His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (2 Pet 1:3-9)
We are disciples of Christ. This means that we are supposed to be like Christ, to grow more and more like him.
The Bible talks about this a lot. Things like “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the way that he walked” (1 John 2:6), or “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). Or 1 Pet 2:21: “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” And Eph 5:1-2: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
How can this be done?
I know I’ve failed time and time again. I fall down, and it’s discouraging. You begin to wonder if it will ever be worth it.
It will. Take your failures to God. Let him lift you up out of the dirt. And, as I said last week, don’t just try to do things for God; do them with God.
So again, how can this be done?
First, you need to realize that God wants you to become more like him. He wants you to participate in his divine nature. How many of you actually believe that?
It’s not going to happen in this part of life. And as I said, our continual failures can be very discouraging. If Christ does not return in our lifetimes, then we will all die. But in the resurrection, in Christ’s return and the fulfillment of all of God’s promises, it will happen.
But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t start now. It started when you gave yourself to God. It will continue for the rest of your life, until you are given a new and glorified body.
Our failures should not discourage us, because failure means we’re trying, and trying means that we’re growing. You can’t reach the destination without going down the path. And our destination is the fullness of God and his glory.
But I ask again, how many of you really believe that? Do you really own that belief?
It’s so easy to lose track of it, to say, “It will happen later, so I shouldn’t worry about it now.” No, it’s true you shouldn’t worry about it, but that doesn’t mean you don’t do anything about it.
Because faith without works is dead (James 2:26).
Belief means nothing if it doesn’t cause action.
So, you believe. Now what?
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Supplement your faith with virtue. That is, goodness of action: do morally good things.
And supplement your virtue with knowledge. Not just your college education, but learn more about who God is. Read the Bible, read up on how to read the Bible (start with How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth and go from there. Grasping God’s Word is a good second step). Read some meditations on scripture (Prodigal God, for example). Listen to podcasts of sermons. Educate yourself in who God is that you might know how to become more like him!
And supplement your knowledge with self-control. Knowledge can inflate a person. Self-control keeps it in check. And self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and just generally beneficial overall. Pray for and practice and develop your self-control! The spiritual disciplines are a great guide for this, so I recommend reading The Celebration of Discipline if you don’t know where to start.
And supplement your self-control with steadfastness. That is, endurance. Because if you can’t endure, you can’t control yourself.
And supplement your steadfastness with godliness. This word, eusebia, is proper reverence for God, but it’s an external state (where you are before God) rather than an internal one (something within yourself). Speak with God and show him proper reverence.
And supplement your godliness with brotherly affection. The word here is philadelphia, which should look familiar to you. Brotherly love! Again, this is an external thing, referring not to feelings but to actions—you actively do benevolent things for people.
And supplement your brotherly affection with love. Agape, self-sacrificing love. Godly love.
Strive for these things in your personal life. And as you grow in these qualities, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You will become more like Christ than you are now, a better witness, and a better leader in your group as you grow in these things. So eagerly pursue them!
God wants you to become more like him! Believe it! And suit action to word—don’t just believe, but act on it! Pursue God daily, grow in him, and glorify Christ!