September 21, 2017

The Christian Graces

By Mike Willis

And beside this, giving diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. And N these things be in you, and. abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and bath forgotten that he was purged from his sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:5-11).

Many who have been baptized into Christ fall away from serving Jesus. Some become so wrapped up in the cares of this world that they bear no fruit for Christ and have allowed their remembrance of their salvation to fade. Many begin the course without finishing it (contrast to 2 Tim. 4:6-8). Peter wrote the words of the text before us to encourage our perseverance in Christ.

Man's Part: Giving All Diligence

Earlier Peter declared that God has granted unto us "all things that pertain to life and godliness" through the knowledge of Jesus Christ so that we can become "partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (1:3-4). God has provided a revelation sufficient to save men from sin. What must man do in response?

Peter said that man's response is "giving all diligence." (Note: The ASV translated "for this very reason" what the KJV translated "and beside this," thus tying the two thoughts of the text together better.) God's part was to provide all things that pertain to life. and godliness; man's part is to "give a diligence. " There is no excuse for indolence in serving the Lord. When a man shows no diligence, he manifests a lack of appreciation for what God has done for him. Involvement in other affairs choke out the spiritual word in the lives of many Christians. This lack of diligence results in many being barren and unfruitful; many have forgotten their cleansing from sin.

The Christian Graces

The Christian graces must be built on the foundation of faith. The construction of the language is this: "in your faith supply." Augustine wrote, "Faith is the root and mother of all virtues." Many try to be holy without saving faith; it is a useless effort; only from faith can those spiritual graces spring whose crown is love to all. Faith in the Lord is the fountain from which all virtues flow (cf. Prov. 1:7; 16:6 - the fear of the Lord). Belief in God and concern for standing before him in judgment causes me to live so as to be pleasing to him. Hence, in my faith, I am to add these Christian graces:

1. Virtue. The word "virtue" (arete) refers to "manly courage to stand for one's conviction. " Where this virtue is absent, faith cowers and hides. Where this faith is present, man has the courage to confess Jesus even if it costs his life. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were men who showed virtue in their lives. The apostles demonstrated their manly courage when standing before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:13-21; 5:29-39,40-41).

2. Knowledge. Faith must rest on the word of God (Rom. 10: 17). Where there is virtue without knowledge, there is blind zeal, the courageous stand for spiritual darkness. Hence, one's faith must rest solidly on the word of God in order that a Christian may walk approvingly before God (Col. 1:9-10).

3. Temperance. The word "temperance" is translated "self-control" in more recent translations. The word refers to that subduing of one's passions to bring them into compliance with God's word. This is what Paul did when he buffeted his body to bring it into subjection to God's word (1 Cor. 9:27). Self-control needs especially to be practiced with reference to the temper, drinking, sexual appetites, etc. Where temperance is absent, there is knowledge without practice. Each of us has witnessed the Christian who could teach the truth but did not bring his life into compliance with the truth he knew. Hence, self-control needs to be supplied by a living faith.

4. Patience. The word patience emphasizes the need for perseverance in service to Christ. The one lacking this virtue is like the stony ground hearers who "have no root, which for a while believe, and in the time of temptaton fall away" (Lk. 8:13). These hearers are like a fire burning dry grass, which blazes for a moment but quickly dies. The good ground hearers "bring forth fruit with patience" (Lk. 8:15). Where patience is absent there will be no endurance of adversity in the service of Christ.

5. Godliness. The word godliness points to a piety and reverence for God, for his demands on our lives. Godliness causes us to give him the praise, honor, and glory which are due him. There is a respect for the things of God where piety or godliness exists. Where godliness is absent, there exists the endurance of adversity without reverence for God and perhaps with a bitterness of spirit.

6. Brotherly kindness. Brotherly kindness prevents that lop-sided interest in spiritual things to the neglect of the needs of brethren. This kind of "spirituality" was-shown by the priests and Levite in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:25-37) who walked past the one in need without helping. Brotherly kindness responds to the needs of one's fellow Christian (Gal. 6:10; 1 Jn. 3:16). This is shown ~v helping one to bear his spiritual and physical burdens.

7. Charity (love). Love is not confined to that small circle of Christians; it reaches out to all of mankind, even as the love of God does. Love responds to the needs of all men, but especially to the needs of the saints (Gal. 6:10). Where this virtue is absent there is the monastic view of life which limits Christianity to those who think and act like we do. Love expresses itself not only to its friends but also to its enemies (cf. Matt. 5:44-48).

What These Virtues Do

Adding these virtud to life contributes these things to the Christian:

1. Positively. (a) "Ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful. " God has so ordained life that fruit will be produced where these virtues exist. Just like a seed planted in moist earth with sunshine will grow into a fruit-bearing plant, so also will a Christian be fruitful where these virtues exist. The fruit he bears will be the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), good works, converts to Christ, etc. Where these things are absent in one's life, -a person needs to take a personal inventory to see if he is adding the Christian graces to his life.

(b) You make "your calling and election sure." The growth in these graces is an assurance of an abundant entrance into the eternal kingdom. Where these things are absent, the Christian cannot have the assurance of salvation which Paul had at his death (cf. 2 Tim. 4:6-8). If I want the confidence which Paul had, I must be "giving all diligence" to add these virtues to my life.

2. Negatively. Where these virtues are absent, these results follow: (a) The Christian is spiritually blind, not able to see afar off. Those who are not adding these virtues to their lives can only see temporal things; they cannot look beyond the horizon of today's pleasure to see tomorrow's reward of glory in heaven. They are unlike Jesus who "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12-2). They are unlike Moses who chose "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for,a season" (Heb. 11:24-25). Those lacking these graces can only see the shame of the cross and the pleasures of sin; they cannot see the "joy" beyond the cross and the short-lived pleasures of sin. They are spiritually near-sighted.

(b) The Christian has forgotten his cleansing from sin. The first love which he had for Christ has waned (Rev. 2:4). There is no remembrance of the joy which one had at his baptism, at the time when Jesus' blood washed away his sins. The cleansing from sin is not viewed as a precious treasure the obtaining of which shall never be forgotten. Instead, it is unimportant to him and the memory of having once possessed it is forgotten.

Conclusion

The closing exhortation of these verses points back to the opening exhortation. In 1 Peter 1:5, the apostle said "giving all diligence" and in 1 Peter 1:11 he again said, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure." One's growth in Christ and personal assurance of salvation are directly tied to "giving all diligence." How much effort are you making to grow in Christ? Will you be a stronger, more knowledgeable, selfcontrolled, persevering Christian tomorrow than you are today? Will you be fruitful in the Lord's kingdom and service?

Unfortunately, many of us will not be. In ten years, some who are now professing godliness will be in the clutches of Satan and without the hope of salvation. The cause of this will not be uncertain. This will be caused by our not "giving diligence" to make our calling and election sure. We gave diligence to little league, school activities, television, and other things which root Christ out of our lives. Our failures are not caused by a lack of divine grace, but a lack of diligence.

Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 13, pp. 394, 406-407
July 6, 1989

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