2 Peter 1:8-9, “8 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. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”
As we’ve been opening up 2 Peter we’ve already discovered that Peter has a lot to say about sanctification and the need for Christians to grow in holiness. The Lord Jesus Christ grants to His people all they need for life and godliness, and in turn, He has done this so His people may supplement their faith with a host of godly characteristics (2 Peter 1:3-7). The Lord God Himself is the One who makes His people holy and does this through the efforts of His people so they will pattern their lives after His.
In 2 Peter 1:8-9, Peter explains that qualities like self-control, virtue, godliness, and love are increasingly ours, they will keep the people of God from being ineffective and unfruitful (2 Peter 1:8). Peter does not merely suggest having a faithful walk is a good thing; he explains it is essential to saving faith. Later in his epistle, Peter gives warnings about those who will not pursue godly virtues (2 Peter 2:17-19). Those with genuine saving faith will and must bear good fruit because of Christ. The Scripture confirms that only those that bear fruit for the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus are genuinely saved (Jer. 21:14; Matt. 7:15-20; Matthew 13:1-23; James 2:26).
2 Peter 1:9 teaches that those who lack these characteristics are not only unfruitful they are also blind. Peter’s point here is those who profess faith in Christ and who show no desire for spiritual growth may have forgotten how they have been cleansed from past sins and given a new identity in Christ. These people have failed to understand the redemption offered to them in the finished, sufficient, and costly forgiveness offered to them in Christ alone. After all, those who have genuinely received the Lord Jesus know they must live in gratitude to the Lord Jesus for all He has done for them by striving to live in a manner pleasing to Him. Those unconcerned though with the gospel of the Lord Jesus have not correctly understood the costly nature of the work of Christ on their behalf. John Calvin explains, “it then follows, that those who do not strive for a pure and holy life, do not understand even the first rudiments of faith.”
You and I as genuine Christians may at times forget the significance of Christ’s work and sin, but our lapse into moments of sin and rebellion is never permanent. If someone does though finally fall away and apostatizes they have not only forgotten the work of Christ; they demonstrate they never trusted Him at all (1 John 2:19).
Today there is much discussion about this program and that program being the most effective way to minister to people. Peter here has in mind something much more significant than programs but how the gospel is shaping our lives so that we are becoming men and women of godly character. Programs can be a helpful tool, but when used as a replacement for helping people grow in grace they are a poor substitute. We are to be men and women of godly character growing in the character qualities Peter has described this far in this epistle. Please take some time to consider the qualities listed in 2 Peter 1:5-7. Ask yourself, whether you are involved in ministry or not, is your life increasingly characterized by these qualities? As you answer that question, please be honest with yourself and where you lack and what is keeping you from growing in holiness and being as fruitful as you may be for the Lord Jesus. As you are answering that question also ask the Lord to enable you through the Holy Spirit to persevere in this quality, so you may continue to repent and to grow in humility. Please also find someone to hold you accountable for practicing and growing in that character quality and permit them to speak into your life as needed to encourage you and correct you.
Dave Jenkins is happily married to his wife, Sarah. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021), The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022), and Contentment: The Journey of a Lifetime (Theology for Life, 2024). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.