What are “the elements” that “will be dissolved”? A Bible dictionary defines “elements” as “first principles,” or “rudiments.” The term, it says, “was used of the letters of the alphabet, as elements of speech.” Thus, “the elements” mentioned by Peter refer to the fundamental things that give the world its ungodly characteristics, attitudes, ways, and goals. “The elements” include “the spirit of the world,” which “operates in the sons of disobedience.” (1 Cor. 2:12; read Ephesians 2:1-3.)
That spirit, or “air,” pervades Satan’s world. It impels people to think, plan, speak, and act in ways that reflect the mind of Satan, the proud, defiant “ruler of the authority of the air.”
Therefore, knowingly or unknowingly, those infected by the world’s spirit allow their minds and hearts to be influenced by Satan, so that they reflect his thinking and attitude. As a result, they do what they want, without regard for the will of God. They react to situations on the basis of pride or selfishness, they manifest a rebellious attitude toward authority, and they give free rein to “the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes.”—Read 1 John 2:15-17.
How important, then, that we “safeguard [our] heart” by exercising godly wisdom in our choice of associates, reading matter, entertainment, and Web sites that we may visit on the Internet! (Prov. 4:23) The apostle Paul wrote: “Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.” (Col. 2:8)
That injunction becomes all the more urgent as Jehovah’s day approaches, for its unprecedented ‘heat’ will melt away all “the elements” of Satan’s system, exposing them as totally lacking in fire-resistant qualities.
This calls to mind the words of Malachi 4:1: “The day is coming that is burning like the furnace, and all the presumptuous ones and all those doing wickedness must become as stubble. And the day that is coming will certainly devour them.”