While reading this morning in Second Peter Chapter One, I noticed the last part of verse 10— “. . . for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.” I love it when something new jumps out from a passage I have read hundreds of times. I would love it even more if I never stumbled.
God gives us lots of promises that we yearn to follow and believe perfectly, and most of us know that perfect behavior will not happen here on Earth, but I like to believe that knowing His promises and walking in the Spirit’s strength can help me stumble less. My heart’s desire is to stumble as little as possible, for others to see Christ in me, even my behavior, and to relate intimately with Him because of our love bond with one another. So after this promise stood out to me there in verse 10, I decided to dig deeper. Might Peter’s list of “these things” and his promise be helpful along the journey? Let’s look at the list of words and consider their meanings.
Second Peter 1:5-7 NASB: “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness and in your brotherly kindness, love.”
Here are some synonyms for “these things” taken from other versions or Strong’s Concordance.
Diligence– earnestness or carefulness
Moral excellence—virtue, good character
Knowledge—Spiritual understanding, perception
Brotherly kindness—warm friendliness (The Greek word for love—phileo)
Love—genuine, unconditional love (The Greek word for love—agape)
As I look at these words, I see Peter admonishing us to a way of life that will, at the least, be helpful in lessening our stumbling, but I do not see this list as a bunch of rules and strivings that I have to pull off in my own strength. That’s because of verses 3 and 4 which come before our list:
Verse 3– “. . . seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
Verse 4– “For by these (His glory and excellence) He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them (His promises) you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”
When we receive Jesus into our lives, God grants us all that we need to walk with Him because He has given us Jesus Himself–He is the list–we have His divine nature living in us. Unless we do not know or we forget that He “has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness,” or we deliberately do something against Him, we will not stumble. And when we do, He has provided for those times as well.
So Peter says, “for this very reason,” and I paraphrase using some of our synonyms, “be earnest and careful and with assurance live out good character, looking at life through God’s perspective of Spiritual understanding. In His power, be disciplined and don’t allow the world’s ways to master you. You will have to persevere and endure, but His path will lead to real life and true holiness and your relationships will be filled with warm friendliness. As you walk out who He says you are, a partaker of the divine nature, through His divine power, your life will be filled with His genuine, unconditional, agape love.”
What precious, magnificent and victorious promises God gives us through the work of His Son! Not only does He grant us forgiveness for sin and eternal life, but He also fills us with His divine nature and divine power, calling us with His own glory and excellence. Knowing these things, how can we do less than fall at His feet in worship and thanksgiving, trusting Him in every area of life? These things are already ours and the assurance of faith ceases our striving to acquire them, as we focus on His face and, instead, thank Him for less stumbling.
Thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14