Peter often encourages his readers to a holy walk in the here and now by reminding them of what God has done for them in the past and what He will do in the future. As Peter concludes his second and final letter, he focuses his readers on the future new heavens and new earth, which will be filled with righteousness (2 Peter 3:11–13). In looking forward to those new places, Peter challenges readers to live in holy conduct and godliness. In that context Peter warns them and seems to imply that you can “fall from your secure position.”
Peter makes a personal and affectionate appeal, referring to his readers as “beloved,” and exhorts them on the importance of being in peace, spotless, and blameless (2 Peter 3:14). Rather than being discouraged that the Lord delays the new heavens and new earth, Peter encourages his readers that God is just being patient so more can be saved (2 Peter 3:15). Peter reminds believers that the apostle Paul also wrote about what God has done and what God will do in the future (2 Peter 3:15). Even though what Paul wrote was important and true, some of it was hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16). Some people who are untaught and unstable distort what Paul said and spread false teaching (2 Peter 3:16). Peter does not want believers to fall into that trap or to fall from their secure position. He warns that, because we know what is coming beforehand, we should be on guard against those false teachings. We should not be not carried away by error and so fall from our secure position (2 Peter 3:17).
Peter recognizes that everyone has a responsibility to study and be diligent to pay attention to the Scriptures so they won’t fall from their own secure position, their place of safety, or their own steadfastness (as the NASB puts it). Peter is not at all suggesting that believers can lose their position in Christ. Peter taught that believers are quite secure in Christ and can never lose that position (see 1 Peter 1:3–5 to see more than ten affirmations of eternal security of the believer). Rather, Peter is warning that each believer can be carried away by error and lose the safety of holding firmly to the truth that God revealed. We can lose our steadfastness or our secure position and open ourselves up to false teachings that will lead us astray and cause us harm.
Peter loves his readers. He calls them “beloved” several times. He doesn’t want any of them to suffer in this way. Instead, he wants them to focus on what God has told them about what He has done for them and what He will do for them in the future. If we pay attention to what Peter (and Paul) taught, we can avoid being carried away by error. We can avoid falling from our secure positions. We can remain steadfast, aware of the truth and drawing hope from that truth.