Seven Characteristics of a Godly life
2 Peter 1:5 – 7
We are back in our main topic which is the second epistle of Peter. The first four verses taught us about his servanthood, apostleship, precious faith, grace and peace, God’s power, and God’s precious promises. As I read the texts, I see seven characteristics of a godly life which I’m going to discuss to you one by one.
A. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the object and the source of our faith.
B. Faith in Jesus Christ is what separates Christians from all other people. Faith in our Savior brings us into the family of God, and is the foundation of all other qualities in the Christian life.
C. Faith comes through hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).
D. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
Relying on what God has done rather than on one’s own efforts. In the Old Testament, faith is rarely mentioned. The word trust is used frequently, and verbs like believe and rely are used to express the right attitude to God. The classic example is Abraham, whose faith was reckoned as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). At the heart of the Christian message is the story of the cross: Christ’s dying to bring salvation. Faith is an attitude of trust in which a believer receives God’s good gift of salvation (Acts 16:30-31) and lives in that awareness thereafter (Gal. 2:20; Heb. 11:1).
A. Thayer defines virtue as virtuous course of thought, feeling and action, moral goodness, any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity.
B. Strong defines it as manliness (valor), excellence, praise.
C. In simple terms,
1. Godliness; moral excellence (Ruth 3:11; Pr. 12:4; Ph. 4:8; 2 Pet. 1:3-5).
2. Power (Mk. 5:30; Lk. 6:19; 8:46).
3. Virtue is not mere moral goodness, but spiritual valor, or strength of character.
4. We must add virtue to our faith.
Illustration: Skewed Biography
Years ago the communist government in China commissioned an author to write a biography of Hudson Taylor with the purpose of distorting the facts and presenting him in a bad light. They wanted to discredit the name of this consecrated missionary of the gospel.
As the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor’s saintly character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his life, he laid aside his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Savior.
Whether we realize it or not, our example leaves an impression on others.
A. American Heritage Talking Dictionary defines knowledge as:
1. The state or fact of knowing.
2. Familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study.
3. The sum or range of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned
B. What Peter is talking here is spiritual knowledge. It comes through the Holy Spirit and is focused on the person and Word of God, a personal acquaintance with the Lord Jesus Christ.
C. Knowledge of the Word is the only way we can know God truly.
D. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is the application of the facts you have known.
E. The knowledge of God is essential to our growth in Christian character and our ability to recognize and avoid those who teach what is false.
A popular Bible Expositor listed the following six reasons why it is important to pursue knowledge of the Scriptures:
1. Knowledge gives substance to faith.
2. Knowledge stabilizes us during times of testing.
3. Knowledge enables us to handle the Word of God accurately.
4. Knowledge equips us to detect and confront error.
5. Knowledge makes us confident and consistent in our walk with God.
6. Knowledge filters out our fears and superstitions.
A. Temperance means self-control, self-restraint; moderation (Acts 24:25; Gal. 5:23; 2 Pet. 1:6).
B. “Self-control” is mastery over our passions so that we control our desires and actions. God gives this power upon us.
C. “Self-control” means to hold oneself in, to command oneself. Self-control then is the mastery of self. We stay in command of our desires and wants. It is the ability to say “no” to self. This is the freedom of self-restraint.
D. Temperance or self-control is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
E. People fail in their secular as well as spiritual life because they have no self-control. They put more preference on their flesh rather than on their spirit. They would rather watch TV or go out window shopping rather than read their Bible and pray.
Illustration: You Can’t Run the Country If You Can’t Run Yourself
During his term as President of the U.S., Lyndon Johnson was somewhat overweight. One day his wife challenged him with this blunt assertion: “You can’t run the country if you can’t run yourself.” Respecting Mrs. Johnson’s wise observation, the President lost 23 pounds.
A. Patience is the ability to endure when circumstances are difficult.
B. Self-control has to do with handling the pleasures of life, while patience relates primarily to the pressures and problem of life. (The ability to endure problem people is “long-suffering’) Often, the person who “gives in!’ to pleasures is not disciplined enough to handle pressures either, so he “gives up.”
Illustration: The Purposes of God
The purposes of God often develop slowly because His grand designs are never hurried.
The great New England preacher Phillips Brooks was noted for his poise and quiet manner. At times, however, even he suffered moments of frustration and irritability. One day a friend saw him feverishly pacing the floor like a caged lion. “What’s the trouble, Mr. Brooks?” he asked. “The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t!” Haven’t we felt the same way many times?
Some of the greatest missionaries of history devotedly spread the seed of God’s Word and yet had to wait long periods before seeing the fruit of their efforts. William Carey, for example, labored 7 years before the first Hindu convert was brought to Christ in Burma, and Adoniram Judson toiled 7 years before his faithful preaching was rewarded. In western Africa, it was 14 years before one convert was received into the Christian church. In New Zealand, it took 9 years; and in Tahiti, it was 16 years before the first harvest of souls began.
Thomas a Kempis described that kind of patience in these words: “He deserves not the name of patient who is only willing to suffer as much as he thinks proper, and for whom he pleases. The truly patient man asks (nothing) from whom he suffers, (whether) his superior, his equal, or his inferior…But from whomever, or how much, or how often wrong is done to him, he accepts it all as from the hand of God, and counts it gain!”
A. Godliness simply means “God-likeness.” In the original Greek, this word meant “to worship well.” It described the man who was right in his relationship with God and with his fellowman. Perhaps the words reverence and piety come closer to defining this term. It is that quality of character that makes a person distinctive. He lives above the petty things of life, the passions and pressures that control the lives of others. He seeks to do the will of God and, as he does, he seeks the welfare of others.
B. We must never get the idea that godliness is an impractical thing, because it is intensely practical. The godly person makes the kinds of decisions that are right and noble. He does not take an easy path simply to avoid either pain or trial. He does what is right because it is right and because it is the will of God.
VII. Brotherly Kindness
A. Brotherly kindness Philadelphia in the Greek) is a virtue that Peter must have acquired the hard way, for the disciples of our Lord often debated and disagreed with one another. If we love Jesus Christ, we must also love the brethren. We should practice an “unfeigned [sincere] love of the brethren” (1 Peter 1:22) and not just pretend that we love them. “Let brotherly love continue” (Heb 13:1). “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love” (Rom 12:10). The fact that we love our brothers and sisters in Christ is one evidence that we have been born of God (1 John 5:1-2).
B. But there is more to Christian growth than brotherly love; we must also have the sacrificial love that our Lord displayed when He went to the cross. The kind of love (“charity”) spoken of in 2 Peter 1:7 is agape love, the kind of love that God shows toward lost sinners. This is the love that is described in 1 Cor 13, the love that the Holy Spirit produces in our hearts as we walk in the Spirit (Rom 5:5; Gal 5:22). When we have brotherly love, we love because of our likenesses to others; but with agape love, we love in spite of the differences we have.
Illustration: Real Love Forgets Self
William Gladstone, in announcing the death of Princess Alice to the House of Commons, told a touching story. The little daughter of the Princess was seriously ill with diphtheria. The doctors told the princess not to kiss her little daughter and endanger her life by breathing the child’s breath. Once when the child was struggling to breathe, the mother, forgetting herself entirely, took the little one into her arms to keep her from choking to death. Rasping and struggling for her life, the child said, “Momma, kiss me!” Without thinking of herself the mother tenderly kissed her daughter. She got diphtheria and some days thereafter she went to be forever with the Lord.
Real love forgets self. Real love knows no danger. Real love doesn’t count the cost. The Bible says, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.”
Illustration: A Great Motivator
Love reaches for the hurt and takes bold steps without self-interest. It can accomplish unbelievable things merely because it is so void of self-interest.
Some time ago, a teenager, Arthur Hinkley, lifted a 3,000-pound tractor with bare hands. He wasn’t a weight lifter, but his friend, Lloyd Bachelder, 18, was pinned under a tractor on a farm near Rome, Maine. Hearing Lloyd scream, Arthur somehow lifted the tractor enough for Lloyd to wriggle out.
Love was the real motivation.
God did everything for us. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves. Christ in His sacrificial death on the cross did what we cannot do. All we have to do now is to receive His finished work for us. However, we still have to do something. That is to strive after godly character like the seven we have just studied. Will you follow God’s Word and command? God has given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness. He has given us the means, the question is will you do it?