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A Personal Evaluation
2 Peter 1:8
A Personal Evaluation
2 Peter 1:8
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ [2 Pet. 1:8].
Intro: Someone has once said there are several ways to see yourself. The way you think you are the way others see you and the way you really are. Peter is making a clarifying statement here, “If these things be in you.” I believe that many people simply fail to really see themselves as they are. Self-deception probably is the hardest fault to overcome. Have you checked the labels on your grocery items lately? You may be getting less than you thought. According to U.S. News & World Report, some manufacturers are selling us the same size packages we are accustomed to, but they are putting less of the product in the box. For example, a box of well-known detergent that once held 61 ounces now contains only 55. Same size box, less soap.
How something is wrapped doesn't always show us what's on the inside. That's true with people as well. We can wrap ourselves up in the same packaging every day nice clothes, big smile, friendly demeanor yet still be less than what we appear to be.
Daily Bread, June 22, 1992
This is what Peter is concerned with, the real me. The qualities that he just laid out for his readers will produce changes in the life of the person who possesses them. His list contains virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity, all key things that are needed in your life. He is challenging his readers to examine themselves and find out if any of these things are actually active in their lives. Do not confuse these things with religious activity, rituals, liturgy, these are all external. What Peter is concerned about is what is actually in us, what do we possess? What is on the inside is the real you, the external is just covering. When a person actually becomes a child of God they are given a new nature which enables them to escape the pollution of the world. Verse five is in the past tense which means it has already taken place. While the believer possesses the new nature, he or she may not be controlled by it. Peter’s concern is directed at those who claimed to be Christians and born again, but in reality were not. They were either deceived by Satan into thinking they were right with God or they were deceiving those around them into thinking they were saved. This whole issue I believe gets back to the point of believing and receiving. There is a difference and a critical point to be made here. Simply belief in Jesus is not enough to save one, there must be a personal recognition and acceptance of Jesus into one’s life. Romans 10:13 says that “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” There needs to be a time when we call out to Jesus and ask Him to receive you into his family. We all need changing from the inside out and God in His grace has provided for us the tools needed for the change. The items listed by Peter will produce a change in our lives from the inside, he says, “They make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful.” The word barren actually means “idle.” There likely were those present that were not showing fruit, were not growing in their spiritual walk and Peter wanted to challenge them to make sure they were in the faith.
I heard the story of a man who had been away from his home church for some years, involved in all kinds of shady practices and criminal activities. But when he came back to his home church and testimony-time came, he was ready.
He stood and said, “I’m so glad to be back in my own church, and I want to tell you that while it’s true that I have beaten my wife, that I have deserted my children, that I have stolen and lied and done all manner of evil and served several terms in jail—but I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that not once, in all that time, did I ever lose my religion!”
Now, if your religion is nothing more than an insurance policy for heaven, if it has no effect on how you live and how you treat others now, then first of all, you are missing out on life. And second, you’d better check your real condition. Real Christianity will change you from the inside out.
The qualities that should be present are: faith, courage, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, love of the brethren, and love for the unsaved. He doesn’t want us to be barren. Unfortunately the church has many unsaved people professing to be saved and are not. They are barren as far as the fruit of the Spirit is concerned. In contrast to this, we as believers are not to be unfruitful. Our lives are to be characterized by the fruit of the Spirit that Peter has been telling us about. My life will influence other people whether I like it or not. The question is simply how are you leaving people that come in contact with you?
Now Peter is touching on something which is very important to us; a lack of the virtues in the church. The church today has become luke warm, neither hot or cold. Paul gives this challenge: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity” (1 Cor. 16:13–14). Then when he concluded his second letter to the Corinthians, he said, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor. 13:5).
This is a very strong statement. You are to examine yourself to make sure you are in the faith. Failing to grow in the faith will produce a lack of interest in spiritual things, lack of interest in reaching the lost and can bring you to the point of forgetting you were ever saved to begin with. It is possible to actually be saved, but be in the infant state. Infants need caring for and they are not much good to anyone else around them.
“There are many Christians who believe in the security of the believer, but they do not have the assurance of their salvation.” Peter touches on this point: “He that lacks these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” He has forgotten that he has been saved. Peter wants them to make sure that their calling and election are sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall [2 Pet. 1:10]. “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure”. In other words, the security of the believer is objective; it is something that cannot be destroyed. However, your assurance can certainly be in question by the life you live. If your life is not lived in sincerity and truth, you are bound to lie on your bed at night and wonder if you really have been born again.
While it is true that Christ has done everything necessary to save you and keep you saved, your Christian life to be meaningful is something that you have to work at. I have been married for a long time, and I never have to lie awake at night and wonder whether or not I am married; but to make my marriage meaningful, I have to work at it, and I have been working at it for a long time. Likewise in your Christian life, “make your calling and election more sure.” When we are obedient to the faith and growing our salvation is never in question. “For if you do these things, you shall never fall.”
Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth [2 Pet. 1:12]. Knowing that he would not be with them very much longer, he felt called upon to stir up these saints to grow in grace, lest spiritual laziness take over. There are Christians today—and I am sure you have met some of them— who are actually spiritually ignorant. They have no clue what the Scripture teach, and the promises that God promised to those who respond to them never happen. It is sad to think how many actual believers go through life failing to receive all the blessings God wants to give them, because of ignorance of the Written Word of God. Peter wants the very best for his readers, but that demands understanding and application of biblical truth. “Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance [2 Pet. 1:13].
“I think it meet”—that is, I think it fitting—“as long as I am in this tabernacle.” I’m sure they had heard this message before but Peter as long as he had life, he was going to remind them of these important things. “Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ has showed me” [2 Pet. 1:14].
Conclusion: Back to the main point, there is what we show to others, what we think we are and what in reality we really are. Our actions eventually betray what we claim to be and show the world what we really are on the inside. We all need to take a clear look at what is on our inside and make sure we are in fact in the faith. Many years ago in Missouri, a minister made a bad mistake in moral judgment that later came back to haunt him and to hurt many others. Through trickery, conniving, and scheming, the minister stole a man's dog. That's bad enough, but to make matters worse, he included his two little boys in the deception. The two boys helped their dad disguise the dog so the rightful owner could not claim him. The boys enjoyed the trickery and plotting. The boys thought it was great fun to take away the man's dog.
Some years later, the minister realized that in that one deceitful act, he had taught his sons how to steal and turned them away from the Christ-like spirit of love and kindness and goodness and respect for others. And he said, regretfully: "it was a terrible mistake on my part. I was able to keep the dog, but I lost my sons."
Oh, by the way, the names of those two little boys were Frank and Jesse James! They grew up to become two of the most notorious outlaws and robbers of the old West. Their minister dad never forgave himself. That's a dramatic example, to be sure, but it is true, so true, that our children do indeed watch us closely and learn so much from what we do.
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