On the one hand, for us to experience God’s gift of salvation is quite easy because it takes no work. In contrast to every other religion in the world, the Christian doctrine of salvation requires no amount of good works in order to be saved, for “by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Salvation, Scripture teaches, is by grace “through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Once you come to trust Christ for your soul’s salvation, though, living out your faith in the everyday affairs of life involves diligence. Twice are we exhorted in 2 Peter 1 to be diligent about something. Take a few moments to meditate on the focus of your diligent pursuit.
First, we are to be diligent in adding Christian virtues to our lives (vv. 5-7):
- Virtue – moral excellence or morality of life informed by God’s Word, which thereby far supersedes the relative moral standards of the culture.
- Knowledge – of Christian truth and doctrine.
- Temperance – or self-control.
- Patience – the quality of cheerfully enduring difficult circumstances.
- Godliness – a proper reflection of God through my life.
- Brotherly Kindness – or brotherly love (the Greek word is philadelphia). Essentially, this means we have a greater appreciation and affection for our brothers and sisters in Christ than for our unsaved friends in the community.
- Charity – or love, the agape kind, which involves willing self-sacrifice for the welfare of the one loved.
Now it may seem, given the wording in some translations, that these virtues are to be added sequentially; that is, once one is added, then we start working on another. In reality, though, they are to be added simultaneously—I need to work on all of these things all of the time. No wonder it requires diligence!
The second exhortation is to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (v. 10). Often, this verse is used inaccurately to challenge Christians to ensure they’re saved by once again going through the steps of accepting Christ as Savior. In reality, though, the word “make sure” means “to make fixed, established, certain.” So, a more accurate understanding is that the diligent, ongoing addition of the previously mentioned virtues (the “these things” referred to in vv. 8, 9, 10, 12, & 15) gives testimony to the certainty of the genuineness of one’s election to salvation. In other words, you can legitimately conclude that someone who has made a profession of faith but shows no interest in or evidence of growth in these virtues is, in fact, not really born again. Don’t misunderstand: the diligent “additions” do not result in “salvation by works”; they give evidence that salvation by grace has truly occurred.
May the Lord in His grace grant that we’ll be diligent!