5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As I indicated in the last devotional, Peter had just explained to the early church how they had everything needed in God’s word and the Holy Spirit. They didn’t need false teachers and the false doctrines that were, and still are, threatening the church. He goes on to command the believer to come along side the Holy Spirit and put forth every effort to be effective and fruitful through achieving specific qualities. In addition to growing in sanctification, practicing these qualities provides assurance of the believers salvation.
Verses 5-7 instruct us to pour out every effort towards achievement of these qualities:
- Virtue – Virtue is a moral excellence that points to divine heroism and performing of courageous deeds. This is a continuous achievement of heroism that becomes part of our everyday lives.
- Knowledge – We are to strive to obtain divine truth, the truth of scripture. Paul instructed that we are to work towards obtaining the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). How do we know the mind of Christ? By diligently studying His word. Until the printing press was created in 1455 most people did not have direct access to the word. We have no excuse today. There are over 80 free on-line bibles, we are to utilize the resources provided to us to strive to gain divine truth.
- Self-Control – The Greek word “egkrateia” means to hold yourself in. It was used by Olympians to focus all their attention on training, blocking out everything else.
- Perseverance – It means to remain strong in hardship. The hardship refers to extreme hardship, such as extreme persecution, even death. It also means the voluntary, daily suffering of life’s difficulties. Christians don’t complain about difficulties, they persevere with joy.
- Godliness – This quality relates to complete reverence, adoration and worship of God. The Apostle Paul wrote “Godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and the life to come.”
- Brotherly Kindness – We are told by Jesus in Mathew 22 that two commandments replace the law and prophets. First, love the Lord God with all our heart (deep in ourselves, or our bowels), all our soul (all our self), and all our mind (every thought). This is complete and perfecting love for Him. Second, love our neighbors as our selves. This is the companion to the first commandment. The Greek word used is “agape”, which is sacrificial, selfless love. We are to love our neighbors as we would ourselves, sacrificially and selflessly, showing all kindness.
All Christians struggle with assurance at some point in their walk with the Lord. For centuries wolves in sheep’s clothing have taken advantage of these feelings and tried to convince us they have the “truth.” Through Satan they work to lead Christians astray, convincing them to follow their false truth and flawed methods for achieving salvation and assurance.
God’s word is complete. We have everything we need. We are to put forth every effort to be effective and fruitful. We don’t strive to achieve these qualities for salvation. We strive to achieve them because in doing so we will be most effective for the Kingdom and become confident of who we are in Christ Jesus.
We are His children. We are light to a rapidly deteriorating and dying world. It’s time to be fruitful and assured.