Peter’s how-to for standing firm in your faith
When it comes to our walk with Christ – how do we keep from falling away? How do we fight against what all the world is pulling and calling us to? We are to be in the world, serving as the hands and feet of Jesus. But, how do we serve in the world without becoming a part of it?
I’m a list kind of person and always gravitate towards bullet points and numbered to-dos. Though I recognize that God’s Word is not just a to-do list when it comes to being a Christ-follower, there are times when scripture lays out a path that we can follow.
In the first epistle letter from Peter, he wrote to the church at large, comforting and encouraging them in the face of persecution. Three years later, he wrote to the church again, this time warning them of complacency and heresies that were attacking the Christian faith from within.
Somewhere between the first letter and the second, on-fire Christians who were under persecution started to turn in to complacent Christians who sought out the easy and the comfortable.
Time and time again, history has shown that when a group of Christ followers were persecuted, their strength grew. But, when they were no longer in the cross-hairs, they tended to do what all humans do – find what is safe, easy, and comfortable.
The second letter of Peter was a cry out to those who were part of the faith, encouraging them to continue to follow the way of Jesus, and not the heresies that were starting to seep into the church. And, it’s still relevant today. Though there is persecution throughout the world like in I Peter, there are many more Christians that are living life like in II Peter – and complacency and comfort are seeping in.
In II Peter 1:5-10, he writes,
…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. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
This isn’t a list of qualities that we need to possess in order to be saved. No, Peter was writing to those who had already claimed the gift of grace and salvation from Jesus. Instead, he was helping them see that if they had given their life to Christ, that they needed to pursue after the qualities of Him – and that these would manifest in their life as outward qualities that mark them as Christians. These qualities would supplement their faith, not be the basis of it. The world would know His followers by the qualities they exhibit.
These qualities are:
- Virtue (moral excellence)
- Knowledge (condition of perceiving truth or fact through reasoning)
- Self-control (restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires)
- Steadfastness (patient endurance)
- Godliness (devout, committed to a belief)
- Brotherly affection (compassion and care towards others)
- Love (unconditional)
As we look at this list and are honest with ourselves, none of these come naturally. But, when we consciously and intentionally apply our lives to these virtues, coupled with the grace of God, we can walk in a way that honors Him. As Peter states in verse 8, “For if these qualitiesare yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When we are seeking after virtues that are of God, we can be useful servants of His calling.
Furthermore, Peter warns of those who “lack these qualities” because they are so nearsighted that they are basically blind. Their focus has become of this world and what this world has to offer them. They have forgotten that they were cleansed from their sins. We cannot be effective followers of Christ if this is where our focus lies.
Peter sums up this part of the passage with this encouragement, “be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities, you will never fall.”
Again, this isn’t speaking to works for salvation. Instead, it’s calling those who have been saved to continue in their faith and take it deeper and more solid on the bedrock of salvation.
Do you feel like you’ve strayed? Does the pull of this world seem more pleasant that the gift of serving Jesus provides? Are you finding your pleasure in the temporary happiness of the day or are you seeking after the eternal hope and peace that Christ offers when we fix our eyes on Him?
If you’ve strayed, Peter lays out the path for you. Start with the faith that Christ is your all-in-all for salvation, add to that the choice to daily live with moral excellence, increase in knowledge by staying in God’s word daily, choose restraint over the impulses of instant gratification, choose to pursue patience for those things that irk you, stay committed to the belief in Christ despite the lies that the Enemy throws at you, and offer compassion, care, and unconditional love to those around you.
As always, this step-through list isn’t possible without the gift of grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Start your day asking for the Lord’s guidance, acknowledging that He is your source of strength, not yourself.
We can be a light in a dark world when what we seek aligns with the qualities of Christ – and pursue excellence for His glory.
Father, the enemy wants to tempt me with instant gratification, slothfulness, and greed. It all feels appealing to my selfish nature. But, I know You have called me to a higher way of living. Give me the grace I need to overcome the pull of this world and to have the desire in my heart to serve You no matter what the cost. Add to my faith – virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love – for Your glory and Your service. Amen.