If What We Practice

2 Peter 1:1-2 ESV

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

What is to follow here is written to those of us who have obtained (incorporated, embraced, and assimilated into our lives) a faith equal to the faith of Peter and the other apostles. For, we have believed in the same Jesus and the same gospel as they had.

For, we have not just acknowledged Jesus with our intellect, or confessed him only with our words, but we have taken him and his gospel into our lives. We have, thus, utilized that faith as nourishment to our minds, hearts and souls, and we have absorbed that nourishment into our systems, i.e. into our daily routines, actions, thinking and behaviors.

This faith in Jesus Christ that Peter and the other apostles had obtained was a gift of God to them, too (Ac. 11:17-18; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; Eph. 2:8-10). And, the word faith actually means to be divinely persuaded by God. So, this faith is not something we can muster up in our own flesh, or that we can determine what it means in our own thinking and reasoning, either. Thus, it can’t be controlled by the flesh. So, there is nothing that we can do, in the flesh, to earn or to deserve our own salvation. It is a gift from God.

But, if given by God, and divinely persuaded by God, then it will submit to God (to Jesus Christ), repent of sin, and follow the Lord Jesus in obedience to his commands. For, Peter said that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). And, Paul said that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin and self, we are reborn of the Spirit, and we now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).

So, what follows here is written to us who have done that, not in our own flesh, but by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ. We have died with Christ to sin, and daily, by his Spirit, we are putting sin to death in our lives, and we are walking by the Spirit and no longer by the flesh, not in absolute perfection, but in daily practice, as a matter of our normal course.

2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

The whole purpose of our salvation from sin is to save us from our sins, not just to forgive them while we continue to live in them. What God has done for us, in providing his Son to die on a cross for us, is to give us the gift of his salvation which puts sin to death in our lives, and which gives us new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

God made it possible for us, through Jesus’ death on that cross, to now live godly and holy lives unto God, by faith in him, and in his power at work within our lives. He called us, not just to be forgiven our sins so we can go to heaven one day. He called us to his own glory and excellence, i.e. to what is to his honor and praise, as well as to moral excellence, virtue and uprightness. And, it is by this that we are granted his great and precious promises (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8).

Yet, this is not works-based salvation. This is a gift of God to us. But, that gift entails death to sin and living to righteous, by his power, so that we might become partakers of the divine nature, i.e. of the nature of God. And, it is also so that we might escape the corruption that is in the world through sinful desire, by him delivering us from our slavery to sin. Thus, we are to become like God in character, in morality, in love, in thinking, and in actions, but only through the working of his Spirit, as we cooperate with that work.

2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV

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.

This also is not works-based salvation. It is not adding on to our salvation works of the flesh. It is cooperating with God in doing the works he has called us to do, which he equips and empowers us to do, by his Spirit.

For, we are not called to some one-time faith in him which ends there until we die and go to heaven. This faith that is a gift to us from God is ongoing. It is continuous. It is persevering. It is faithful. It is not perfect, but it is submissive and it walks in obedience to the Lord in practice. And, it is growing and learning and changing in character to be more and more like Jesus. For we are continually to be growing in our faith, not stagnant.

So, as we grow in our faith and in our knowledge of God and of his will for our lives, and our character changes little by little to be more like Jesus, then we will be more Christ-like in all that we do. We will love others more with His love, the kind of love that puts others’ true needs above our own reputations and above our own selfish desires. And, we will exercise self-control, which is God-control, rather than still be controlled by our flesh.

2 Peter 1:9-11 ESV

For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

But, if we lack these qualities, meaning they are non-existent in our lives, it means our faith is not genuine, i.e. it is not of God, but it is fleshly. Yet, I must state here that some of these qualities can be faked, but the truth has a way of coming out, for no one can completely sustain the character forever when it is faked, for his or her true character is bound to seep out through the façade.

Yet, I am not saying here that we must be absolutely perfect, or that none of us will ever have our flesh roar its ugly head when we are put under enormous pressure, for we all still live in flesh bodies. Even Job, who was a righteous man, had his breaking point. So, I am not inferring here that if we should react with the flesh rather than with the Spirit at any time in our lives that it means we are faking or that our faith is not genuine.

So, hear me out. What I see all throughout the New Testament is that our faith is measured by what we practice, not by our perfection.

What we Practice

If what we normally practice is righteousness, and this is the course of our lives, then that reveals our faith as genuine faith. But, if what we practice is sinful, i.e. if we live to sin, and we hold on to sinful addictions, and we lie about them, and we cover them up, and we habitually sin in secret, with full intent to disobey God and to sin against others, then our faith is not genuine.

But, there is yet another aspect I believe we need to see here. It says here that for whoever these things are not present in their life (literal meaning), it means that they have forgotten that they were cleansed from their former sins. So, this would seem to insinuate that this person had, at one time, believed with genuine faith, and had been cleansed of his sins, but that since that time he had rejected the Lord or had wandered off and was now not living in righteousness at all, but that he had returned to his vomit.

And, then it goes on to say that we need to be all the more diligent to confirm our calling and our election, realizing that the faith which saves us is repentant and it walks in obedience to the Lord in practice, though not necessarily in perfection. And, then again we have the word “practice.” If we make these qualities mentioned here our practice, we will never fall, and then, in this way, we will be provided entrance into God’s eternal kingdom (cf. Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8).

So, please take this seriously. Genuine believing faith in Jesus Christ produces genuine results which are evidenced in what we practice, i.e. in how we live day by day, moment by moment, not in absolute perfection, but in a consistent and persistent walk of faith with our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Our Nation

An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

3 thoughts on “If What We Practice

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