I will venture to say that many of us do not always feel “eager” to become like Christ. We confess our sin and want to be rid of it, but often resist the godly qualities that are supposed to replace those sins. We don’t want to do the work involved. We cling to sin we’ve always believed to be part of our personality – fear, apathy, temper, worry. We know how to make a pretense of growth with our outward acts and words; all the while, what continues to grow down in our very deepest places, is something quite different. And our contentment with these things keeps us stuck, like feet in mud.
But, we may think, being stuck in a little bit of mud isn’t so bad, is it? We are still saved. Is it really hurting anyone, we think? At least here, we’re stuck in the mud with everybody else that’s stuck in the mud. At least here, we can just go about our day and still have most of ourselves in the light. We still believe. We’re still just enough different from others to make it known that we follow Christ. Just enough might be just enough for us, right?
We are all really quite schooled in the art of deception, wouldn’t you say?
Peter, however, doesn’t buy the attitude of “standing still” when it comes to our life here on earth, and he has something to tell us that is very crucial to believers’ faith.
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 … be all the more diligent to makeyour calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Pet 1:5-11)
Peter is talking about the pursuit of and growth in godliness, the divine nature mentioned earlier in verse 4. But not just to grow, not just to pursue the lovely virtues listed. This “pursuit” is to be done in a very specific way.
The words and phrases Peter uses here are very strong as he describes the result of the practice of godliness. In fact, Peter sounds quite urgent, because a little further on in chapter one, Peter states that his time is short and he’s going to remind them, remind them, remind them of these things until his dying day. It’s crucial.
Why? The believers Peter is writing to are surrounded by people who have tasted the beauty of righteousness but have at some point turned away and are now proudly denying the truth they had once known. It must have disheartened these believers Peter is writing to, tempting them to question their beliefs, stay in those muddy patches, and forget the reality of their salvation.
But Peter says, “There is a way you can never fall!” Really!? How do they not fall into the same delusions others around them have? They will stand firm in faith, he says, if they diligently make every effort to practice the qualities God has chosen for them to become. The Greek wording here is strong; it means “to make haste, to do something with great earnestness, to exert one’s self, and to strive after something” (NASB Strong’s). Peter mentions twice that those who desire to stand firm in the Lord are to strive after godliness.
Because God has made them natives of heaven, because he has given them every blessed thing they need for every little topic of life…grow! Do not delay, he says. Make haste to practice these qualities of the divine! Exert all your energy into this, so that you will stand firm in the midst of all of life’s troubles and keep heaven’s gates right before your very eyes. And while the false prophets rise up around you, as you see others enslaved in their sin, you, Peter says, you will stand firm! You will be fruitful and effective! Make this your great interest in life, beloved believers – to be so overcome by the righteousness of Christ that you submit to his great and mighty divine power that is doing a good, growing, fruit-filled work in you. Lean into him most earnestly. That which overcomes a person, Peter promises them in chapter two, is what will master him.
And so, beloved sister, be overcome by Christ. Plead for it. Yearn for it. And don’t forget it. Do not delay getting out of those mud pits; allow all of yourself to be exposed and pulled out by his magnificent light. Be eager for virtue. Knowledge. Self-control. Steadfastness. Godliness. Brotherly affection. Love. Be eager for Christ himself. Make becoming like your Master your very great delight.