Christians Need to Have Character
By: Rev. Joe Kramer
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductivein your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
-2 Peter 3:1-11 (NIV)
Now Peter moves on with his exhortation in Godly living. He shows us the majesty of God. He reminds us that God is a triune being (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) yet He is one God. He does this by reminding us that God the Father and the Son are one. He shows us this with his statement about God’s divine power.
Peter shows us in verse three that through our experiential knowledge of God, we are called to Him by His own glory and goodness; not by anything we have done, but what God has done in us. It is not in our own hands and works that we can come to God and have a true relationship with Him, but by his mercy and grace. This reiterates Peter’s opening in verses one and two.
In verse four we are actually given a promise. Peter states that because of what God has done through His power and divine nature we can escape the evil that permeates this world. We can be made right with God and walk out that righteousness, by submitting to God in everyday life (The technical terms for this is Justification and Sanctification). We can participate in the divine nature because of the gift of the Holy Spirit (indwelling of the Holy Spirit which comes at the point of salvation).
In verse five Peter says that due to this gifting of God we are to make every effort to add to our faith. Faith here has the idea of trustworthiness. This trust that we place in God is how we receive His free gift of salvation. This word also brings with it the sense of being faithful, right living before God. It brings with it the sense of continued growth in the Christian life.
Because of this growth that is supposed to happen Peter reminds us that we should be adding goodness to our faith; which is a fruit of the Spirit. Goodness can also be translated as ‘moral excellence’. To that we are to add knowledge; this knowledge is not a hidden or hard knowledge (like what false teachers proclaim), this knowledge is an experiential knowledge in our relationship to Christ. We are also supposed to have self-control; which keeps us from being pulled down by the sinful nature that is inherent to all humanity. God can give us self-control and help us to resist our evil nature. We are also supposed to have the characteristic of godliness. Godliness means that in our actions we are to be like Jesus, not that we become a god or divine ourselves; but that our actions reflect God’s nature.Brotherly love is also supposed to be a “staple” of our lives, which is a genuine love toward our fellow Christians and mankind in general. These, though listed in order, should exist in some measure in our lives as Christians and can be grown. They exist at the same time and are connected to each other. These characteristics must exist in Christians and through regular study and prayer should grow in our lives.
If we have these qualities at work within us they will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive as Christians (i.e. Our lives will match what we preach). There are too many Christians who proclaim a message they do not live. This is a sad situation and it must be rectified one life at a time, within ourselves. We must seek and ask God for these qualities to be evidenced within us. This is why churches do not grow today; there are too many Christians who do not have/display these characteristics.
If we do not have these (verse 9) Peter tells us that we don’t know what we think we know, we are blind and have forgotten what Christ has done for us. Maybe we didn’t forget intellectually, but experientially. We do not live as one who lives in the revelation of what God has done for us.
Because of all of these characteristics and continual growth (verses 10 & 11) we should be eager to make sure we are walking in God’s will and Word (i.e Biblical principles). We don’t want to come to the end of our lives and realize we got into heaven, but did nothing with our lives; that are works amounted to nothing because we did not live and grow in our faith and character.
How are you today? How is your character? Where are you in your relationship with Christ? Perhaps now is the time to draw close to God and make your relationship with Him (i.e. faith) deeper. Maybe doing this will show the world that we really believe what we say we believe. The Choice is yours.