2 Peter 1:5-11
Through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, God has made us partakers of his divine nature – through his divine power he trains us to grow in the knowledge of our Lord. God desires that we abound in grace and peace as a result of this growth.
But what does it mean to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and what is our part in this growth process?
We know that we are saved by God’s grace and that his divine power trains us and teaches us to grow in our knowledge of him. However, the Lord doesn’t force this upon us. We have the choice to actively partake of his divine nature – we have the choice to willingly submit to the transforming power of the Spirit – we have the choice to eagerly deepen our intimacy with Jesus Christ our Lord, to grow in our knowledge of him.
Peter gives us several qualities to work on. In one sense Peter is commanding that we build on our faith with each subsequent quality, but on the other hand we need to work on developing all these qualities simultaneously. We do this not only because we long to abound in grace and peace, but also because we still live in the realm of a corrupt world that acts as a hindrance to the glory that is ours in Christ Jesus.
2 Peter 1:5-7 – For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
- Let us make every effort to add to our faith virtue (choose to do what is right)
We stand before our heavenly father as his beloved children because we have accepted his gift of love through faith in Jesus Christ – At baptism, we joined into communion with God – His Spirit came to live in us – it was the beginning of our marriage commitment with Christ – to have and to hold – in sickness and in health – for richer or poorer – totally committed – not just words during a beautiful wedding ceremony, but faithful living from that day on and forevermore.
Moral excellence or virtue as the ESV renders it – is about living out our commitment – truly submitting to Christ as Lord of our lives – obeying his word and choosing to do what is right.
- Let us make every effort to add to our moral excellence knowledge (learn God’s word)
The Greek word used here for knowledge is gnosis. Used in our context it is to know spiritual truth – to understand the wisdom taught by God. This is not the same word used earlier in the text when Peter prayed that believers would multiply in grace and peace through the knowledge of God and Christ. That word is epignosis and it has to do with having an intimate knowledge or participation with the subject, in this case, our Lord.
Growing in the knowledge (epignosis) of our Lord requires that we live by a faith that produces moral excellence, and that we embrace God’s desire for us to keep on learning. How can we know how to please God unless we learn how to please God. And God has not left us wondering – he’s given us words to live by.
- Let us make every effort to add to our knowledge self-control (learn wise discipline)
As we learn from God’s word it quickly becomes evident that discipline is paramount. The tongue is a small member of our body but it could be like a spark that sets a forest ablaze or it could be like a rudder guiding a huge ship – the difference is discipline or self-control.
Self-control is the application of wisdom over willpower. We do not put ourselves right in the midst of something that tempts us and rely on willpower to overcome the temptation – No, we steer clear. Does the person that struggles with alcohol addiction go to the bar and rely on willpower not to take a drink or does he steer clear of the bar altogether? Learning God’s wisdom we apply self-control now, before we are in the midst of a burning inferno.
- Let us make every effort to add to our self-control steadfastness (develop patient endurance)
Temptations to sin will come even when we steer clear and we may at times feel overwhelmed by evil – but we have not come this far to give up now – and we have not come this far to only come this far – God is not done with us yet. He wants us to grow in our knowledge of him – to experience his grace – to keep going – be steadfast – to develop patient endurance.
With our eyes fixed on Jesus – we run with endurance the race that is set before us – When we begin to sink we call out to Jesus and he saves us from our doubts. When we feel anxious, we cast our cares on Jesus because we know he cares for us – We do not give up – we endure – God is on our side.
- Let us make every effort to add to our steadfastness godliness (Christ-likeness)
Isn’t Jesus the greatest man that ever lived? He was God in the flesh, but he was fully human like you and I. The words that Jesus spoke were the very words he heard from his father – the actions Jesus performed were the very actions God intended for him to perform.
If we truly want to honour Jesus Christ our Lord, then we will follow him – we will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life. Where Jesus would go, we will go – what Jesus would say, we will say – move for move – thought for thought – my life’s journey is about becoming less and less like the people of the world and more and more like Christ – less and less of my selfish desires and more and more of his godly desires.
- Let us make every effort to add to our godliness brotherly affection (love our church family)
The training ground for godliness is within the family of God. Jesus loved his twelve apostles and although they came from different backgrounds he spent much of his earthly ministry teaching them to love one another. In fact, that was his overarching command to them.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Godliness is never attained if we don’t make every effort to love the brotherhood of believers – how can we love God who we do not see if we cannot love the brethren we do see?
- Let us make every effort to add to our brotherly affection love (Sacrificial love even for those who hate us)
We know Jesus words in the sermon on the mount – “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love you neighbour and hate your enemies.’ But I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your father who is in heaven.”
If we want to be true to our identity in Christ – children of God – we ought to pursue loving others like Christ loved us (even when we were his enemies) – to love those who maybe even hate us – to walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
2 Peter 1:8-11 – For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
You want to grow in your relationship with your Lord Jesus Christ. You want to abound in his grace and peace and to live a productive, fruitful life. So take to heart some of Peter’s last words – let them impact the way you practice life.
Let us make every effort to practice these qualities knowing that if we keep on practicing these God-given attributes we will never fall.
That is the promise of God. God has saved us by his grace through our faith in Jesus Christ, but he has not saved us to stay as infants in the faith. He would have us continually growing in the knowledge of our Lord. He would have you make every effort to deepen your relationship with him – to walk hand-in-hand with your Lord into eternity.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy spirit be with you all.” (2 Cor. 13:14)