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Christian Growth 2. Virtue

2 Peter 1:1-5 English Standard Version (ESV)

Greeting

1 Simeon[a] Peter, a servant[b] and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Confirm Your Calling and Election

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[c] his own glory and excellence,[d]4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[e] and virtue with knowledge,

We are in week two of our series through Christian growth. We are looking at how do we apply the gospel in our lives. How does this wonderful news of Jesus saving us enable true growth and real character development. Tonight we will be looking at the characteristic of virtue or valour. “Essential goodness” is another way of putting it.

Now, one of the great dangers of a series like this is to abandon the hope of the gospel; to essentially leave it at the beginning of the Christian walk and then to look at these steps of Christian growth as personal accomplishments. In other words; Jesus gets us saved, now it is up to us to grow in virtue and knowledge etc.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. All of the Christian life is coming back to the wonder of what Christ has done for us and who He has made us and living out that reality. That is why Peter’s argument for Christian growth is so fundamental here. Peter is so aware of the nature of the gospel is to grow us and change us, therefore faith is the start, centre and end of the Christian walk.

This is what we covered last week. Everything comes down to our faith in the fact that we are participants in the divine nature. And God promise to us in Christ everything we need for life and godliness. Therefore If we get the fact that God is for us and not against us we will abandon our Epithumia (our over-desires) and in this we will grow.

Well we move on from there tonight and we will use the text and our outline tonight so let’s dive in. Our first point is…

  1. For this reason

For what reason? Well for the reason that God has given us “…his precious and very great promises” that we will share in His divine nature through what Christ has done. We have to come back to this. Because our hearts don’t get it.

The only way we are going to grow in the Christian walk is by reminding ourselves (our hearts) that God, in Christ, is for us. He is good to us. He wants to lavish on us His precious and exceedingly great promises.

Why does he want to lavish these upon us? Because we are good? Because we obey all the rules and follow all the Laws? No, because Christ has redeemed us through His death and resurrection!

So, before we even attempt to move on; if you are not growing in your Christian walk, if you feel stuck. It may not fundamentally be because you are not trying too hard, rather you are still stuck in a performance mentality with God.

Most of us, fall into this kind of thinking. If I do “such-and-such good thing” (read my bible, give to the poor, ect) then God will be happy with me and bless me and I will grow, and if I do “such-and-such bad thing” then God will be angry with me and will not bless me and my life will be bad.

But that is still the Old, anti-gospel, way of thinking. Why would God bless you at all? Only because of Christ. Will anything good you do impress him? Not really. He is God! Can you be too bad that He will not take you in and love you? No! As Charles Spurgeon said, “No sins can be too back or too numerous for that precious blood to clean.”

And John says in 1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Therefore, our life is now a matter of repenting and trusting God that He has forgiven all our sins in Christ Jesus. It is only if we get that then we can (point 2)…

  1. Make every effort

The Greek here literally is make the maximum amount of effort. But this is in response to the promises. Follow Peter’s logic here. He is making sure we start with the promises, and if the promises are true, then we must bring ourselves through that promise into what Peter is calling us.

If God has blessed you with every promise, if you are now “all-good” with God, the response is a thankful, joyful effort.

The best way I can illustrate this is from an old TV show called Reggies Rush which was on K-TV. The basic premise of the show was that these kids were given 30 or 60 seconds (I cant remember) to run around a toy store and everything they could get into the trolley in that time was theirs to keep. The intensity of the effort these kids put into getting toys was pulpable. As the starter buzzer went these kids would use every ounce of effort they had to gain a trolley full of toys.

Now, Ask yourself were the kids digging deep and running from a sense of duty or joy? Joy obviously!

Now, the illustration has it’s limitation. But the lesson is simple, what are your motives? We must ask what is driving your obedience and effort? What is motivating your growth. This is fundamental. For many of us, We are still the goal, we are the object of our obedience. Why do you want to grow? It is not simply out of delight in what Christ has done, you want to be better for your own sake. God is not the reason nor the goal in your life, you are. And that is why your growth, especially your Christian growth is so haphazard and stilted.

Our effort has to be directed. Where is it to be directed? From faith to God.

Which leads us to our next point…

  1. Add lavishly to your established faith

We are adding to our faith. What is our faith, that God has given us everything we need in Christ Jesus and promised that we will be made like him. To use a quote from Romans; “There is now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus.” (8:1).

Our effort comes from an infinite resource and moves towards an infinite goal.

The resource: Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of which I am Chief; Jesus’ perfect love and perfect sacrifice is the resource.

The goal: Jesus Himself – we will become like Him and we will be with Him forever.

That is our faith. You have a long way to go, but you have infinite resources to get there. There is always room to improve, but there is always more than enough encouragement and hope to move you forward.

With all this in mind, if everything is yours in Christ Jesus, why not…

  1. Lavishly add Valour