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Pursuing Virtue

Godliness: A Faithful People Called to Glory and Virtue
(2 Peter 1:3-15)

Lesson 12 -- fourth quarter 2009
November 22, 2009

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2009

Introductory questions to chew

Is my faith enough?

When do I go about doing the kind of adding commanded here?

How do I develop my knowledge of Jesus?

Do I orient my Christian living toward the minimum I think God requires?

If I remember and if I am strong, why should I be reminded?

All we need!

In the natural realm, some of us do quite well at this business of hitting the targets at which we aim. God has blessed us with the focus, depth perception, and coordination that often results in accuracy. Are we perfect in this? Of course not, even though God has equipped us with all we need for reasonably consistent accuracy. So our accomplishments are not so much ours as His. Our failures result from circumstances, carelessness, opposition, and our own humanity.

In the spiritual realm, though, many of us do not do as well. We aim for honor, purity, goodness, and alertness . . . only to see many of our efforts fall short of the mark. Does this mean God hasn't blessed and equipped us as well spiritually as He has physically? Quite to the contrary! In 2 Peter 1:3 we find this assurance: "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness." God has generously made available to all of His children all that we need for godly living in our generation!

Why, then, do we fail? Since God has not held back any essential resources from us, it would seem we would achieve the "glory and virtue" spoken of in that same verse. Yet our common experience is of many inglorious and virtueless moments. Why?

Part of the answer lies in a segment of 2 Peter 1:3 that I have not yet quoted: "through the knowledge of him." I believe in an intellectual sort of way that to know Jesus is to experience power and success in living. I know that the more natural and intimate my relationship with Christ, the more common will victorious Christian living become. Yet despite believing and knowing these things, my life experience isn't one of growing, deepening daily fellowship with the Master.

Just what is the sum total of my devotion to Jesus; of my prayer communion with Him; and of my reading, study, and meditation of His Word? If I tried to survive physically by giving my body the same attention I give my spirit, I would surely die. What about you?

Woe is me! Woe is you! It would seem we are doomed to remain stuck in this Romans 7:18 condition: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." We will most definitely live and die in that woeful condition if we do not grow in our relationship with Jesus. Growing in our knowledge of God brings increasing portions of grace, peace, and life to us (2 Peter 1:2; John 17:3).

I imagine that the church at Philippi struggled with their poor aim the way I struggle with mine. So as I consider my own repeated failings both in my target selection and in my target acquisition, I am encouraged by the following words to that church.

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

I shall continue in this Way. I shall not quit. "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).

This concludes my comments based on the passage for the International Bible Study. To read my comments on the alternate lesson developed by Christian Light Publications, click here: Learning from God's Creation.

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