By Don Givens
The apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1:5 and in Philippians 4:8 commend virtue. Virtue (Greek: arete) should characterize the life of every faithful disciple.
Virtue is defined as “manliness, courage; the disposition to stand loyally for what we believe; moral excellence.” Kittel says: “it is the excellence that the righteous are to maintain in life and death” (Theological Dictionary, pp. 77,78). A.T. Robertson defines virtue as “moral power, moral energy, vigor of soul” (Word Pictures of the New Testament, p. 151).
What is your faith worth if you have not the courage, the vigor of soul, to stand loyally for it? Moral courage is when a man realizes his danger, and yet stands faithfully at his post of duty. We are to be real men (1 Cor. 16:13) not weaklings without the moral energy to live, and if need be, to die, for Christ.
How fitting it is that Peter uses virtue to describe a necessary trait of the loyal disciple. The very nature of life in a world of sin is that of conflict attended with great danger.
The forces of light, led by Christ, are arrayed against the forces of darkness led by the devil. We absolutely must “fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the life eternal, whereunto (we) were called” (1 Tim. 6:12). We are engaged in a spiritual battle which is no less real simply because it is not “against flesh and blood” (Eph. 6:10-17).
Let us manifest a strong, energetic faith; a faith that is able to overcome the world (1 Jn. 5:4). When modern day people regard Christians as fools, it takes courage to say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Rom. 1:16) and it takes real vigor of soul to prove that statement by the way one lives in the midst of the current wicked generation.
We need the vigor of soul to honestly profess our faith, and the courage to be different from the world, not just for the sake of being an “oddball,” but because we live on a higher plane (Rom. 12:1,2). Christ has solemnly charged all His disciples to confess Him before men, and threatened to inflict eternal punishment on those who deny Him (Matt. 10:32, 33).
Opposition will come. The world hated our Lord. It shall hate us also, when we are like our Lord. May we show manliness, courage, spiritual strength, and real vigor of soul in maintaining the principles of righteousness, because this material world is not our home, and we are passing though toward that glorious city of God.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 17, p. 531
September 4, 1986