2 Peter 1:2-11 NLT - May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. 3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
Everything begins and depends on the grace of God. It’s not about you.
We always respond to and rely on God who initiates and empowers. Even at our very best, we are empowered to succeed spiritually by the grace of God. At our weakest, we have access to that same grace because our confidence is in God and not ourselves. Yet, God’s power and grace is given to us so that we will know, grow, and do the things God wants us to accomplish. Peter writes about some of these principles of spiritual excellence that carry with them a precious assurance. Let’s explore them:
1. God calls us to know Him. Because He respects our free will, God does not force us to know Him. Because of our sinful nature, we do not naturally want to know God. Step one is to know God.
2. Knowing God is a process of growth. Like any relationship, growing in the knowledge of God is a process not an event. Supernatural encounters are part of the process but cannot be the only thing.
3.God has given us everything we need to live right (and never fall away from Him). Again, the key to discovery and execution is growing in the knowledge of God through His word, His presence in prayer, and His people (the Church). Finding freedom from our “issues” begins with knowing God more.
4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge
4. God’s promises are based on His excellence, not ours. This takes pressure off us to be perfect as we are really relying on the perfection of Christ. Escaping our lusts and sinful cravings are a product of God’s promises not our working harder to be good. All holiness must be rooted in and flow from grace.
5. Our effort is simply responding to God’s grace and promises. God offers ways of escape from evil, from bondage, from anxieties, etc., and we respond to Him in faith/trust. Because of this need to rely upon God, each of the steps Peter gives carry a big catalyst for health and success in never falling away. Most of our spiritual “systems failures” involve prayer failures. Consistent prayer is the lifeline we use to accomplish all Peter’s growth steps. This response and embrace of God in truth is called faith.
6. God’s grace empowers us to take the next steps of spiritual growth so that we can make them our habit/practice. The first step Peter lists in terms of adding value to our faith is to pursue moral excellence. This may involve our intense practicing of sexual purity, honesty, integrity, hatred of evil. Remember, the struggle against sin must keep grace in view and focus internally, not bashing others.
7. Add more knowledge to moral excellence. The thoughtful contemplation and application of Scripture (combined with giving attention to the public Bible teaching/preaching) is likely the most vital element in terms of growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ. There’s always more of God to know through His word.
6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
8. Add self-control that is fueled by your increasing knowledge of God’s word. Is it an issue of temper, overeating, porn, overindulging in entertainment or technology, inability to curb financial foolishness, workaholism, or some other area that seems to have the mastery over you? Use the grace and word of God to fuel a daily practice of self-control. Self-control is key to joy, not self-esteem.
9. Embrace patience. The kingdom of God is a marathon not a sprint, and consistency over time is your best “running partner.” We do not endure pleasure but difficulty, and persevering through difficulties is what grows our strength of character. God will usually not provide us instant gratification or results.
10. Endure hardship with a God-focus. To what do you most often turn in times of hardship? For some it’s drugs or alcohol, others food or sexual sin, perhaps others - entertainment or shopping. If it is not God, then you have discovered a structural flaw in your Christianity. Knowing and doing right > feeling.
11. Lovingly serve the church. The one another commands of the New Testament are as much for our benefit as for others’. During times of difficulty, we are encouraged by serving God and others in our areas of divine gifting. To discover our gifts and then use them to make a difference in the lives of others is enormous for never falling away from God. Resist the temptation to pull away from serving in times of trial as God often infuses you with help and health through blessing others - not pulling away.
12. Choose to act in a way that benefits others - even when it requires self-denial or sacrifice -till your feelings catch up with your doings. This is Biblical love. For instance, realize that every Sunday there will likely be a guest at church in need of knowing God, so get there early/prayed up with a mind to minister. Do what’s necessary to help those in your sphere come to know God. Build up one another in faithful participation in small groups and serve teams. Show acts of compassion or charity to those who are persecuted, poor, or otherwise in time of severe need.
2 Peter Grace Steps: Faith—>Moral Excellence—>Knowledge—>Self-Control—>Patient Endurance—> God-Focus—>Kindness to the Church—>Self-sacrificial Love (that benefits all kinds of people)
Which step do you think you most need to work on intentionally this week?
To be continued…