This blog entry is part of a series through the book of 2nd Peter.
Text: 2 Peter 1:9-11
“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 make your calling and election sure, 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.”
An Essential Clarification
We must be careful not to misread these heavenly words and glean a very devilish interpretation. The “practice” of “these qualities” is not the provider of our entrance into heaven, rather, it is the determining factor of how joyfully we shall enter. This text does not say that our personal obedience to God is the basis of salvation, it says that our personal obedience to God makes the free gift of salvation all the sweeter to the recipient. Satan would have us read these words and turn our eyes away from Christ. He would have us believe that our entrance into heaven is up to some obedience of our own, some righteousness that we must provide for ourselves. But Hell will not prevail against the Church. Salvation is available to all people by grace alone, through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. This text is not a charge for you and I to work harder so that we might someday receive salvation from God. No, it is a plea for those who have already received salvation to be conformed to Christ in every area of their life, to not only receive pardon for their sin, but the power of the Spirit to triumph over it. “For if you practice these qualities you will never fall,” and, “in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” There is a very rich entrance into eternal life available for all of us, the question is, will we seize it?
How can you be sure that you are a christian? How can you be confident in your heavenly adoption? How can you endure hardship and great trials with peace in your heart? Obedience. Anxiety and fear regarding our relationship with God are nourished and sustained by areas of disobedience in our life. When we willfully “lack these qualities” we are heaping kindling on the fire of of our own doubt. What makes the difference between a rich entrance into heaven and a poor entrance is the confidence we have in the love of God as we sojourn upon the earth. “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure…” There is not a soul under heaven who does not desire confidence about the life to come, and God has graciously provided the means for us to have it. Obedience. Faithful obedience always yields the fruit of heavenly assurance. This is the way God richly provides an entrance into his eternal kingdom, through a life that is continually being conformed to Christ.
Remember The Gospel
In the first years of school we learn the basic truths of the primary subjects. A foundation is laid upon which all other learning is to be built. Calculus is obviously impossible for the person who never learned to count to ten, but it is also impossible for the person who thought they no longer needed to remember how to count to ten. As a professing Christian, when we walk in deliberate disobedience to God it is because we have “forgotten” the truth of the gospel. The christian’s relationship with God is built solely upon the person and work of Jesus Christ; if the foundation of the gospel is missing, the christian life is impossible. If the foundation of the gospel is “forgotten,” the christian life becomes entirely undesirable. We begin to drift back to our old nature, “having forgotten that [we] were cleansed from [our] former sins.”
Peter says that the christian who is straying into disobedience, neglecting the qualities of godliness, is “so nearsighted that they are blind.” To be nearsighted means that you can only see things that are directly in front of your face. In essence, Peter is saying that this person has forgotten about eternal life and has begun basing all their decisions on the short view. They are living for today, for right now; they are living for themselves and not for God. Why? Because they have “forgotten” the truth of the gospel. They have forgotten that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. They have forgotten that the punishment for sin is eternal separation from God in hell. They have forgotten that every soul will live forever in one place or the other. They have forgotten that all the riches and wealth and comfort in this life cannot offer you any pleasure in the life to come. They have forgotten that it is only those who repent and believe in Jesus Christ who will be saved. And they have forgotten that by his grace, he has already suffered and died for their sake, even while they go on living in outright rebellion against him. It is only when we forget these things that we drift from our Lord, lingering in sin and forfeiting the strong assurance we have been offered.
Do you see how undesirable disobedience ought to be for the children of God? Do you see what havoc it brings? Do you see how it embezzles your confidence in God’s love? Do you see how it makes you forget the truth of the gospel which saves you? “Brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, 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.”
By all means, grow in your personal obedience to God.