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"Christian Resolutions" by Romans
Well, here we are at then end of the first ten days of the New Year. It is a cultural tradition that we make resolutions for what we are going to accomplish, add to our lives or put out of our lives in the coming New Year. Would anyone like to share with us any resolutions that you made for 2017, or, perhaps even this year that may have started well but proved to be less than successful? What is a resolution? It is based on the word, “resolve.”
So, a resolution is an action or a change in our lives that we resolve to live by, or we are determined to perform.
It is good to make Resolutions for the coming year: The ones we usually hear about are going back to school, quitting smoking, dropping some excess weight, adopting a regular excercize program. They say, however, that 80% of resolutions, however productive, positive or well-meaning, fail by February.
I want to speak this Evening, about Christian Resolutions. We are all in need of making changes in our lives to turn from habits, tendencies and besetting sins that not only drive wedges between us and God, they also negatively impact our witness, and are sources of friction at home, at work and among brethren. We cannot take this lightly. Often, we are not the initiators of ill-feelings, but Scritpture calls on us, as servants of God, to react to unexpected or even underserved bad treatment in a manner that also reflects Jesus Christ, and brings God glory.
Peter wrote beginning in 1 Peter 2:18: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:”
Resolutions require us to review what we don't like in our lives and resolve to make those things better. As followers of Jesus Christ, our lives should include regular, personal spiritual self-examination, followed by a resolve to make necessary changes in our thoughts, our words and our actions and reactions. In the Church I attended in Philadelphia, whenever we partook of the Lord's Table, a Verse was routinely included during the ceremony that I have not heard included in any Communion Services in any of the various Churches I have attended since moving to Virginia. The Verse was quoted in its correct context, as it is found right in the midst of
Paul's instructions regarding partaking of the Lord's Table.
He wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:27: “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”
Let me ask all of you, has anyone else heard the Verse about self-examination included during the taking of Communion?
Let's read that Verse again and make sure we don't misunderstand it: “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” We should not practice this self-examination with an eye toward NOT partaking of the Lord's Table, but rather participating, after having examined ourselves.
John Gill writes in his Exposition of the Bible, "But let a man examine himself,.... Whether he has a true sense of sin, sorrow and repentance for it; otherwise he will see no need of a Saviour, nor will he look to Christ for salvation, or be thankful to him for redemption by him; all which are necessary in a due observance of this ordinance; also, whether he is in the faith, whether he is a partaker of the true grace of faith, which is attended with good works, and shows itself by love to Christ, and to the saints; whereby a man goes out of himself to Christ for spiritual food and strength, peace and comfort, righteousness, life, and salvation; and by which he receives all from Christ, and gives him all the glory: this is absolutely necessary to his right and comfortable partaking of the Lord's supper, since without faith he cannot discern the Lord's body, nor, in a spiritual sense, eat his flesh, and drink his blood, nor attend on the ordinance in a manner acceptable unto God.
Let him also examine and try whether he is sound in the doctrine of faith; or let him prove himself to be so, or show that he is one that is approved thereby; to whom the word of faith has come with power, and who has received it in the love of it, and firmly believes it; since an heretic is to be rejected from the communion of the church, and to be debarred the ordinances of it: let him examine himself, whether Christ is in him, whether he is revealed to him, and in him, as God's way of salvation, and the hope of glory; whether he is formed in his soul, his Spirit put, and his grace implanted there; since if Christ is not within, it will be of no avail to partake of the outward symbols of his body and blood. But if a man, upon reflection, under the influence and testimony of the Spirit, can come to a satisfaction in these things, however mean and unworthy he may seem in his own sight, let him come to the table of the Lord, and welcome."
Self-examination, as described above just before partaking of The Lord's Table, or regular self-examination at any time during the year, brings us to an awareness of our sins. To best accomplish this, we need to go aside where we will not be interrupted or distracted, and review, first, the activities that we initiate. What things do we do that we, ourselves, put in gear? our responses to negative situations, our priorities, our generosity or lack thereof, our willingness to not be number one, how and if we forgive offenses, our indulging in lustful thoughts, the things we watch and read, the people we hang out with, and the places we go.
When we examine ourselves, we should review in our minds the Ten Commandments, read Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, chapters 5 through 7. Read Paul's definition of Christian Love that we are to reflect in 1 Corinthians 13. Read Paul's admonitions in Colossians 3 regarding the lives we should be living as Christians.
Allow God's Word to speak to you and correct you. And when we become aware of our departures from right thinking and speaking , and godly behavior, what should we do? We should confess those sins to God. Let's zero in on confessing our sins for a second: We read in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
The word translated "confess" comes from the Greek word, "homologeo" which means to assent or agree. The Greek suffix “homo” means “same,” while “logeo” is “word.”Same word, or, agreement. What this verse is actually saying is not merely that we should declare what we did as we understand confess, today. I have heard plenty of people tell me about the wrong things they did, and they were bragging when then did so. This verse is telling us to assent or agree with God that what we did violated His Righteous Laws. We ask God to forgive us for that violation, and we read that, when we do, He is faithful and just to both forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
For us as members of the Body of Christ, regular self-examination is vitally important. It is something that King David did not do after committing adultery with Bathsheba, or when he had her husband Uriah her killed by putting him in the fiercest part of a battle, and having everyone retreat and leave him there. God sent Nathan the Prophet to confront David about his sin. David suddenly came face-to-face with his sin, and he did repent of it.
David put the emotion of his repentance into a Psalm that we can both learn from and apply. While it is true that it is not likely that a Prophet will come to us to confront on how we have disobeyed God, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us Who serves in bringing to our attention the words we should not have spoken, and the deeds we should not have committed. We can use David’s thoughts and feelings as a guide to our self-examination, confession and repentance.
I will consolidate David's words in verses 1-4: He says, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight…”
He continues in Verses 9-12 “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”
Consider, also, the following Verse as translated in the International Standard Version:
2 Corinthians 13:5: “Keep examining yourselves to see whether you are continuing in the faith. Test yourselves! You know, don’t you, that Jesus the Messiah lives in you? Could it be that you are failing the test? ”
Albert Barnes writes in his Commentary, “Examine yourselves - The particular reason why Paul calls on them to examine themselves was, that there was occasion to fear that many of them had been deceived. Such had been the irregularities and disorders in the church at Corinth; so ignorant had many of them shown themselves of the nature of the Christian religion, that it was important, in the highest degree, for them to institute a strict and impartial examination to ascertain whether they had not been altogether deceived. This examination, however, is never unimportant or useless for Christians; and an exhortation to do it is always in place. So important are the interests at stake, and so liable are the best to deceive themselves, that all Christians should be often induced to examine the foundation of their hope of eternal salvation.
Whether ye be in the faith - Whether you are true Christians. Whether you have any true faith in the gospel. Faith in Jesus Christ, and in the promises of God through him, is one of the distinguishing characteristics of a true Christian; and to ascertain whether we have any true faith, therefore, is to ascertain whether we are sincere Christians. For some reasons for such an examination, and some remarks on the mode of doing it.
Prove your own selves - This word, prove, refers to assaying or trying metals by the powerful action of heat; and the idea here is, that they should make the most thorough trial of their religion, to see whether it would stand the test. The proof of their piety was to be arrived at by a faithful examination of their own hearts and lives; by a diligent comparison of their views and feelings with the word of God; and especially by making trial of it in life.
The best way to prove our piety is to subject it to actual trial in the various duties and responsibilites of life. A man who wishes to prove an axe to see whether it is good or not, does not sit down and look at it, or read all the treatises which he can find on axe-making, and on the properties of iron and steel, valuable as such information would be; but he shoulders his axe and goes into the woods, and puts it to the trial there.
If it cuts well; if it does not break; if it is not soon made dull, he understands the quality of his axe better than he could in any other way. So if a man wishes to know what his religion is worth, let him try it in the places where religion is of any value. Let him go into the world with it. Let him go and try to do good; to endure affliction in a proper manner; to combat the errors and follies of life; to admonish sinners of the error of their ways; and to urge forward the great work of the conversion of the world, and he will soon see there what his religion is worth - as easily as a man can test the qualities of an axe. Let him not merely sit down and think, and compare himself with the Bible and look at his own heart - valuable as this may be in many respects - but let him treat his religion as he would anything else - let him subject it to actual experiment. That religion which will enable a man to imitate the example of Paul or Howard, or the great Master himself, in doing good, is genuine.
That religion which will enable a man to endure persecution for the name of Jesus; to bear calamity without complaining; to submit to a long series of disappointments and distresses for Christ’s sake, is genuine. That religion which will prompt a man unceasingly to a life of prayer and self-denial; which will make him ever conscientious, industrious, and honest; which will enable him to warn sinners of the errors of their ways, and which will dispose him to seek the friendship of Christians, and the salvation of the world, is pure and genuine.
That will answer the purpose. It is like the good axe with which a man can chop all day long, in which there is no flaw, and which does not get dull, and which answers all the purposes of an axe. Any other religion than this is worthless.
Know ye not your own selves - That is, “Do you not know yourselves?” This does not mean, as some may suppose, that they might know of themselves, without the aid of others, what their character was; or that they might themselves ascertain it; but it means that they might know themselves, that is, their character, principles, conduct. This proves that Christians may know their true character. If they are Christians, they may know it with as undoubted certainty as they may know their character on any other subject. Why should not a man be as able to determine whether he loves God as whether he loves a child, a parent, or a friend? What greater difficulty need there be in understanding the character on the subject of religion than on any other subject; and why should there be anymore reason for doubt on this than on any other point of character? And yet it is remarkable, that while a child has no doubt that he loves a parent, or a husband a wife, or a friend a friend, almost all Christians are in very great doubt about their attachment to the Redeemer and to the great principles of religion.
How that Jesus Christ is in you - To be in Christ, or for Christ to be in us, is a common mode in the Scriptures of expressing the idea that we are Christians. It is language derived from the close union which subsists between the Redeemer and his people.
Could it be that you are failing the test? FB Meyers writes, “Paul goes on to urge the Corinthians to prove – that is, to test – themselves by reminding them that unless they are reprobate, the Lord Jesus is truly and literally dwelling within them. This is the fundamental fact in a holy life. When we open our hearts, He enters, and becomes in us the Life of His life and the Light of all our seeing.”
This need not be a condemnation but it is a sobering question. However, it is also a question for which Scripture provides a positive remedy. Listen to these words Peter penned in his Second Epistle. In chapter 5 and Verse 10 we read: “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do
these things, ye shall never fall:”
“If you do these things, ye shall never fall.” Don't misunderstand: I am not preaching a gospel of works, here! I am basically saying two things: First, that we should regularly examine ourselves. And then, not if, but when we find sin in our lives, we are to confess those sins, and God will forgive us and cleanse us of unrighteousness. And then God's Spirit works with us and empowers us to put whatever sins we confess out of our lives.
Notice what Paul writes in Ephesians 4:31-32: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” I do not believe in or teach Salvation by works. But the Bible clearly teaches that there are things that Christians will do not in order to be saved, but rather in response to being saved. We read of Jesus' words in John 8:31: “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;”
Now, let's back to Peter's words: Peter assures us that there are things that, if we do them, we “shall never fall.”
The things that he lists in the Verses that precede his assurance, and we'll look at those in a second. These things are why I am calling this Bible Study, “Christian Resolutions.” These are the things Peter admonishes us to do, to make our calling and election sure.
Beginning in 2 Peter 1:5, we read: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”
First, before we focus on Peter's list of what I am calling Christian Resolutions, let us notice that we are adding these things to what is already there, namely “Faith.” What do we know about Faith? Where does it come from?
Are we born with it? No... We read in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus is “the author and finisher of our faith.” It is imparted to us. Notice what the rarely-cited Book of Jude has to say about it. We read in Jude 1:3 that we should “... earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
Faith was delivered unto the saints. It was and is a Gift from God to the saints who were alive when Jude wrote this epistle, and it is God's Gift to us. But as the Parables of the Talents and the Pounds taught us, we are to use this Gift and bear fruit with it to God's Glory and Honor.
Of Faith, Matthew Henry writes: “Faith unites the weak believer to Christ, as really as it does the strong one, and purifies the heart of one as truly as of another; and every sincere believer is by his faith justified in the sight of God. Faith worketh godliness, and produces effects which no other grace in the soul can do. In Christ all fulness dwells, and pardon, peace, grace, and knowledge, and new principles, are thus given through the Holy Spirit.”
Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8: “ For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” To that, James adds in James 2:26: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” So Faith in a Christian is a basic prerequisite for being a believer. It is there because God gave it to us as an undeserved and unworked for gift. If we believe, and if we have Faith in what God teaches us in His Word, we are to act on it, and show that it is alive in us.
When I say we are to act on our Faith, here is what I mean. Picture this: you are in a building, eating lunch in a cafeteria. Someone you know and trust comes in and says, “The building is on fire! We gotta get out of here, now!” You smell no smoke. You hear no alarms. All you have is his word. If you have faith in, and believe what you were just told, you would act on that faith and belief by getting up, leaving the table, and running for the nearest exit. As James explains this in James 2:18: “... shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”
With that in mind about Faith, Peter writes that to Faith we are to Add Virtue: Virtue is translated, here, from the Greek word “arete” meaning “excellence.” Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines “virtue” as “conformity to a standard of right.” For Christians, “Who is our Standard of Right”? It is Jesus Christ, Who told
His followers in Luke 9:23: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” His words “Follow Me” occur 17 times in the Four Gospels. If we are to add to our Faith, Virtue, which is “conformity to a standard of right,” then why not add the Supreme Standard of Right, namely Jesus Christ? In fact, Scripture tells us to do just that: Notice the instruction in 3 John 1:11: “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”
To Virtue we are to Add Knowledge: What kind of knowledge? Matthew Henry writes, “The believer must add knowledge to his virtue, increasing acquaintance with the whole truth and will of God.” How can we do that? By getting in to the Word of God, and getting the Word of God into us. We read some sobering words that we find in Hosea 4:6: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge...”
Yes, that was an Old Testament condemnation to the stiff-necked and rebellious children of Israel. But the principle is that lack of knowledge or rejection of knowledge leads to destruction. Of those who resist and reject the Word of God, we read in Romans 1:28: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;”
We read in Psalms 119:66: “Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.” Having the Knowledge that God would impart to us through His Word keeps us from going astray and into error, and destruction.
We read in 2 Peter 3:18: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ...” And that growth will often require that we abandon and/or revise ideas and conclusions that were the result of misunderstanding, or an incomplete familiarity with Scripture. We are to grow into His Truth by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Notice Jesus' Words when He promised to send the Holy Spirit: We read in John 16:13: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear...” And we are to follow His lead, the lead of the Holy Spirit as the Father speaks to us through Him. We are renewed by the knowledge imparted to us, knowledge for which there is no other Source.
Notice Colossians 3:9: “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:”
To Knowledge we are to Add Temperance: First, Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines “temperance” as: “1: moderation in action, thought, or feeling, restraint; and 2: habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions” Matthew Henry writes of adding Temperance: “We must add temperance to knowledge; moderation about worldly things.”
In one of the occurrences of Jesus inviting His disciples to follow Him, He spoke of temperance in Luke 9:23: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Certainly self-denial would easily fall under the definition of temperance, being the “habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions.” But remember that Jesus doesn't speak of us merely following Him. As I quoted earlier, He said in John 8:31: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” We are to follow Him, but then once we start, we are to continue to follow Him!
Jesus said in Luke 9:62: “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Notice Paul's understanding of the need to both follow Jesus and to continue to follow Jesus, all the while in the context of temperance: He wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:25 and 27: “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” (27) “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
Paul writes of adding both Virtue and Temperance in Romans 13:14: “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Our temperance should be something that serves as an example and a witness to all those who know us: We read in Philippians 4:5: “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.”
To Temperance we are to Add Patience: Matthew Henry writes of adding Patience: “... add to temperance, patience, or cheerful submission to the will of God. Tribulation worketh patience, whereby we bear all calamities and crosses with silence and submission.” We are told that God is the God of Patience, but notice what Paul adds in Romans 15:5: “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We are admonished to be likeminded not merely with fellow-believers, but with God's own attitude toward us of “patience and consolation.” Listen, again, to how the Verse is phrased: “ Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus...” Christ is also cited as an example of Patience: Isaiah 53:7: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”
Various Trials of saints lead to Patience: Romans 5:3: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Patience leading to hope is re-affirmed by Paul in Romans 15:4: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
This idea of the spiritual fruits of patience is confirmed by James when he wrote in James 1:3 “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
We are to Exercise Patience in Running the Race Set Before Us: After reviewing all of the heroes of Faith listed in Hebrews 11, chapter 12 opens with the words in Hebrews 12:1: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us...”
We are to Exercise Patience in Bringing Forth Fruits. In His Parable of the Sower, Jesus describes the seeds which fell on good ground with these words in Luke 8:15: “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”
We are to Exercise Patience in Well-doing: Romans 2:7: “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:”
To Patience we are to Add Godliness: Of adding Godliness, Matthew Henry writes: “To patience we must add godliness: this includes the holy affections and dispositions found in the true worshipper of God; with tender affection to all fellow Christians, who are children of the same Father, servants of the same Master, members of the same family, travellers to the same country, heirs of the same inheritance.”
We often thank God for our being blessed with living in a land where we can worship God without fear of arrest or persecution. Such is not the case for many Christians living in Russia, China and various countries dominated by other religions. We should not take our religious freedoms for granted. Paul instructs us in 1 Timothy 2:1: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” We read in Psalms 4:3: “But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.”
How important is it to be assured that when we call, God will hear us? This is in addition to Peter's telling us how important it is that we add godliness and these other things we are examining, to our faith, assuring us that if we do so, we shall never fall.
To Godliness we are to Add Brotherly Kindness: This comes from the Greek word, “filadelfia” meaning brotherly affection. Romans 12:10: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” We read in Hebrews 13:1: “Let brotherly love continue.” At the same time we should not limit our expression of kindness to fellow-believers. Jesus said in Matthew 5:47: “And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?”
Brotherly kindness, then, is the kindness that we extend to a stranger, as we would a brother. This is confirmed
in 3 John 1:5: “Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church:” Which brings us to the next item Peter said we should add to make our calling and election sure:
To Brotherly Kindness we are to Add Charity: The word “charity” used here is translated from the Greek word, “agape.” Strong's Concordance defines it as “love, i.e. affection or benevolence.” It is most often understood as the Love of God, much higher than “fileo” or brotherly love. The best way to discuss a believer's expression of “agape`” or “charity” or “the Love of God” to our fellow man, I turn to 1 Corinthians 13, known as the “love chapter.” There the Apostle Paul reviews the details of how charity is expressed. We are not talking about brotherly love, but rather about love as God loves us. Paul writes that no matter what we do, if it is not accompanied by love, it is worthless.
Then he writes beginning in verse 4: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth... And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
Keep in mind something that we lose in the English translation. In the original Greek, Paul does not use adjectives to describe agape` love, he uses verbs. It is not just what we believe that it is important. It is what we do with what we believe. As James wrote in James 2:19: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” He continues in the next verse, “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
So, that's Peter's list of the items we should add to our Faith: Virtue, Knowledge, Temperance, Patience, Godliness, Brotherly Kindness; and Charity. But where and how are we supposed to obtain the items on the list? There is an another interesting list of spiritual qualities found in the Book of Galatians, beginning in “Galatians 5:22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance.” Peter said to our Faith we add these things on his list. But we learn here that Faith, itself, is a Fruit of the Spirit.
Peter said to add Virtue, also defined as Goodness, which is another Fruit of the Spirit. Peter said we are to add Knowledge, and we read in 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Peter said to add Temperance which is another Fruit of the Spirit. Peter said to add Patience. Longsuffering is a Fruit of the Spirit. Peter said to add Godliness and Charity (agape`). Love, translated from the same Greek word “agape`,” is a Fruit of the Spirit.
Peter said to add Brotherly Kindness. Paul tell us in the love chapter that “charity is kind.” Besides that, we read in 1 Thessalonians 4:9: “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.”
The items included in Peter's list of spiritual qualities that we should add to our lives, are all Gifts from God to us. All we have to do is receive them, and apply them. And, as Peter said in 2 Peter 1:8: “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I will conclude this Evening's Discussion with Matthew Henry's summary of these “Christian Resolutions” as I have called them, which Peter assures us, that if we add them to our lives and practice them, we shall never fall:
“The promises to those who are partakers of a Divine nature, will cause us to inquire whether we are really renewed in the spirit of our minds; let us turn all these promises into prayers for the transforming and purifying grace of the Holy Spirit. Wherefore let Christians labour to attain assurance of their calling, and of their election, by believing and well-doing; and thus carefully to endeavour, is a firm argument of the grace and mercy of God, upholding them so that they shall not utterly fall. Those who are diligent in the work of religion, shall have a triumphant entrance into that everlasting kingdom where Christ reigns, and they shall reign with him for ever and ever...”
This concludes this Evening's Discussion, “Christian Resolutions”
This Discussion was presented “live” on January 10th, 2018.
Wednesday night Bible study discussion archive. Feel free to view and comment on the studies posted here.
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