It's sad to think that there are some Christians who do not enjoy the assurance of their salvation. It's particularly sad because God wants us to have full assurance, so it says in Hebrews 6:11 and 10:22. He wants us, according to 1 John 3:19, to have our hearts assured.
Not to have that assurance is to live in doubt, to live in fear, to live in some form of spiritual depression and a certain kind of misery. You're unable to enjoy the anticipation of all of His promises and you're unable to enjoy the reality of faith and of hope.
You see the promise of eternal life and the promise of abundant life presupposes assurance. If I'm going to enjoy all that is mine in Christ, I have to know I'm in Christ. Otherwise I'll continue to live in fear, misery and doubt.
Peter is very concerned that his readers enjoy assurance. So it is a main theme in this very brief epistle. This is a very short book, just three chapters. The dominant theme of this book is chapter 2. And chapter 2 is about false teachers, false prophets. And they are described in very clear graphic terms in the second chapter.
Now chapter 2 is surrounded by other teaching directed at successfully countering their attacks. In other words, chapter 1 and chapter 3 are related to that theme in telling the believer how to be equipped to deal with these false teachers.
To fight off the encroaching deception of false teachers, the believer must know some things. The believer must have some accurate true knowledge. And the question comes, what must we know? What must we really know?
Well, 2 Peter 1:12-21 explains to us Scripture; we must know what our Scripture is saying. In chapter 3 we must know our sanctification. We must know our process in becoming more like the Lord Jesus. And in chapter 1:3-11, we must know our salvation.
If you know Scripture and if you know you're set apart unto God from sin and if you know your salvation is real, then the attacks of false teachers are thwarted. But if you don't know the Scripture, and if you do not know and are not experiencing continued sanctification and if you are not sure of your salvation, then you become an easy victim.
Now we're looking tonight at that section on knowing your salvation. That is an essential defense against false teachers. If you have on the helmet of salvation, then the blows of Satan that come against you to make you doubt your salvation and doubt the work of God are thwarted. You are protected from false teachers, demon spirits, and Satan himself.
And this, beloved, is crucial if we are going to withstand the onslaughts of false teachers, because they will always try to tell you of another way of salvation. But if I know where I stand in terms of salvation and there is no question about it, then false teaching offers no attraction.
2 Peter 1:3-4 indicates that we have everything we need in Christ. And yet in verses 5 to 11 Peter says we have to do everything that we possibly can to add to what Christ has done so that we might experience certainty. That's seems like a paradox.
Let us study further what verses 5-7 explain to us about that path to assurance, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”
Verse 5 begins with, "But also for this very reason," now let us stop right here. What reason? Because we have everything in Christ because of His divine power, as it says in verse 3?
Let me summarize. Because you have divine power, granting to you everything necessary for life and godliness, because this comes to you through the true knowledge of Jesus Christ, you have become partakers of the divine nature, you have escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust, now because of all that is yours in Christ, Scripture says “do this”.
And here again is the mystery of spiritual life. We are given everything in Christ and yet it takes everything we have to follow up on that. Because we have all in Christ, all the gracious resources for spiritual sufficiency, we are called to give our maximum effort.
Verse 5 calls for a diligent effort. And what I'd like to do is take this concept of assurance and break it down into four sections for you. And we'll just kind of work through these sections one at a time. First is the effort prescribed, second the virtue pursued, third the options presented and last the benefits promised.
Let's start with the effort prescribed, we've just read it. Verse 5 again, "Now for this very reason, giving all diligence in your faith." Because of God's saving work in us is completely sufficient, it's like Philippians 2:12 and 13, work out your salvation.
God put it in, work it out, giving all diligence in your faith and then the next word, add. Now that's interesting. That's an interesting statement. Let me take you into it a little deeper.
“Giving all diligence.” Well this means making maximum effort. It's the idea of bringing in every effort alongside of what God has done. God has done all of this, you bring alongside your effort. And so Peter is saying alongside of what God has done bring in every zealous, eager and hurried effort from our part.
And then the word “add”. What does that really mean? It means to give lavishly, to give generously. It's a word that means being a choir master, because a choir master had the responsibility to supply everything that was needed for his choir. And so the word came to mean a supplier.
It never means to equip in a sparing way or a miserly way, it means lavishly and willingly to pour out everything that is necessary for a noble performance. And so it is that word that the Spirit of God chooses.
Back again in verse 5, "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge.” Faith is the ground in which the flowers of sanctification grow. So, add to your faith, your initial believing in Christ, add zeal to come alongside what Christ has done and do everything you can possibly do.
"Well, isn't there assurance in faith?" Yes, there is assurance in faith and the one who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, has every reason to be assured. If you know you believe then the God of hope can fill you with all joy and peace in believing, says Romans 15:13.
Hebrews chapter 6 also notes the same truth and 1 John 5:13 says, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God in order that you may know that you have eternal life." Having faith can impart assurance. I can know I believe and you can have a measure of assurance.
But I don't believe that faith, that initial saving faith, will continue to yield the fruit of assurance unless the effort is made to be obedient to what this text says. You may enjoy that assurance initially, but if no zealous effort to lavishly supply what is required alongside what Christ has done is made, then I believe there will be a lack of the joy of assurance.
And so, there is a prescription given here and that prescription is to diligently pursue the full supply of all these things. The fullness of assurance, listen carefully, is the product of zealous effort to tap the full supply of spiritual virtue and lay it alongside the full supply of God's gracious provision.
Verses 5-7 say, "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love." We need to pursue six virtues.
First one is moral excellence, it's the word virtue, “arête”. In classical times the word meant the God-given ability to perform heroic deeds. And it came to mean the quality of someone's life which makes them stand out as excellent.
For example, a knife was said to be arete if it cut well. A horse was arete if it ran strong and fast. A singer was arete if he or she sang well. Sometimes the word came to mean courage. So now Peter says with all your heart and all your mind apply with great effort, eagerness, zeal the supply of moral excellence to your life.
Where do you find the model of that excellence? Christ. That is why in Philippians 3:14 you have that monumental statement by Paul that lays down the pattern for all believers' behavior. "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
What he was saying was I pursue Christ's likeness. He admitted, I haven't attained, but I pursue it. The goal to be like Christ, the reward to be like Christ, the goal is the reward. Pursue Christ's likeness. Pursue excellence.
Now, that leads us to the second of these virtues. Verse 5 says, “in your moral excellence knowledge”. Moral excellence couldn't happen unless at its heart was knowledge, right? The word "knowledge" means correct insight, understanding, truth properly comprehended, properly understood and properly applied.
We must know before we can live. We must understand how we are to conduct ourselves before we can conduct ourselves in that way. Moral excellence is dependent on “gnosis”, knowledge of a high character and a high quality. Having your mind illuminated or enlightened about truth involves a diligent study and pursuit of the truth in the Word of God.
Now inherent in your knowledge is another virtue, look at verse 6. In your knowledge, number three, self-control. All bound up with a true knowledge and true discernment is self-control. The word literally means the Greek, holding oneself in. And in Peter's day it was used in athletics. Athletes were self-controlled, self-restrained, self-disciplined.
1 Corinthians 9:27, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” We need to control the flesh, the passions, the bodily desires rather than allowing yourself to be controlled by them.
So Peter says pursue moral excellence realizing that at the heart of moral excellence is spiritual discernment, realizing that at the heart of spiritual discernment is self-control. What does it matter if I discern if I don't control? How can I be morally excellent?
False teachers typically claim that their true and secret knowledge had freed them from the need for self-control. They preached that they were allowed to indulge. They were greedy, they were exploiters. They followed their own lusts. Peter will explain more of that in chapters 2 and 3.
But Peter reverses that. And he says any theology that divorces faith from conduct is heresy. Verse 5 says, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge self-control.” This is essential to Christian living, controlling fleshly desires for the sake of producing moral excellence. Self-control may be one of the greatest of all Christian virtues.
And there's more virtue, a fourth. Verse 6, "And to self- control perseverance..." The best translation would be, patience or endurance in doing what is right, never giving up to temptation, never giving up to trial, never giving up to difficulty, never giving in to sin.
The Greek word “hupomone” really cannot be explained in one single word and there is no English equivalent. Chrysostom calls hupomone a root of all the goods, mother of piety, fruit that never withers, a fortress that can never be taken, a harbor that knows no storms. He calls it the queen of virtues, the foundation of right actions, peace in war, calm and tempest, security in plots and neither the violence of men nor the powers of the evil one can injure it.
Perseverance is the quality which keeps a man on his feet with his face to the wind. It is the virtue which can transmute the hardest trial into glory because beyond the pain it always sees the goal," end quote. Courageous, steadfast, joyful, self-control, under pressure, resisting temptation, built on spiritual wisdom to pursue moral excellence.
And at the heart of this persevering endurance is number five, and your perseverance produces godliness. What a magnificent word that is. Used back in verse 3 also. Eusebeia, it really means reverence.
It means a practical awareness of God in every area of life. It can be translated as true religion. It could be translated true worship. It has the idea of worshiping God in everything we do. It's a word to describe someone who worships, who has reverence and who adores God always.
True Christians pursue practical awareness of God in every detail of life. They are characterized by deep reverence for God which leads to courageous self-control under temptation, built on spiritual discernment in the pursuit of moral excellence. It's like an intricate marvelous woven fabric here.
And then a sixth virtue, "And in your godliness," verse 7 says, "brotherly kindness." Brotherly affection, friendship, mutual sacrifice for each other. At the heart of godliness, the heart of reverencing God is loving each other.
Agape love is a sacrificial and selfless love. This is love of the will. This is the love of choice not the love of emotion. This is the highest virtue. This is what Paul called the greatest thing, love. At the heart of my worship toward God is that kindness toward my brother.
It's like a big circle. Faith is the foundation for the whole thing and love is the culmination. We have everything in Christ, and yet we are to add to what we have with maximum effort moral virtue, practical wisdom, internal self-control, endurance in all temptations, God-conscious reverence, brotherly kindness and pure love to God and everyone else.
Are you ready to put this in pactise? Let us all ask God for His power so this is possible, Amen?