You Must Have Forgotten – Part 5

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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)

We’ve been looking at “things” that characterize the Christian. What’s more, doing these things will keep us from stumbling and gain us a “rich” welcome into heaven (v. 10-11). Notice that there are seven qualities listed. Seven is always the number of Godly perfection in the Bible. Everything that is in the Bible is there purpose!

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)

So far we’ve learned that we are to come along side of God, doing our very best to add (“abundantly supply) these qualities to our lives… all the while understanding that in reality only God can give results. We are incapable, but our effort is still required. It’s like having your small children “try” to do a new chore knowing full well they won’t be successful and you will have to actually do it for them. But their effort is what we are seeking from them.

We are to add morally excellent and courageous living (virtue) to our faith. In order to live a morally excellent life we must seek the knowledge of God to understand exactly what the virtuous life consists of. As we gain the knowledge needed to live a life of virtue, we begin to exercise self-control and discipline in order to conform our lives to the knowledge of Christ.

The self-control or temperance spoken of here is the idea of gaining mastery over our lusts and sinful desires. The Apostle Paul frequently used athletic word pictures to convey this idea. It is the concept of doing what “has to be done” no matter painful or devoid of “fun”. Our bodies and passions want non-stop pleasure. Our self control denies that in order to cultivate virtue founded on Godly knowledge.

We live in a “self” controlled world
but this is not Godly “self-control”.

The self control in question here is conforming your life to your Godly knowledge not your lusts. You take what you have learned from God and filter each behavioral decision through that knowledge. The essence of self-control is deciding to cause every action, choice and desire to come into line with what you know to be Godly.

Keep in mind this is not a “sheer will” type of self control. If you resolve by pure personal choice to conform to Godliness then you will experience short term success followed by sure defeat. The proper type of self control is allowing and trusting that God’s way is best (that’s why we choose it) and that God will empower us in that way (that’s how we have consistent victory in it).

In this verse, self control literally means to “hold in”. It speaks of mastering our fleshly passions so that they become a servant to our will rather our life remaining a servant to our lusts. A good analogy is that of an athlete who chooses to train and practice rather than indulge in laziness or overeating because he “feels” like it and it is easier.

In Matthew 5 we find the Beatitudes and a blessing for “meekness”. Scriptural meekness is “power under control”, in this context the Holy Spirit’s control. This is Godly self control. The Holy Spirit empowers us and reigns, or controls us through our submissiveness to His control.

Compiling our lessons so far, we have learned:

  • As a Christian (who by default must already have faith if genuinely saved) you are to live a morally excellent and courageously good life; how do you know what that is?
  • Because you have added Godly knowledge through diligent study, prayer, meditation and asking God for wisdom.
  • Now you are taking your Godly knowledge and you are “holding in” your fleshly desire in conformity with that knowledge.

You now have a clear understanding of how hard our flesh battles for control although it can no longer can enslave you because you are under the Spirit’s control now (unless of course you choose to replace “self control” with “self” control. Because we have lost the true meaning of “self control” in our modern language, it may help to think of this in your mind as “Spirit control”).

Next time we will see how all this natural leads to and empowers us to persevere. And we are half way towards the goal of learning the qualities of the “divine nature” of Christ that are all we need for life and Godliness.

O God, we so desperately need You to empower us to control our flesh. We are incapable of holding it in ourselves. We ask that You add to our virtue and knowledge a full measure of “Spirit control”. In Jesus name, Amen.

Contemplation: Are you person of self control? Do you hold in and control your passions and lusts? Are you tangibly increasing in your ability to do so? Do you do it from sheer will power? CAN you do it from a sheer choice of your will? What is your idea of meekness and have you ever seen it as having anything to do with self control?

Application: There is a danger of two extremes. One is to be “self controlled” by attempting to be “self” controlled, in other words using your own will power to try and conquer your flesh. WON’T WORK! The other extreme is to believe there is no effort required by us, we just “let go and let God”. Both extremes are unscriptural and will be unsuccessful. We are to try our very hardest, with all our heart… all the while knowing that only God will give any real results or victory… but He requires our effort! Another wondrous Christian paradox.

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?


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You Must Have Forgotten – Part 4

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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)

These “things” are listed beginning in verse five and last time we discussed virtue being added to your faith. Virtue is the outward manifestation of your salvation in the form of goodness and moral excellence demonstrating the authenticity of your faith.

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)

Next we find Peter instructing us to add knowledge to our virtue. Keep in mind this is not a “checklist” or a set of beads we add to a string. You don’t add them one by one and “check” them off as done. This is a growing, interdependent list of qualities that feed and build on each other.

Remember too, that the idea of “diligently adding” means to “come along side of” and make your best effort while realizing that the “greater power” (God in this context) is actually the real producer of results. We are to try our very hardest all the while knowing that our efforts alone will amount to nothing. But God honors our effort by producing results for us. God does the adding in an abundant and extravagant manner.

What does Peter mean by “knowledge”? In this context it speaks of complete, practical knowledge – the ability to successfully deal with life in a Godly manner. It is not intellectual knowledge, but knowledge that comes from the illumination of God’s Word in the Believers heart. It is the ability to determine right from wrong – to have moral discernment.

Psalm 119:18 – Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law. (NKJV)

This knowledge comes from your eyes being opened by God Who reveals the truth of His Word to you that you may rightly apply it to how you live your morally excellent life of faith.

Romans 12:2 – And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove (know) what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJV)

We are to renew our mind through Bible study and prayer that we may know the will of God. You have probably heard people ask on many occasions “how can you know what God’s will is?”. Well now you know! Renew your mind with holiness learned from the Word and prayer… and you will know the good and acceptable and perfect will of God!

Tomorrow we will look at adding self-control to our discerning, morally excellent life of faith.

God of True Knowledge, open our eyes that we may read Your Word and learn wondrous things to help us live a virtuous, faithful life. In Jesus name, Amen.

Contemplation: Are you renewing your mind each day in God’s Word and prayer? Do you know the good and acceptable and perfect will of God? If no, do you see any connection? Does Scripture imply a connection between the two? Are you bold about what is right and what is wrong? Do you take a stand for it, or fall quiet to the accusations of “judgmental”?

Application: The knowledge in mind here is not simply broadening the amount of Bible knowledge you possess. This knowledge is a God-illuminated understanding of right and wrong.. of Truth. It is a clear understanding of morality and holiness. This clear understanding allows us to live a virtuous life of good works and moral excellence.

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?


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You Must Have Forgotten – Part 3

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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.

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?


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You Must Have Forgotten – Part 2

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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 we lack these “things” we’re spiritually blind, forgetting that we were cleansed from our old sinful way of life. On the opposite side, in verses 10 & 11 we’re told that if we do these “things” we will never stumble and will receive a rich welcome in to heaven. What things?

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)

Before we get into the “things”, what “reason” is Peter speaking of? In the preceding verses (v.3-4) we learn that we have everything we need to live a godly life provided to us through the Divine Nature of Jesus Christ. So for that reason, Peter continues with list of characteristics that describe the behavior of someone who possesses this “divine” nature. In keeping with Peter’s “Christianity for Dummies” simplicity, he doesn’t just tell us to live godly lives… he tells us how.

He starts by telling us to add virtue to our faith while “giving all diligence” or “making every effort”. The original Greek had in mind to “come along side of with all zeal”. So “let go and let God” doesn’t apply well here. It is the picture of a small child who works WITH his father for the purpose of learning something. The Father is the teacher and the one responsible for the results, but the child comes along side the Father and gives it his best effort regardless of how insignificant (maybe zero) his actual contribution may be. We are to make try with all our heart to develop these qualities. God will actually empower us to see results but our effort is commanded.

So… because we are partakers of Christ’s Divine Nature, we are to come along side of our Father who will help us learn to add virtue to our faith. How do you “add” these qualities? This word “add” taken in context actually translates to our English word “choreograph”. Weird, huh?

In ancient Greece, the state chorus had a director who paid for all the expenses of training the chorus. So the word “choreographer” meant someone who supported the chorus abundantly, and eventually came to mean the person who directed, provided for and planned.

So the idea of “add” in this verse is that the Believer is to “pay for, supply, furnish, direct or support” these virtues in his life. All together the beginning of verse 5 means:

“Because you have the Divine Nature of Jesus which gives you everything you need to live a Godly life, you should come alongside of the Father and give your very best effort to supply your life with these virtues…”

Of course God gives the true increase in this effort. Like a father teaching his young son how to use the lawn mower, the dad actually does all the real pushing and turning. But the youngster has his hands on the handle pushing with all his might, even if in reality he couldn’t budge the mower without his dad providing the actual effective power.

This sets the stage for learning the virtues Peter lists. We’ll pick up there tomorrow.

Almighty God, You have given us everything we need to live a life of Godliness. We pray that You would remind us every time we forget that we have been cleansed from our old sin. Give us the discipline and desire to come along side You and give our very best effort. Then give us a thankful heart knowing that any success in totally Your doing. In Jesus name, Amen.

Contemplation: Does a Christian have a real part in his own growth or do we just “let go and let God”? Does the amount of your effort matter? Does the actual result of YOUR effort matter? What parallels do you see between these thoughts and Jesus’ comments about becoming like children?

Application: It is a fact that our effort will amount to a grand total of ZILCH in the actual instilling of godly virtues in our lives. God is the sole source of righteousness. But just like you train your children to do chores or learn new tasks, no matter how incapable they actually are of completing the task, they have to make an effort or they will never learn. And no matter what they are actually capable of, as parents we are always satisfied when they make a whole-hearted effort. God is the same towards us.

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?


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You Must Have Forgotten – Part 1

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2 Peter 1:9-11 – For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (NKJV)

Ah, Peter. For us hard-headed, simple-minded folks, he’s just what the Doctor ordered. He makes things so plain and straight to the point. In the first chapter of 2nd Peter, he starts out by letting us know that we don’t have any excuses for not living a godly life:

2 Peter 1:2 – Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness… (NKJV)

As Christians, we have the divine power of Jesus Christ that gives us ALL (not part, or some) things that pertain to life and godliness. How? Through the knowledge of Him who called us… which is the essence of a great deal of our failures: lack of knowledge (Hosea 4.6). We don’t lack knowledge however because of God not giving it. We lack godly knowledge due to our own sinful non-pursuit of it.

Peter then goes on to list the characteristics of the godly:

2 Peter 1:5-8 – 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. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJV)

These qualities encompass the full measure of “all things that pertain to life and godliness”. They will be the topic of the upcoming series of devotionals. Let’s introduce the result before we begin to study the journey.

After listing these characteristics Peter tells us that if we possess them in increasing measure we will not fail to be useful to God. He says “for if these things are yours and abound”; or in other words if they are present in your life and visibly increasing.

God is not primarily concerned with the
AMOUNT of holiness in your life, but rather,
is it a consistently increasing amount?

Peter then bluntly states the opposite truth. If you don’t have these qualities, you’re like a spiritually blind person who has forgotten that they were saved from their old sinful way of life. Having forgotten about the cleansing you received, you wallow around in the mud of sin like you used to. This sets up a vicious negative cycle:

Being shortsighted and forgetful of your “sin cleansing” leads to more sin and lesser amounts of holiness which makes you more shortsighted and forgetful which leads to more sin…

And round and round it goes. See the trap? Peter is giving us a spiritual slap in the face saying “HEY!!! You were cleansed from that old sinful life. Wake up and start living like it!”. Let’s consider some thoughts about verses 9-11:

  • Going back to your old sinful way of life is like the dog returning to consume its own vomit (2Pet 2.22)
  • Being shortsighted effects your ability to see things from an eternal perspective; you start reacting with a short-term mentality which most always leads to bad decisions
  • You will remain shortsighted and lacking of the aforementioned Godly qualities until you “remember” that you are saved from your old sinfulness
  • It is possible for Christians to reach a state of spiritual blindness because the verse clearly states that this person was cleansed from his past sins; so don’t dismiss this as only the behavior of the unsaved

Peter encourages us to be diligent so that we don’t fall into a state of forgetfulness. He encapsulates the Christian life in the phrase “calling and election” which covers the spectrum of our salvation and sanctification. How do we do that? By developing “IN INCREASING MEASURE” the qualities listed in verses 5-7. He says to make our “calling and election SURE“. He would not command us to do something that was impossible.

Can you be SURE about your salvation? According to Peter you can. How? By living in increasing Godliness. Is there one word that summarizes those traits? Yes: OBEDIENCE. The entire book of 1John confirms Peter’s point.

Peter goes on to say that a person who does these “things” (the list of godly qualities) will never stumble. Stop the train. Did Peter say NEVER? Remember, only God can typically get away with using words like “never”, “all” and “every”. By divine inspiration, Peter says that “if you do these things you will never stumble”. It’s a future, ongoing, increasing “doing” of the things he lists in verses 5-7.

When you find yourself sinning (stumbling), stop and contemplate which of the listed godly traits you are missing, ignoring or neglecting. Re-engage that particular holy characteristic and the sin in question will stop. An answer to dealing with sin is to think:

“Wait a minute. I’ve been cleansed from this sin. I don’t have to do it. Which holy quality is lacking in my life that is leading to this sin? Faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness or love? Which one?”

If Peter tells us that we can “forget” about being saved from our old sinful ways; then the implication is to remind ourselves frequently, “I have been cleansed from my old sinfulness, and I no longer live that old life.” And there is a “rich” reward for those who live an increasingly godly life.

That increasing life of godliness will be where we pick up tomorrow.

Almighty God, You have given us everything we need to live a life of Godliness. We pray that You would remind us every time we forget that we have been cleansed from our old sin. We pray you would correct our spiritual vision everytime we become shortsighted. In Jesus name, Amen.

Contemplation: How sure are you of your salvation? What does “increasing measure” mean? What does Peter mean by “never” stumble?

Application: Of course we will always continue to stumble but it should be with DECREASING frequency while our Godliness is INCREASING. Peter states we will NEVER stumble if we “do these things”. So each time we do stumble, one of these “things” is not being done. Ask God for wisdom and discernment to recognize the lacking quality behind your sin, and ask the Holy Spirit to remind you when you start to “forget” that you have been cleansed from sin.

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?


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