His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so short-sighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practise these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Divine Power For Change
Because Jesus dwells within a follower of Jesus, they have divine powers. These divine powers are not selfish powers that manipulate things for their own satisfaction, but these powers work in us for good. The beginning for all valuable life change is the relationship that we have with Jesus. I am struck by how the New Testament, and these verses in particular, emphasize the role of knowledge in a relationship. As a relationship deepens we have more understanding of the person with whom we are connecting. This is true of all relationships, but is especially important to grasp in our relationship with God. As we study theology, read the Bible, and prayerfully converse with God, we are transformed by the knowledge that comes to us in those situations. The promises Jesus has made to us are grand and far-reaching. He promises that we will be capable of great acts in his name and he promises that we will have great words to say. However, many of us are content with being ‘barely’ Christian, and so we do not experience the level of change that he has promised.
We are all held back because of our struggles with sin and self-image. However, if we grasp that it is not about us (either our inadequacy or our capability), we will trust God to do more in and through us. Peter lists a gradation of steps from faith to love, but the truth is that the believer has all these qualities within them. The form of speech Peter is using does not highlight progression of one to the other but it just highlights that all these aspects of personal virtue should be increasingly apparent in the Christian life. Faith can be seen as foundational because it follows God even when the emotions or reason pull away from God. Love can be seen as the pinnacle, because love holds all things together and is the greatest Christian virtue. Brotherly affection is also a kind of love, but there is a love that Christians express which transcends other loves. Agape is not a technical word for this love, but the Bible often uses the word agape when referring to it. This is because agape was the broadest expression of love and most naturally encompassed the other loves.
People who do not strive to know Jesus and then see change in their lives have not seen the point of what it means to be Christian. Jesus has chosen us to be in a relationship with him. A lack of life change shows a lack of understanding of the life we should be living. Those who insist they are ‘safe’ because they said a prayer once, but exhibit no change, ought to revisit the idea that they are safe. This passage, among others, would indicate that if you see no growth you may not have been born again into the life that Jesus has for you.
Father, may we be transformed as we experience the divine nature of Jesus and His transforming power. I know that I have traveled so far, but then I have become more aware of how little I know and how much I can grow. Keep me on the journey to maturity that you have laid out for each one of us. Let me encourage others to keep walking too.
- What enables the Christian to grow?
- Why do some people treat Christian growth like something extra for over-achievers?
- How would you talk with people who are not growing?
- If you use the list in this passage as an assessment tool, how would you grade your growth in each of these areas?
- What plan could you make to be further trained in growing to maturity?