“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, 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.
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. 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.” (II Peter 1:3-11 ECV)
1. We have the power to live the right way—He has given it to us. So why aren’t we using that power and why do we complain about being weak, or tired or unable? We have the ability to partake in His divine nature, for goodness sakes. So why don’t we see more of this in our community and nation? Why aren’t we witnessing more of this from the political campaigns in our nation? Because we’re not connected to the power source! It’s not a matter of knowing where the source is and thinking that you can have remote control or blue tooth. We’ve got to be connected to the spring or well of power—-that is God’s Holy Spirit. Is His Spirit dwelling within you and directing your life? That “plug” or cord of connection can only happen if these things are also true:
-We are abiding in Him. What does that mean? He is Lord—He is the One you turn to for guidance, direction, answers and your assignment in life. His Spirit speaks to us when we are in an obedient relationship to Him as His servants and we can hear His voice. Do you hear Him? Are you obeying Him and are you listening? Is He the father and you the good son or daughter?
-We are praying to Him. In all things, at all times, throughout the day. Is prayer as natural and constant to you as breathing? Are you making known to Him your dreams and dreads; your yearnings as well as those fears you would never want anyone else to know of?
-We are meditating upon Him and His Kingdom. Am I truly living and working for Him and His Kingdom or my kingdom and enterprises? Truly, honestly, is He my provider and do I prove that I believe that by the confidence with which I live and work? “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat-- for he grants sleep to those he loves”. (Psalm 127:1-2 NIV). Either He will build up this church, my little camp, this nation, or it’s all vanity.
2. But we have to make the effort. God is not going to do it all for us. This is something I am reminded of as I raise three little boys. They would prefer that I do it all for them (except the fun stuff and it is a fight to get them to think, do their job, clean up the messes they make. As I wrote this I was reminded that we might send the same message to every politician in Raleigh or our capitol! Imagine how much better our state and nation would be if our elected leaders would think, do their jobs, and clean up the messes they have made. Making our kids work and giving them some responsibilities in working things out is an exercise and habit that will benefit them as they consider the need to “work out their own salvation” when they are older.
WE have to add to our faith the things that turn us into true men and women for Jesus—not babies in diapers. If we are His and would love as He loves, we have to add to our faith virtue—which is behavior showing HIS moral standards. It is a decision to be honest on your taxes, to not lie to the immigration officers at the airports, to be the same person behind closed doors as you are in public and to treat the members of your family as the gifts from God that they are!
We must then add to virtue, knowledge. It’s one thing to be innocent in terms of evil, but another to be ignorant. He expects us to KNOW right from wrong by diligently studying His word and hiding it in our heart. We’re required to educate ourselves on what is acceptable to God. If your conduct is pleasing to Him, you will be in no way egregious to others. Think about it. You might annoy those that prefer night to light, but you’re never going to cause others to stumble. People like Amy Barrett—the new Chief Justice, recently nominated to replace Ruth Ginsberg—has caused great angst with many politicians because, as a devout Catholic, she is opposed to abortion and contraceptives. She also believes in gift of “speaking in tongues”, or “glossolalia”. She has been called vulgar names and a “nut” for having her own set of principle beliefs——all based on upon scripture! Imagine, she is hated for merely acting on her beliefs! But that’s the new world we live in. “Beware of following having Jesus Christ in your heart and living what you profess”, seems to be the warning that’s being broadcast today.
And then add to knowledge self-control. It’s one thing to know the right thing to do and to have the ability to do the right thing, but we’re to add to this self-restraint and personal discipline. David had faith and virtue and courage and knowledge and was a man after God’s heart. But with beautiful women he lacked self control——and his son, Solomon, was even more snared with a desire for beautiful women. They knew better but did not turn away from or in this case run from the temptations that could destroy them! It’s been said that the best “self-control” is to not place yourself in a position where control is needed! So, avoid looking out your window at gorgeous women taking baths…..keep out of Godiva Chocolate stores……. don’t take that first drink if you know that it leads to another…..walk away from a conversation that you know will lead to a fight…
Add to self-control being steadfastness. That means holding onto the things He said and taught. Peter is suggesting that life tempts us to let go of what you know is right and walk the wrong way. Being a Christian does not mean that you are no longer tempted or that you never hear other voices beckoning you to do crazy things! Peter clearly warned about knowing about God but failing to be steadfast. In 2 Peter, 2, he warned that, “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” Don’t let circumstances dictate the condition of your heart and your outlook on the future. God has your back if you keep your eye upon the prize of Jesus Christ, but we should remind ourselves that any one of us is capable of falling into worse sins than we were delivered from if we think we can navigate life on our own!
Then add to steadfastness, godliness. Godliness means to conform our life and habits into obedience to Him. The best is example is Abraham. He believed, was disciplined had knowledge—-but obeyed God—-quickly and precisely each time. Are we changing our habits, our direction, even our careers and pastimes as He prescribes? Are there strongholds in our lives—-things we think we could not give up or walk away from that are hindering us from being godly?
Add to godliness brotherly affection—-i.e Phileo love. It’s the love that cares about the other as if they were family. Now let’s be frank: we have this kind of love for the members of our family because they are family. We have no choice really, in who are family members are! But we are bound by conscience and human nature to “love” them anyway. There are folks in our family we would probably not choose to be our friends or neighbors—we had no choice. We are stuck with them! And yet, we choose to love them because they are family. We protect them, look after them, call them, write to them, check up on them—-they are important to us. What we are is somehow connected to who they are—and we know it. It’s family. That’s how we’re supposed to treat all people—-with brotherly affection.
Add to brotherly affection add love—-that is, the love of God—the kind that expects nothing back—it is pure love. And here’s the rub, if we do not add this to our life, something is very wrong about everything else! John put it this way: ”My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (I John 2:1-11, NKJV)
Do you know Him? If you do, are you keeping His command that we love one another? It’s not a suggestion, but a condition for being a part of the Body of Christ! We must love the other! And if we don’t, we are to blame and we’ve forgotten our first love….our calling…..our election! The burden is upon you and me to “work out our own salvation” in matters such as holy living and loving one another! You cannot hate Biden or Trump….Pelosi or Mitchell, liberal or conservative in the body of Jesus Christ!
Recall what Peter said: “Therefore… be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” Obviously, there were others that were falling because they were not putting the new life found in Jesus into action! That is, they were not living lives of love, one for the other. They were looking for the wrong things for confirmation and purpose. Our purpose while we remain on this earth is to love one another as He loved us.
Consider Jesus, for example. He might have been sad and He did cry on occasion, but nothing ever discouraged Him. He knew His purpose and task on this earth and even on the way to His crucifixion He was in perfect peace. His immeasurable love for His father propelled Him to constant submission and obedience, and His unfathomable love for you and me caused Him to keep His eye upon the purpose and reward for His suffering and death.
Think about His ministry. He never looked for trouble, but never seemed surprised or dismayed when He encountered it. Some folks immediately left their fishing nets and followed Him, but others went out of their way to insult Him and delay His work. The thing He lived by was the selfless, lavish love for His Father and others. Nothing took His attention away from that!
Oswald Chambers remarked that, “Neither gratitude nor ingratitude turned Our Lord one hair’s breadth away from His purpose to go up to Jerusalem.” “The disciple is not above his Master.” The same things will happen to us on our way to our Jerusalem. There will be the works of God manifested through us, people will get blessed, and one or two will show gratitude and the rest will show gross ingratitude, but nothing must deflect us from going up to our Jerusalem.”
So what happens when people don’t give us respect our courtesy? What happens when even “good” people treat us with disdain or oppose us? If you are not “making every effort to supplement your faith”, etc., you will either pull up your stakes and go somewhere else or turn against those that are unkind to you with the same unkindness. But those rooted in Jesus Christ, sustained by His Holy Spirit, and determined to confirm their call and election, will ignore the taunts and obstacles and focus on the prize. In fact, the challenges can actually be used to fuel for our devotion to Him as we are reminded that we’re really unfit and misunderstood for anything and to anyone but Him!
He has commanded us to love one another and has told us how to do it it. Are we taking the supplements and running the race He has set before us?