This is the second part of the previous post, “Transforming Power?”
I am not a biblical scholar. I just love the Lord and want to know what His Word says, so I dig in. I use all the study helps I have and start looking into the original language of the text. I am surprised when the meaning is not what I anticipated. Many times I’ve had to change my thinking to align with scripture, “the washing of water with the word.”
I first learned how to “dig in” when I began studying the scripture in 1986. I was tired of being told what it said. I didn’t want to be “spoon-fed” anymore; I desired to learn how to feed myself. So I began with 2 Peter because it is so short – I didn’t want to bite off too much. That is why I have a special affinity for this epistle and this passage in particular:
He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverence, and in your perseverence, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in you brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitul in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Peter :4-8
I want to be useful and fruitful, and I want to truly know Jesus. So what can I do to participate in the process of growing? Of course, it begins with faith…
- faith – pistis – primarily, firm persuasion, a conviction based upon hearing, is used in the NT always of faith in God or Christ, or things spiritual.
- supply – epichoregeo – to supply fully, abundantly, in 2 Peter 1:5 to add.
To my faith I am told to abundantly add…
moral excellence – arete – virtue, intrinsic eminence, moral goodness; of any particular moral excellence, virtue is enjoined as an essential quality in the exercise of faith.
How many of us have professed faith and yet do not have a change of morals? I am told to add moral goodness to my faith. He says I have become a partaker of the divine nature and have escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. I do not have to live in the “filth” of the world anymore – I can choose to move on to good things, but I need to know what God considers good, so I add to my moral excellence…
knowledge – gnosis – primarily a seeking to know, an investigation, an enquiry, denotes in the NT knowledge especially of spiritual things.
I am to actively seek to know more about spiritual things. I am told to investigate, contrary to what some people say, you are not to “check your brains” at the door. To know about spiritual things based upon God’s teaching – not to seek out all forms of spirituality: transcendental meditation, yoga, channeling spirits, etc. I find the good things of God in the scriptures and then I become challenged to act upon my knowledge by adding…
self-control – enkrateia – strength, temperance, “self-control” is the preferable rendering, as temperance is now limited to one form of self-control; the various powers bestowed by God upon man are capable of abuse; the right use demands the controlling power of the will under the operation of the Spirit of God; in 2 Peter 1:6, it follows “knowledge”, suggesting that what is learned requires to be put into practice.
In my knowledge – as I learn more about spiritual things – I am to become more self-controlled. I learn more about what God desires and with that knowledge, through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can better control myself and do what is pleasing to Him. I learn more and more about righteousness and choose to do the things that honor Him the most. When anger arises I remember I am not to fulfill the desires of the flesh and lash out in strife. To have this type of self-control I must add…
perseverance – hupomone – enduring patience, patient continuance, an abiding under.
My mind pictures a bridge with massive supports holding up under the pressure of the weight, the burden it bears. As I learn more, I will be tested. But I am to “consider it pure joy when I encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of my faith produces endurance. And I am to let endurance have its perfect result so I may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking in nothing.” (Michelle’s paraphrase of James 1:2-4) If I bear up under the trial, understanding I am being tested, then I will grow and become more mature. I now know why life is not “peachy-keen” for the one who follows Christ. He is about the work of making me into what He desires, so I will become more like Him, godly…
godliness – eusebeia – to be devout, denotes that piety which, charcterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him; godliness, holiness.
I am to become more and more like Him. As I continue to add these qualities to my faith, I progress in holiness. I am to be devout and desire more of the things of God. I am to live above the petty things of life – not letting the little things get in the way of progressing toward God. The things of the world are not to be the things I seek – I am to seek His kingdom and His righteousness. “To be so heavenly minded you are of no earthly good,” is a common thought; but is it really what God says? The more I become like Him, the more I am concerned about the people around me; therefore I am to add…
brotherly kindness – philadelphia – brotherly love (kindness), love of the brethren.
Are we kind to one another? The old song, “they will know we are Christians by our love…” Many people in the world have walked away from Chrisitianity because of the lack of love they see within the body. If I am progressing in my faith, I will become more kind to others, and then I can show true…
love – agapao – Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered,…as used of God, it expresses the deep and constant love and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects, producing and fostering a reverential love in them toward the Giver, and a practical love towards those who are partakers of the same, and a desire to help others to seek the Giver.
Love is a verb, it is not based upon feelings. Agapao love desires the best for the other. If I am to emulate the type of love God has for me, then I will show it through my actions, I will be willing to die for another. It’s not about me liking a person; therefore I will act loving toward them. It is about me giving selflessly for another, even one whom I may not like.
What a high calling! I’m feeling convicted as I type these words. What God asks of us is no less than what He already did for us.
He demonstrated His own love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. I have not yet reached that point of sacrifice. I say I will die for my family, maybe my friends, but for someone I don’t even like? To be loving, not based upon feeling – only through His perfect love abiding in me is this even possible.
Now, you see? If I follow this ultimate “how to guide for growth” I will have the promise of verses 8-11:
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
I want an abundant entrance into the kingdom, how about you?
Definitions were found in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.