It doesn’t get much clearer than Peter’s outline of spiritual/personal growth in 2 Peter 1. In following Peter’s suggestions we do much to “escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Just look at the steps Peter gives believers:
“Add to your faith goodness;and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”2 Peter 1:5-9.
It appears quite simple in theory. We build on faith, our first need as Christians, with a succession of virtues- each firmly planted upon another.
We begin with faith- that which brought us to Christ in the first place. Faith in Christ, faith in his resurrection, and faith in his imminent return.
To our faith we add GOODNESS. How many people do you know who consider Christians hypocrites? How many Christians talk a big game, but when it comes time to lent a hand they cant be found. Without goodness (good works) our testimony rings hollow to a world in need.
To our goodness we add KNOWLEDGE. Far to many Christians never reach this step. Peter is imploring that we learn God’s word, that we learn church doctrine (always checked against God’s word).
To our Knowledge we add SELF-CONTROL. For without self-control what separates us from a world bent on immediate gratification? Without self-control we are nothing more than hypocritical Christians that testify of God’s moral law but do little to follow it in our own lives.
To our self-control we add PERSEVERANCE. How many times have you fallen i your walk when things got difficult? As Christians we are commanded to persevere through hard times, for we should have faith that Christ is with us in our troubles.
To our perseverance we add GODLINESS. IF we can persevere with faith through our troubles, then we should overcome our worldly desires. Godliness builds on self-control, not only do we deny the desires of this world, but we also follow the desires of God. We obey his commands and cherish his statutes. Like David we keep his word in our hearts.
To our godliness we add KINDNESS. If we have all of the above traits, then we are at a level where we can give kindness to all- our brothers in Christ as well as our enemies and those who insult us.
Lastly, to our kindness we add LOVE. As Paul wrote, “Love covers many sins.” For it is love that will radically transform both the church. And make no mistake the world looks at how members of the church treat one another. If the world thinks we are backstabbers and gossipers they want no part of us, but if we show great love toward one another (and toward them) they will flock to the church to see an even greater love in Christ.
Of course even if you can’t do all these things your salvation is still certain. However, if you can implement these virtues in your life:
“If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” 2 Peter 1:8-9.
Peace in God and God bless.