Another way I have put it is, Grow or Die!
God gives us faith when we are born again. Then He puts us in the path of life designed to change our character from the pattern of the world to the pattern of holiness, the very character of God. However we have a choice, we can cooperate or chose not to cooperate.
Most of us realize the moral corruption that is in our cultures, all of them, no matter where in the world we are living. Jesus wants us to escape this moral corruption, not by avoiding contact with it in isolation, but by living above it, through the power of the Holy Spirit. We have all seen too many Christians who are living by the moral code of the world.
God admonishes us in the following Scriptures in 2 Peter 1:3-11 to give all diligence to His path. He calls us to virtue (moral excellence), to knowledge (intelligence), to temperance (self control, so that we may apply the knowledge), to patience (remaining constant through difficult afflictions), to godliness (our character being conformed to His), to brotherly kindness (philanthropic acts), and finally love (agape, unconditional love). Obviously God is not talking about adding some sort of performance oriented holiness to our lives. He said in John 15 that if we do not abide in Him and bear fruit that whatever comes will be counted as "nothing." These attributes are all the fruit of the Holy Spirit, but we have a choice to welcome them or to reject them.
Notice in verse 3, that God calls us to this path by means of His own glory and virtue. He exposes Himself to us, we sense His holiness, His love, and His greatness, and we are drawn to Him. We want more of what we have seen and sensed. We have a desire to become as Him to the extent humanly possible.
When I first met the Lord in 1979, He gave me a rare physical sense experience of actually smelling his holiness. To me it smelled like sun dried white bed sheets blowing in the warm blue California sky. My mother used to hang out sheets in our back yard to dry, and I can recall the absolute clean smell they would give out. That of course was back in 1948 prior to smog and pollution. My reaction to that was a desire to escape the corruption of the world and lay down all of my corrupt moral ethics. It has been a path, not a perfect one, but an upward one.
As we walk this path of life, allowing God to add virtue, knowledge, self control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and love to our character, we see that God has given us a positive and a negative promise.
On the negative side (verse 8) He says that if we fail to walk this path that we will be barren and unfruitful, even unfruitful in the knowledge of God, or in our relationship with Him. In verse 9 He says that we will be self deceived, blind, short-sided and will even become oblivious to the fact that we have been cleansed from our sins. This person will actually think that they are walking in fellowship with God but will be deceived. Boy oh boy, what a warning for all of us!
"Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?" (Matthew 7:22).
On the positive side, the promises are
1. That we will partake of the divine nature.
2. That God will supply all or our needs for life (temporal) and godliness (our character) (verse3).
3 That we will be rich in the knowledge of God (our real time intimacy with Him).
4 That we will never fall (verse 10). "Never fall" means to me, to always be in the center of Gods program for my life, and to always have my needs supplied by His Word. It means to know that no matter what affliction is occurring, that everything is all right.
The final promise is that we will have an abundant entry into the Kingdom of God. I believe that last item refers to walking in the Kingdom here on earth, now, and not having to wait until our body dies. Remember Moses did not make it to the promise land on this side of eternity, but he finally made it. His problem was that he misrepresented Gods character to Gods people.
I believe that God uses an incentive program. Not only do we want to never fall, but also we desire to be close to Him and to please Him. Those incentives are what should give us the diligence spoken of in this Scripture.
Do you enjoy it when you encounter a believer that "smells" like Jesus? Would you rather see covetousness or charity? Would you rather see love or selfishness? Do you enjoy it when a believer sees you as an object to meet their need, or as someone to whom they may help in some way. How many people do you encounter in church who actually have your best interest as the priority in their life? How do you feel when you see a Christian "bending the truth." How do you feel when you see a Christian who makes excuses for his/her worldly ethics? Mark Rutland says that we excuse our behaviors by claiming a higher ethic, like "The end justifies the means," or by a lower ethic like "My boss did not know that I left ten minutes early, and he has plenty of business anyway."
Our culture is not supposed to have godly ethics, they dont know any better. However I believe that we will be judged, both here and in eternity, for our ethics. We have been given the path of life in order to escape the corrupt ethics of the world and to live in the virtue of God Himself. Do you think that we will impact the world by utilizing their own ethics?
One of our sons had a job at a local retail store just before he married. His fellow employees made fun of him for being a moral person and for not having sex before marriage. He just continued to respond with love, patience, and all of the above attributes. He endured much persecution for one full year. Finally one day, one of these employees ran to him in a panic telling him that his life and his marriage were in a mess, and that he had seen God in my son. He asked my son to counsel him and to pray for him. He stated that he had accepted Jesus as his Lord because of my sons godly ethics.
We have a higher call.
Larry Chkoreff, June, 2001
2 Peter 1:3-11
"as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
4 "By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceeding great promises, so that through them you may escape by flight from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness, lust and greed, and become sharers, partakers of the divine nature (Amplified).
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,
6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,
7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;
11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."