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 have learned that these “things” are a list of Christian qualities starting in verse 5. They are not a checklist of things to be added sequentially but rather they are interdependent with each one building on and leading into the former and latter.
So far we have discovered that along with our faith we diligently strive with full effort (knowing that God is the source of true results) to add moral excellence and courage (virtue); and Biblical, God-illumined wisdom (knowledge); while reigning in our fleshly lusts (self control) and pressing on with a single-minded, undeterred focus (perseverance).
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)
To all this, the Apostle Peter says to add “godliness”. On the surface that seems pretty generalized and out of place because you would think that just covers everything, doesn’t it?
This word “godliness” in the original Greek meant “god-likeness” or “worship well”. The idea is that we are to be in good standing with God; that our relationship with Him is unhindered and not neglected. It is the demeanor of reverence and piety because our close relationship with God draws us up above the petty and fleshly trivialities of this life and keeps us focused on God.
Is the “godly” person some sort of angelic caricature
living as if the world around them isn’t real?
Are we talking about the person who walks around with their eyes skyward, hands folded and an angelic choir singing in the background? Is this person impractical because they are so “holy”? Far from it.
The “godly” person is the most practical of all because they have the welfare of others foremost in their mind. All of their decisions are filtered through Godly wisdom so they end up being decisions of true nobility and goodness. This is the person who truly loves and serves others.
The godly person is “pious”. It’s unfortunate that to most people this word has come to mean “religious bigotry and hypocrisy”. Piety is simply a reverence for God. It is the habitual filtering of everything a person experiences, feels, thinks or does through the knowledge of the Scriptures and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
A common mistake of Christians is to ask God to “give us” godliness, or “make us” godly. At the moment of salvation when the Holy Spirit indwells the new believer, they now possess in full all that is needed to live a godly life. That is the essence of verses 3 & 4, that we possess the Divine Nature of Christ that is everything we need to live a godly life. We don’t need to pray for “more” or for God to “make” us godly, we need to pray that we will avail ourselves of what God has already given.
Why is godliness listed after perseverance (endurance, patience, temperance)? Because patience is a primary way to develop Godliness. Patience is the process of being undeterred in our pursuit of God despite suffering, persecution and hardship. The single minded, unwavering focus (perseverance) on God produces godliness in us.
If you want to be godly, pray for patience. When you pray for patience, be fully aware and prepared for how patience is produced… by enduring and suffering. Patience is not all there is to it, but it’s a big part. It takes a truly courageous Christian to pray and ask God for patience.
To summarize up to this point, we are to diligently add moral excellence (virtue) and Godly wisdom (knowledge) to our faith; reigning in our fleshly desires (self control) having a single-minded, undeterred focus (perseverance) on the goal of being Christ-like (godliness).
Tomorrow we will look at brotherly kindness as we continue on our quest for a stumble-free life, full of assurance (of salvation) looking forward to a rich welcome in heaven (v. 10-11).
Holy God, we don’t ask You today for more godliness because You most graciously have already indwelled us with the Divine Nature of Your Son. We ask You for wisdom and discipline to avail ourselves of the already present, but mostly neglected Godliness that we received at the moment of our salvation. In Jesus name, Amen.
Contemplation: How have you defined or perceived “piety” in the past? Is a reverence and continual worshipful attitude towards God something that characterizes your life? If not, what do you think the reason is?
Application: We have redefined holy words to the point where they almost all have negative meanings. Piety, holiness, righteousness, humility, meekness.. all carry negative impressions of bigotry, self-righteousness and hypocrisy. Let’s not let the world redefine our godly vocabulary. By the way, if you lack godliness, do you have the courage to pray for patience? It’s a sure-fire way to develop godliness.
- 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?