Most of us have heard various “Christian” phrases; like:
“God takes you as you are.”
“You do not need to clean yourself up to come to Jesus”
These two phrases are true; and this phrase is also true:
“God will take you as you are, but will not leave you as you are”
A person that is changing in the likeness of Christ; turning from sin and living for God more and more every day is the indicator of someone that has been born-again. After all, the Scripture tell us, “he who is in Christ is a new creation (or creature, depending on the translation)”
2Peter 1:3-11 is one of those sections of Scripture that point to this reality. Before we dive in to these nine verses, let’s first consider a couple things:
1) Christians want to go to Heaven. This isn’t earth shattering revelation, you can get most people on the street to concede, “yea, I want to go to Heaven.” – after all, if you consider the alternative, no right thinking person would say, “no, I prefer hell.” Of course, you have those that will say they do not believe in either Heaven or hell, but for the most part, people will say, “yes, I want to go to Heaven.”
2) Christians do not want to fall. When a person has been born-again, when they understand a fraction of what it took that they might be reconciled to God, they repent of their sin. They think differently about their sin. They think differently about God. They want to forsake their sin and pursue God – they do not want to fall back in to sin.
These nine verses will make it clear how a person can keep from falling and have an entrance in to Heaven provided for them. It is important that we know there is nothing we can do to earn or deserve salvation from the consequences of our sin; redemption can only be done through the Blood of Christ. However, the most common concern for believers is assurance. These nine verses are a bench mark of assurance or lack thereof.
It is also important to notice as we study, the Christian is not expected to be perfect out of the starting gate; but the qualities Peter writes about must be qualities that are increasing in our life and they are qualities we are making every effort to increase.
2Peter 1:3 His divine power…
Who’s divine power? Jesus’ divine power
2Peter 1:3 His divine power has granted to us…
Granted to who? Christians
2Peter 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,
This is a very heavy truth! Many times, we are guilty of falling in to sin and feeling powerless to resist. This verse flies in the face of this response to sin. Instead, we must resist, we must remind ourselves of this verse, “I HAVE BEEN GIVEN ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO LIFE AND GODLINESS!”
How does God do this?
2Peter 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
God has called us, He has called us to believe and be saved. This is a cause and effect relationship – He causes us to be born-again and the effect of this call is living in moral excellence and glorifying Him with our life. It is no longer us who live, but Christ who lives in us – we no longer live for the passions of our flesh, but are instead led by the Spirit. As indicated in this verse, this happens through the knowledge of God, the understanding of His Gospel.
2Peter 1:4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises,
His call, and His causing us to be born-again, is how He grants us His promises.
What does He promise? Eternal life, cleansing from sin, a new heart, and His Spirit, to name a few.
2Peter 1:4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature,
Through the promises of God, we become “partakers of the divine nature”. This does not mean we become “little gods” – but it does mean that our nature changes, our nature changes more and more into the likeness of Christ, rather than continuing in the self-centered, sinful nature we are born with.
What are characteristics of God’s nature?
We know He is gracious, merciful, faithful, patient, loving, slow to anger, forgiving, humble, and gentle. This is not an exhausted list of God’s characteristics by any means, but it is a good start for us to take an inventory of our life, asking, “are these characteristics in my life increasing?” For example, maybe I am not the most patient person in the world, but am I more patient today than I was a day, month, or year ago? These are virtuous, morally excellent, characteristics that we are called to supplement our faith with.
2Peter 1:4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
There is corruption in the world, also not an earth shattering revelation. Many times, we hear people place the blame of corruption, wickedness, and evil on God; saying things like, “how could God allow…” But the reality is, corruption, wickedness, and evil are in the world because of our sinful desire – so if you want to place blame, look in the mirror, we are all to blame because of our sinful desire.
The good news is, Christians have escaped from the corruption that is in the world. Not in the sense that we are removed from this world, since we obviously are still here- but we have escaped the consequences of the corruption that is in the world. The Wrath of God is coming to destroy all evil and evil doers. It is only through the Blood of Christ that us evil people can be cleansed and made righteous; thus having escaped the Wrath we deserve.
2Peter 1:5 For this very reason,
Because He saved us!
2Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith…
There is something we are to make every effort to do – that is a powerful statement- MAKE EVERY EFFORT! Also, there is something we are to supplement our faith with, but before we look at that, consider this reality.
Faith is where it starts. Not just a random faith in “a god of your imagination” – but faith in Jesus Christ, trusting in His shed Blood to redeem you from your sin. Without this saving faith it is impossible to please God. The characteristics we are about to look at would be great characteristics for any person desiring to be a “good person”; but without faith, they are only a “work of the flesh”. It all starts with faith -saving faith.
2Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,
Supplementing your faith with virtue is not only a command, it is an indicator – an indicator whether you have offered an unconditional surrender to God. Surrender to God must be unconditional and absolute. When we try to play both sides - wickedness in certain company, and godliness in other company - our faith is not genuine, we are only “supplementing” our flesh. We must repent of this and supplement our faith with virtue.
2Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
If we get it backwards, and supplement our faith with knowledge without making every effort to be morally excellent, we run the risk of becoming a morally corrupt theologian. The fact that Peter lists virtue first seems to indicate that if a person must choose between virtue and knowledge, virtue is to be chosen, Of course, we are called to be increasing in all these areas, but moral excellence must follow faith.
Becoming more and more knowledgeable of God, His character, His ways, and His Word supplements, adds to, our virtue. For example, through study of His Word we know He hates sin, He will punish sin; therefore, as a child of God, I want to please my Heavenly Father and make every effort to forsake sin in my life.
In addition, studying God’s Word gives me a knowledge of sin. For example, a person may say, “yes, I quit sinning because I have faith in Jesus to cleanse me from my sin and I want to live for Him” – yet, that same person was not aware that God mentions gossip in the same vain as murder. This knowledge, partnered with the conviction of the Spirit, causes this person to repent of the gossip they once enjoyed.
2Peter 1:6 and knowledge with self-control…
As a person grows in the knowledge of God’s will, and gains a deeper understanding of the Gospel, they will become more and more aware of sin in their life (i.e. the gossip example above). With this increase in “sin awareness” comes the need for more self-control. When we look rightly at self-control, it can help us to increase our self-control. The reality is, every time a repentant sinner resists the temptation to partake in the sin they once enjoyed, this is a miracle. A miracle from God! It is evidence that God has begun a good work in your life – you are not an insignificant nobody in this world, God loves you so much that He began a good work in you and He will complete it. The fact that we don’t know the power of sin until we try to quit should help us get our mind around the miracle of self-control.
2Peter 1:6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness,
Steadfastness means “fixed in a direction”, some translations use the word “perseverance”. We are to supplement our self-control with perseverance. We are to remain fixed in the direction of virtue. Lack of perseverance says, “well, I withstood the temptation last time, I am going to submit to it this time” – but perseverance says, “yes, by God’s grace I withstood last time, I will remain steadfast this time, and the next time too!”
2Peter 1:6-7 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
We must increase in love – not only love for the brethren, but love for the lost. As we can see in 1Corinthians 13, love is action, it is patient, kind, and doesn’t insist on its own way.
2Peter 1:8 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.
What an amazing promise! Christians do not want to be ineffective or unfruitful, and we are given the blueprint to assure us that we will not be. Our effectiveness and fruitfulness in our knowledge and service to God is tied in to these qualities, having these qualities and making every effort to increase them in our life.
2Peter 1:9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
Like many times in Scripture, as amazing as a promise is, the inverse is equally bad. A person who lacks virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love is spiritually blind. They may think they see clearly, yet they are deceived into thinking they are child of God. God’s Word says, they are blind, and not only that, they have no knowledge that they have been cleansed of former sins. It is not a fading memory, it is forgotten, it is erased – it seems this person goes on as if it never happened.
2Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
Paul circles back to verse 5 which said, “make every effort”. Here he says, “be all the more diligent”. As indicated earlier, these nine verses can be assurance verses, or give a lack of assurance. This diligence, “making every effort”, is confirmation – it is confirming your calling and election. If these qualities are being practiced and increasing, not only is your election confirmed, but you will never fall.
2Peter 1:11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
A logical question would be, “if I am saved by grace through faith, why is my entrance into Heaven dependent on these qualities being practiced and increasing?”
The answer is, the practicing and increasing of these qualities doesn’t save you, but they are indicators of your allegiance to, your dependence on, and your surrender to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Now that we’ve dug into the text a little bit, let’s read these verses as a whole:
2Peter 1:3-11 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 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. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.