This blog entry is part of a series through the book of 2nd Peter.
Text: 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.”
Make Every Effort...
It is by grace alone through faith alone that a soul is saved. No works can add to or subtract from the positional righteousness that Jesus has won for all who believe. We are children of God through faith, not performance. Children do not earn their position in the family, rather they simply grow up into what is already theirs. Likewise, we also must grow up into the salvation we have received from God. But we need to remember that the "works" Peter mentions in these verses are "supplements," not the main course. Think of multi-vitamins; these are great supplements to take with your breakfast, but they are no substitute for your breakfast. A man can live on breakfast with no supplements, but a man cannot live on supplements with no breakfast. So it is with our faith in Christ. Faith alone is enough to save, but all the works in the world with no faith will save no one.
Nevertheless, there is a way in which immature faith, (or a faith with little evidence), withholds blessing from the child of God. If our faith is not supplemented by the character traits of maturity we will make life much more difficult on ourselves than God would have it be. Jesus not only purchased our salvation but also our sanctification. We have been “granted all things that pertain to life and godliness.” Yet, we must take hold of these gifts if we are to receive their benefits. Christian maturity strengthens and empowers us to resist temptation, endure hardship, and persevere in every circumstance with joy. Simultaneously, immaturity in our faith causes us to continually give in, give up, and suffer perpetual defeat. We are called to be, "partakers of the divine nature," and, “for this very reason,” we must, “make every effort,” to grow in maturity. But how?
The phrase, “make every effort,” sheds light on the tenacious pursuit of a transformed life that every follower of Christ is called to strive for. We might say it differently with our modern tongues: “You must stop at nothing!,” or, “Give it everything you have!” This is exactly the kind of attitude we are being encouraged to take regarding our relationship with Christ. We must, “make every effort,” to grow up into the new life we have freely received. The Apostle gives us seven clear aims to make central in our lives, seven “supplements" to add to our saving faith. Let’s explore them together.
Supplement Your Faith With...
Virtue — Moral Excellence
To cry out to God, “Lord, save me from my sins!” is to say that sin itself is indeed something from which you need to be saved. This means that a true believer will no longer desire to continue living in disobedience to God. Growing in holiness is the only reasonable response to sincere faith in Christ. The old manner of life must be put off, and the new manner of life must be put on. Therefore, let us make every effort to supplement our faith with virtue.
Knowledge — Relational Intimacy with God
Our stomaches crave calories, and our rescued souls crave Christ. Sincere faith hungers after a deeper relationship with God, and the primary means by which we obtain that intimacy is through the ministry of his Word. We are not only called, but privileged to commune with God through his inerrant Word and prayer. Therefore, let us make every effort to compliment virtue with knowledge.
Self-Control — Mastery Of Personal Desire
Self-control without salvation is a fool’s errand. Until God opens the eyes of our heart to see life through the lens of his grace we cannot cultivate godly self-discipline. It is only through salvation that Christ becomes our supreme treasure enabling us to rightly value the puny whims of this world. Christian self-control is learning to say no to sin and yes to God in every area of our lives. Therefore, let us make every effort to apply our knowledge of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ by exhibiting self-control in our lives.
Steadfastness — Unswerving Loyalty
Steadfastness is the maturation of self-control. It is a continual, yes to God and no to sin in every area of our lives. There is grace for the inconsistent, for bad days and times of weakness, but the goal of our sanctification is that we would mature in the salvation we have freely received. God’s desire is to cultivate unswerving loyalty and endurance in the hearts of his people, so that we will be steadfast and immovable, shining as lights in this world. Therefore, let us make every effort to mature in self-control and press on toward steadfastness.
Godliness — Reverence for God
Godliness abounds where depth of insight is increased. Our reverence for God flourishes in humble honesty about the depth of our personal need for his pardon. When we measure ourselves against the holy and righteous standard of God, we are drawn quickly and reverently to our knees in worship. It is in that humble worship that the eternal glory of the cross shines bright into the darkest corners of our heart and we are from that moment on perpetually transformed in our inner man to rightly bear the image of our maker in the actions, attitudes, and values of our life. Godliness is therefore, the imminent result of truly encountering the living God. Let us make every effort to allow steadfastness to mold our hearts in godliness as we marvel at the grace of our great King.
Brotherly Affection — Affection for the Saints
Our concern for the needs of others is always a reflection of our own understanding of the grace we have received. Those who understand of how much they themselves have been forgiven, are quicker to forgive the sins of others. Those who understand that if it were not for mercy, they too would be lost, these are the ones who excel in brotherly love. As christians, we care for others out of the overflowing care we have personally received from God. Brotherly affection is the mark of maturity in the faith because it no longer measure others by their failures, by what they may take from you, or by what they have to offer. Brotherly affection looks at the soul of every human being through the lens of Christ’s perfect victory, knowing that, "the ground is level at the foot of the cross." Therefore, let us make every effort for our growth godliness to spill over into sincere brotherly affection for others.
Love — Unconditional Love (Selflessness)
When we realize that God has promised an eternal reward that no power, situation, or circumstance in this world can take away, we are then, and only then, truly freed to lay down our lives in love for the sake of others and for the glory of our Savior. Unconditional love is the fruit that blossoms on the vine of promise. We must personally believe the “precious and very great promises” of God if we are to grow in maturity, to be “partakers of the divine nature." Divine love cannot be displayed by the immature because it is solely the result of resting in the promised provision of our infinitely powerful Lord and Savior by faith. Our personal intimacy with God is what grows our ability to offer a selfless love like his to the world around us.
As Peter says in the very next verse, “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let us then make every effort to grow up into the salvation we have received, that we might be partakers of the divine nature both in our personal fellowship with God and in our witness to the world.