Sunday, November 16, 2014

Shortsighted, Even to Blindness

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.

During the height of the so-called Lordship Salvation controversy, there were teachers who wanted to claim that one could have Jesus as one’s Savior but not as one’s Lord. All that is necessary to be saved from judgment, so it was said, is to believe in Jesus. Thereafter one should and ought to make Jesus one’s Lord, to obey Him in the nitty gritty of life; but this making Jesus Lord was, as it were, optional. One could be saved by Christ and not manifest that salvation in a life of obedience.

How different have been the words of Peter in our text – and how different is his closing observation. He writes in verse 9: For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

The man who has been baptized into Christ and pronounced forgiven on the basis of faith in Him and yet who lives a life of sin and rebellion is still in his sins. He remains blind even though he claims that he has been brought into the light. He is wandering about in the darkness, still ensnared by the clutches of the Evil One. Such was Simon Magus in the book of Acts and such is many another who claims to believe in Jesus but denies Him with his life.

Peter will go on in the next verse to command his readers to “make their calling and election sure.” And one of the ways that God assures us that we have been called by Him is by working in us the virtues that Peter identifies: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. God’s Spirit works in His elect to cultivate such virtues – and so the way we reveal that we are among the elect is by pursuing them with all diligence. Obedience is a fruit of faith – we are saved by faith alone – which just means that we are saved by Christ alone. And when Christ saves us, He doesn’t do a piecemeal job. He delivers us not only from the penalty of sin by forgiving us, He delivers us from the power of sin by sanctifying us.

And so reminded of our call to pursue virtue; of our deep need for the grace of God to free us from blindness; let us confess our sins to the Lord and ask Him to empower us for obedience. Let us kneel as we confess.