In this sermon, Pastor Babij teaches from 2 Peter on how a true Christian is controlled by God’s Word and desires to do God’s will. Pastor Babij therefore calls on Christians to practice visible love for others, especially their brethren. Pastor concludes by exhorting Christians to examine honestly their walks before God.
This morning, we’re looking at 2 Peter. I’ll be reading from verses 1 to verse 6.
Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You this morning again that we were able to come together as your people to listen to, to participate in the Word of God, and to be able to think through the things that You’ve given us that are great treasures for our soul, that make us like You, that lead us in the way everlasting, that causes us to examine our own selves to see where we’re at, to see if we’re growing, to see if we’re adding to our faith. And I pray, Lord, that You would just identify those things in our life. If we are, that we would continue to grow in them. And if we’re not, I pray, Lord, that You would just show us where we need to lay things aside, put away sin and put on righteousness. So Lord, we can live in a manner that’s pleasing to You, and we can know we’re pleasing You. Let us live like that, because we know, Lord, that’s where our peace is maintained, and that’s where the joy of the Lord is our strength. So I pray you would again teach us the Word this morning. In Christ’s name I ask it. Amen.
So I’ve been looking at this passage in this book, that Christians have been given everything, as it says, to grow in godliness. We saw already in verses 3 and 4 what God has done. Now we have been looking at and will continue to look at what Christians are to do and what Christians are to actually take very serious in their life, and that is the human side of salvation. We’re to take it so serious that we are to put strenuous effort into our spiritual development, because that is the goal of the Holy Spirit. That is the goal for God when He saves us, not just to leave us, not just to stay the same, but to grow.
Any baby that is born into this world, if the baby does not grow through the stages in their life, we would say something’s wrong. Something’s not healthy. Something needs to be done. It’s the same thing for us, where we coming to the kingdom of God, believing in Christ as babies spiritually, but we’re to mature to be teenagers in a sense, and then to be strong and become spiritual fathers. We just learn to live by faith. We learn to trust God. We learn to give our life over to God, and we just live to please Him. That’s really where maturity is taking all of us for those who are real believers. Christians must add to what God has given them. They must increase in it. They must proceed to grow in it because that is what the Scriptures teach us. We saw in Scripture already the five of the seven qualities. We just mentioned moral excellence and knowledge and self-control. Today we’re going to be looking at perseverance, because this goes along with self-control.
The two starting qualities, moral excellence and knowledge, they had to do more with our relationship with God, and now our relationship later on when we grow in brotherly kindness and love that, our relationship to others. So Scripture really calls us to bring every effort to bear upon the process of cultivating our spiritual growth. What that means is actually increasing in the image of God that is stamped upon our life as believers. These are in this passage the qualities that help to form that image of Christ. So these qualities deserve our utmost effort. The two foundational qualities, I’ve mentioned already, is moral excellence. Of course that also can be understood as adding to your faith goodness, the ability to be good because God is good. And we learned goodness by keeping our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ, who He is in His person, how He did things, and what He has done and is going to do so.So there’s one thing about goodness I’ve mentioned that is always true – that you cannot exhaust goodness. Goodness is something that there’s never a bottom of the barrel. Goodness is something we ought to be doing all the time before God and toward others.
Goodness is controlled by a second foundation of quality, and that’s knowledge. We’re to grow in our knowledge. Knowledge, of course, is a reference to the intellectual part of the personality. This knowledge is really not necessarily knowledge that is complete. It is a growing knowledge. Scripture is really challenging us to keep stimulating our intellectual appetites. That knowledge definitely includes the knowledge of Christ, but it also includes that of growing in practicality, growing in how to live our life skillfully, growing in discerning what is good and what is not good, what is God’s way and what is every other way. The Christian needs to grow in these virtues, the virtue of knowledge. As we grow in Scripture, then we grow also in a practical action. We put the Scripture into practice.
So this Lord’s day, we’re going to look at the second of the five directional qualities. This next quality will set us on the right path and give us clear direction of the way that we should be walking, the direction that we should be going. That the first directional quality I covered last time was in verse 6: to add to your faith self control. Remember, that literally meant to hold oneself in. And it could specifically mean in Peter, because of the false teachers, relating to something that has to do with more of a sexual nature and a greedy nature, where the whatever the world is offering, that’s what you’re going after. So self control comes in because it tells us in the Word of God that God has given us the ability to participate in the divine nature, that we have the power to control and stabilize our lives. Controlling our own passions and desires instead of them controlling us, we’re controlling them.
So self-control is the ability to lay aside your desire and then take a grip of yourself and all your passions and all your desires and make them your servants, make them your slaves. They are no longer your masters. They are no longer the tyrants in your life. They are no longer screaming louder than everything else, to go the opposite the way God wants you to do, and they are no longer calling the shots. You are, because God has given you the ability to do so. So the Word of God, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, directing and informing our passions and desires instead of the old man, the old nature, instead of the world’s system and its beliefs, and instead of demonic enticements that come our way on a regular basis. They’re not doing it anymore. But the Spirit of God is leading us to live a life of that being self-controlled, part of the fruit of the spirit.
Putting that all together, this means that you the Christian, participating in the divine nature, are able to control your greatest feelings, your greatest desires, your greatest cravings, your greatest passions, with a wise and a skillful control, without giving into any of those strongest urges that maybe enticing you at any particular point in your life. Before they let us, now we are to say no to them.
This is also the opposite of what the false teachers in 2 Peter have been teaching. False teachers believe that following their own lust and showing no restraint and having what they call freedom in Christ is actually where maturity lies. See, the false teachers, for them, freedom in Christ has to follow their own sensuality, not the truth. Freedom in Christ has to follow their own lusts and not the truth. So the false teachers actually are feeding the strongest urges of the fallen nature in humanity, which is to be healthy and to be wealthy and to be prosperous. Everybody wants that. When it comes to spiritual things, those are not the things we want. God has to give us the desires to want them. And because they’re not going to come up and we’re not going to decide to one day not only believe, but one day to follow Christ with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. That does not come from the sinful nature. That does not come from the world and its system and its teachings. And it surely doesn’t come from the enemy Satan himself.
So obviously, that’s not what the Scripture is teaching us. It is teaching us to be watchful. If we are going to stand against temptation, it’s teaching us to be prayerful, to keep praying that we may not be led into temptation, because the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak. Self-control is the discipline to be able to restrain one’s desires and follow through on doing what is right, even when it is difficult. From 2 Peter 1:4, God already says that in salvation, you can escape from the corruption that is in the world by its own lusts and desires. You can actually flee from it, run from it, get away from it as far as you can. So believers have the control to live out the nature of God and not live out the corrupt life that this present evil world offers. It has always offered and will continue to offer. As we live today it is getting worse and worse and worse. Debauchery is on the rise, and it is approved of, and it is supported, and it is voted for. That’s the day we live in. You know what, Christians, we are going to stand alone more and more as we go forward.
But the Lord always told us that. He didn’t say: listen, when you become a Christian, it’s going to be a rose garden. No, He didn’t say that matter fact, He told us the opposite of that. He says if you are a believer, you will suffer persecution in some level. At some place in your life, you will have to make very difficult decisions not to go with the crowd but to go in alone, because you know the truth. So the Bible’s best advice for dealing with temptation is to flee from it. Put as much distance between you and the source of temptation as possible. Believers have the control to live out what God is working in. So a Christian’s participation in the divine nature gives believers this new ability, this new desire to resist sin. We are to resist and flee, and of course the Lord rescues, as it says in 2 Peter 2:9:
then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation,
and trials and testings.
So this Lord’s day, let’s take a look now at the second of the five directional qualities. That’s found in verse 6: add to your faith, endurance. Add to your faith perseverance. In the New American Standard, it is also translated endurance. It’s also translated patience. They’re all the same words. They are synonymous with each other in what they mean. Patient endurance and steadfastness is a way to define that. This perseverance really has a basic attitude to it and it has a frame of mind to it. It has a frame of mind to be patient with something. It has a frame of mind to be steadfast with something, to bear long with something.
Secondly, it has a reference to a steadfast adherence to a course of action in spite of difficulties and testings. That’s why this word is really defined as perseverance, endurance, and fortitude. Now this term perseverance gives the believer a heads-up that the Christian life will have its difficulties. It will have its problems and troubles. It will have its valleys and trials. It will have its battles, but it will also have its victories. It will not be a smooth road into the kingdom of God. That is clear in Scripture just by this very word, just by the word to have self control. What the apostle Paul wrote in Romans chapter 5, he said this:
And not only this, but we also exalt in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
Hope – that’s where it’s leading to. And of course it says in the Scriptures:
hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
So this morning, I would like to actually go over to Hebrews, if you go forward. I want to examine again the life of Abraham. The reason I would like to do that is because Abraham’s faith has comparable parallels to our walk of faith. Abraham actually lived by faith in obeying God in a patient manner. I guess if anybody in Scripture could be considered to be patient, the first would have to be Noah. Of course Abraham would come there too, because God kept giving him promises and it didn’t seem like those promises were going to work out real soon. He had to wait years and years and years, but by faith he held to the promises and that becomes key to having perseverance.
So in Scripture, in Hebrews chapter 11, which is that great famous hall of fame of those who gone before us, that great cloud of witnesses that have gone, lived, and died before us, are our examples. We are to look at them and emulate them and say – I want to be like that particular person because they were like the God in whom they serve. They trusted in Him. In Hebrews, Abraham had a patient trust in God that carefully persevered. Not sloppily persevered, but carefully persevered. He was careful with everything he did, actually. That doesn’t mean that he was a perfect man, but he was definitely a careful man. And he was careful through and persevered through difficult situations for long periods of time, and with an inner longing for home. That’s exactly what ought to be in our life as Christians. This is how we ought to think and live as Christians. So according to the book of Hebrews, the proof of faith is perseverance. It is recorded in Hebrews 10:36:
For you have a need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
In other words, it’s saying there in Scripture – listen, all believers have a need. Do you know what you need to do? You need to endure. You need to persevere. That doesn’t mean that things are going to come instantly. We live in a society where we want things instantly. We pray and we want God to instantly answer our prayers just the way we prayed, just the way we envisioned that it should be answered, and that’s not going to happen. God has to first show you what His will is. He has to first show you what you ought to be doing. And when you are doing that, you learned what He wants, and then you learn to pray in a way that honors Him and that aligns with His will. So for the present, we all have this great and essential need, and that is we all need to continue in endurance. Endurance means to persevere absolutely and emphatically under misfortunes and trials, and to hold fast to one’s faith in Christ. Now why is that? It’s because trials forces us to depend on God. Trials mature us spiritually and develop in us a proven character. Trials causes us to long for heaven, long for the kingdom of God, long for the new heaven and new earth that Peter is going to talk about. So all these things are preparing us to run the Christian race, to reach the goal, to finish, and to receive our reward. That’s what endurance is all about. The bottom line is – the key to successful endurance is faith. Faith in the object, faith in our God and in His character. Faith will give us the ability to know how to please Him. The key to growing in faith is continued perseverance. So all these things are preparing us to run the Christian race so we can finally receive the reward.
It was Charles Haddon Spurgeon, an old english preacher, who said: there is a kind of faith which does not run well, but is soon hindered and does not obey the truth. That is not the faith to which the promise is given. The faith of God’s elect continues and abides to the end. That for God’s real children, they will continue through it all, up and down mountains and valleys. They will continue to the end because they know the truth. They know the promises that because God tells the truth are laid before us. And those promises are true, even though people want to discount those things as being true, especially this world that we live in.
So Abraham’s faith is displayed as a patient trust that carefully persevered through, first of all, difficult situations. Look at Hebrews 11:9, it says:
By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;
So by faith he lived, as the Bible says, as an alien in the land of promise as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents. Meaning this – he lived in a time and in a land where he had no citizenship. He was an alien of the land of promise. And when he arrived at the land of promise, he found that it was still in the hands of others. All his long life by means of faith, he dwelt as an outsider in the land of promise. Abraham never owned the land, but he was only permitted to remain in the land as an alien. So that was a difficult time.
He also had no permanent settlement. If you look at verse 9, it says dwelling in tents. Tent is the most nonpermanent residence you can have. we think about about camping. You don’t go camping and stay in the woods for two years. Most people don’t anyway. You go there for a couple weeks, a week, a day. You pitch a tent so the elements would stay off you. And then you pack it all up, put it in your car, and go back home to your permanent residence. It’s saying about Abraham that he actually dwelled in tents his whole life. He lived in a non-permanent status, experiencing this in a foreign land. The Bible says dwelling in tents as a sojourner. Of course a sojourner means to stay in a place from day-to-day. A tent is something that has no foundation. It is not meant to be permanent. It is designed to be taken down only to be put up another day somewhere else. That’s what a tent is.
So he lived on the promises of God with endurance during difficult times. Then he also lived for a long periods of time. So perseverance is something that we endure for a longer of time. It says:
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise.
Abraham did not receive the promise. Isaac did not receive it. Jacob didn’t receive it. It even tells us in Acts 7:5:
But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that He would give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him.
So Abraham dwelt in the land of Palestine. He did not possess the land, but he held it only as a promise from God to him and to his descendants. God spoke to Abraham outside the land of Palestine. God blessed Abraham when he had no land, no children, no place to worship. He only had God, and he was fulfilled in that. So they all lived a long time, Abraham, Isaac, and jacob, as foreigners and died having nothing but faith in the promise. Can we do that? We do that. We are promised the heavenly kingdom of God. We’re promised a new heaven and new earth. Do we have that right now? Do we actually see it? No, we don’t have it in our possession, but we have it because God made a promise to us. And because of God’s character, that promise will come to pass, because a promise is only as good as the character of the person making it. If the person is completely trustworthy and true, I can trust that person’s promise. I don’t need a contract for me and that other person to sign to establish that this is going to be taken care of and it’s going to happen. No, God can be trusted because of His character, because of who He is. And if you notice in Hebrews chapter 11:13, look at what it says:
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
They welcomed the promises from a distance. They saw by faith what God was going to do. Once we become Christians and followers of Christ, we quickly sense that we are non-residents. In this world, we are tent-dwellers, sojourners, just passing through. That’s what it said in 1 Peter 2:11:
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.
Our stay on earth for a short time is as in a foreign land in which we are without citizenship or without status or without rank or without rights in this world. That’s what believers really are, if we understand our position in Christ. So we stay on this earth, and we do it for what reason? To live in our faith in God who makes promises to us and keeps them. It says in 1 Peter 1:17:
If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;
God is the object of our faith in the way we live, not health, not wealth, not prosperity, not sexual pleasure, not meeting our own fulfilling, our own desires and passions. Those are not center in a Christian’s life. We are not citizens on the earth. We are citizens of heaven. As citizens of heaven, we are under a government of heaven with Christ as our King who reigns in our hearts. As citizens of heaven, our names are written in heaven, giving us full access to the city of God when we get there. As citizens, we have a common right to all property of heaven. There is nothing in heaven that doesn’t belong to us because we’re joint heirs with Christ as citizens. We enjoy all the delights of God’s presence. Philippians tells us this already so concisely:
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait…
That’s perseverance. For what?
for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
What all this means is that we have much in common with Abraham concerning perseverance. We should also share the longing he had for a permanent dwelling. It’s not wrong to desire a permanent dwelling, but tent life, with its non-permanent characteristics, is now contrasted here in Hebrews with the stable settled existence of a city. If you look in verse 10, notice what it says because he persevered, Abraham, with an inward longing for a home. Everybody wants to make it home. After a long week, you know what you want to do? You just want to go home, kick your feet up, get your favorite beverage, right? Relax. Everybody wants that, but that’s a noble desire. That is a noble desire. In fact, look at Hebrews 11:10. It says:
for he was looking for a city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
To me, that’s fantastic. Abraham looked far beyond earthly things and displayed a longing for a heavenly city. That’s what the Spirit of God is doing in our heart. He’s showing us in our heart that God is the designer of a city that can never be gotten rid of. God is the actual framer of that city. He’s the builder of that city, of that higher city, of that eternal city. That’s a noble longing for a believer. It is faith alone that can make the prospect of an eternal city built by God real. We have it by faith. And that’s what our eyes are fixed upon. That’s what our heart is yearning for. It’s to finally be moved through this life into the presence of God, where we don’t have all this baggage. That’s going to be a day we all long for as believers. The Spirit of God is doing that in our heart. Our eyes are fixed upon it.
This means that the city God has built as a foundation to it. Those who dwell there have a permanent dwelling. They have permanent citizenship. They find themselves truly safe and secure and truly fulfilled, because God is our God and we are His people. And He dwells with us and we dwell with Him. That’s the ultimate goal to finish the book of Revelation, and that’s the goal.
So one thing that we must notice that the Holy Spirit is doing in us. And what is it? That we desire something better than this world, something that is beyond this world. If you have not yet learned it, I pray that you will. You say: learn what? That this world and what it offers can never, can never satisfy you. Yes, when you’re dead in sin, a dead world may have satisfied your dead hearts with husks and empty vanities. But once you become a believer, that’s not going to happen anymore. I don’t want that anymore. You don’t want that anymore. See, you have received by God’s grace nobler desires. Stronger, sharper more passionate desires that wants a better country. In Hebrews 11:16, it says:
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.
The word desire is a very telling one. It really means to stretch oneself out in order to touch something, to grasp something, to reach after, to desire very strongly something. In other words, God gives us desires that draw us toward heaven, desires that keep us stretching out for heaven and at the same time draws us away from this world and its glitter.
I’m talking about those who have truly come to Christ and have known something of better things and brighter realities. Have you not discovered that in this world we have no home? We have no true place to make it permanent for our eternal souls. Our home is yet beyond, and that’s exactly the way it ought to be. We are looking for it among the unseen things. We are, in reality, strangers and sojourners. As those believers who have gone before us, we are dwellers in the wilderness, just passing through to reach our perpetual inheritance in the city of God.
So I hope that these Scriptures will steal your heart to be a little bit more homesick while you presently live on this earth. As a pilgrim, you will never feel quite at home and comfortable here on the earth. You’ll actually groan in your soul for a heavenly dwelling. The more you grow in Christlikeness, the more you will feel like this. The more you mature in Christ, the more you’ll desire these things. The more you add to your faith the virtues in 2 Peter, the more you will feel like this as a believer. For the Christian, our final home is not this world. Our citizenship is in – what does it say in 2 Peter? It is in the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And we’re going to enter that kingdom someday, and it’s going to be a grand entrance.
So the main idea in 2 Peter, and using Abraham as an example, is that the idea of change and transformation in the Christian life are fueled by a combination of divine power and human responsibility. We have God’s power to add perseverance to our faith. We also, humanly speaking, are responsible to practice perseverance each and every day. Literally, perseverance means to walk under a load. And that’s what we do. We’re walking under a load, but God lightens the load for us. There’s no load that God allows us to experience that He is not there with us walking with us.
We all need to practice adding to our faith perseverance, which means to remain under trials and testings and temptations in a way that honors God. It is a patience which lets nothing adverse force it to give up. So are you ready? Are you ready to persevere when people consider you foolish for believing there is only one way to be saved and be made right with God? Are you willing to stand when that happens?
Like Noah, he persevered, undeterred by the mockery of others, while he built the ark and preached for 120 years. He was a preacher of righteousness. You can hear the Noah jokes. Laughter on those sunny days with no mist in the air when Noah told them about what was coming. I think they would say that Noah might have been the craziest of biblical characters. Hearing from God? Building an ark? Gathering animals and putting them into the ark? They would say this whole thing sounds delusional, because it was in their eyes. Or someone would ask: do you know someone who can fit all the animals into a ship? And the person would respond: I know a guy who will. Or if anyone needs a boat, I happen to know a guy. You got that right? See, Noah surely looked like a madman to his unbelieving onlookers. He sounded like a fool to those who came and heard him preach. But is it not the same for us? What did Paul say in 1 Corinthians chapter 1? He says:
but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
So are we willing to persevere and are we ready to be found fools for Christ’s sake in this world? Because you will be looked at as a fool. The more we go forward, the more that seems likely. Are you ready to persevere when the mocker say that Christ is coming, and that the fact that Christ is coming is just a big farce. It’s just a big story. It’s just something that was made up for a crutch, for you Christians, something to hope, hope for knowing all well that death is the end just like a common animal. Well, 2 Peter 3:3-4 says this:
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
So when you know the second coming is a promised reality as a believer, are you willing to stand firm in light of those things being slung at you? Mocked for believing in a creation by God? Mocked for believing that there was a worldwide flood and the world is now reserved for fire? Mocked and judged by an ungodly world because you believe that there’s a new heaven and new earth, where righteousness dwells and that’s what your hope is in, but it’s in the person who promised that. Are you ready to hold to that truth? Are you ready to persevere through the loss of friends, even family, just because you’re a Christian? Are you ready to persevere when you are the butt of people’s jokes and innuendos, just because you’re a Christian? Are you prepared to stand alone when some people close to you just drift away from you? Don’t really want to have much to do with you anymore, and some just outright forsake you. Are you ready to stay in the race and persevere until the end if you’re alone because you know the truth? What what it what did Paul tell young Timothy? He says:
Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica;
Paul experienced it. The Lord experienced it. We’re going to experience it too at some level. Are we going to keep going? Are we going to persevere when those things happen? Are you ready to persevere in order, young people, to meet the right Christian person that’s really a Christian? And because you’re really a Christian, and not be tempted to shack up, not be tempted to change your sex. And to keep yourself sexually pure until the day of your marriage vows. Are you willing to persevere to do that because you know it honors God and pleases Him and it aligns with the truth of Scripture? These things are not easy to do. These are going to take some very conscious effort every day to think about. This is what I should do because it honors God. This is not just a one-time quick decision you make while you’re driving out of the McDonald’s parking lot. This is a serious decision. It’s a decision. You have to wake up everyday and remind yourself of. All these are decisions that are going to take adding perseverance to your faith. Are you ready to persevere when you have been a Christian for a good amount of time and everything has been kind of status quo and you are tempted to lay aside this time for some sinful excitement? Are you ready to do what is right when no one is walking with you? Are you ready to persevere when the adversary takes up an aggressive posture against you as a believer? And he will.
Satan attacks all who threaten his rule. If you are a believer, you are already a threat to his rule because you are now in the kingdom of light. He’s still operating in the kingdom of darkness. God’s people are hindrances to Satan’s reign. So Satan contrives methods by which he may remove them, neutralize them, cause them to work on his behalf. Satan has his whole host of inferior spirits working to cause God’s faithful to fail. All the servants of God will come under the direct or indirect assaults of this formidable enemy that is against those who bear the image of Jesus Christ. Satan’s goal is to curtail the believer’s usefulness and to ruin the believer’s testimony. And whatever he could do to bring you to that point, he will do it. Satan tempt believers to sin and then aids them in justifying their sinful actions. So to be clear, Satan does not make people sin, but he does tempt people by drawing upon their various lusts present within them. Satan wants to ensnare people in their lust, and then persuade them that those lusts are legitimate even though they are wicked. And all the while making himself and his allurements appear right and helpful and desirable and fulfilling. All lies. After all, Paul tell us that Satan even transforms himself into an angel of light. He says in Timothy:
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So in Satan’s world system and in all his temptations, nothing is as it seems to be. He makes things other than what they really are. We kick around the devil’s deceptions in our minds all the time. Because these deceptions want to convince us that what we’re planning to do is really all right. Thoughts like: God wouldn’t want me to be unhappy, would He?Why fight the feeling? Just give in. Everyone else is doing it. Everyone else is doing it. Why am I different? Why should I deprive myself of something that everybody else is doing and seems to have a good time doing it? This won’t lead to anything else. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do this one thing just this once. No big deal. No one will ever know. I can get away with this time, and I’ll just go to the Lord and pray and then He’ll forgive me of what I just done. That’s presumptuous sin. Now you have another sin. Sin just makes more babies. That’s all it does. It just makes life more difficult. Or this won’t affect anybody else but me. I can just confess it. It’ll be like it never happened. God will stop me if he doesn’t want me to go any further.
All these and more are things that have been thrown at you and me forever. But how loud are those voices today? If you’re adding to your faith a lot of those voices, or maybe you just don’t hear them anymore. I don’t hear those things anymore, because I don’t want to hear them anymore, because I know they’re all lies. Really when it comes to temptation, it always comes down to what lie are you believing or what truth are you shining. It’s got to be one of those two things. There’s no middle ground. And for a believer, because you have been in the Word of God and your mind is being transformed by the Word of God, you know what God’s will is. You know the right thing to do. It doesn’t matter what age you are. It doesn’t matter really how long you’ve been in the faith. The Word of God clearly tells us what we ought to be doing. The more we roll it over in our mind, the more deceived we become, until eventually we go for the bait. And when is the bait is taken and the hook is set and the line is reeled in, then sin, like a pregnant woman, brings forth death. That’s what James says. And sin always destroys. It may take a while for it to happen, but it does.
So, why would I want to live like that? Why would you want to live like that? You don’t want to live like that. See, Satan works on believers to get the better of them. The devil wants to destroy the power and testimony of the church by putting stumbling blocks in believers’ ways, keeping them ignorant of God’s Word and stifling their spiritual growth. Christians must resist him, it says in Peter, if the church is to accomplish its mission. In other words, will you persevere in keeping your armor on in order to stand up against whatever the enemy throws at you? Are you ready for that? Again, the apostle Paul said in Ephesians,
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
That Scripture is not for somebody else. It’s for you and me. These are realities for believers. Paul also said,
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day,
The day that some demon specifically points you out for temptation, you’ll be able to resist him. Believe me, all demons are stronger than you and me unless we have the armor of God. It says,
take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Stand firm – you know what that means? It means this – perseverance. You’re bearing up under the load of life, under the load of temptation, under the load of satanic enticements, under the load of your past, under the load of oppressive people, under the load of false teaching that is turned into truth in our culture, which is not truth but a big lie.
So are you ready to persevere when you have been wronged as a Christian and you feel justified to stay angry? I could put a whole other bunch of sins in there, but I chose anger for a very specific reason, because we all get angry at one point or another. That sin is not foreign to anybody. No matter how nice you think you are and how patient you are and how long-suffering you are, you get angry. Because we get tired and we get weak, right? Just that one moment, you lose it and your anger takes over. Are you willing to persevere when you are wronged by someone else and you feel justified in your anger? But this is what happens for those who are persevering in the faith. You remember something. Do you know what you remember? I remember what the Scriptures say about anger and what opportunity it will give to the enemy. In fact, it tells us right in Ephesians: do not give the devil opportunity, specifically in the area of being angry too long, where righteous anger quickly turns into unrighteous anger if you don’t confess it. Don’t give the devil the opportunity when you’re angry because he’ll take it every time. He’s not going to take it for your benefit and for your good.
See, you’re reminded of Scripture when those things happen and you practice being spiritually skillful at that moment when this strong desire of justifying yourself comes into your mind. But instead what you do, instead of remaining angry, you implement displaying God’s goodness. You implement the knowledge that you have been learning of your Lord Jesus Christ. You implement the exercise of self-control by using the power that God has given you to put off that sin, to use your renewed mind and put on the righteousness at that moment that is available to you instead of anger. See, that’s what adding to your faith means. I’m able to, in this practical situation, to not go the way I used to go.
In doing so, your anger does not lead to nursing grievances. Your anger does not lead to desire to revenge. Your anger does not slander with the tongue. Your anger does not treat people with contempt. In other words, you remain in control. You remain forgiven. You remain holy, abiding in God’s intended goal for you. And what is that goal? Christlikeness. In that moment, you acted like Christ. And you had all the divine power to do so, but you didn’t have to do so. You have persevered with your own effort while participating in the divine nature. That is how perseverance should look like. And that’s not just going to happen once. That’s going to happen a multitude of times with all kinds of other sins. And I’m saying to you brethren, for those who are believers, you are to add to your faith these things already mentioned so you can act like Christ. But you need to practice that.
Again, steadfastness is the willing courageous acceptance of everything that life can do to you and then take the worst event and use it as a stepping stone upward for Christian growth. The assumption here is that walking on the path of perseverance develops a strong faith. And you know where that strong faith leads to? It leads to the next virtue – godliness. It leads to godliness, to act like God. When you do that, that’s where the victory is experienced. That’s where the joy of the Lord is experienced. That’s where God is honored and exalted. And that’s where you become stronger. That when you become strong. That’s where God is taking us. He’s taking us to a place where we can be strong, so we’re not tossed to and fro by every wind of teaching, but in adding these qualities to our life, we are actually becoming useful and fruitful. That’s what God wants to do with us.
Let’s pray. Lord, I thank You this morning for the Word of God. Lord, in it is contained the words of life, The words that give us light to our life. It illuminates darkness. It shows us, Lord, which way to go when we come to that “Y” in the road, that we can discern which way to go, one that honors You. And I pray, Lord, that these qualities found in 2 Peter and exemplified in the life of Abraham would be qualities that would be our qualities, something that You would do in our life, Lord. I just prayed today that that would be true of us, that we would have that desire. Lord, I pray that as we do that, the gold of the world would grow dim in light of Your wonderful face. I pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.