Make every effort…godliness is not a passive activity
“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. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (2 Peter 1:5-9–ESV)
For this very reason…
What are the reasons? (these are verse 3 and 4 things)
- Everything needed to live and be godly has been given
- Knowledge of God is the conduit for this
- God’s glory and goodness called us from darkness to light
- Precious promises have been given
- Participation in God’s style is possible
- Escape from evil desires and their corruption is an option
Make every effort…
It is important to realize that godliness is not a passive activity. Evil desires remain in the heart of the Christian. Sudden purity, sudden godliness are imaginary. Godliness in reality is an active style of living both taught and empowered by God. Jesus taught that steady learning is from the Holy Spirit1. He who would go after Christ must deny himself, take up his cross and follow. None of these things are merely badges one wears. None of these are passive. All represent an engagement of every effort to the end Christ called us for.
Now for the doing (the being)
Faith -> Virtue (good being)
Faith (belief and trust) must be accompanied by being good, being moral. In the Greek this word good is not the word for benevolence. Benevolence is God-based for Jesus said no one but God is good (benevolent). Peter here is saying, “Now that you believe the right stuff do the right stuff.” Peter says that the Christian should live like they believe. Men and women everywhere know of and grasp the goodness of being good. Not all will value it, but all will in some measure understand it. When the non-Christian sees the Christian living badly they chafe. They recognize the bad living for what it is: bad. Make every effort to be good.
A Christian is not to be naive or a dunce. The Christian is to actively add to their learning. The Christian is to be figuring things out. Recall from verse 3 that the knowledge of God is the conduit through which we receive the things needful unto life and godliness. The Holy Spirit would not need to be a teacher (see last paragraph) if men and women Christians experienced “sudden purity.” Many times instruction is still needed in the ways of God. Many times reading and studying the scripture and prayer give knowledge of what and where the Christian is going wrong or not going right.
Controlling one’s temper requires greater strength than taking a city2. Controlling the tongue is another of those things which is evidence of self control. There are many things which threaten to evoke a response from us. It may be a vengeful response, it may be anger, it may be lust, it may be pride or any manner of things. The Christian is not delivered from the influence of sin, but the Christian is delivered from the power of sin. The Christian should be good, have knowledge and also be able to keep their outward responses under wraps.
Many can control themselves for a time, but self-control is not a short term investment. It is forever. Peter is not writing about matters of little to no consequence. He is speaking of character rebuilding the effects of which are to be lasting.
When I was first preparing to teach this chapter back in 2012 my wife would be watching a show on TV called The Biggest Loser. This show about losing weight can be helpful in understanding perseverance or steadfastness. The participants must not quit while on the Biggest Loser campus, nor can they quit when they get home. In order to emphasize this those who get sent home can compete for a secondary prize in the ongoing weight loss after going home type category.
Spiritually we must not be a flash in the pan burning brightly like magnesium and then smoldering into mediocrity and littleness3.
Godliness here is not implying right relationship toward Jehovah and his revealed word. That is important, obviously, but not the gist of this passage. This word here only means piety or well-intentioned reverence toward deity. In the Greek this word is: eusébeia4. The word God is not even part of this word. This word does not imply inherent holiness (Zodhiates) being expressed outwardly, but rather only outward expression of reverence to things of God. In some sense a person can have eusébeia and be a hypocrite.
Brotherly Affection & Love
Brotherly affection in the Greek is a word we are familiar with for even one our cities bears this word: philadelphia. This means friendliness to mankind. So according to Peter one is to have reverence for God and friendliness to one’s fellow man. He concludes this package of steps toward maturity by going from friendliness unto benevolence: agape. While no one is intrinsically benevolent (“Why do you call me good?…There is none good but God,” said Jesus.) all are to aim for that and a godly aim gains granules of benevolence that through growth and coalescence become a very good thing.
Quick points from this passage:
- No sudden purity; no sudden godliness.
- Maturity is a process of one thing upon another.
- Self-control is not a short term investment
- Faith is the first bite. The meal follows
- The meal is as follows: Be moral, learn, control oneself, persevere, have reverence for God, friendliness to one’s fellow man and practice benevolence.