In his second letter, the Apostle Peter wrote to the Gentile believers who were dispersed throughout what is today known as Turkey. His goal was to warn them about the false teachers who were infiltrating the churches and to instruct them how to defend themselves against their false doctrines.
Peter’s letter helps us identify false teachers by contrasting the moral behavior that every believer is expected to pursue with the immoral behavior of the false teachers.
After assuring them that God has provided everything, through Jesus Christ, that they need to live a godly life, Peter tells them how to be victorious. He instructs them to make the maximum effort to grow stronger in their faith by applying the seven Christian virtues.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faithDid you notice how the seven attributes in this list build on one another? To be sure, practicing these Christian virtues with endurance requires all the diligence and effort we can muster, along with the help of the Holy Spirit.
goodness with knowledge,
knowledge with self-control,
self-control with endurance,
endurance with godliness,
godliness with brotherly affection:
and brotherly affection with love.
2 Peter 1:5-7 CSB
Let’s take a closer look at these attributes.
The seven Christian attributesGoodness: This attribute not only communicates that believers are expected to produce good fruit worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:8) but also tells us that believers are to lead lives of moral excellence and virtue. The classical Greek word translated “goodness” describes the God-given ability to perform heroic deeds.
Knowledge was Peter’s primary solution to counter false teachers. An understanding of God’s word is the best defense against their heresies. False teachers are crafty. They’ll usually speak much truth from God’s word while twisting some of the scriptures they don’t like into something that pleases those with itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3). To avoid being deceived by false teachers, we must diligently study the word of God for ourselves and pursue an understanding of sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).
Self-control: To achieve moral excellence, we have to control our bodily desires. This begins with controlling our thoughts. Only when we allow ourselves to dwell on the lusts of the flesh, do we act out on them. Exercising self-control contrasts sharply with how the false teachers of the Apostle Peter’s day lived, which made it easier to identify them. It also helps us to identify the false teachers of our day.
Endurance: Peter warned believers to not only exercise self-control but to do so with endurance. This means we need to control ourselves all the time, even in the face of trials and adversity. We need perseverance—the spiritual staying power that never gives in and never gives up. We can only achieve this with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Godliness demonstrates reverence and loyalty to God. Perhaps the highest form of godliness is to obey God’s commands. Christians are obligated to follow Jesus’s example “not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). I know this isn’t always easy, but take heart; God has given us the faith and grace we need to live a godly life.
These first five virtues pertain to our relationship with God. These last 2 pertain to our relationship with people.
Brotherly affection is demonstrated when we show concern for other people and care for their needs. In my own life, I’ve experienced that my love for God has given me a greater affection for other people than I had known before I was saved.
Love for other people takes brotherly affection to a new level. When we love someone, our desire is for them to experience the highest good. This is the kind of love that God has for sinners (John 3:16).
Applying the seven Christian attributesIn order to become more like Jesus, we need to pursue the seven Christian attributes with all our heart, soul, and mind. After all, as Peter describes in the following verses, there are wonderful benefits in doing so.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.Are you making every effort to supplement your faith by pursuing these Christian attributes with all your might and with endurance? If not, I pray that you’ll reevaluate your priorities and give this the serious thought that it deserves.
2 Peter 1:8-11 CSB
May the blessing of the Lord be upon you,
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