Summary: This is sermon #4 in a series of messages concerning Developing Christian character.
The Specifics of Christian Development, Part 2
Today we are going to continue our consideration of the specifics of Christian character development. We note that Peter is very specific concerning what character qualities we should seek to develop as a Christian if we are going to progress toward Christ-likeness. He seems to list them in a particular order. Faith comes first, followed by goodness, then knowledge, to which we add self-control, then perseverance, then godliness, then brotherly kindness, and finally love.
The first three character qualities (faith, goodness, and knowledge) have to do with our relationship with God above us. The second three (self control, perseverance, and godliness) have to do with our relationship with the world around us. The last two character qualities (brotherly kindness and love) have to do with our relationship with the people around us.
Last time, we considered the first three of character qualities Peter mentions here, and noted they are linked to one another. Now let’s look at the second three which have to do with our relationship with the world around us.
I. Self-Control (v. 6)
a. Self control has to do with out purpose while we are in this world.
b. The term “self control” means literally “to take a grip of oneself.”
i. We are to take grip of ourselves in order to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.
ii. Self-control is the opposite of self-indulgence.
iii. Rather then being driven by a desire to please self, Peter says we need to be driven to please God.
c. This is what Peter was referring to earlier in the passage in verse 4, where he mentions participating in the divine nature as opposed to being corrupted by the world through evil desires.
d. God’s purpose for the church, and consequently, His people, are worship, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and evangelism.
i. Worship, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and evangelism relate to knowing Christ better
ii. Ministry and evangelism relate to making Christ known to others.
e. Since discipleship is about my becoming more like Jesus, that is my ultimate purpose.
i. As we progress toward Christ-likeness, we will also fulfill the other four purposes.
ii. Worship, discipleship, fellowship, and ministry are eternal in nature.
iii. In eternity, we will worship the Lord, reflect His likeness, fellowship with fellow believers, and serve our eternal king.
iv. Evangelism is our urgent purpose – the only one of the five that we wil not be able to do in heaven.
f. The degree to which we fulfill the first four purposes determines the degree to which we experience heaven right here on earth.
i. The degree to which we fulfill the first purpose determines the number of people we take from earth to heaven.
ii. Now, when we understand, that these are God’s purposes for us as we live in this world, and surrender ourselves to fulfilling them, we will be led to live a life of self-control.
g. 1 Cor. 9:24-27 Reminds us that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize.
i. You also must run in such a way that you will win.
ii. All athletes’ practice strict self control.
iii. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
iv. So we need to run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.
v. We need to disciples our bodies like an athlete, training it to do what it should
vi. Otherwise, we fear that after preaching to others we ourselves might be disqualified.
h. Friends, if we are going to relate as we should to the world about us, we must keep our eye on the prize – seeking to fulfill God’s purpose for us, which is living our lives committed to worshipping god, to growing in Christ, to fellowship with fellow believers, to serving others, and sharing Christ.
i. As we maintain our focus on pleasing god by living a purpose driven life, we will be enabled to develop the self control necessary to resist the desires of self and instead, partner with God.
II. Perseverance (v. 6)
a. Perseverance has to do with our problem while in this world.
b. Without the self-control necessary to fulfill God’s purpose, we will not persevere when problems come.
c. 1 Peter 5:8-10 tell us, “Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”