July 18, 2014
By Skip Heitzig
I think we all feel sad when we meet someone who has not grown or developed physically. We think that is a tragedy. And yet it is even more tragic when we meet someone who hasn't grown spiritually. This is the kind of person who is content to just "maintain," who thinks, Why get too fanatical about this thing?
Last week I talked about God's part in our growth as believers, as detailed in His Word: "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3). He has given us all we need.
But we as Christians still have a part to play in our growth into full maturity. Second Peter 1:5-7 gives a list of additives to our faith. There's so much here that I commend it to you. Read it and really chew on these things. Let them supercharge your faith. "Giving all diligence" (v. 5) is not a casual, "If I'm in the mood, I'll grow" kind of thing. Christianity can never be lived out that way. The sense here is to put every ounce of effort you can into it and lavishly add this list to your life.
"Add to your faith virtue" (v. 5). That means faith with energy, a faith that works. The Bible says that faith without works is dead (see James 2:14-17).
"…To virtue knowledge" (v. 5). That's knowledge by experience. Jesus said, "Learn of me" (see Matt. 11:29). This is the intimate experience kind of learning—more than merely quoting the Scripture.
"…To knowledge self-control" (v. 6). This means to take a hold of yourself. Paul often compared Christians to athletes who trained themselves and said no to temptation. Our walk should have that kind of discipline and self-control.
"…To self-control perseverance" (v. 6). This means not quitting—sticking to your commitment when you're under pressure, when it hurts to live a Christian life. God has given you all that pertains to life and godliness, and you need to cooperate by sticking it out.
"…To perseverance godliness" (v. 6; Godlike-ness is what the word means), "…to godliness brotherly kindness" (v. 7; that's philadelphia, from which we get the City of Brotherly Love), "and to brotherly kindness love" (v. 7; which is agape, the divine love whose source is God).
And verse 8 gives the promise: "For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." The word barren means "doesn't work." That is, you won't be able to say, "The Christian life doesn't work." I suspect people who say that have camped at verse 4; they've "escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust," but they haven't grown from there. They haven't diligently added virtue, knowledge, self-control, etc. These things should be in us and should abound, or overflow.
Jesus said, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink…. Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38). The normal Christian life, I believe, is the overflowing of God within us. If you are welcoming God into your life daily and not hindering Him, He's going to flow out of you. You won't be able to help it!
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