Good Thursday morning! What's in the news today? Well, let's see. The mosquito season has begun; we had one of those down burst winds last night; it got hot yesterday; the cat apparently got close enough to a bird nest to attract the ire of the property managers; and I'm old enough, it seems, to have my 30th class reunion this weekend. If you wanted real news like what's happening in the world then I can't help you. I haven't looked at my morning news sites yet.
Yesterday, I promised that we would move into sanctification. We have been here before, but I like to come back to these central issues fairly often. If salvation is by Christ alone and not by works, and Paul is convinced that the Holy Spirit will complete the work begun in us, what is left for you and me to do? We want to work and we have a desire to improve ourselves. Is the work of sanctification also one where we just stand back and keep our hands off? If we look in 2 Peter 1 just after that part where we find the Lord has already given us what we need for living a godly life we find the process that is in our nature to long for. Instead of a religion or ceremonies, Peter gives us a list of add-to's.
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. (2 Peter 1:5-8)
Our salvation starts with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and Peter takes it from there: Make every effort (the work process we want to do) to supplement (add to) your faith with virtue. I don't think that Peter meant that you had to perfect each step along the way as in some game with levels. "You have attained virtue, my son, now you may work on the level of knowledge..." If that were the case, it might be a few years or decades before we could obey Jesus' command to love one another. We are also encouraged to study God's word daily. Doing that we are going to gain in our knowledge of the Lord, perhaps well before our virtue is all that it should be. Peter may have meant it more as a list of "helps to". As in, developing the virtue of Bible reading helps you to gain in knowledge of our Lord and His Word. Knowledge of God's word helps to increase your self-control, and so on through the list.
From the first part of the next sentence, Peter indicates that all of these qualities work together in us. We work on these qualities, and then we have a purpose in life: we won't be ineffective or unfruitful! Imagine the list Peter gives is a list of library books and the books often refer to each other. So, we go to the shelf and grab the whole list and take that entire stack back to our work area. We dive into virtue and find out that, hey, love is a virtue! Better grab that book and read up on love. Of course all of the 'books' we need are contained in the Bible. Grab the stack and get a little help to get through the day!