Add Your Faith

September 2019

In II Peter 1:4-9, the apostle Peter wrote: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”

The recipients that Peter was writing to were Jewish Christians who had been dispersed from Israel to other areas in the Roman Empire, specifically Asia Minor. Paul had planted many of the churches in this area, and these Jewish believers, most likely, had become a part of those churches. Peter was called by God to be the “apostle to the Jews” (Gal. 2:8), so his words carried much weight with these Jewish Christians. Many of them had been under Peter’s influence in Israel. Now they are in different locations, but they needed to hear from the same Peter who had once influenced them. The Holy Spirit led Peter to write his two letters to these Jewish believers.

One of the false teachings these believers had been affected by was using the message of grace as a license to sin. Viewing God’s grace, love, justification or anything from God as a license to sin is a perversion of God’s grace. This was a problem in the early church (II Pet. 3:14-16; Rom. 6:1), and it is a huge problem in the church today.

Personally, I believe that so many believers are participating in sin, and they do not believe it is sin. Faith in Christ becomes more of a verbal and mental assent to Christ than it does the way of life. This can even happen to believers who know the message of the cross for sanctification. I have seen this and participated in this wrong view of grace and the cross myself. Years ago, during a spiritually dry season in my life (I was still very active in ministry, even teaching and preaching the message of the cross), the Lord spoke to me in prayer and said, “Stop using My grace as an excuse not to seek My face.” That is exactly what I was doing, and I didn’t even realize it until God spoke to my heart with conviction. Some might say, “Well, that’s an isolated case.” My answer would be, “Oh no, it happens more than we want to admit.”

The message of Peter in this passage is as relevant for today’s believers as it was for the original recipients. Through what Christ has done for us on the cross, we have “precious promises” (II Pet. 1:4). These precious promises are the blessings of Christ’s all-sufficient death. We receive every blessing by grace through faith in Christ and His finished work. This is the process in which the Spirit works in our lives from beginning to end. For at least some of the recipients that Peter was writing to, they believed in Christ and had experienced His saving and sanctifying power, but they became apathetic in their faith. This is why Peter wrote in II Peter 1:5, “giving all diligence.” Diligence means “to move quickly with zeal to obey.” The opposite of diligence is apathy, complacency, half-heartedness. The Holy Spirit influences our hearts to be diligent, but He does not make us robots. We must obey the inner influence of the Spirit. How do we do this? By remembering that we were cleansed from our sin through the blood of Christ (II Pet. 1:9). Then, on the basis of our dependence in Jesus, we diligently pursue after Him (Matt. 6:33).

We must understand that faith in Christ does not want to be by itself. This is what Peter was meaning when he wrote, “add to your faith.” True faith in Christ and His cross needs virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness, and love added to it. The word add has the word picture of supplies being taken by one on a long journey. All of the characteristics Peter mentioned are the characteristics of Christ that have been given to us. It is our responsibility to believe, know, and apply those “supplies” to our lives. In Christ, He has given us virtue (righteous character), love, victory, and every blessing of Christ. If we truly believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross, then we should with diligent faith take the “supplies” of Christ to our everyday lives.

Don’t allow faith to become simply terminology that you use; don’t just go through the motions of Christianity. Add to your faith all the characteristics of Christ Himself. If we don’t, Peter wrote that we are blind, and cannot see afar off, and we have forgotten that we were purged from our old sins (II Pet. 1:9).

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