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The Marks of Grace in the Life of the Christian

Posted On June 9, 2011


Today were going to look at 2nd Peter 1:3-12 and conclude with what we can learn from this passage. In this first main section in 2nd Peter 1:3-12, Peter emphasizes that God’s grace results in godliness.

2nd Peter 1:3-4

His in 2nd Peter 1:3 refers to Jesus Christ. Christ’s power is the source of the believer’s sufficiency and perseverance (matt. 24:3-; Mark 5:30; Luke 4:14; 5:17; Rom. 1:4; 2 Cor. 1:29). The genuine Christian is eternally secure in his salvation and will preserve and grow because he has received everything necessary to sustain eternal life through Christ’s power.

To be godly is to live reverently, loyally, and obediently toward God. Peter means the genuine believer ought not to ask God for something more (as if something necessary to sustain his growth, strength, and perservance was missing) to become godly, because he already has every spiritual resource to manifest, sustain, and perfect godly living.

“Knowledge” is a key word in 2nd Peter (2 Peter 1:2, 5-6, 8; 2:20; 3:18). Throughout Scripture, it implies an intimate knowledge (Amos 3:2). The knowledge of Christ emphasized here is not a superficial knowledge, or a mere surface awareness of the facts about Christ, but a genuine, personal sharing of  life with Christ, based on repentance from sin and personal faith in him (Matt. 7:21).  This call “called us to his own glory and excellence” as always when mentioned in the New Testament epistles is the effectual call to salvation (1 Peter 1:15; 2:21; 5:10; Rom. 8:30). This saving call is based on the sinner’s understanding of Christ’s revealed majesty and moral excellence evidencing that he is Lord and Savior. This implies that there must be a clear presentation of Christ’s person and work as the God-Man in evangelism, which attracts men to salvation (1 Cor. 2:1-2). The cross and resurrection must clearly reveal his “glory and excellence.”

Precious and very great promises refer to the promises of abundant and eternal life. The expression “partakers of the divine nature” is not different from the concepts of being born again, born from above (John 3:3; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23), being in Christ (Rom. 8:1), or being the home of the Trinity (John 14:17-23). The precious promises of salvation result in becoming God’s children in the present age (John 1:12; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:27), and thereby sharing in God’s nature by the possession of his eternal life. Christians do not become little gods, but they are “new creations” (2 cor. 5:17) and have the Holy Spirit living in them (1 cor. 6:19-20). Moreover, believers will partake of the divine nature in a greater way when they bear a glorified body like Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20-21; 1 John 3:1-3). The word corruption has the idea of something decomposing or decaying. “Escaped” depicts a successful flight from danger. At the time of salvation, the believer escapes from the power that the rottenness in the world has over him through his fallen, sinful nature.

The Marks of grace in the life of the Christian

Because of all the God-given blessings in 2nd Peter 1:3-4 the believer cannot be indifferent or self-satisfied. Such an abundance of divine grace calls for total dedication. Make every effort means to make maximum effort. The Christian life is not lived to the honor of God without effort. Even though God has poured his divine power into the believer, the Christian himself is required to make every disciplined effort alongside of what god has done (Phil 2:12-13; Col. 1:28-29). Supplement is to give lavishly and generously. In Greek culture, the word was used for a choirmaster who was responsible for supplying everything that was needed for his choir. The word never meant to equip sparingly, but to supply lavishly for a noble performance. God has given us faith and all the grace necessary for godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4). We add to those by our diligent devotion to personal righteousness.

First in Peter’s list of virtues is a word that, in classical Greek, meant the God-given ability to perform heroic deeds. It also came to mean that quality of life that made someone stand out as excellent. It never meant to cloistered excellence, or excellence of attitude, but excellence that is demonstrated in life. Peter is here writing of moral energy, the power that performs deeds of excellence. Knowledge means understanding, correct insight, truth properly comprehended and applied. This virtue involves a diligent study and pursuit of the Word of God.

Self-control literally means “holding oneself in.” In Peter’s day, self-control was used of athletes, who were used to be self-restrained and self-disciplined. Thus, a Christian is to control the flesh, the passions, and the bodily desires, rather than allowing himself to be controlled by them (1 Cor. 9:27; Gal. 5:23). Moral excellence, guided by knowledge, disciplines desire and makes it the servant, not the master, of one’s life. Steadfastness, that is patience or endurance in doing what is right, never giving in to temptation or trial. Perservance is that spiritual staying power that will die before it gives in. It is the virtue that can endure, not simply with resignation but with vibrant hope. Brotherly affection is brotherly kindness, and mutual sacrifice for one another. The love Peter has in mind here is described in 1 Cor. 13 and 1st Peter 4:8.

To be ineffective is to be indolent and empty (Titus 1:12; James 2:20-22). With these virtues increasing in one’s life (2 Peter 1:5-7) a Christian will not be useless or ineffective. Unfruitful means unproductive. When these Christian qualities are not present in a a believer’s life, he will be indistinguishable from an evildoer or a superficial believer. But when these qualities are increasing in a Christian’s life, there is the manifestation of the “divine nature” within the believer (2 Peter 1:4).

These qualities refer to the qualities mentioned in 2n Peter 1:5-7. A professing Christian who is missing these virtues mentioned above, is therefore, unable to discern his true spiritual condition, and thus can have no assurance of his salvation. The failure to diligently pursue spiritual virtues produces spiritual amnesia. Such a person, unable to discern his spiritual condition, will have no confidence about his profession of faith. He/she may be saved and possess all the blessings of vv.3-5, but without the excellences of vv.5-7, he/she will live in doubt and fear.

“Make your calling and election” expresses the bull’s-eye Peter has been shooting at in vv.5-9. Though god is “sure” who his elect are and has given them an eternally secure salvation, the Christian might not always have assurance of his salvation. Security is the Holy spirit-revealed fact that salvation si forever. Assurance is one’s confidence that he possesses that eternal salvation. In other words, the believer who pursues the spiritual qualities mentioned above guarantees to himself by spiritual fruit that he was called (2 Peter 1:3; Rom. 8:30; 1 Peter 2:21) and chosen (1 Peter 1:2) by God to salvation. As the Christian pursues the qualities enumerated by peter (2 Peter 1:5-7) and sees that his lfie is useful and fruitful (v.8), he will not stumble into doubt, despair, fear or questioning, but enjoy assurance that he/she is saved.

Peter piles up the words “richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal king” to bring joy to the weary Christian’s heart. An abundant entrance into eternal heaven is the hope and reality for a Christian who lives a faithful, fruitful life here on earth. Peter’s point is that a Christian who pursues the listed virtues (vv.5:7) will not only enjoy assurance in the present, but a full, rich reward in the future lfie (1 Cor. 4:5; Rev. 22:12). I intend always refers to the fact that truth always need repetition because believers forget so easily (2nd Thess. 2:5; Jude 5).


Before Peter gets to listing the virtues that a believer is to possess increasingly in his/her life- he grounds his teaching  in 2nd Peter 1:3-4 in the work of Christ. 2nd Peter 1:3-4 says, “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, 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.”

Peter emphasizes in 2nd Peter 1:3-4 that God’s grace results in godliness. God has acted in his infinite power to accommodate salvation, something only he could accomplish and what human ability could not accomplish. God Himself through the person and work of Christ calls us to grow in and make every effort to possess the qualities listed in 2nd Peter 1:5-6.  This list is not a legalistic code but rather the desires and features of a transformed heart. The exhortation to live a new life is grounded in the divine power and promises that were granted to believers when they came to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

When Peter says “supplement”  your faith in 2nd Peter 1:5 he is exhorting Christians not merely confess faith in Christ but to live as He taught. He is not saying that works are a prerequisite for salvation but rather is arguing that faith must take concrete form in life. All the virtues listed in vv.5-7 are results of faith, so faith is listed first, while love is listed last.

The godliness that peter speaks of in verse 5 means devoutness, piety, devotion to God. Can you’re walk with God today be described as Peter does in 2nd Peter 1:5-7? Are you growing in virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love? Peter says in vs.8 that if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter is saying that a lifelong a pattern of growth in Christlike character is expected of Christian and is the key to fruitful ministry. By contrast knowledge of Christ is ineffective and unfruitful unless accompanied by a life that increasingly exhibits the qualities of vv.5-7.

I urge you today in the name of the Risen Savior who has given you new life in Him, and caused you to be “partakers of the divine nature” to grow in knowledge and understanding of Christ so that your life may increasingly reflect the qualities listed in 2nd Peter 1:5-7. Peter emphasizes two things- first the grounding of our faith in the work of Christ and second, the outworking of our faith in Christ.  When the grounding and outworking of our faith are combined together Peter says that our lives as believers will be effective. When we neglect the inward working of grace in our lives, Peter is saying that we will be ineffective and unfruitful for God and His kingdom. Grow in your personal walk with God. Grow in your knowledge of His Word, His Son and the work of God.

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