Applying All Diligence (2 Peter 1:1-11)
The Same Kind of Faith (verses 1-4)
All believers “have received a faith of the same kind” as Peter’s. It may differ in degrees, but the value of it remains the same, since faith marks the beginning and constant foundation of the Christian life. Faith is the only distinguishing mark that Peter makes: either you have received this kind of faith, or you have not; either you are in Christ through faith, or you are outside of Christ without it. This faith only comes to us through the righteousness of Christ, i.e. through the gospel.
While Peter wants us to see the value of faith, he is also concerned with the life of the believer. He focuses on the objective truth in verse 1 (through the gospel we have now been given faith), but also emphasizes the need for application and living in light of that truth (verses 2ff). He is concerned that we experience more and more of the grace and peace that is given to us through Christ. The benefits of the gospel are measureless, and he desires that those benefits be “multiplied” to us through a greater knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord and through a greater likeness to Him.
We aren’t left to ourselves in this pursuit of Him. With the faith that we’ve received, we are also given “everything” we need for life and godliness. He has not withheld His divine power from us, nor any “precious and magnificent” promise: the promise of forgiveness, life, help, hope, and final completion in the end. As we live on these promises, we are transformed and become partakers of the divine nature. We escape corruption and are sanctified in Jesus.
Applying Diligence (verses 5-7)
How does this happen? How will the promises of God have their full effect in us so that we are transformed into His likeness? Peter assures us that it doesn’t happen lackadaisically or passively. Instead, we are to give “all diligence” toward attaining it. We are to add diligence and effort to our faith. At the same time, we must not make the gospel merely an exhortation to live a certain type of life, as if verses 5-9 were the essence of the gospel. We have to avoid two errors of extreme: believing that we are saved by doing something (it’s all of Christ!), or sanctified by doing nothing (we must apply effort!).
The first two qualities Peter tells us to add to our faith (moral excellence and knowledge) describe the expectations for the type of faith we are to have: active and governed by understanding. The next two qualities (self control and perseverance) tell us to be tempered, disciplined, and enduring with patience. While each of these first four characteristics are inward issues, the last three (godliness, brotherly kindness, and love) have to do with outward relationships (with God, with other believers, and with the world).
The Outcome (verses 8-11)
Peter calls our attention both to a positive and negative outcome. Positively, those who have these qualities will neither be “useless nor unfruitful.” The order given in this passage is important: this active and fruitful life follows faith and the diligent furnishing of that faith with moral excellence, knowledge, kindness, etc. Activity with a wrong foundation and wrong motives leads only to busyness, not real fruitfulness. True Christianity is fruitful, abounding in the qualities that Peter has laid out in the preceding verses.
Negatively, those who lack these qualities are “blind or short-sighted.” They are consumed with the temporal, blinded by earthly things. And this blindness results from having forgotten that we’ve been cleansed from our sins. Forgetting our salvation leads to spiritual laziness, zeal without knowledge, lack of concern for others, an uncharitable attitude, or any number of sins. The near-sighted, worldly-minded person can’t have assurance of belonging to Christ and is unable to see the glorious end and abundant entrance that awaits those who press on to know Jesus Christ!
- Why does Peter say that our faith is of the “same kind” as his? Why is this faith so precious?
- What are some of the precious promises of God in Christ?
- Why is it important to keep the proper order in the Christian life: faith first, then applying diligence?
- Are you applying diligence to know Christ and become like Him? How so? What things are prone to become more important to you than knowing Christ and becoming like Him? What keeps you from being diligent in the pursuit of Christ?
- What encouragement do these verses provide for weak, needy Christians like us?