Growing in Godliness

Growing in Godliness

2 Peter 1:5–7 (NASB)

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, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

If you and I were candid, we just might acknowledge two or three areas where we would long for our spouses, children, friends, and others to grow and mature. Perhaps we wish our spouse more godly, our son was kinder, or our friend more compassionate? While those may be accurate, a better use of time would be to turn the mirror on ourselves and ask “what are two or three areas where I need to grow and mature?”

2 Peter 1:5-7 provides clear instruction on how we pursue a good and godly life.

Peter’s thinking connects the fact that our godliness is dependent on God’s power. In other words, we cannot live a godly life empowered by the flesh.

Gangel comments: 

In this beautiful paragraph, Peter orchestrates a symphony of grace. To the melody line of faith he leads believers to add harmony in a blend of seven Christian virtues which he lists without explanation or description.[1]

Applying all diligence begins the list urging us to apply ourselves. It suggests urgency and an eagerness to do something. My dad had a long list of sayings and one of his favorite was do it now or sooner! He generally used that when it was long past time to clean our rooms or mow the lawn.

In your faith leads the list of what we might call virtues. We may be too familiar with the word faith and it can be misunderstood. It may help to think about saving faith and sanctifying faith (1 Cor. 15:1-2). Not to split hairs, but saving faith is more a “point in time” when we trusted in Christ and Christ alone for our salvation. Sanctifying faith is the ongoing process of how we are transformed more and more into the person Christ wants us to be. So in 2 Peter we are not supplying this faith but we operate out of or from this faith. By faith we obey. By faith we believe God wants us to live a certain way. We trust God at His word. So living faithfully is being willing to do the right thing the right way even though it may not be the world’s way. It is believing God has a better way, a better plan and we willingly submit to Him.

Moral excellence is an uncommon characteristic or a high standard. Phil. 4:8 uses the same term:

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.

Knowledge, connected to goodness, suggests the idea of a practical knowledge or the ability to learn and discern.

Where moral and religious values are concerned, the good man thinks more clearly and discriminatingly than the licentious man. The will to do God’s will enables a man to know whether the teaching is from God (John 7:17; cf. John 15:15).[2]

Self-control is simply restraining our emotions, impulses or desires. It is the mastery of self. Remember, we cannot make our flesh better. The only way we can develop self-control is by faith, depending on His Spirit to help us control our fleshly or sinful desires.

Perseverance is an inner strength of endurance that is a result of patience. The root word suggests bearing up under a heavy load. Any young mom with children understands perseverance. Long nights, fevers, inconsolable babies and the endless lists of demands placed on a mom, wife, and woman trying to help her family.

Godliness can sound pious but we are called to be godly. We are called away from selfish and worldly desires. Without constructing a superhero image of a person who is godly, think of it in terms of not being worldly, but our response back to God for who He is and what He’s done.

Brotherly kindness is from the word philadelphian as we grow in Christ, we have an affection for other believers.

Love rounds out the “symphony” of terms; the greatest of Christian virtues, placing the needs of others ahead of our own. Love, indeed, is the greatest culmination of godliness.

The list portrays character, virtue, attitudes and actions that display a growing believer. Now there is no rating scale for these but just to get us thinking, what are the top two or three you might say, “In God’s great kindness, I am doing well”? And, in God’s great mercy, where do I need to grow?

Be of good courage. He is not mad or disappointed in us; He wants you and me to grow in godliness.


[1] Kenneth O. Gangel, “2 Peter,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 865.

[2]D. Edmond Hiebert, Second Peter and Jude: An Expositional Commentary (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 1989, p. 53. Albert E. Barnett, “The Second Epistle of Peter,” in The Interpreter’s Bible (1957), 12:176.

About Michael Easley

Michael is husband to one, dad to four, pastor to Fellowship Bible Church, and host of Michael Easley inContext.

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