2 Peter Message #5 “Full Development of Christian Character” Ed Miller, Oct. 5, 2022

Listen to audio above while following along in transcript below (also available for download in Word at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)

As we come again to look in the Word, I always need to remind myself, in fact on every page of my Bible I have in the margin an arrow pointing up, and that’s because I keep forgetting the indispensable principle.  So, I can’t open my Bible at any page, and I’m reminded to look up.  We need the Holy Spirit, and He’s the One that shows us Christ.

I’ve got a couple of verses from Psalm 119 that I’d like to share, and it sort of blends together 1 Peter, the pilgrim life, and 2 Peter, that I need to keep seeing Jesus.  Psalm 119:99, “I am a stranger on the earth.  Do not hide Your commandments from me.”  We are pilgrims here and we need Him to show us.  Verse 27, “Make me understand the way of Your precepts.”  With that in mind, let’s give our time to the Lord.

Heavenly Father, we thank You that You’ve gathered us again, and You just love to feed Your sheep among the lilies, and there are so many who know lily-life, and they’re living here, and they’ve come to receive the rain and the dew and sunshine and the nutrients from the soil.  We just trust You to guide us as we look into Your precious Word.  I ask you to protect Your people from anything I might say that is just out of my own mind, and we pray that we would see You.  Thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit who loves to show us Jesus.  Show us the Lord, again.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Let me say a word about the notes.  They are a little bit different this time.  I put the reference and the verse on the same line.  Usually, I’d have the reference above it.  My Lillian says that saves paper.  There is the practical side of that.  Also, the caps and the bold and the underline is mine for the emphasis that I’m trying to communicate.  So, I hope that will be a little bit helpful.

Let me review again, a very short review, the theme of the Book and the distinctive revelation of our Lord Jesus in the book of 2 Peter.  The theme is the last verses of the book, 2 Peter 3:17&18, “You, therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard, so that you’re not carried away by the error of unprincipled men, and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  To Him be glory, both now and to the day of eternity.”

The first part of the message of 2 Peter is to grow, 2 Peter 1:2, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus, our Lord.”  God’s plan for every Christian is that they grow by grace in a heart knowledge of the Lord Jesus, not only by grace but by grace multiplied.  Once again, 2 Peter 3:18, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.”  The main thing that will hinder growth is legalism.  That’s the opposite of grace.  That’s why we’re to grow in grace.  Grace is what God does, and legalism is what man does.  You’ll never grow by what you do.  I’ll never grow by what I do.  We grow by the grace of the Lord.  Apart from that grace, growth is not a possibility.  God not only expects us to grow, I like to use the popular expression, “By leaps and bounds.”  That’s the idea of grace being multiplied, by leaps and bounds, and we’re to keep on growing.

The second part of the theme is in verse 17, “You, therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard, so that you’re not carried away by the error of unprincipled men, and fall from your own steadfastness.”  Grow, and be on guard.  Both are true.  When we get to chapter 2, Lord willing, we’ll introduce that next week, we’ll emphasize again the one safeguard I have in my life, against all error and all its subtle forms, is to grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The growing Christian is the safe Christian.  If you’re growing in the Lord, you don’t have to worry about any cult or any false teaching.

The distinctive revelation of the Lord is 2 Peter, we just identified from 2 Peter 1:19, He is the morning star: He’s the day star.  Let me read the verse, “So, we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention, as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart.”  We are to pay close attention to the Bible, to the Scriptures, to this Book.  It’s called, “the prophetic word.”  It’s called, “The lamp.”  It is the Word of God, the written Word.  We pay attention as we study until the day star rises in our heart.  In other words, you study the written Word until God reveals the Living Word, until we see the Lord Jesus.  

Revelation 22:16 leaves no doubt as to who the day star is, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches.  I am the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.”   There are two things about this verse.  Some people think that He addresses the church only in the first three chapters, but you notice here He’s addressing the church.  He addresses the church all the way through the book of Revelation.  Then He is called, “the bright morning star.”  That’s a figure of speech, and that’s the last star at night, the one that introduces the day, and we paraphrased it by saying, “When He rises as the morning star, He’s saying, ‘Goodbye to night, goodbye to darkness, goodbye to some confusion you might have had, some obscurity.”  He is also promising light and brightness and new day and new dawning in your life.  The day star moves over, and the Son of Righteousness rises with healing in His wings.

When we left off our discussion in our last session, I was trying to show the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart and the Lord Jesus Christ in the Bible.  There’s an organic relationship between the Christ in the Bible and the Christ in your heart.  I pointed out that the way we grow in Christ is by allowing Him to grow in us.  Galatians 4:19, Paul’s great burden, “My children, with whom I am again in labor, until Christ is formed in you.”  All of Christ lives in you, and all of Christ lives in me, and all of Christ is in the Bible, the fullness of Christ is in the Bible, but we don’t always see all of Him.  We only have a little glimpse, and then as we study more, He rises, and we have a larger vision.  The more we see Him in the Bible, the larger our vision.  So, as we see Him in the Bible, He’s growing in our comprehension, in our understanding, in our vision, in our heart.  He is formed, and you are conformed.  As He is formed in you, then you begin to become like Him.  So, the more we see Him as our Savior, our Lord, our Priest, our Counselor, the Door, the Vine, the Prince of Peace, the more we see Him, then the more we grow up into Him.  Ephesians 4:15, “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ.”  We see Him, and then we grow into that new revelation, and then He’s able to express Himself that way.

When will that stop?  The answer is never, because He’s infinite.  Even in eternity we’re going to be learning more and more about the Lord.  Don’t believe the theologians that say that He has between twenty and twenty-five attributes.  He’s infinite.  He doesn’t have twenty or twenty-five attributes.  He has an infinite number of attributes, and it will take all eternity to see that.  Ephesians 4:13, “Until we obtain the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belong to the fullness of Christ.”  We’ll be growing in Him until we get as large as He is, and we’ll never become Him, we’ll never become God, but more and more we’ll be like Him.

It’s indispensable to see the relationship between the Bible, the Christ in the Bible, and the Christ in my heart, because I see the Christ in the Bible, and the Christ in my heart is formed, and He gets bigger as my vision gets bigger, and so on.  1 Peter 1:4, “By these, He’s granted to us His precious and magnificent promises.”  That’s the Bible.  “So that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that’s in the World by lust.”

Apart from the day star rising in the Scripture, as I said over and over, that growth is impossible.  As I see Him, then I grow, and the more I see Him, the more I grow.  We made other additional observations last time, but that’s enough for the review.  When I suggested the chief content of each chapter in the book of 2 Peter, I tried to tie each chapter into the theme, and I suggested that 2 Peter 1 ties into the theme because it gives a snapshot picture of what my life will look like if I’m a growing Christian.  And it gives a snapshot picture of what your life will look like if you are a growing Christian.  Again, at every moment you’re complete in Christ, even though you don’t have a full vision of Him, at every moment you are complete in Christ.  We see that in Colossians 2:9&10, “In Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you’ve been made complete.”  He’s the head over all rule and authority.  A full Christ lives in you, and you’re complete in Him.  But even though you are complete, there’s plenty of room for growth.  I don’t like more complete, but I’m complete at every stage, and yet I’m able to grow.

What I’m trying to say is that the picture in 2 Peter describes the Christian the moment He’s saved, and then that’s the same picture after he’s walked with God for fifty years.  It’s larger, but the same principles are involved.  So, whether a person has been saved for hours or days or weeks or months or many decades, Peter paints a picture that this is what it will look like, and as you grow, that same picture, same principle is that it gets larger and larger and larger.  I call this section in chapter 1, “the full development of Christian character,” and you’ll see why, I think, as we go through that.  So, we’re both complete and growing, increasing.  2 Peter 1:8, “If these qualities are yours, and increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  So, all the qualities are yours at every stage of maturity and increasing.

Let me read the description that we’ll develop, and it will take us a moment to get to it, but it’s in 2 Peter 1:4-8, “By these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world by lust.  Now, for this very reason, also, applying all diligence in your faith, supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, in your knowledge, self-control, in your self-control, perseverance, in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I’m going to call attention to the principles that will not be replaced.  They’ll be changed by growing.  They’ll just get bigger and bigger, but they are not going to be replaced.  They are true of every believer and at every stage of his life, but as you grow in Christ, they’ll become larger and more dominant.

I want to remind you right up front what we just read, those virtues, those qualities, are by the grace of God.  We grow by grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  There’s not one of those qualities you can have apart from the pure undeserved grace of God.  Let’s begin with the Christian in his first moment. 2 Corinthians 5:17&18a, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have become new,” don’t stop there, “Now all these things are from God.”  That’s a very important part of the things that have become new.   The moment a person trusts the Lord, in that moment he’s a new creation.  In that moment old things passed away.  In that moment everything has become new.  He’s become a partaker of the divine nature, and God has re-entered that ruined temple, and He’s come to live and abide there.

Let me begin by making general observations first.  Most Christians I’ve found grew up and cut their teeth on the KJV of the Bible.  I don’t know if that’s true of you, but it was certainly true of me.  I was taught that the KJV was more reverent because it used thee and thou, instead of you and yours.  Well, I admit that the Old English might be a little more beautiful and poetic, but I’m not sure that it’s more reverent, but at least some have said that.  I think the most King James version of the Bible is John 3:8.  I have to almost laugh at it, almost, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou heareth the sound thereof, and canst not tell from whence it cometh and wither it goeth.”  You can’t get more King James than that.

In no way am I mocking the KJV, but in this particular passage, the summary of the full development of the Christian, I think it’s possible, if you use only the KJV, that you might get the wrong idea that God intends.  The KJV in verse 5 says the word “add”, “add to your faith,” and then he goes through the whole list, and you have to add knowledge to virtue, and then temperance, and then add patience and godliness, and so on, as if faith was not enough, as if faith needed to be supplemented, “You need faith, but now you need to add certain things to faith.”

The two things that might be implied by that translation, the first is that faith is not enough, that you’ve got to add something to faith.  The second thing implied is that it’s possible that you might have one or two of the things mentioned, and not all of them.  In other words, you might have moral excellence and lack patience, or you might have patience and lack self-control, or you might have godliness and lack brotherly kindness.  Every Christian at any stage of his maturity has the whole list, whatever that list is.  It’s not just one or two things. 

The NAS doesn’t say, “Add to your faith.”  It says, “For this reason, apply diligence in your faith supply moral excellence.”  I love to quote Kenneth Wuest.  I think he has done a wonderful job as he expands the nuances of the Greek, and here is how he translates that verse, “Provide lavishly in your faith the aforementioned virtues.”  Darby translates it, “Also have.”  In other words, “In your faith, also have,” and he gives the same list.  The American Standard of 1901 also says “supply”.

As I studied the different commentaries, there were three word pictures that helped me get a grasp of this tremendous passage.  I’m going to pass it on.  They are just pictures.  One was a big box called faith, with many little boxes inside the big box.  In other words, you opened the big box called faith, and there’s a box called moral excellence.  Then you open that box, and there’s another box inside called knowledge.  Then you open that, and there’s another one called self-control, and then another one called perseverance, and another one called brotherly kindness, and so on.  One box having many boxes inside.

The second illustration I read was a chain, one chain with many links.  They’re all connected, but it’s one chain.  The other illustration was a ladder with many rungs, or many steps.  Whatever one, it’s one box, one chain, one ladder, and it’s all one.  If you have faith, then you have all this that’s included in faith.

It’s not an accident that in that wonderful description of the Christian, that the Holy Spirit begins with faith.  2 Peter 1:5, “For this reason apply all diligence in your faith, supply moral excellence.”  And it’s also not an accident that the Holy Spirit ends with love.  2 Peter 1:7, “To your brotherly kindness, love.”  Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  Love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  So, he takes this wonderful picture, and he begins with a gift of the Holy Spirit, and he ends with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Quite apart from everything in between faith and love, you see that every Christian begins the same way, the gift of faith, and every Christian ends the same way, Romans 5:5, “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

The Holy Spirit begins with this characteristic of faith, and I just want to spend a moment here before we develop it, on the truth that faith is a gift of God.  We’re only one verse deep, first verse, “Simon Peter, bondservant and Apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received of faith the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of God our Savior, Jesus Christ.”  Those who receive the same kind of faith as us, so it’s a gift to be received.  It not only teaches that it’s a gift, but it also teaches that nothing has changed.  That’s always been God’s plan, always been God’s purpose.  The faith that you have as you sit in this room and as I have as I sit before you, is exactly the same gift that He gave Abraham, exactly the same gift that He gave David, and Daniel, and all the prophets, and the Apostles, and it’s the same faith Paul had.  You have the same faith David had.  He just begins that you received the faith that everybody gets, and it’s the same gift.  Here we are in 2022 praising God that He gave us the gift of faith, but that’s the same one He gave Augustine and the early church fathers, and the same one John Huss had and John Calvin and Luther and Wesley and Whitfield and Moody and Billy Graham and all the rest.  The faith that we have is exactly the same that every person that ever had faith has.

I don’t think I need to prove to you that it’s a gift, but I want to spend a couple of minutes just showing you that, because sometimes we speak about faith as if it’s natural.  “We all have faith, use it.”  We do not all have faith.  It’s a gift, and it comes at a certain time.  We’ll look at that.  Some people have tried to illustrate the Trinity, and I promise you that every illustration of the Trinity will break down some way.  You can’t illustrate the Trinity.  Just so, many have tried to illustrate faith.  Do you realize this, that even Hebrews 11:1, the Bible does not give a definition of faith.  There’s no definition of faith.  There’s a description.  Faith is described; it’s eating, it’s coming, it’s looking, it’s receiving, it’s believing, it’s trusting, it’s leaning, it’s abiding.  There are many descriptions, but there’s no definition, and every illustration breaks down.

I’ve used this illustration, and I’ve corrected it.  I don’t use it anymore, “Trust the Lord.  It’s like sitting in a chair.  You have to trust that the chair was built strong enough to carry your weight.  So, every time you sit down, you have faith.  Every time you get into an elevator, you are trusting the elevator.  Every time you get to an airplane, or a car, you are trusting the car.”  That is not faith.  That’s not Bible faith.  I don’t know what to call it, but it’s not Bible faith.  Call it belief or conviction or confidence or somebody’s opinion or persuasion or even presumption.  I don’t care what you call it, but it’s not Bible faith.  Bible faith, let me say it this way, you probably know many that don’t know the Lord, unbelievers, none of them have faith.  An unbeliever can not have faith, does not have faith.  The same thing is true of love.  I’m not going to go into that.  We say that unbelievers can love one another and love their family, and all, but not Bible love.

On the other hand, let me quote several verses, and all I’m showing you in these verses is how over and over again God calls attention that faith is a gift.  Ephesians 2:8&9, “By grace you’ve been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it’s a gift of God.”  Acts 3:16, this is that crippled man that was healed at the Gate called Beautiful, “On the basis of faith in His name, it’s the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know, the faith which comes through Him, has given Him this perfect health in the presence of you all.”  1 Timothy 1:14, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ was more than abundant with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.”  Hebrews 12:2, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith.”  If you have faith this morning, He authored it, and He’s going to finish and perfect it, as well.

Galatians 3:22, “The Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”  There’s an interesting expression in Galatians 3:23, “Before faith came.”  See, there’s a time that it didn’t come, “before it came.”  Then verse 25, “Now that faith has come..”  See, faith is something that comes.  Acts 18:27, “When he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace.”  It’s a gift of God, and it’s only given to believers.

The question comes, then, when does God give that gift?  Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”  I feel obligated again to quote Kenneth Wuest on this particular verse, “So then, faith is out of the source of that which is heard, and that which is heard, the message is through the agency of the Word concerning Christ.”   I know that he goes into a lot of words, but it’s tremendous.

Let me illustrate.  As you know, we’re going to come to 2 Peter 2, and it’s all about false teachers and false teaching, and I told you that the all-inclusive safeguard against error is growth, “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ.”  I’m going to give an illustration now.  I’m very rich, so I’m going to take $4 out of my wallet.  By the way, this is the illustration, chapter 2, deception.  I’m going to say certain things about the money I take out of my wallet.  I might deceive you.  Pay attention.  Am I going to tell you the truth about this money.  If you feel like that was not true, hold it until the end.  I might deceive you at the beginning.  I might deceive you in the middle of my description.  I might deceive you at the end, or I might not deceive you at all.  I might be telling you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. 

So, I’ll take out $4, and I will then describe for you this money.  Ah, it says, “The United States of America,” and it says, “In God We Trust,” and there’s a numeral 1 on this money, and there’s a picture of a president, John Adams, on this money.  The United States of America, in God We Trust, and there’s not a picture of a president.  There’s a picture of an Indian squaw with a baby on her back.  There’s a date but it’s too small and I can’t read it.  How many think I tried to deceive you in certain places.  How many believe that I was telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?  Boy, I don’t have many believers. 

I’m going to take this unbeliever here, “Did I tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”  I’m going to ask you all the question, “Do you believe now?”  Do you want to look more carefully?  “I believe.”  He believes.  How many of you now believe, based on the testimony of a reliable witness?  Everything I said.  You don’t believe it.  Okay.  Don’t you need two witnesses?  Anybody else want to be a witness?  Let me tell you, that’s a gold coin.  There’s another gold coin.  They’re both worth a dollar.  There’s four dollars.  I said I was going to bring out $4.  I’ve got $4, on one is the second president of the United Stated, John Adams.  Let me ask a question.  How many now believe?  Yes, do you know what made the difference?  Revelation.  Once you see, it’s easy to believe.  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, and when God reveals Christ, at the same time He creates faith, and it’s easy to believe.

A lot of Christians get all messed up, “Oh, my faith, I wish I had more faith.”  The point is, Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing.”  Let me give an illustration from a man, a hymn writer, a very unique guy.  His name is Daniel Whittle.  He lived at the end of the 18oo’s and was associated with D.L. Moody, and a very shy individual.  He wrote many hymns, but he signed them with a pseudonym because he was bashful and embarrassed.  Sometimes you’ll see a hymn and it says, “L. Nathan.”  Well, it’s Daniel Whittle.  His daughter, Mary, let out the secret.  The way he got saved is amazing.  By day he worked in a bank as a teller, and by night he worked as a night watchman.  He had heard the gospel from his parents, but he never received Christ.  Even though he was a night watchman and all alone in the bank, he felt like he had to be more alone.  So, he went into the vault in the dark and he gave his heart to Christ.

My Lillian made an observation.  What an amazing testimony, to be in a vault representing the wealth of the world, and give your heart to the Lord Jesus!  Daniel Whittle wrote many songs.  You are probably familiar with, “Showers of Blessing,” “Let there be showers of blessing, and moment by moment, is it the crowning day and the banner of the cross,” but he also wrote the song, “I Know Whom I Have Believed,” and the third verse of that song is why I’m quoting this.  He said, “I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin,” now listen to the last part of the lyric, “revealing Jesus through the Word, creating faith within.” 

Many people have the wrong look at faith.  They think faith is heaven’s money, and, “If I had enough of heaven’s money, I could buy blessings from God.”  For example, if I lack peace, if I had enough faith, I could have peace.  If I am being plagued with my temptation, then I could trust God, if I had enough faith.  If I’m sick, if I had enough faith I could get healed and people will say, “If you are not healed, you didn’t have enough faith.”  They look at it like heaven’s money, and they’ll just say, “Oh, poor me, I wish I had the faith you have.  You have so much faith.  I wish I could believe like you.  I keep praying, “Lord, more faith, increase my faith, enlarge my faith, give me more faith.”

Faith is not the issue.  Faith comes with the revelation of Christ.  Faith is a gift of God.  You grow in grace.  You don’t grow in faith.  You grow in grace.  It’s a gift from the Lord, and a heart knowledge of Christ.  It’s as easy as pie to believe, to have faith.  Some may say, “Well, if faith is a gift of God, then I have an excuse.  What if I don’t get it?  What if God decides not to give it to me?”  Faith is not heaven’s money.  I’ll tell you what is.  “Is there anything I can do to guarantee that God will give me faith?  John 7:17, “If anyone is willing to do his will, He will know of the teaching, whether it’s of God or whether I speak from myself.”  If you are willing…  Somebody says, “Wait a minute, Philippians 2:13, “It’s God who is at work in you both to will and to work.  Again, I’ve got an excuse.  What if He doesn’t make me willing?  He’s the one that makes me willing.”  It doesn’t say that.  It doesn’t say, “If anyone wills.”  It says, “If anyone is willing…” 

Let me ask this.  Are you willing to be willing?  That’s your part.  If you’re willing to be willing, “I want to see Jesus, and I’m willing to be willing.”  If you are willing to be willing, He will open the Word, rise as the day star in your heart, reveal Jesus, and create faith in that very moment.  He always, with the revelation, gives faith.  If you see Him as King by revelation, you will have the faith to submit to Him as King.  If you see Him as the door by revelation, He will give you the faith to enter through that door.  If you see Him as the vine by revelation, He’ll give you the faith to abide in that vine.  With the revelation comes the gift of faith.  If you see Him by revelation as the Shepherd, you are going to be given the faith to follow the Shepherd and trust the Shepherd. If He is revealed to you as strength, you will be able to trust Him alone, and it will be an end to self-confidence and self-trust, and on and on it goes.

God says, “I’m going to begin this description with faith.  Faith is a gift, and it comes to those who are willing to be willing, and if they’re willing to be willing I will reveal Christ, and with that I’ll give them the grace, the faith they need to meet that present moment.  It’s just a marvelous provision of the Lord.

Having said that, let’s go back to the description that God gives in 2 Peter 1.  Everything is based on this gift of faith, and all the virtues are included in faith.  Again, he begins with faith and ends with love.  Galatians 5:6, “In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”  What we have in this summary is this description of a Christian at every stage.  Some have gone and say, “If you count faith and count love and everything in between, there are nine characteristics.  So, let’s study nine characteristics.”  Other say, “Well, we aren’t going to count faith and love.  Let’s just count the others, so that there is only seven characteristics.” 

I like simplicity.  I believe that what he’s describing here, he takes these characteristics in pairs, and you need to see the pairs.  If you take the pairs, you end up with only three principles.  That’s a lot easier for me, so I’m just going to take the three great truths that apply to every Christian.

The first pair is in verse 5, moral excellence and knowledge.   The second pair is in verse 6, self-control and perseverance.  The third pair is in verse 7, brotherly kindness and love.  In that first pair I’m going to use one word, holiness.  Holiness describes the first pair.  The second pair I’m going to use one word, victory.  The third I’m going to use not one word but a few, the manifestation of Christ.  Holiness, victory and the manifestation of Christ.

Let me take those one at a time.  The first pair, moral excellence and knowledge, I suggest that this underscores everybody.  When you first trusted the Lord, when you came to Christ, just before you came to Christ you were in bondage to sin.  You had to sin.  That was your nature.  Now, all of a sudden you gave your heart to Christ and you’re a new creature.  Even though you had to learn the lessons of victory yet, you don’t want to sin.  You are a new creature.  Old things pass away, and everything now is new, and you want to live a holy life, but you don’t have knowledge.  That’s the pair.  I need to know how to live a holy life.  So, the new Christian probably does what I did.  I don’t know anything about the Christian life, so the one who led me to the Lord, I started following how does he live.  So, he reads his Bible, so I read my Bible.  He went to church, so I went to church.  He memorized scripture, so I memorized scripture.  He handed out Bible tracks, so I handed out Bible tracks. 

When a person is first saved, he has a desire to please the Lord.  His tongue is somewhat tamed, not completely tamed, but he gravitates, and wants to do the right thing, and wants to stop lying, and wants to be generous, and doesn’t want to be proud, but he needs knowledge.  He might decide, “God wants me holy, and to do right things, so I’m going to go out and sweep the streets.”  Now, that might be a good thing, but is that God’s will?  I don’t know.  He might say, “I’m a Christian now, and I’m going to give away all my money.”  That’s a good thing, but is that God’s will?  See, he needs knowledge.

He might do what somebody named Ed Miller did.  He might be sitting as a newly saved high school student in study hall, and everybody is shooting elastic bands and fooling around and not studying, and he might do what I did and stand up and go on the stage and get the attention of the whole senior class and say, “You are all going to hell, unless you get saved.”  That’s good, but is that God’s will?  That’s what I did.  Or you might do what we did.  We busted our way into a radio station while they were on the air and started singing, “Nothing but the blood.”  That’s what we did.  That’s good, but is that God’s will?

So, you see that first characteristic, even when you are brand new, you want to be holy, but you don’t know God’s will.  So, moral excellence and knowledge come together, and as you grow, you are going to grow, “I want to be more holy, and I want to do God’s will.  I want to be more holy, and so on.”

The second pair is in verse 6, self-control and perseverance.  I call this victory.  Some think that self-control thinks that self controlling self.  Self-control is not self controlling self.  Galatians 5, it’s the fruit of the Spirit, verse 22, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  That’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit, when self is controlled by the Lord.  That’s why I call it victory.  As soon as you are saved you have that initial that the Lord has given me victory.  “I used to love to drink, and I don’t drink anymore.  I used to love this sin, and I don’t love that anymore.”  You’ve got a long way to go, and that’s why it’s followed by perseverance.  That’s the connection, that’s the twin.  I not only now have victory, but I’ve got to keep on being victorious and I need that because I’m going to fall along the way, quite a few times.  Proverbs 24:16, “A righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.”  That’s the difference between an ungodly person and a godly person.  You are going to keep messing up and screwing up and you’re going to fall, but you’re always going to rise again.  You are going to persevere until the end.  So, if I have the indwelling Christ, if I’m a partaker of the divine nature, I’m going to have a hunger for holiness and knowledge.  I’m going to have a desire for victory, and to keep on keeping on, no matter how many times I fall.

Let me mention the last pair, and you’ll notice that it flows out of the word “godliness”.  Godliness is short for “God-like-ness”.  In other words, at this point, now you are becoming more like Christ, and out of that flows love for the church, brotherly kindness, and love for the world.  I become more like Jesus, and that’s right when you are first saved, right when you just got saved, you have this desire to be holy, and you lack knowledge.  You have this desire to be victorious, and you need to learn to persevere.  You have this desire to be like Christ, and to manifest that to the church and to the world.  That’s what the apostle is describing here.

As we get ready to close, I want you to look at verse 8, “If these qualities are yours, holiness, victory, the manifestation of Christ, and increasing…”  Those principles don’t change.  They’re the same, but they get bigger and bigger and bigger.  More holiness, more knowledge of the will of God, more victory, more perseverance, more Christ, more pouring out of Christ.  Those principles will always increase as you grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ.

Peter gives two reasons why that may not happen.  The first is in verse 9, “He who lacks these qualities is blind or shortsighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sin.”  You might forget, and if you forget, you are not going to be seeking Christ in the Word, and you aren’t going to be growing.  So, if those things are not in you and increasing, you need to get back to seeing Christ in the Word.

Or, God forbid, verse 10, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you.  As long as you practice these things, you’ll never stumble.”  The KJV says, “Make your calling and election sure.”  What is the second reason this might not be true?  I could be faking it.  I could be playing a religious game.  I could be plastic.  So, he says, “Make sure you are saved.  Make sure that you really know the indwelling Christ.”  Let me just say it this way.  God knows you’re elect.  Do you?  That’s what he’s saying.  You need to know what God knows.

We’re going to stop here, and then next week, Lord willing, we’ll introduce the next chapter and how knowing Christ by grace is a safeguard against error in all its subtle forms. 

Let’s pray together, and then we can discuss in fellowship.  Heavenly Father, thank You for Your precious Word, this wonderful chapter.  Thank You for the promise, that with every revelation of Christ, You’ll give us the gift of faith, in order to appropriate that revelation.  We praise You for Your provision for us in Christ Jesus.  Enable us, grant us, that we might continually see Christ in the Word.  Rise, rise, Day Star, Morning Star, rise in our hearts, that we might become more and more and more like You.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.