“For this very reason, after applying every effort, add moral excellence to your faith. To moral excellence, add knowledge. To knowledge, add self-control. To self-control, add patient endurance. To patient endurance, add godliness. To godliness, add brotherly affection. And to brotherly affection, add love. For if you have these qualities and they are increasing, they are going to keep you from being idle or unfruitful in regard to your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8 Evangelical Heritage Version).
Eat better. Save money. Exercise more.
Those aren’t bad resolutions. If you’re one of the 8 percent of people who keep resolutions like that every year, you’ve probably found great blessings in them. But God offers us even more meaningful resolutions. He doesn’t just encourage us to change how we take care of our bodies or spend our money. He talks about changing who we are.
Being who God made us to be
You are a forgiven child of God. That’s the new identity God gives to you in your baptism. You are justified, declared not guilty because of the work of Christ. Now God calls us to live as the holy people he has declared us to be. The Bible calls this a life of sanctification.
It’s serious work. A life of sanctification is a natural one for believers, but it doesn’t come naturally. Peter lists seven Christian virtues to add to our faith: moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love.
Which of them do you struggle with most? Do those around you recognize your high morals or is your life like the lives of those who don’t know Jesus? Have the frustrations of life dissolved your patient endurance? Does your schedule rob you of time you might use to practice brotherly affection with fellow believers? You’re not the first to struggle.
God says it calls for “every effort.” It’s hard. And just as losing weight or changing your habits takes constant work, growing in Christian virtues is a daily challenge.
But it’s not quite right to say it’s changing who we are. It’s becoming who God declared us to be. Peter begins his next paragraph addressing the believers as “brothers.” What a beautiful reminder! We don’t live this way to become God’s children. We are simply striving to live as the children of God he’s made us to be.
Setting our eyes on Christ
God attaches an incredible promise to an earnest life of sanctification. Second Peter continues, “If you do these things, you will never stumble. In fact, in this way you will be richly supplied with an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (vv. 10,11).
Taking your life of sanctification seriously doesn’t earn you a place in heaven, but it does help you hold on to the gift God’s given you. Consider these truths: God says that sinful desires “war against” our souls (1 Peter 2:11). Striving for moral excellence shields us from many of those attacks.
God has given us all we need for our Christian lives (2 Peter 1:3). As you grow in this Christian living—even imperfectly—you’ll see God keeping his promise.
By adding knowledge and brotherly affection to your faith, that means you’re committed to being in God’s Word and around his people. As you do that, God will use the gospel to feed your faith and assure you of your forgiveness.
God bless you with another year of growing in his love!
Author: Joel C. Seifert
Volume 107, Number 01
Issue: January 2020