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Men's Bible Study
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Bible Search
The Basis for a Christ-like Life (2 Peter 1:1-11)
Growing through Addition
Developing a Christ-Like Life
2 Peter 1:5-11
 
My intention for the morning messages from now until Thanksgiving was to develop a series dealing with the forgotten value of virtue.  There are probably many of us, especially on the younger side of life, who don't even know what the word means, and yet it is one of those things that is indispensible if we will be like Christ. 
 
But as I explored that idea and in particular the word "virtue", I came to a passage of Scripture in 2 Peter that really captivated my attention.  And what I realy felt God leading me to do was develop a series, not just on virtue, but how virtue fits into the larger concept of living a Christ-like life. 
 
Notice what we read in these verses:
 
verses 5-8
 
It's interesting that we are told to "add" to our faith these various components that result in us being "neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And what Peter is telling us is there is this principle growing and developing through addition.  And the sum total when everything is added is Christ-likeness. 
 
1.  The Principle
 
What he has in mind can be pictured with a simple mathematical illustration of addition. 
 
We start with faith, then we start adding.  The first thing to be added is virtue.  Then we add knowledge.  To faith and virtue and knowledge, we add self-control. Then comes perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and finally, love.  And the sum is the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, or we could call it Christ-likeness.
 
Now follow the idea:  it all begins with faith.  Unless and until you become a Christian, nothing else matters.  The "faith" he mentions here is saving faith.  He talks about that in the first 4 verses and we'll look at those in a moment. 
 
But to be like Christ requires more than just being saved.  The goal is to make us like Christ.  And when everything is said and done and our life as a Christian comes to an end on this earth, we will be.  God will see to it.  We will be completely and finally changed in every detail to be like the resurrected Lord. 
 
In the meantime, God already has us in process.  And that process includes not just our inward relationship with Him, but the outward expression of our faith, and that's what theses verses are primarily dealing with.  They are all about how we live our life as a Christian.  So how does that happen?  We'll let's explore
   
2.  The Application
 
Now notice, Peter says that not only are we to add these components to our faith, but we are to do it with diligence.  It is something that deserves the very last ounce of energy, the best of our effort and the commitment of our life. 
In other words, we are to do everything we can to add these things to our faith because in the end, that pursuit is rewarded with the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
 
Also, from the beginning of verse 5, notice that the command of verse 5 is connected to what was said in verses 1-4.  So it would serve us well to back up and see what is said in those verses. 
 
verses 1-4
 
Now obviously, there is a lot in those verses, but without spending a lot of time let's just summarize the section to say that through the relationship afforded us by the righteousness of Christ, we have received God's power so that we can become partakers of the divine nature.  That divine nature is described in verse 3 as all things that pertain to "life and godliness", and in verse 4 as "having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust". 
 
So God has set in place a plan by which we can be like Christ and that plan is afforded to us through His divine power.  So twice we've already encountered the word "divine".  Our goal is the "divine" nature and it is made possible through "divine" power.
 
Obviously, this plan to change us to be like Christ is a big deal to God!  He has committed to it by not only developing the plan, but energizing its accomplishment.  So God's in!  He's doing His part! 
 
However, on our side, the effectiveness of that power is dependent on us coming to understand that God has called through glory and virtue.  And that is a direct reference to Christ. 
Our salvation is based on us accepting the glory of Christ and His moral excellence.   When we accept Christ, based on his glory and virtue, there are some tremendous promises that come our way. 
 
Think of it like this:  Our goal is Christ-likeness.  We are to be like Christ.  And God is so committed to making that happen He has given us the power to accomplish the goal which means we have the power to resist temptations and follow God and so forth.
And, not only does He provide the power, He provides the motivation which are His exceedingly great and precious promises. 
 
So, according to verse 3, our goal is life and godliness.  The strength to become godly is divine power and the source of that power is knowing and trusting the promises of God.
 
To put it in practical terms, think of it like this:  we are the light bulbs of Christ out in our neighborhoods and on our jobs, God is the distant generator of the power that turns the lights on, and the cables that carry the power are God's promises.  There is a connection between God and us that is His promises.  And when we believe those promises, when we connect to those promises, it brings the power to our lives to live like Christ.
 
And Peter says, verse 5, for this reason. . .Because of this power of God that flows into our life through His promises, we are to give our attention to adding to our faith these characteristics of Christ-likeness. 
 
The most important thing about that command is that it is connected to verses 3 and 4.  Remember, verses 3 and 4 are not a command. 
They are just a description of what God has done for us. God's power has provided everything we need to lead a godly life.  And because of that, spare no expense, leave everything on the field to be godly.  Since God has given power for godliness, strive to become godly and give it everything you've got!
 
This is the heart of New Testament ethics. In fact, this is the heart of the New Testament gospel.  We love God because He first loved us.  We serve God, because He became a servant and died in our place. 
We work, not in order to obtain salvation, but because we have been saved.  And we strive for virtue because God has already labored for us and is at work in us.
 
Don't ever reverse the order or you pervert the theology of the New Testament. And the point Peter is making is God has already done everything that needed to be done to insure our success.  He has given us divine power. Now, in the confidence of that power, take pains not to live unworthily of his love.
 
Instead, live as Peter describes in verses 5-7.  He mentions seven specific things that are to be added to our faith, and each of them demands our diligence.  They are virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.
 
By the way, notice, the list begins with faith and ends with love. That agrees with the rest of the New Testament: We begin our life with God through a faith decision, which is expressing our confidence in God's promises.  That commitment produces a power in our life to live as we should and the end goal is to love others the way Christ loved us. 
Then, between faith and love, there are six other qualities and what we'll be concentrating on for the next few weeks is exploring these additions to our faith that are listed here in verses 5-7. 
 
For today, I just want to place the emphasis on how strongly the language Peter uses encourages and urges his hearers to pursue godliness
 
3.  The Encouragement
 
As you read through these verses, you sense something of a progression or surging in the language.  It's as if Peter is building in intensity as he goes.  He is cracking the whip, urging his listeners to strain forward in pursuit of Christ-likeness. 
 
He is saying, "Since you've been saved, since God has graced and blessed you with salvation, and given you what you need to be like Christ, now take it to heart!  Do everything you can to advance in moral excellence.  Don't ever grow comfortable with where you are! Never be satisfied with the status quo!
 
Instead, live a virtuous life!  Practice self-control!  Master your emotions and passions!  Ask God to show you how to be patient!  Demonstrate the love of God that He has placed in you!  And it is all presented with an encouragement to advance and press on and move forward!
 
Far too many of us have grown cold and lethargic and lazy.  We never give any thought to developing Christ-likeness.  We never evaluate our conduct in regard to God's Word.  We listen to sermons and lessons and it goes in one ear and out the other. 
And as a result, we don't grow in Christ.  For all intents and purposes, we are at the same place as we where when we got saved.    
 
But the truth is, we aren't because it's impossible to stay in the same place.  And unfortunately, if we aren't giving "all diligence" to adding to our faith these characteristics, we are not just sitting still, we are drifting away.
 
On Labor Day weekend back in 1970, Glenda and Robert Lennon were four miles off the coast of Florida fishing alone from their yacht. Glenda decided to take a swim and soon found the current had carried her too far out from the boat.
 
Her husband, hearing her cries, without thinking dove in and swam to her, but then realized they were both being carried out. He was a champion swimmer, but not she. They made a plan. He would swim against the tide to keep the boat in view until the tide ceased and he could reach the boat. She should save her strength and just float with the tide and he would come and get her.
 
He fought the tide for six hours and just as the boat was about to disappear on the horizon the tide turned and his strokes carried him to the boat exhausted. The sun had set. His searching was futile—he could not find his wife. The next day on one last effort search, the search party found his wife—twenty miles out and still alive. It was an incredible story.
 
 
 
What it illustrates is this: Christians who just float never stay in the same place. Christians who disobey verses 5–7 and do not apply themselves with diligence to bear the fruit of faith drift into great peril. We must strive even to stand still, the tide of temptation is so strong.
 
The effort towards virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly affection, and love is not dispensable icing on the cake of faith. If Robert had not swum with all his might, the yacht would have gone out of sight, and he and his wife would have drowned.
 
But the diligence and effort and exhaustion were all demonstrations of just how much he loved his wife.   The easy thing to do would have been to give up and accept her loss and try to go on.  But he kept swimming and fighting and reaching until he reached the boat.  And he didn't give up then!  He started searching and looking and when he didn't find her, he went for help and continued until finally she was saved!
 
Why would a man do that?  Why go to that trouble?  After all, there were other women in the world!  He could just go find a new one!  Just save yourself and move on!  But he had made a commitment to her!  They loved one another.  They shared a life together!  And she was worth the fight and struggle!
 
Did you ever stop to think about the fact that how much energy you put into your pursuit of Christ is an expression of how much you really love the Lord?  In fact, Peter says it is a demonstration of the assurance of your salvation.     
 
Listen again to
 
verse 8
 
Hear what he's saying?  If these things, the things listed in verses 5-7 such as faith and virtue and godliness and so forth, are yours, and if you have an abundance of proof of them in your life, then you give evidence that you know Christ and belong to God.
 
But the warning Peter gives is that it is possible to make a start in the Christian life, but then to become indifferent and unfeeling and careless and drift into destruction.
 
Later, in this same letter, at chapter 2, verse 20, he will say, "If after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first."
 
In other words, if the knowledge of God's glorious promises does not motivate you to strive against the tide, then you will be barren and fruitless and drift to our destruction.
 
So what happens to the person who quits swimming?  What about the person who does not diligently pursue Christ?  What are 
 
4. The Consequences
 
verse 9
 
The problem with the person who does not strive toward all the fruit of faith is that he is blind in two directions.
 
When he looks to the future, it's all a haze, and the promises of God are swallowed up in a blur of worldly longings. I think that is what it means by shortsighted.
 
And when he looks to the past, the forgiveness that made him so excited at first is all but forgotten and taken for granted and all he remembers is a walk down the aisle, a little prayer and getting wet in the baptistery. 
 
And even though, as verse 3 says, the power for godliness flows through knowledge of God, it is also true, as we see in verse 9, that  blindness to the past and future work of God blocks that power and leaves us limp in the water, drifting toward destruction.
 
So what do we do when we find ourselves drifting away from God? 
 
Verses 10
 
Now come all the way awake and don't miss what this verse is telling us.  The danger of not pursuing Christ and drifting away from God is not the danger of slipping into the kingdom with no rewards. It is the danger of not being saved at all.
 
When Peter says, "Be even more diligent to make your call and election sure," he means that the lack of diligence on your part to pursue Christ-likeness may be that you've never been called and you're not among the elect.
Understand that when you get saved, God sets in motion a plan that will ultimately result in your being like Christ.  It's guaranteed by God, but along the way, we are a part of that process.  And as Peter says, we are to give all diligence to the task at hand. 
 
We are to do everything within our power to be like Christ.  And as Paul said to the Romans, those whom God has called are predestined to Christ-likeness.  And those who are called, are justified and glorified.  The process of moving us from what we once were to what we shall be, is an everyday challenge and responsibility. 
 
Therefore, the most important thing we can ever do is make sure we're saved.  If we are, God wants us to know that we are and one of the primary ways we can be sure is that we long to be like Christ.  We want our life to be like His Life. We want His love to flow through us.  We want His virtue to show in the way we live and treat people. 
 
Therefore Peter says, "Make sure of your salvation!   How? Evaluate your life by this list and see how you're doing. The assurance of your salvation is evaluated by your progress in sanctification.   
 
That's what he's saying in
 
verse 11
 
Do you want to know if you're going to heaven when you die?  Then confirm your salvation by evaluating your life by this list of Christian virtues and you'll never have to worry about whether or not you're going to heaven.  Your entrance is guaranteed!
 
Now let's just close by applying the lesson to ourselves. The point of verses 5–11 is that we should earnestly confirm our call and election by making every effort to advance in the qualities of Christ (vv. 5-7).
 
So are you?  Do you put any time and effort and energy to make sure you are developing moral excellence? Are you making every effort to increase your knowledge of God's character and his will?
 
Do you seek to live a life of self-control?  Are trying to develop patience?  Do you spend time with God and ask for His help in becoming Christ-like?  Do you consciously work at loving your brothers and sisters in Christ? 
 
If these things are in you and increasing, you will not be fruitless (v. 8), you will never stumble (v. 10), and you will enter the eternal kingdom of Christ (v. 11).   
 
But if these things are not of any concern to you, then it is because you have shut your eyes to the beauty of God's promises, and have forgotten the amazing thrill of being forgiven.
 
Therefore, the Word of God warns us against being lazy in our faith and drifting away from Jesus Christ our only hope.  
 
And the Word encourages us to fight the good fight of faith and take hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12, 19); to lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and run with perseverance the race before us (Hebrews 12:1);
to press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14); to advance and grow and go forward in virtue and knowledge and self-control and patience and godliness and brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1:5–7); and in this way to reassure our hearts and make our confidence firm that we are indeed called to share in God's glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:10, 3).
 
Let's pray.
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