2 Peter 1:3-15
This morning we are going to look at the statement “We value personal purity. Now before I begin I want to just make three observations about this whole area so here is the first.
I suspect that it is the case that there are many Christians alive today who have looked at the lifestyles of those around them who don’t believe and have found themselves envying their lifestyles. I believe there are many Christians who try really hard to be good, but struggle to understand why they should be good, let alone know how they can find the power to be good. This is a problem with our motivation for purity. Now that is something that I will come to later.
Secondly I suspect that there is a danger that we face in the church today of understanding the gospel primarily in terms of forgiveness rather than in terms of forgiveness and transformation. The gospel is about forgiveness, but it is not only about forgiveness, it is about forgiveness and transformation. When we emphasize only the forgiveness component we create a gospel of sin management, where ongoing sin and shame result in repeated requests for the forgiveness of God. This is a problem with our foundation for purity.
Third, I suspect that we prefer to describe discipleship in terms of what we are not, rather than in terms of what we are. We find it easier to say “A disciple doesn’t ….” than to talk with words like purity, holiness and godliness which are all together more challenging. This is a problem with our definition of purity.
I want to read 2 Peter 1:3-15 to you and then we will look at it to see if it helps us with any of these problems.
The motivation and foundation of purity vs 3-4
So where does this purity come from, and why should we be pure anyway? The answer is the gospel! Look at this tremendous promise statement with me.
(2Pe 1:3) His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, (ESV)
Do you see what I mean about the gospel being more than forgiveness? The gospel contains not only a call to transformation but provides the power of transformation. The divine power of Christ will give everything necessary for life and Godliness? No! The divine power of Christ has given everything necessary for life and Godliness. Isn’t this a tremendous promise? How do we get that power?
You know one of the things that bothers me is when something that rightly belongs on the edge of Christian faith is raised up in peoples thoughts to the point where it becomes to them essential and central. The tragedy is that this does two things. First it undermines our confidence in the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ., and secondly it diminishes the glory of Jesus.
So some people suggest that what you need is Jesus and something else. You need Christ and inner healing, you need Christ and ministry, you need Christ and the latest experience. Don’t we need to have confidence in the sufficiency of Christ? Do you see how we get this power for life and godliness? Through the knowledge of Jesus who called us by his glory and excellence.
Here is the hint that we need to notice concerning how we discover power for purity. He called us by (NIV) his glory and excellence. When Christians get stuck in impurity, it is because the pleasures of the impurity seem more attractive to them then the glory and excellence of Christ. We sin because we love it. We walk in purity because we love Jesus more. If you want to know that power for godliness do everything you can to magnify your appreciation of the glory and excellence and majesty of the God we know in Jesus.
We looked at Psalm 63 last Sunday night which has something of the same idea in it.
(Psa 63:3) Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. (ESV)
Does that strike you as incredible? Your love is better than life itself! Isn’t that something to believe? Do you know something? It’s true!
(Psa 63:5) My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, (ESV)
And there again what an awesome thing to believe! Could you believe that? Again it is true that the satisfaction of knowing God is greater than any passing pleasure afforded by sin.
Now, so far, I have only talked about our “here and now” motivation for godliness. Look at verse 4 with me.
(2Pe 1:4) by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (ESV)
You see there is more! God’s promises to us. Not that we become part of God but that through his grace and mercy God invites and equips us to share in his glory. 1Peter 5:1 has a similar idea when it talks about being “a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed.”
We are people with a promise! So keep going. Keep enlarging your vision of Jesus so that you escape the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
So how do we define purity?
Look at verses 5-8 with me.
(2Pe 1:5) For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, (goodness NIV) and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)
Aren’t these great qualities? Virtue or goodness. Knowledge of God and his will. Self control, steadfastness or perseverance, godliness, brotherly affection and love. Work at them! We are to make every effort. How do you do that? Work hard at holding on to a knowledge of the glory and excellence of Jesus. Pray for help. Read his word. Be with people whose love for Jesus is infectious. Praise him. Persevere when you get it wrong. Seek help in accountability. Make every effort!
James 1:27 says that the kind of religion that God accepts involves keeping oneself “unspotted” or “unstained” by the world.
Jesus calls you to purity and godliness in every area of life. Now for some of you right now Jesus calls you “be unspotted” in the area of your sexuality. God gave sex to us as a good gift to be used as he intended it by a man and woman within a loving marriage relationship. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. He calls you to virtue in this area
For others the “spot” is in you lack of self control. It could be in the whole area of speech, or maybe it’s to do with anger or may be it concerns alcohol or food.
For some the “spot” is in your minds. Thoughts flourish and grow and develop. And the call of God is to godliness in your mind.
For some the spot is in the area of your attitude to wealth and money, and the call of God is to self control and love in the way in which you handle your money.
Here is good news: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.
What is the call of Christ for you this morning?
Tragically there are those who perhaps because they only think about the gospel in terms of forgiveness who fail to begin to show purity in their Christian life. Peter calls this myopic faith.
(2Pe 1:9) For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
That’s just blundering around in a fog of blindness. Don’t be like that! Rather have eager, diligent faith. That could be what some of us need to hear this morning.
(2Pe 1:10) Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent (Eager NIV) to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (ESV)
Not that you will never sin, but that you will not fall away from faith and your reward, heaven, is assured.
(2Pe 1:11) For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (ESV)
With this glorious and excellent Jesus Christ as king for ever
It could be the case that there are people here this morning who have never come to the point of responding to or receiving Christ. It could be this morning that what you have heard as I have spoken, and talked of the glory and excellence of Christ is the call of Christ to you.
It said in verse 3 that “He called us by his own glory and goodness.” He calls you to follow him to discover for yourself his surpassing goodness and excellence. He invites you to own your own need of forgiveness and transformation and to follow him as Lord. He invites you to ask for the filling and equipping and empowering of the Holy Spirit of God to transform you from within.
Maybe you need to respond this morning and you could do that by coming to some of the prayer team after the service and asking them to pray with you to receive Christ.
Finally, We have made much this morning of a passion. Now I have one last thing to say, and then we are done.
If you want to know that power for godliness pray! Whatever you do, do not be satisfied with a cerebral faith that has no heart felt love for God. If that’s you, then be disturbed. Belief without affection is not Biblical Christianity.
Let that disturbance set you seeking after God. Keep asking God for a passion for the glory and excellence of Jesus. If you heart is unmoved ask God to forgive you for your hardness of heart and ask him to move your heart. With love for Jesus.