2 Peter 1
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence… – Vs 5
…the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. – Vs 11
It seems that most of us as believers are always struggling with the part we play in this mysterious journey called sanctification. If we are in Christ, we basically understand that our salvation was God's thing. He did it all through Jesus Christ. We played no part in it. We couldn't earn our salvation or add anything to it to deserve it. It was a gift from God. But there's something strange that happens after Christ redeems us. We somehow think it's up to us alone to reform us. He bought us our ticket into heaven, now we have to make sure we are worthy to get on the train when it departs the station. So we begin earning our stripes. We go out of our way to make ourselves more holy. We seek after righteousness. We pursue moral excellence. We run the race to win. And we wear ourselves out in the process. Not that any of those things are wrong, in and of themselves. In fact, they are all biblical.
He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. – Proverbs 21:21
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. – 1 Timothy 6:11
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. – Romans 12:11
I could go on and on. Even in this chapter of 2 Peter, we are told to supply, add to, or "furnish besides" a whole list of qualities to our faith. But have you ever wondered why we can work so hard at improving ourselves spiritually and still seem to lack any real fruit, experience any significant joy, feel any closer to God than when we began? I think Peter gives us some insights. He tells us that God has "granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness" (Vs 3). The New Living Translation puts it this way:
As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life.
Peter goes on and says that "He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature" (Vs 4). God has given us His Son and His Holy Spirit to save us and to sanctify or transform us. And they are both ours by an act of faith. We don't do anything to receive either one, except believe. And it is because we have received these promises of God that we should then begin to add to our faith the qualities listed in verses 5-7. But we don't manufacture them. We don't will them into existence. They are already ours at salvation. We have them available to us through the presence of the Holy Spirit. They reside within us. Peter says, "For if these qualities are yours…" (Vs 8). The New English Translation puts it this way: "For if these things are really yours…" In other words, Peter is saying, if you are a Christian, then these qualities are yours and they should be increasing. They are the byproduct of a vibrant relationship with Christ.
To lack these qualities is a sign that something is wrong. Peter says, "But concerning the one who lacks such things – he is blind. That is to say, he is nearsighted, since he has forgotten about the cleansing of his past sins" (Vs 9). No amount of pursuing, striving after, seeking, or attempting to manufacture this list in my life is going to work if I have become blind to the fact that I have been purified from my former sins. In other words, I have lost sight of the fact that it is because I have been saved and redeemed that I am able to experience these godly characteristics in my life. God has purified me and He will perfect me. He wants to mature me into the nature He has already given me. Lacking these qualities is a sign that I lack faith. I fail to trust God that He can accomplish His work in me. That's why Peter warns us to "be all the more diligent to make certain of His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble" (Vs 10). If these things are lacking in our lives, Peter seems to say that we may need to go back and examine whether we were ever saved in the first place. Because someone who is in Christ will naturally "practice these things." They are the natural outflow of a relationship with Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
It's interesting that Peter goes on to say that God not only supplies everything I need for salvation and sanctification, He supplies my ultimate entrance into heaven (Vs 11). He uses the same word that he used in verse 5 - epichoregeo. God supplies it all. He gives us everything we need for life and godliness. But how easy it is to forget that and assume that it is somehow up to us. So we work. We strive. We serve. We pursue. And we wear ourselves in the process. Because we fail to understand that our holiness is up to Him, not us. It is a gift of His grace. Which is why Peter starts his letter by saying, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (Vs 2).
Father, keep me focused on You. Forgive me for often thinking that it is all up to me when it comes to my holiness. I work so hard to please You, serve You, and to grow in godliness. But I just find myself worn out. But You offer Your grace and peace. You grant me everything I need for life and godliness. Help me to understand that truth and live it out in my daily life. Amen