Toward the end of his life, the Apostle Peter writes to fellow believers, “to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours.” Peter also writes to us. He says we are to live in such a way that reflects the gift we have been given by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Having received the gift, Peter calls us to live a virtuous life. Are we living that life?
At the same time, Peter strongly warns against living a life filled with vice. Peter’s concern is this: we can run after virtue or be trampled by vice. It’s a matter of life and death. Dare we risk forfeiting the promises of God and return to a state of corruption as a result of sinful desires which lead to death?
A virtuous life is more than just rules. More than empty freedom. It is a life lived in the knowledge of who God is, who we are, and what He has done to rescue us. It is a life of discipline and self-control. It is a life of commitment and community. It is a life of gratitude, and one that is fruitful. Is it a life we run to?
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (2 Peter 1:5-9)
We are always being formed by our behaviors. A life filled with vices will kill you. According to Peter, they make us nearsighted and blind. We end up forgetting Jesus. We end up dead.
Vice is where our hearts go when unattended. Left to our own clever and deceptive devices, it’s who we can easily become, and often do. We are faced with the constant choice: we can run after virtue or be trampled by vice. What will we chose next?
Living a life of virtue is more than doing the right things or good deeds. A virtuous life is a commitment to establishing habits which in turn form and strengthen us. In a virtuous life lived out through faith, we become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world…(2 Peter 1:4) It’s a restoration of God’s image in us, for God is a virtuous God. A restored life is effective, fruitful, and strong, all of which glorify God.
“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (v.8) They confirm our “calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” (v.10)
Falling takes many forms. It doesn’t have to start with murder. It can start in small ways and grow. Cain’s anger and envy grew into hatred, and then escalated to murder. God graciously warns Cain, “…sin is crouching at the door…but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7). This warning tells us that sin is real, aggressive, and easily overlooked. It is hidden in vices and waits to take control and destroy. We can’t afford to be nearsighted, blind, or naive. Doing so will destroy us. How is it that we oftentimes choose to be one, or worse, all of these things? We need to hear and live out Peter’s words.
There is good news. God gives grace. And Peter tells us: we already have everything we need to do this. “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…” (2 Peter 1:2-3)
Divine power! God’s power! If you’re a Christian, you have everything you need to change. To grow. To become the kind of person you long to be. These things don’t have to master us or destroy us. This is good news.
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue…be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” (vv.5, 10) Make every effort! As if your life depends on it! And know that it is an effort that is not alone. Thank God!
Listen to our sermon series on Vices & Virtues.