I learned about 2 Peter 1:3-4 in the first few days of counseling training – “his divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” It was a reminder that through Christ we can live a godly life. It only got better as we learned that every believer at salvation experienced the “true knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and excellence.” Wow! Through his promises we become partakers of the divine nature and we escape from the corruption of the world.
Biblical counseling planted a stake in the ground on the truths of these verses. Salvation brought the possibility of a godly life. A life free from the world’s corruption and built on God’s amazing promises. Freedom! Paul says the same basic thing using different words — “we are dead to sin and alive to God” (Rom 6:11). This passage gives hope and encouragement to the counselee and courage to the counselor.
In this brief article, I encourage you to keep going in the passage. Camp here for another few weeks. Show your counselee that while the Lord called you to freedom (Gal 5:13), it is not freedom itself that is most important. Freedom gives choice and opportunity. Peter charges us…
Apply all diligence (1:5)
That sounds an awful lot like work. The Lord set us free and given us what we need for life and godliness, but it still requires effort to pursue it. Paul says in Rom 6:12-19 that we must present ourselves as slaves of righteousness. We have pursuits. Some pursue fitness, others learning, others entertainment, and still others a hobby. Peter says to apply all diligence.
Benefit: A useful and fruitful life (1:8)
Death is a part of life. Unless the Lord returns first, I will die. I have no delusions that people will remember me or that I will create a legacy. Instead, close friends and family will briefly mourn before the pressures of normal life force them to look ahead. I suppose someone will read something I have written, but most will not make a personal connection. The Bible encourages us to live a useful and fruitful life while we have the chance. I do not want to squander my opportunity and I suspect you do not either.
We have a significant set of truths – because I am free, I can apply all diligence. When I apply all diligence to the correct things, then my life will be useful and fruitful.
What do we pursue with all diligence? (1:6-7)
Peter tells us that the key to a useful and fruitful life involves investing in seven areas. Here is a brief explanation of each of them:
Moral Excellence: This is the willingness to think about and do those things that satisfy God’s moral code. Some things are legal, but not all things are morally excellent. It is not difficult to imagine implications across a wide range of subjects: from education to Christian liberty to relationships at church or inside a home to conflict resolution.
Knowledge: wisdom rather than “facts” might be more appropriate here. We must know how to take knowledge and apply it to our lives. One might know that we should be honest, but applying honesty is not always easy – especially if honesty costs us something.
Self-Control: willingness to live a principle directed life. Those who exercise self-control are not captives of their own feelings. They live according to truth. I am writing this in February. From Thanksgiving through early January there have been various food treats available – cookies, candies, pies, cakes, and candy. Far more than a few food choices, self-control often involves saying “no” when we want to say yes.
Perseverance: holding true to our faith even when it is hard. Life is not always easy. Staying true to our faith is not always easy. However, perseverance is a key Christian quality. Our faith is not convenient; it is a conviction between right and wrong. We must keep at it, even when something hurts or is difficult.
Godliness: At its core is the idea that we always live before the face of God (Coram deo). We are actively aware that God is with us all the time. God’s presence constrains our thoughts and behaviors. Every moment I live, I live in the presence of God.
Brotherly Kindness: We treat believers as family. The Christian community in the Bible provides many illustrations of what this looks like. At times, it was sacrificial giving, defending one another, giving each other the benefit of the doubt, or being willing to repent, forgive, and reconcile.
Love: First Corinthians 13 explains that love is patient, kind, not jealous; not arrogant, rude, or easily provoked, but rejoices with the truth and is capable of bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring all things.
These pursuits are life-long. We can pursue them because Jesus set us free from the world’s corruption. He gave us his promises and works in us using his divine power. What more could we ask for. As these characteristics because our normal way of functioning, we will be useful and profitable.
I hope this passage encourages you and that you share it with your counselees.