2 Peter 1:5–9 (NKJV)
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Last week we learned from Peter that God’s work in our lives does not stop with our regeneration and conversion, does not stop when we profess faith in Jesus as Lord. God’s work continues as He teaches and trains us to be holy. God has called us, Peter wrote, by glory and virtue – to make us glorious and virtuous. And how does He accomplish this? By His divine power. Peter wrote that His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. The Risen Christ has poured out His Spirit upon the Church and His Spirit makes us glorious and virtuous.
Because holiness of life is a work of the Spirit, some Christians have erroneously maintained that the path to true holiness is through passivity: "Let go and let God; relax and let God work through you.” But Peter reasons in the exact opposite direction. Notice that Peter writes in verse 5: But also for this very reason – in other words, because God in His grace and mercy has delivered us from our sin and given us His Spirit to make us holy – for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue…
Notice two things in Peter’s command: first, we are to add to our faith virtue. It is not enough to believe in God, not enough to profess faith in Him. That faith must manifest itself in virtue – in holiness of life. Faith without works is dead, as James declares. Or as the Apostle John phrases it, the one who claims to know God and does not begin becoming like God has not truly known God. Holiness is not optional – for the same Spirit who gave us faith will also give us virtue and holiness of life.
Second, notice that the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is the One making us holy should not drive us to passivity but to activity. Knowing that God is the One at work in us to will and to work for His good pleasure should produce in us, Peter writes, all diligence. Webster defines diligence as “careful and persistent work or effort.” Synonyms include “conscientiousness, assiduousness, hard work, application, concentration, effort, care, industriousness, rigor, meticulousness, thoroughness” – you get the idea. Peter wants us to give all diligence to the pursuit of virtue.
So what about you? Are you giving all diligence to the pursuit of virtue? That sin that’s been dogging you – have you given all diligence to rid yourself of it? Have you prayed for God to take it away? Have you confessed it? Have you memorized Scripture? Have you pursued accountability? Have you guarded yourself from temptation? Have you given all diligence?
For listen, brethren, the kingdom of God is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. Knowing Christ, serving Him, attaining to the resurrection of the dead, is worth all the effort, all the industry, all the diligence, we can muster.
So reminded of our call to give all diligence to our pursuit of holiness, let us confess that we have often been passive in our pursuit of holiness and have need of God’s forgiveness and strength. Let us kneel as we confess together.