THE STRASBURG CHURCH OF CHRIST
Strasburg, VA

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Previous: Have You Been Reconciled?.

THE CHRISTIAN VIRTUES

September 24, 2014

L. John Bost
L. John Bost
In 2 Peter 1:5-7, Peter lists what have been called, "The Christian Virtues," or "The Christian Graces." In 2 Peter 1:3, he reminds us that God has given unto us "all things that pertain unto life and godliness," affirming that we have all of God's will for us, and need no new revelations. In 2 Peter 1:4 he tells us that we are "partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Now he tells us that having escaped the corruption that is in the world, we should add the Christian "virtues." Let us examine each one of these carefully.
Peter begins by urging us to give all diligence. This one is usually not included in the list of virtues. But, why? Is it not a virtue? Certainly! The Greek word translated, diligence, means, according to Thayer, "1) Haste, with haste; 2) earnestness, diligence." So, the first virtue is the virtue of diligence.
Virtue is our Christian character. It should be what people see in us every day. It should be what comes shining through when we are tempted and tried. It defines who we truly are.
Peter says we are to add to our faith virtue. Every Christian has faith. In fact, he should have much faith. Peter says that we are not only to have faith, but to add virtue to our faith. Virtue means, "1) A virtuous course of thought, feeling and action: 1a) virtue, moral goodness; 2) any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity" (Thayer). Paul admonishes us in Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
An excellent catalogue of virtues! Virtue is our Christian character. It should be what people see in us every day. It should be what comes shining through when we are tempted and tried. It defines who we truly are.
Peter continues by encouraging us to add to our virtue knowledge. Paul prayed for the Phillipian brethren, "That your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment" (Philippians 1:9). Note that he also prays that that knowledge be accompanied by judgment. He tells the Colossian brethren to have knowledge with understanding (Colossians 1:9). So it is not enough to simply know the truth. We must also have a proper understanding of it! That comes from diligent study (2 Timothy 2:15).
Next the apostle urges us to add to our knowledge temperance (2 Peter 1:6). The word from the Greek means, "Self-control (the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites)," according to Thayer. Temperance is a "fruit of the spirit" (Galatians 5:22-23). Self-control is too often neglected in today's society. Often we are prone to blame someone else for our mistakes. But it is the responsibility of each of us to keep our bodies and minds under the control of the laws of God, the state and common courtesy. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:10:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
So, each of us is responsible for self-control, because we will be judged by our own actions in the Day of Judgment! To be continued...

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