II Peter 1:5-8 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
For many years, this passage has been a highly interesting and challenging one. There is a list here -- a progression of something. What is this progression? What does it lead us toward?
One of the first thing I noticed about this passage was that it begins with the phrase, “For this very reason…” This, of course, leads to the question, what reason? What is the reason that we are called to engage in everything that follows?
Taking out the prepositions, II Peter 3-4 reads Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness…For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature…”
II Peter 3-4 tells us that God has given us everything we need for life (zoe) and godliness.
Zoe isn’t life as we think of it, with the breathing in and out of oxygen. Instead, the idea is that there is only ONE life – the life force of God. The only way to have life is to be connected to God and so receive our energy from Him. God has given us everything we need to be connected to Him and to become like Him in character (godliness).
These tools are given to us so that we may have fellowship (koinonia) with Him. This isn’t the kind of fellowship we do in the Fellowship Hall after church. This is a very deep, very intentional partaking of another’s life.
“For this reason” – Since we have been given everything we need to walk in the character of God and have fellowship with him…
“applying all diligence” -- The Greek give the idea of “supply all haste”. We are to get serious, zealous, active “in your faith” -- The Greek would literally read, “of you the faith”. Most of the usages in the New Testament that specifically include “the faith” refer to acts people have done in response to their believe that God is able to do what He said He would do. So then, we are to be zealous in responding appropriately to God’s word (from above) that we are able to walk with God in the character of God.
“supply moral excellence” – behave in a way that is right – Phil. 4:8 “and in your moral excellence, knowledge” – As we do what is right, we are able to gain more knowledge about character of God, learn why that action is right, when it applies, when we should respond a certain way.
“and in your knowledge, self-control” – Our mind controls our actions. When we are thinking rightly about something, we are able to act with self-control according to our knowledge.
“and in your self-control, perseverance” – As we act in self-control over and over, we persevere in gaining self-control in that area. “and in your perseverance, godliness” – With continual perseverance, we eventually obtain the character of godliness in that area. Now that we have obtained mastery in a particular area, these last two steps are focused beyond ourselves.
“and in your godliness, brotherly kindness” – We demonstrate brotherly kindness by being gracious towards others for the fault that we ourselves have overcome.
THE LAST STEP IN THIS PROGRESSION IS LOVE
“and in your brotherly kindness, love” – Love is doing what is needed on behalf of another person. Since we have worked through this process, we are now able to help others work through it as well. We love someone by doing what is needed to help them grow in fellowship with God.
This may be better understood by means of a specific example, one I have experienced – Gossip.
“Apply all diligence in your faith” -- The cycle begins by realizing that God has given me what I need to overcome Gossip. Now I need to get serious and start acting like it is possible for me to gain God’s character in this aspect.
“supply moral excellence” – I need to be intentional about acting and speaking according to what is morally right.
“and in your moral excellence, knowledge” – The more I practice speaking what is right, the more I learn about God’s character in the area, the more I learn what things are right to speak, what things are not right to speak, when to speak, when to not speak…
“and in your knowledge, self-control” – Now that I know when and what to speak, I need to exercise self-control in only speaking what is right, and not gossiping.
“and in your self-control, perseverance” – I exercise self-control again and again. When I fail, I keep pushing forward to control my tongue and only speak that which is uplifting.
“and in your perseverance, godliness” – As I persevere, that self-control becomes my character, one that is in line with God’s character.
“and in your godliness, brotherly kindness” – Now I show brotherly kindness by being patient with the gossiping of others, not hating or showing anger towards them, but bearing with them, knowing I have been there also.
“and in your brotherly kindness, love” – In love, I seek to help others get rid of gossip in their life by guiding them down the same path I have just come.
Verse 8 tells us that if we are obtaining the steps in this process and are continually growing in them, then our true knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ will be useful and will produce fruit.
Verse 10 says that as long as we practice these things, we will never stumble.
May we continue to spur each other on in the love of God.