otherwise illiterate, may read them to great profit and advantage." -- Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I hear all the time from people that we shouldn't criticize false teachers but instead pray for them. I know that prayer sounds like a pious response to everything but it is misguided here. The people standing in need of prayer are the victims of the wolves, not the wolves themselves. They twist Scripture to their own destruction and their heresies are damnable.
Thankfully, God never just outlines a problem without providing the solution. The key verses conclude with His remedy here. We are to not allow ourselves to be carried away with the error of lawless people. This in turn will help us to avoid instability within our own walk. I knew well versed preachers who fell for the hyper-grace teachings of Joseph Prince. The result was horrific instability for well over a year. Thankfully, they realized their error and repented. The final recommendation from God here in the key verses is simple really. Grow in grace and knowledge. Do the work of a Berean. Study to be approved. The best way to combat what is false is with what is true.