Apply These Virtues With Diligence
Copyright © 1978
Indian Hills Community Church
2 Peter 1:8-11
(The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh on March 3, 1996)
In his second letter, Peter has much to say about the doctrine and lifestyles of false teachers. Peter begins chapter 1 by laying the foundation of our salvation in Christ. He shows what God has done for us and tells us the manifestation of that work of God, in our lives, will prepare us to address the dangers of false teachers and false teaching that face the people of God and the church of Jesus Christ.
One of the great and foundational truths in all of Scripture is the doctrine of salvation by grace. The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8: "For by grace you have been saved through faith..." God's salvation is accomplished by His grace. The means that He uses to bring that grace to our hearts is faith in the revelation that He gives concerning Himself and the work He has accomplished in His Son. To understand grace, you must understand that it excludes all human effort. Paul wrote in Romans 11:6: "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace." So as soon as you try to bring human effort, human works, into the picture, you no longer have grace. You have different degrees of work and works, but you do not have grace. So when we say salvation is by grace, that means it is not accomplished by our efforts and our works.
False teachers are always working to corrupt the grace of God. In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter makes reference to the fact that the untaught and unstable distort the writings of the Apostle Paul just as they do the rest of Scripture. So the false teachers we are talking about are not false teachers of a different religion such as Hindus or Muslims. We are talking about false teachers who profess to be teaching the Scriptures, who profess to be believers in Jesus Christ and to be proclaiming the gospel of the living God. But they are twisting and distorting the Scriptures.
The distortion of the doctrine of grace happens in a couple of ways. Number 1, God's grace is corrupted by those who would mix it with law, as though salvation was a combination of God's work and man's efforts. Turn to Galatians. I want to look at several verses here. In Galatians, chapter 1, Paul begins by saying anyone who preaches a gospel that requires a mixture of God's work and man's work to accomplish salvation is not preaching the true gospel at all. In fact, he adds, that person is under a curse. One thing that distinguishes our day from the days of the apostles is that we have a much softer approach in dealing with false teachers and false doctrine than the New Testament writers did. Paul says in Galatians 1:8: "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" The emphasis in verse 8 is on apostles and angels. But Paul states in verse 9 that any man who preaches such a gospel is to be accursed.
1. Those Who Say Works Are Necessary Are Severed From Christ
The corruption in the Galatian letter was that teachers were saying, "You must believe in Christ to be saved, but that is not enough. You must also obey parts of the law, such as being circumcised, or you cannot be saved. So salvation is a combination of God's work and man's work, and the result is forgiveness and cleansing." Paul says that is not the gospel at all. In fact, in Galatians 5:4, Paul says, "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." He is not saying here that some Christians have lost their salvation. He is saying these false teachers - called Judaizers in Galatians - had cut themselves off from Christ. Because they were not operating on the basis of a salvation by grace, they were severed from grace. We already saw in Romans 11:6 that if salvation is by grace, it is no longer by works. Otherwise, grace is no longer grace. If you are teaching that works of any kind are necessary for salvation, you have fallen from grace. You are severed from Christ because you are teaching something totally different for salvation.
The second way that false teachers corrupt the doctrine of grace is by swinging exactly to the other side. Sometimes we think we are balancing things. We say that grace gives us the freedom and liberty to be unrestrained, that we are free to do as we choose and please. That is license, and it leads to a corrupt lifestyle of licentiousness. These false teachers take the grace of God and imply that it means a freedom to function as we please. No one can tell us what to do. No one can restrict our liberty. Grace becomes license under that teaching. Galatians chapter 5:13 says, "For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh..." Paul has been warning the Galatians about those who would try to mix the law with grace. He says it is true you are called to freedom, but do not make the mistake of thinking your freedom means you can now indulge your fleshly desires. That is every bit as serious a corruption of God's grace as the mixing of man's works with grace. And it is this second kind of false teaching - those who had turned the grace of God into licentiousness - that is at the forefront of Peter's second letter.
Look at the book of Jude. You might be aware that Jude and the second chapter of 2 Peter are basically the same in content. Verse 4 says, "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." Peter will address that same issue - people who deny our Lord and Master and turn the grace of God into licentiousness - in the second chapter of his letter.
Come back to 2 Peter, chapter 1. In verses 5-7 Peter set forth seven qualities that we, as God's people, are responsible to develop, cultivate and build into our lives. These qualities are the necessary outgrowth of having become partakers of the divine nature Peter mentions in verse 4. As those who have partaken of the nature of God, we now apply all of our effort to the development and fuller production of His character in our lives. It is all founded on the saving faith we have received from Him in verse 1. His divine power, according to verse 3, provides us with everything necessary for life and godliness. Now in our faith, verse 5, we apply all diligence to supply these things in abundance in our faith. Each of the seven qualities builds on the other and is interrelated one to another.
2. Seven Qualities Distinguish Between Believer and Unbeliever
In verses 8-11, Peter is going to show why it is so necessary and important for these qualities to be manifest in our lives. In verses 8 and 9, he underscores their importance by showing that they distinguish between the believer and the unbeliever. So the qualities of verses 5 to 7 are distinguishing characteristics of a child of God. He will develop that in verses 8 and 9. Then in verses 10 and 11 he will say that these qualities are what give us assurance regarding our salvation. How do you know that you are one of the elect of God and have been chosen by Him for eternal salvation? Well, you have been called by Him in time, and you are manifesting His character through these qualities in your life.
Start with verse 8: "For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." These qualities are the seven qualities that Peter wrote about in verses 5, 6 and 7. The phrase if these are yours really translates a participle. In English, our participles are words that end in ing, like increasing in verse 8. That is a participle, a present participle. Well, it is a present participle in the first part of verse 8 as well. So you could literally translate it, For these things being yours and increasing. The idea is that they are present in every believer, and Peter is confident that he is writing to believers. Do not get the idea that he is raising a doubt whether Christians have these qualities in their lives. He assumes it. He is saying, "These things are personally yours. These things, being yours and increasing, render you neither useless nor unfruitful. They are qualities that belong to you. They characterize your life personally and individually." He is confident that they are believers and that he is writing to believers.
The qualities are to increase. There is to be growth in these areas of their lives. It is not just that these qualities are yours. It is that they are yours and that they are increasing. There is growth. There is development. There is maturing. The picture we are talking about is a comparison of a newborn baby. After it is born, there is the process of development. He learns to use his voice to form words. We do not just add something to him. We do not stick a cassette tape on his head and expect him to speak. Human beings are born with a voice box, and God has marvelously made us able to create words. How about the baby's legs? They are there, but he can not yet use them as he should. He kicks them around for awhile. As he applies himself over time, he eventually learns to stand up and walk. It is the same with all of his parts.
That is what we are talking about here with the child of God. As God's children, we are partakers of the divine nature. Now we are applying all of our effort to develop these qualities and have them produced in abundance in our lives. So it is not something I add to the work that God has done. I bring nothing to God's work of salvation. But I am expected to apply myself with all effort to develop what God has brought about in my life as a result of the new birth and my becoming a partaker of the divine nature.
These qualities, being yours and increasing, "...render you neither useless nor unfruitful..." They render you; they make you. It is present tense. This is an ongoing activity. These qualities have an effect and impact on my life. They make me - or render me - neither useless nor unfruitful. Peter is saying basically the same thing with these two words. But I want you to see the significance of these words so that we are clear as we move through this passage.
3. Unproductive Faith Is Useless
Let me tell you where I am going. My understanding is that verse 8 is saying what is true of a genuine believer. What Peter will say in verse 9 marks those who are not true believers - the false teachers about whom he is so concerned. The word useless means a person is not working. He is idle, unproductive. I want you to see this word as James uses it. Chapter 2 of James covers the same subject matter that we are talking about in 2 Peter, chapter 1. Look at James 2:20: "But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?" There is our word. Useless faith is idle. It has no value. It accomplishes nothing. It is not even saving faith. It is a demonic kind of faith, according to James 2:19. That is what Peter is saying. It is useless. It is a faith without works.
Come back to 2 Peter, chapter 1. Fruit and fruitfulness are common metaphors in Scripture for the ethical or moral qualities that are to be developed in a life. Our character is manifested by the works that we do. Those works are called fruit. Peter is using the negative side to make his point. These virtues in your life - the qualities of verses 5, 6, and 7 - make you neither useless nor unfruitful . Peter writes the negative to emphasize the positive. In other words, you will be useful; you will be productive. Not unfruitful, but fruitful. When we think of the fruit, we probably think of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. You will note the seven qualities that Peter mentioned in verses 5, 6 and 7 are not everything that could be said about fruitfulness in the life of a believer. But those seven qualities enable us to have a life that is characterized as being productive and fruitful for God in all ways and in all areas.
There are a number of passages that we could look at in regard to this matter of fruitfulness, but turn to Colossians 1:9-10 on this matter of fruitfulness. Paul writes: "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." Applying yourself to the development of these virtues in your life guarantees that you will bear fruit in every good work in your knowledge of God.
4. False Teachers Are Dead and Bear No Fruit
Now Peter used the negative - that you will not be unfruitful. Look how Jude in verse 12 describes false teachers. He says these men are "...clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted." Autumn trees are unfruitful. That also is a characteristic of false teachers. They are unfruitful. They promise something. They may appear to be able to develop, but they do not. They are doubly dead. They are uprooted. When Jude describes false teachers as autumn trees without fruit or fruitless, he is saying they do not have the fruit of the Spirit. The seven qualities that Peter talks about are qualities that make you neither useless nor unfruitful. They guarantee that you will not be like the false teachers. You will not be like those who are not truly born again.
Salvation takes place in the realm of the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we see in 2 Peter, chapter 1. We were graciously given this salvation knowledge by God. We see in verses 2 and 3 that we have come to know Him through faith in His Son. So we are talking about the knowledge we have as a result of the salvation that God has brought to our hearts through faith. We were given everything pertaining to life and godliness, according to verse 3: "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us..." So now in this true knowledge we will not be useless, unfruitful. These qualities belong to us, and they are increasing and growing.
We see in verse 4 that we are the partakers of the divine nature, so we are producing the character of God. The knowledge of God is not something static. It is not something dry. As we study the word of God, we realize it contains something more than just factual information. We study facts, history and truth, but it is alive and powerful. It works God's purposes in our lives as we submit ourselves to it and as we apply ourselves with diligence. That is what we are talking about - the active, productive knowledge of God working in our heart as we apply ourselves with diligence.
Peter looks at another group of people in verse 9: "For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins." It is important that these things be produced in our lives because the one who lacks these things has never become a partaker of the divine nature. The qualities are lacking. The present tense denotes something that is characteristic of their lives. The qualities of verses 5, 6 and 7 are not there. Note that Peter's writing style has changed. He has moved to a third person. At the beginning of verse 8 there was a personal, one-to-one construction of his writing - "...if these qualities are yours..." Now he writes about an impersonal third party - "For he who lacks these qualities..." In other words, Peter is saying: "I want you to see the contrast. I am convinced you belong to Him and these are yours, but he who lacks these qualities is blind." Blindness is a common metaphor in the Scripture for those who have the inability or unwillingness to see spiritual truth. Blindness pictures their true spiritual condition. In the realm of spiritual truth and spiritual reality, they are blind.
Peter was given a background in this use of blindness as a metaphor by the teaching of Christ during His earthly ministry. It was a characterization that Jesus often used when He spoke of the false teachers of His day - the Pharisees, the scribes, the religious leaders. In Matthew, chapter 15, we see the Pharisees were offended by the truth that Jesus Christ preached. Verse 12: "Then the disciples came and said to Him, Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?'" The truth is offensive to the unbeliever. These are false religious teachers. Look at Christ's response in verse 14: "Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." Religious teachers who are blind to spiritual truth are leading people who are blind to spiritual truth. What a tragedy.
5. Use of Blind as a Metaphor Refers to Unbelievers
Jesus gives the same condemnation in Matthew, chapter 23. He pronounces woe on the scribes and the Pharisees in this chapter. Verse 15: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites..." Verse 16: "Woe to you, blind guides..." Verse 24: "You blind guides..." These are the religious leaders. They are blind. They do not see. They do not comprehend. They do not know.
The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 that the work of blinding hearts and minds is a work of the enemy of our souls, the devil. "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world..." - Satan - "...has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." That is the picture of unregenerate man. Turn over to 1 John 2:11: "But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes." There is the picture again. As far as I can determine, all the uses of blind as a metaphor in the New Testament refer to unbelievers and their spiritual condition of not being able to perceive and see spiritual truth. The people in the church at Laodicea - Revelation 3:17 - did not know they were blind. They are exhorted to come to Christ that they might see. That is why unbelievers read the Bible and find that it does not make any sense to them. It does not really ignite their hearts and stir their minds to want to serve the living God.
Come back to 2 Peter 1:9. It is my understanding that Peter is describing unbelievers when he writes: "...he who lacks these qualities is blind..." Now he has two participles that further describe or explain their blindness. I think it would help some of the confusion here if they had been translated as participles. The New American Standard Bible that I am using has it "...blind or short-sighted..." The first question - and a number of commentators have grappled with this - is why would Peter say short-sighted? We get the English word myopic from this Greek word. A person who is near-sighted, or short-sighted, can only see what is right in front of him. If he is blind, he can not see anything. But that is one of the participles. So you could translate this: he is blind, being short-sighted. The second participle is having forgotten. But he is blind. Being short-sighted, having forgotten. What does it mean he is blind, being short-sighted? He can only see the things at hand. He can only see the immediate earthy realm. His eyes only see the realm of the transitory and the tangible. He is earthly focused, earthly centered. He is short-sighted. That is all he can see. He is unable to see beyond the physical to true spiritual truth and reality.
6. Lifestyle of False Teachers Belies Their Claims
Furthermore, he is described as "...having forgotten his purification from his former sins." He is blind or short-sighted is present tense. But having forgotten is an aroist participle. Now, that throws us because we say, "Well, if he forgot his former purification, he must have been purified. So we must be talking about a believer." No, I think he is talking about false teachers and the claims they have made. They claim to have been purified. They claim to believe in salvation by faith, but their very lifestyle indicates that has not occurred. They have forgotten it. It is like someone who is telling a lie - perhaps one of your children - and you caught him in the lie. You know he is lying. You say, "Have not you forgotten?" You are not implying that perhaps it actually was true. You are reminding him that it never was true. That is the picture here. Peter is taking them at their claim. But the reality is they have forgotten about purification. They have forgotten what Peter said at the end of verse 4 about being able to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust if they have become partakers of the divine nature.
Perhaps Peter is addressing those who have forgotten their purification in the context of chapter 2, which discusses the false teachers and their corrupt lifestyle. The condemnation of these false teachers is stressed in verse 20: "For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first." These false teachers were not truly saved, but they did come into the knowledge of the truth. We see this concept in John 9:40-41, where the Pharisees say to Jesus: "...We are not blind too, are we?' Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, We see,' your sin remains.'" In other words, you are guilty in a fuller and greater way because of what you do know. They had the word of God. They were experts in the Scripture. But they were blind because they did not understand it. These are the same people that Jesus condemned as blind. But in another sense you can say they are not blind because they have the Scripture.
7. False Teachers Beguile Because They are Knowledgeable
Those people about whom Peter is writing at the end of 2 Peter, chapter 2, have come to the knowledge of the truth. They know about Christ. They can present the Gospel. That is why the church gets deceived by them. That is why you and I as Christians get deceived by them. They say so many of the right things. That is why it is always true that when you examine a teacher and what he is teaching, you must not only look at what you agree with and what is biblical but what you disagree with and what is not biblical. Verse 21: "For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed over to them." This is the same thing that Jesus said to the people of His day who witnessed His miracles and did not repent. Matthew 11: 24: "...I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you." Greater light brings greater responsibility. It would have been better for these false teachers to have never been exposed to the truth than to have known the truth and discarded it. They are like the proverbial dog and pig in 2 Peter 2:22: "...A dog returns to its own vomit,' and, A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.'"
Turn to Titus 1:16. Concerning false teachers, Paul writes: "They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed." That is what we are dealing with. Back up to Matthew 7:15, where Jesus warns of coming false prophets and false teachers: "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves." You see, they present themselves as true. They appear at first to be true and genuine, but in their true inner character they are ravenous wolves. They will bring destruction and tear apart the people of God. In verses 16-17, Jesus tells us how to recognize them: "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree produce good fruit." Jesus again says in verse 20 that we will know them by their fruits. Then he says in verse 21: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter."
You ask, "Is this salvation by works?" No, it is the evidence of salvation. It is the evidence of what kind of tree you are. It is the evidence of which gate you have entered, according to Matthew 7:13-14. Those traveling the broad road have entered the broad gate. Those traveling the narrow road of a godly life have entered the narrow gate. In other words, Jesus is saying that nobody who enters the narrow gate is traveling the broad road, and no one who is traveling the broad road enters the narrow gate. No one who is producing bad fruit is a good tree. So the picture is the same. The evidence of the work of God in the life of one who has experienced salvation is clear.
Hebrews 10:28-29 is a warning passage given to those Jews who profess to believe in Christ but may have stopped short of actual salvation. "Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified..." Sanctification was provided for him, and he claims it has happened to him. It really has not, though, which he shows by his attitude. Peter is talking about the same thing when he says they have forgotten their purification from former sins. Their lives show that they forgot what they claimed. They profess godliness, as Paul said in his letter to Titus, but they deny it with their deeds.
This is a tremendously important matter. The church progressively becomes more and more corrupted because it accepts the testimony of people when that testimony is not supported by their lives. As a result, unbelievers move in. As they become a part of the visible church. they become more and more of a corrupting influence. The Scripture is absolutely adamant. There is no such thing as a true child of God who does not manifest the character of God in his life. I realize that I stress this concept, but I know many people in this body struggle with it in a variety of ways. The truth of Scripture, though, is clear. Turn back to 2 Peter, chapter 1, and let us go on to see what he said.
8. Seven Qualities Offer Confidence to Believer
It is essential that these qualities are being produced in our lives - that they belong to us and are increasing. Why? In contrast to people who are not producing them in their lives, the qualities offer evidence that we belong to God. They are essential marks of a believer. Furthermore, they give you the confident assurance of your own salvation. Look at verse 10: "Therefore, brethren..." There is warmth here. Peter is calling to them, speaking with them as fellow family members. It is the only time in his letters that he uses this particular word brethren. He is saying, "I do believe you are members of the family, and these qualities belong to you, even though I have just described those who do not have them."
"Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you." There is a sense of urgency about what Peter says here. It is one of those aroist imperatives, and it is an urgent command. This word diligent means to be zealous, to be eager about something. The noun form of this word was used in verse 5 - "...applying all diligence..." to this matter. Now he reinforces it. "Be all the more diligent..."and zealous "...to make certain about his calling and choosing you." To make certain - present infinitive, present tense. This is to be constantly going on in our lives. It is an ongoing responsibility. Some people act like salvation is a decision for Christ - "Now that I got that out of my way I can get on with my life." No. Salvation is a radical transformation, a new birth. It makes you a new creation, and nothing will ever be the same again. There is a song that says, "Thank God I am not the man I used to be." That is true. But you would not know it by the lives of some who profess to have experienced the infinite power of God. That power, they say, has impacted their hearts and minds to make them totally new, and yet they continue to live like they did when they were old. What is more, they have the audacity to expect that such a profession will be accepted. Not at all. It was not by Peter. It was not by the New Testament apostles. And it had better not be by the church today.
"...be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you..." The calling and choosing are God's work. Choosing - that is election. Calling takes place in time when the Spirit opens your heart and mind, and you respond in faith to Christ. The election took place in eternity past. How do you know that God chose you in eternity past? If you are a believer, you probably have struggled with this at one time or another.
He called me in time. There was a point in time when I came to understand and believe that I was a wretched, vile sinner. I turned from that sin and believed that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died to pay the penalty for my sin and was raised again. That call has been evidenced by the character of my God being produced in my life as one who has become a partaker of the divine nature. How do I have certainty about my salvation? If you have been a believer very long, you have probably experienced this situation. We fall into sin and all of sudden our lives seem to be totally disoriented. What is one of the first questions that comes to mind? "I wonder if I am truly saved. I wonder if I am really a child of God." The certainty is shaken. That is why as I practice these seven qualities, as they are built into my life, they give me confidence. I know God chose me in eternity past because there came a time when I believed in His Son, Jesus Christ, and His character has been seen in my life as a result.
9. Outward Decisions Not Always Sign of Inward Trust
We sometimes see or hear of others who make decisions for salvation, and we trust those decisions. Parents must be careful of this. What happens? We have a generation of children growing up under the sound words of truth at Indian Hills. They make decisions at ages 2, 3, 4, 6 or 8 that we as parents hold onto. Then they grow to adulthood, turn away and live lives that reflect nothing of God's character. Yet we hear dear parents saying, "Oh, they are not living for the Lord, but I know they are saved because I remember at 6 years of age when we knelt down beside the bed and they prayed to trust Christ."
Well, dear person. That is not salvation if it does not change the life. As much as we parents might want it to be, that does not make it reality. We corrupt the grace of God and become an obstacle to the salvation of that loved one if we imply or indicate they are saved contrary to what the word of God says. All I can say to them is, "If you had truly been born again, your life would be different. When you claim that you have been saved and yet live like you are, God says you are a liar." That is the word that 1 John uses. Anyone who makes such a claim is a liar if it is not supported by how he lives his life. Sometimes we parents become very defensive because we do not want anyone to question the salvation of our children or family members. It is as though we could guarantee their salvation. No. The evidence will be there, or they do not belong to Him. I would be on my face beseeching God for His mercy in bringing His salvation to my loved one rather than try to walk around in my pretend world.
So what Peter has to say is very pertinent. You make certain. How do you know you belong to God? Well, you make certain because these things are in your life. That is the character of God. You do not become a child of God by producing these things, but everyone who is a child of God will produce these things.
10. Anti-Lordship Doctrine Now Permeates Church
"...as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble." As long as you practice - present participle. These are the ongoing characteristics of your life. I mean, it is so obvious. A baby is born into the human race. That is not the last that he manifests anything characteristic of a human being, is it? You expect after 20 years to see even more evidence as he learns to function more. Where do we get this idea that people are born into the family of God and that is it? Why do we think it does not matter if there is a change or not. That doctrine is permeating the church under the anti-Lordship teaching of our day.
"...as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble." Double negative here - "...you will never..." It is not a possibility that you will stumble. Now This word stumble is used by James of sin. In James 3:2, he says, "For we all stumble in many ways..." If you did not stumble - sin - you would be a perfect person. James says we all stumble in many ways, yet Peter says you will never stumble. Peter is using it in the way Paul used it in Romans 11:11 where the stumble refers to falling permanently and irrevocably. Paul asked regarding Israel in Romans 11:11, "I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be..." Their stumble was not a final, irrevocable fall from which they would never recover because God has a future plan for Israel. That is what Peter is talking about. You will never stumble in the sense that you will fail to arrive at the appointed goal of ultimate salvation in the glory of His presence.
Look in Jude 24. "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling..." There is our word. "...and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy." That is where Peter is going. We one day will stand in His presence. The production of these seven qualities in our lives guarantees we will never stumble and thus never arrive in the kingdom, or never stand blameless in His presence. That is the concept of stumble that Peter is talking about here. These false teachers made a claim, but they have stumbled and fallen. They were not genuine. They will not arrive at the goal because the character of the divine nature was never produced in them, which meant they never did come into the true knowledge of God. They never did have saving faith.
Back to 2 Peter, chapter 1. Tie this together with verse 11: "for in this way..." That is an adverb. It is the same as thus, or thusly. In this way parallels these things in verse 10. "for as long as you practice these things..." at the end of verse 10, "for in this way..." - in the practice of these things - "...the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you." Now you know human activity does not bring about salvation. You enter the narrow gate, according to Matthew 7.13. You travel the narrow way and abundant entrance is provided by our God.
"The entrance...will be abundantly supplied to you." What a picture that is. The entrance into the eternal kingdom will be abundantly supplied. We saw this word supply back in verse 5 - "...supply moral excellence..." We noted the word there always carries the concept of supplying more than is adequate. It means to supply fully, abundantly. Well, he adds the word abundant - or richly - on the front of that word. It will be richly, abundantly supplied to you. We do not outdo God. We work to have His character abundantly supplied in our life, and when we get to the end of the road by His grace He will richly, abundantly supply for us entrance into His kingdom. What a remarkable picture He has drawn here for us.
11. Thousand-Year Reign Is First Phase of Eternal Kingdom
When Peter talks about the eternal kingdom, he is not talking primarily about heaven. He is talking about the kingdom that has been promised over which Jesus Christ will rule and reign. The first phase in the eternal kingdom is the millennium, the thousand years of Revelation 20. But that is only the first phase of an eternal kingdom. Peter will talk about this in his third chapter. There he will talk about the new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness reigns. He is talking about going into that kingdom, the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
One person noted that there are three things said about the kingdom in this verse. First, it is eternal. It is the eternal kingdom. This is the only place where this exact expression - eternal kingdom - is used. Other places indicate the kingdom is eternal, but not by this expression - eternal kingdom. Secondly, and very importantly, the kingdom is future. "For in this way the entrance...will be...supplied..," That is future tense. Some people teach that we are in the kingdom today. That is not what Peter teaches. He teaches we have yet to enter the kingdom. But at a future time we will. Thirdly, this kingdom belongs to our Lord and Savior. It is an eternal kingdom. It is a future kingdom. It is Christ's kingdom.
That is the ultimate goal. We are looking forward to the kingdom. So you see, those qualities of verses 5, 6 and 7 are of great importance. Of course, they do not bring about your salvation. But if you have been chosen of God, and if you have experienced the call of God and thus believed in Christ and turned from your sin, then as we see at the end of verse 4, you have become a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. We ought to finally put to rest once for all this false teaching that a person can be a child of God and live a corrupt life.
We want these qualities in our lives, first, because they distinguish us as believers from the unbelievers. Secondly, they give the confident assurance that we, indeed, are the elect and called of God. 1 John 3:7: "Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous." You see, we get our righteousness from God. Just as you got your humanity from your physical parents, we get our righteousness - the divine nature - from our God. We manifest it.
Verse 8: "The one who practices sin is of the devil..." Is there any reason to be muddled and confused? Do not be deceived. Anyone who tells you differently is deceiving you. Why? Verse 9: "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed... - God's seed - "...abides in him; and he cannot sin." Present tense. He cannot practice sin, live a life of sin, because he is born of God. It is contrary to his nature. Could it be any clearer? If you have the divine nature in you, you cannot live a life of sin. Period. If you do, you do not have the divine nature in you.
Verse 10: "By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother." Love, incidentally, was the last of the seven virtues mentioned by Peter. God's character is seen in His children. If I say, "Look at this lectern. Yes, it was born to a very fine father and mother about 20 years ago. They are in this congregation this morning." You would say, "That is just foolishness. Yet we have people running around saying, "Oh, yes. There is so and so. Yeah, they were saved when they were 10. You would never know it, would you? But God's their father."
Do not be deceived. It is not true for you or for those you know. It is not true for me. Praise God for the reality. When God saves us, He makes us new. That is not our doing. Once we are saved, we must apply ourselves with every ounce of our being to develop to the fullest possible extent the glorious divine nature that has been placed in us by the new birth. Those seven virtues are manifest in our lives and, indeed, we are the children of God. It gives us full, confident assurance that we have been chosen by God in eternity past, called by Him in time, and will never stumble and fail to arrive at the appointed goal.
Let us pray together. Thank you, Lord, for the wonder of our salvation. Only You, an all sovereign, all knowing, all powerful, all gracious God, could have accomplished such a life-transforming work. Lord, we bow in humility before You. May we bow with open hearts and minds to be examined by Your spirit in light of Your Word. You know, Lord, there are some sitting in this audience, this morning, who are false professors, who have a veneer of godliness about them. But You search their hearts and minds. You know them as they are. They are lost and on their way to eternal hell. Lord, I pray that You might convict them of sin, of righteousness, of judgment, that they might be brought to their knees before You, that they turn from their sin and believe in the Savior. Lord, may we who have come to know You by Your grace be all the more diligent to apply ourselves, with every ounce of our being, to be zealous to have Your character produced in abundance in our lives. Thank You, Lord, for the confident assurance we can have that we belong to You and will someday be ushered in to the glory of Your presence by Your grace. We pray in Christ's name. Amen.
Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the posting of this file on Bible Bulletin Board. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for leading Pastor Gil Rugh to preach/teach messages that are bold, and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.
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