2 Peter 1:9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. (NKJV)
If you were to lack certain things that caused you to be blind, forgetful and stumble alot, would you want to know what those “things” were? What if these “things” encompassed all that pertained to living a Godly life? Let’s add to the fact that if you do these “things” you will never stumble, and will receive a rich welcome into heaven. How important are these “things” now?
2 Peter 1:5-7 – But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. (NKJV)
These are the “things”. Notice that he does not start by instructing us to add faith. Peter is clearly addressing genuinely saved Believers so the presence of faith is a matter of fact. Of course we all continue to increase in faith our entire life because faith is simply a focus on God. God is the object of faith and faith is the decision to look to Him rather than to ourselves, or something else.
Today we look at “virtue”. I would venture a guess that of the entire list, virtue is the least likely to be understood or defined well by most Christians. It is generally thought of as “goodness” and of course there is accuracy to that but it goes deeper. In the Scriptures, virtue speaks of the idea of:
- Diligence – being virtuous is the constant awareness and faithful effort to be Godly in all things; being Godly does not happen by default or on accident; it is only through diligent obedience. (2 Tim 2.15; Deut 6.17)
- Moral excellence – this is a superior attitude towards moral purity that does not ask “what can I do and still be Godly?”; but rather asks “what can I do that will bring the MOST glory to God?”.
- Courage – being virtuous in a sin-driven world requires great courage (Prov 28.1). In the New Testament the blessing of persecution is promised to every virtuous Believer (Matt 10.22).
- Wonderful acts – virtue is an inward quality but manifests itself in our behavior and our selfless service to others. In the Greek culture, virtue was used to describe the ability to perform “heroic deeds” (2Tim 3.17)
- Manifestation of power – the Holy Spirit empowers us to live good and excellent lives; when this power is manifested in our lives, in a sense it flows out of us and into the lives around us. God imparts goodness to us that we may impart goodness to others (Rom 5.13; 2Tim 1.7)
- To fulfill a purpose – when a Christian lives a life that glorifies God, they are fulfilling their intended purpose (Rom 8.28; 2Tim 3.10)
Faith helps develop virtue because faith has our spiritual eyes already focused on God who also is the Giver and Teacher of virtue. Living a virtuous life authenticates our salvation not only to those around us, but also to ourselves… otherwise known as the “assurance of salvation”.
The lack of assurance of salvation is a self-made tragedy.
It is epidemic in the the church today that most Christians are not “sure” they are saved and going to heaven. This is a tragedy. But it is a self-made tragedy. A life of virtue will provide this assurance. If we obey God, virtue is a default way of life. Obedience brings assurance. Virtuous living brings assurance. The entire book of 1John confirms this.
In summary, your genuine saving faith is now confirmed in and demonstrated by a virtuous life. That virtue is learned and obtained from the object of your faith: God.
Tomorrow we will learn how our virtue helps lead to and develop Godly knowledge.
Father of Virtue, help us to keep our eyes of faith on You and live a virtuous life. Help us to be diligent and courageous demonstrating a life of goodness and moral excellence in a sinful world. In Jesus name, Amen.
Contemplation: Are you unquestionably sure of your salvation today? Is your level of doubt in any way parallel to a lack of virtue in your life? How has your understanding of “virtue” changed after reading this lesson? If you lack virtue, what statement could this be making about the nature of your faith? Your salvation?
Application: “Virtue” has become one of those nice “family values” terms. We are coming into an age where “moral goodness” is back in vogue. As Christians, our virtue is added to our existing faith. This makes virtue for us an identifying trait and a manifestation of true salvation. Attempts at “virtue” apart from saving faith are nothing more than pride masquerading as goodness. If you don’t understand that statement, ask God for wisdom about it because it is an important concept to understand.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?