2 Peter 1:5-8. Diligence. James Dale's sermon notes
II Pet 1:5-8
Diligence (Part 2 of 3 parts)
(Process of Growth)
Before Peter dies he wants to warn the churches against the false teachers that he sees coming into the church. But before he looks at what is false, he points them to what is true. The outline of II Peter can be thought of as FAITH, FALSE, FUTURE … the three topics of the three chapters.
In chapter one we are looking at the true FAITH. Peter’s first concern is that we are diligent in growing in the true faith. Are you growing spiritually? Last week we discussed the basis of growth. If you want to see growth happen, what are the principles that govern it? We learned it is founded upon:
- Faith (choose to trust God)
- God’s power (He gives us everything pertaining to life and godliness)
- The Word of God (we become more like Him through the Word)
If we want to grow we must be in the Word, Obey as the Spirit convicts, and then God does the changing by His power.
The Word reveals … The Spirit convicts … We repent … God does the work.
Today we are discussing the “process of growth”. As we are growing, what do we observe? What goes on?
Verse 5: “And beside this, giving all diligence”
The first three words “And beside this” means that he is moving to the next point in his discussion. In other words, he doesn’t want the reader to be left at only knowing the principles involved in growth. He wants them to experience it … to be personally involved in the process. The next few words indicate this … “giving all diligence”.
I looked up the word “diligent” in the dictionary and came up with some synonyms … hardworking, conscientious, careful, persevering (bulldogged), dedicated, committed. We may think of these terms when we think of our hobbies like sports or hunting or music, and our jobs. But do we associate those terms with your Christian life? Just like our hobbies or jobs, it takes premeditated activities and lots of time because it is something we want to do. It is really quite practical. We have a desire, and we pursue it. Right?
When my oldest son was in grade school he became enamored with collecting bottle caps. Don’t ask me to explain, but for some reason he wanted to collect bottle caps when we went on bike rides, when we walked, when we went on dates, and on vacations. About once a week he would ask me to go with him to the local barber shop to ask Bill if he could get the bottle caps from his pop machine. The kid was bottle-cap-crazy! He talked about it, thought about it, and spent time pursuing it. Desire generated action. But I believe that is only part of the story that Peter is trying to tell here.
Let me run through what he says in the next couple of verses, and then we will define the eight attributes, and then I will give you what I think is what Peter is saying.
“Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity.” Verses 5-7
Let’s look at each of these:
1. Faith – God exists and provides salvation.
2. Virtue – Moral goodness, purity.
3. Knowledge – Discernment about right living which includes mental knowledge.
4. Temperance – Disciplined moderation of sensual appetites.
5. Patience – Perseverance in hard times, “stick-to-it-ive-ness”.
6. Godliness – Reverence or respect for spiritual things.
7. Brotherly Kindness – Gentleness and kindness to Christians.
8. Charity – Agape or goodwill, going out of your way to show love.
Now, how many people in this room feel that they have added each of these things onto your faith as Peter told you to do? If not, which one is missing? If it is missing, what do you have to do in order to add it on? When do you know when all of them are added? I believe we are all so conditioned to think in terms of measurable outcomes that we may have trouble understanding these verses. I know I have struggled with it.
What God intended for mankind could be written on two tablets and rewritten at will on monuments as the Israelites traveled around. This was eventually expanded by the scribes and priests to 613 commandments taken from the Torah which was imposed upon all Jews. The godly Jew therefore took pride in the fact that he could obey all of those laws and therefore be pleasing to God. What was the problem with this approach?
First, Christ exposed this “doctrine of the Pharisees” and condemned it.
Second, Paul who was blameless touching the law counted it but dung that he might win Christ.
Third, when this issue came up about measurable outcomes for Christianity (following the law) for the new Gentile Christians, it was rejected by the apostles as they defined the “law of liberty”.
Here is how I made sense of what Peer is saying, and I believe it is correct based on the context of his letters, and also other Scriptures.
1. The foundation of true growth is inward desire imparted by the new life and
the Holy Spirit.
Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.
I believe Peter is assuming this when he starts with “faith”. Then he says, “Add onto faith …”
2. The Word reveals … The Spirit convicts
Cause me to hear thy loving-kindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust:
cause me to know the way wherein I should walk;
for I lift up my soul unto thee.
As we are in the Word, we see our sin. It is a mirror that reveals the piece of spinach on our teeth before going to church. We are not asked to dream up all the ways to be a “good” Christian and try our best. It is simple. Commit to being in the Word on a consistent basis and the Holy Spirit will do the rest. It is accomplished in liberty … between you and the Lord. We don’t follow a list of rules for everyone … we listen to the Spirit as we are in the Word.
3. I repent … The Lord does the work
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
When you are in the Word and the Lord convicts you in a certain area, then I believe it is a godly response to repent just like you did at salvation. I don’t want to live in that sin, and I want God to save me in this area now. I also believe it is a godly response to think of a way to change that area. Think about it … write it down if necessary … spend time thinking about how to put some shoe leather into making something happen in that direction. Go to the barber and ask for his bottle caps. Remember, what you do is not what makes you grow. It is the faith, the stepping out to trust the Lord in a certain area. God does the actually renewing in the spirit of your mind. “Put off the old man, put on the new man.” Concrete decisions of faith. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” Prov 16:9
4. Remember, it is a spiritual battle … the spirit against the flesh.
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
God has given us the desire to walk with him, and the instruction manual, but it is a battle. That is why we can’t depend on only our desires like the bottle cap example. We must decide with our mind and discipline our flesh. As long as we are in the flesh we are under the bondage of corruption and we groan with Paul when he said, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” In Philippians 3:14, notice how he describes his walk with the Lord, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He didn’t say I flit, I float, I fly, or even glide. He presses! Some days we may be like my son and do something simply because it is so much fun, but more often than not, it will take just plain old diligence as Peter said.
I took some time to compare this list with the list in Galatians of the fruits of the spirit. Five of them were direct comparisons and the others were related. I think that Peter is saying that these characteristics will be observed as we walk in the Spirit. It will be “added” in the sense of “completed” as in making harmony. The more we walk in the Spirit, the more we will see these fruits complementing each other.
Now let’s review.
The basis of faith – Word, Faith, Power.
The process of faith – we will see fruits of the Spirit being added on in our life.
As we are in the Word and responding by making practical application to what the Spirit reveals, we will see these qualities in our life by God’s power to change our lives.
“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Verse 8
This is his summary. If we see these fruits being exhibited in our lives, is a “proof” that the Spirit is working and we are getting to know our Lord Jesus Christ. Our goal is to know our Savior, and the process is observable … be in the Word, make decisions of faith, and watch the Lord change your life.
The Word reveals …
The Spirit convicts …
I repent …
God does the work.