Spiritual Growth is Our Responsibility

2 Peter 1: 3 – 12

Hebrews 2.11The second letter of Peter was the final book to be admitted into the New Testament canon, and it was written to believers who were simultaneously being persecuted from without, and coping with heresy within the church. In those contexts, it is an exacting book to confront as these issues were life threatening! Although we are not told which congregation he was addressing, we know that the compliment Peter made was possibly to spiritually mature Roman churches (v.12). Why was there a constant need to be reminded of the fundamentals of their faith if they were spiritually mature?

Scripture informs that sin has pervaded every area of human life, and the heart is therefore, exceedingly deceitful (Rom 3:23; Jer 17:9). For instance, the mind is commonly geared to easily recall negative experiences rather than positive ones, and to perennially fixate on the former. And given the inherently short memories man possesses, there is an inevitable uphill struggle to guard the heart’s decisions against the daily onslaught of temptations and duplicities.

Firstly, since God has by His divine power granted to them everything pertaining to life and godliness (v.3), there was a necessity for believers to access His multiplied grace and peace to be constantly mindful of what He had secured for them in Christ. This lifetime perception and internalization of the gospel teachings and promises will transform them through their union with Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit, to be able to resist sin, apart from becoming future partakers of incorruptibility and immortality (v.4). But this would only be the beginning of the renewing process of being useful to the Lord.

Secondly, together with the above reception of divine conversion-knowledge and promises, the journey Peter had in mind for believers was simultaneous growth in certain qualities, in terms of fruitfulness and usefulness; without which he called his audience blind and sinful (v.8-9). Peter emphasized these qualities indicative of their spiritual maturity, that were their responsibility to develop; viz., faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (vv.5-7; these qualities were briefly explained in my earlier 8 March devotional). Furthermore, the growth of these numerous qualities were to be intentionally gauged. For example, to extrapolate Peter’s nuance, when a believer was unable to gain mastery over his own heart, emotions, or habits consistently in his life, his self-control would be found lacking. Being in a community, an objective evaluation would be from someone close to the person being assessed.

Peter exhorted due diligence in the practice of these qualities, and he aligned this growth process as a validation of God’s calling for each believer (v.10-11). It is interesting that he was certain that as long as the believers were growing these qualities, they would never fall into sin beyond recovery. The rationale was quite straight forward: when believers possessed a living faith, they would deeply desire to grow in Christ and to be moving by His Spirit into ways that He had prepared for them, with no fears of failure, as their Lord had paid that price for them with His life; viz., He no longer sees them through their sins. Godliness, therefore, remains a critical discipline within the message of the gospel, and growing in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ remains basic and essential. Once the message is validated by the believers’ qualitative way of life, their impact in society will be deeply relevant; after all, truth personified has to be a lifestyle.