Over the past few days we have been observing the apostle Peter’s teaching on sanctification and the need for Christians to grow in holiness. We have seen that our progress towards holiness comes by God’s grace through our good works. God in Christ grants to us all that we need for life and godliness and in turn because He has done this we must supplement our faith with a host of godly characteristics (2 Peter 1:3–7). God Himself is the one who will make us holy, but He will do this through our efforts to pattern our lives after His.
In today’s passage, Peter tells us that if qualities like self-control, virtue, godliness, and love are increasingly ours, they will keep us from being ineffective and unfruitful (v. 8). Peter does not merely suggest that having a fruitful walk is a good thing, he tells us that it is essential to true faith. We know from his warnings about those who do not pursue godly virtues (for example, 2:17–19) that those with true faith will, indeed they must, bear good fruit. All of Scripture confirms that only those that bear fruit for the kingdom are truly saved (Jer. 21:14; Matt. 7:15–20; 13:1–23; James 2:26).
Verse 9, on the other hand, tells us that those who lack these characteristics are not only unfruitful, they are also blind. Those who claim to be Christians and show no desire for spiritual growth, may have forgotten that they have been cleansed from past sins. In view here is that those who claim to know Jesus and yet do not strive after holiness have failed to understand the true significance of the forgiveness offered in Christ Jesus. Those who have truly received Jesus know that they must live in gratitude by striving to please Him. However, those unconcerned with holiness have not properly understood the Gospel. On this point, John Calvin writes, “it then follows, that those who do not strive for a pure and holy life, do not understand even the first rudiments of faith.”
While true believers may at times forget the significance of Christ’s work and sin, their lapse is never permanent. However, if someone finally falls away, not only have they forgotten the work of Christ, they have never really trusted in Him at all (1 John 2:19).
When you look at your life and the specific ministry in which you are involved, do you find that your work is bearing fruit for the kingdom? Take some time today to consider the qualities listed in 2 Peter 1:5–7. Then ask yourself honestly where you lack and how this is keeping you from being as fruitful as possible. Ask the Lord to enable you to persevere in this quality and find someone to hold you accountable for practicing and growing in it.