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 nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice 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 Savior Jesus Christ.
Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
(2 Peter 1:3-15 ESV)
Peter has captured me over the last few weeks. This summer I have spent my study time diving into Peter’s two letters. They have devastated me. The next several posts will be lessons learned from I and II Peter. -jon
Godliness. If you were to ask a large group of Christians to define godliness you would inevitably get a wide array of definitions. Some would refer to “actions” while others would say “intention.” Some will argue “choosing wisely” while even others would say “testimony.” Some would say “Suits, dresses, hymns, KJV and church on Sunday nights” and others would say “liberty while drinking a Guinness.” Some would point to “Bob Jones” and others to “Rick Warren.”
As I started writing my thoughts down after reading and rereading I & II Peter (aka the gospel according to Peter), I thought of how differently I have answered this question in my own life because of the different stages I have been in. Consequently, I have found myself in a conundrum because each of my answers while they have a little validity are nowhere near close to Peter’s definition.
Peter defined Godliness as “the grace of God in Christ transforming and empowering Christians to live righteously, even in the face of opposition.”
A deeper understanding of this truth is needed…personally.
Grace is something we all have sung about and claim to have but as I read of it from Peter’s view…most don’t get it. Not that we don’t have it, but that most don’t understand it, most haven’t been captivated by it and many have never been devastated by it. Peter declares that grace is the foundation for living. Well, grace is the gift from God. It is not ours because we want it but ours because God gives it freely. Peter then adds that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit produces virtues in the followers of Christ which result in righteous living. Think about this deep concept.
God’s Grace –> Holy Spirit indwelling –> virtues/character qualities –> righteous living
Peter has just given us the steps to godliness. The steps to living a life that is pleasing to God. They are tangible and plausible. They are also inexcusable. This really hit me like a haymaker. God’s Grace in Christ is the source of Godly Living. This means alot and needs to be broken down so you understand why I say it is devastating. Piece by piece lets go…
God’s Grace in Christ is the Source of Godly Living
Look at the first part of this, “God’s grace in Christ.” Grace (God’s Power) has been granted to me all things that pertain to life (tangible living) and godliness (how to live a life that pleases God). Grace is not something we earn, rather something given. Verse 3 points out that by God’s power we get this “knowledge” of Jesus, with the “knowledge” comes the” calling” to worship him and with the “calling” comes the “precious and very great promises,” which result in “becoming partakers of the diving nature, having escaped from the corruption (sin).” If you have followed this then Peter is emphasizing that Grace isn’t just something that saved us, but is something that saves us. Grace isn’t just for the time of salvation, but it continues. This Grace literally is the foundation for which your entire life is to be built upon. This in effect determines everything about your life. Tradition doesn’t give you a code to live by, family doesn’t determine your purpose, friends and peers don’t get a say on what influences your life…God is the source.
The implications to this are dramatic to say the least. Peter gives a short list (he could have added more) of things we need to supplement (or add) to our faith (personally) so that we don’t undermine the grace given to us. It’s in Christ that we find the answers to all of our needs. Now while this might to some seem elementary and to others seem out there, to Peter it was everything! It was “for this reason” he made every effort to live Godly.
God’s Grace in Christ is the Source of Godly Living
The second part is even more explosive. If God’s grace determines everything about your life, then God alone is the Source for Godly Living. God determines what is Godly, not us. God determines what is good and what is bad, not us. Christendom has for way too long been the judge and jury on people, pastors and ministries. If someone does something that is not like how we do it, then they are accursed (sadly, this is true.) I don’t need to give examples of this, but it’s there. If God is the source, then God is the judge and jury, then it doesn’t matter if you like whatever “it” is. It doesn’t matter what your personal taste is either. The only thing that matters is what God thinks and not your interpretation of what God thinks.
So from the above verses we can see the God’s power and grace is granted to us, for His glory, so that we might make every effort to live a Godly life that pleases God so that our life is effective for the cause of Christ.
Peter says because of this, make sure that what you are doing (your calling) and why (your election) is sure and right before God because many have not and have fallen (forgotten what they learned and are back to being blind). If we do this than we are headed towards the entrance of the Kingdom pleasing the King along the way.
Couple thoughts to chew on:
- With this understanding of Godliness, we can no longer say that that we are obedient to God and yet still live in sin.
- We cannot say that just because of what someone wears or listens to, that they are holy or less holy.
- Read the previous bullet again and let it sink in before reading the next one.
- Blind people judging blind people is what is plaguing the church today.
- This is why we have unfruitful ministries, apathetic Christians and high turn-over rates.
- Without a firm foundation, your building a straw house with the storm coming.
- Your definition of righteous living will determine specifics (convictions and preferences) is wrong because only God’s definition counts in the debate.
- As to the things not specific in the book, some will say error on being conservative and others say error on being liberal. Peter says listen to the Holy Spirit. For some people the things I do, they can’t and visa-versa.
- Godliness is not a measuring stick for you to compare yourself and others to, rather you comparing you to Jesus.
- Peter reminds us that those that forget the above truths are nearsighted and cannot see afar off. See the big picture. Be gospel centered.
- Peter never names specific things as a sin like clothing, music, food, Guinness or the like…rather he points people to the book and the Holy Spirit when each specific item arrises.
- If we do these things we please God as we head towards the eternal kingdom.
- If you understand grace then you realize that as apart of the Kingdom, some will be different than you. We are all not alike and that’s a good thing.
- Don’t be the judge or the jury, that job is already taken.