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Last week we saw some sweet promises of God that enable us to partake in God’s divine nature. We have escaped the corruption of this world and we have been granted everything we need pertaining to life and godliness. This morning we’re going to study some arithmetic in a message called godly math.
2 Pet. 1:5-7 says, “Now for this very 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, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.”
Here’s why I’ve called this godly math. This passage is directly linked to vs. 3-4 where Peter said, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these 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.” Peter challenges believers to live a life that reflects the godliness of Christ because we have the sweet promises of God. We have the divine power of God and it would be a grave mistake to dismiss the call to holy living as legalism. We are to be holy because Christ is holy. We are called by God’s glory and excellence to holy living, holy behavior, a holy lifestyle. The holiness God expects is grounded in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross. We are saved by grace through faith. Grace comes first – godliness comes after. When you attempt godliness without that grace, salvation is reduced to works and true godliness never materializes. That being said, we do have a responsibility to, “Apply all diligence.” Godly character doesn’t just happen. You don’t get it by sitting back and waiting. You must work at it.
So what is our responsibility? Peter makes the assumption that you are a child of God. You made the decision to be a follower of Christ and as a result, you are called a Christian. In Acts 11:26, “The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.” What’s significant about this is that they were called Christians. They didn’t come up with that name on their own. The community saw them, saw their actions, their lifestyle, and concluded they were followers of Christ. People outside of the church – lost people – know how Christians are supposed to act. Not to be saved, but because we are saved. Don’t live your life in a manner that would cause people to make the false conclusion that there is no God. Peter offers a list of Christian virtues or high moral standards. The chain of virtues begins with faith. It’s the same faith Peter mentioned in v. 1. Faith recognizes what God did for us through the work of Christ. It is a personal faith. All the godly virtues in this Christian life are rooted in faith, in trusting God for everything. So you start with faith and now add, “moral excellence.” Outstanding goodness. Remember the excellence Peter mentioned in v. 3? It comes from the same word that is used to describe what God calls believers to. He provides what you need. So when moral excellence is demonstrated, it can attributed to God.
To your moral excellence add, “knowledge.” In his first letter, Peter spent significant time combating the false ideas of the Gnostics that claimed knowledge was the ultimate enlightenment. Peter refuted that idea and clearly stated that our behavior must reflect our God. The Gnostic’s knowledge didn’t result in a change in behavior. They were ever learning, but never came to the truth. (2 Tim. 3:7) Knowledge must be present and increasing in your life. The writer of Hebrews says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” (Heb. 5:12) Paul puts it like this in 1 Cor. 14:20, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.” As you mature in Christ, you should be getting more and more knowledgeable. Pro. 15:14 says, “The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly.”
Now let’s add some, “self control.” Paul said you received self control as a fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:23 so you have it. In his first letter Peter said, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance.” (1 Pet. 1:14) The idea is you are able to control your sinful desires. The thought that it doesn’t matter what you do because we are under grace and not the Law is absolute nonsense.
Add some, “perseverance.” Or we could call it endurance. Paul mentions this quality at least eight times. It’s mentioned in Hebrews, James, and Revelation as well. It’s the don’t give up and don’t quit quality. Isn’t it interesting how people who really can’t sing think all those professionals don’t know what they’re talking about and so they’re going to keep going and make it big to show them up? Isn’t it funny to see how parents will make their kids keep going when they want to quit dance, or scouts, or sports, or some club they committed to? But these same people won’t pray because they tried it once and it didn’t work. These same people won’t go to church because the last time they went, no one spoke to them. These are the same people that won’t share Jesus with their family member because they did that once and the world wasn’t transformed. Christianity is a lifelong marathon not a sprint. Hey discouraged Christian, keep going!
Add some, “godliness.” This shouldn’t be too tough because, “His divine power has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” Even though we have been given everything for godliness, we still must pursue it. Godliness refers to living a life that is like God. I like to call this quality authenticity. It’s a common theme throughout the New Testament.
Add, “brotherly kindness” in the mix. This is the love believers are supposed to demonstrate toward one another. This is the kind of love common in the family of God. That’s why moving to a new location is easier for us. We find a local church and we have a readymade family. Now the culmination that sets us apart from everyone else is, “love.” The mark of a real faith is love. In Gal. 5:6 Paul said, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.” Jesus said love is the second greatest commandment next to loving God.
Are these qualities present in your life? Are you growing in Christ or stagnant in your faith? Peter’s assumption is that they are working and developing and demonstrated in our lives. Let’s not just talk about loving God and others, let’s actually demonstrate in a consistent manner.