Summary: We are to "make every effort" to grow to be like Christ. Growth comes through conscious efforts.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Make every effort to add to your faith…
• This ’make every effort’ is found in a number of places in the NT.
Rom 14:19 - Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Heb 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
2 Pet 3:14 - So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
Growth will come, but it comes through conscious efforts.
• We will grow to be like Christ – "in increasing measure"
• We have the qualities, and these qualities can grow in increasing measure.
• But it will come through efforts of some kind.
There is no ’quick fix’ for our human condition.
• The process of growing to be like Christ and be able to live a life that truly glorifies God requires time and efforts.
• But we don’t like to hear this. I prefer to be changed for good and minus all the disciplines.
• "Just make me a good Christian, minus the QT, the prayer time, the fellowship..."
• "Give me the shortcut to becoming a saint!"
It won’t happen. When we look at great spiritual Christians, we have this impression that God just changed them overnight.
• We failed to see the many years of challenges that they’ve endured.
• We know we are a new creation in Christ and God can do wonders, but there isn’t any shortcut to holiness.
• I like the way Francis de Sales describes it: "The angels upon Jacob’s ladder had wings; yet they flew not, but ascended and descended in order from one step to another. The soul that rises from sin to devotion may be compared to the dawning of the day, which at its approach does not expel the darkness instantaneously but only little by little."
(cf. Gen 28:12)
Dr William C. De Vries – the doctor who installed the first artificial heart in a human body – said he had practiced such an installation in animals many times.
• He explains, "The reason you practice so much is so that you will do things automatically the same way every time."
• Did you notice that you do some things ’automatically’, without thinking? Just like typing.
• Those who drive probably understands. You shift gears and do some actions instinctively. Typing too. You don’t really "think" where the alphabets are.
• Why? You’ve been doing it so often until it becomes part of you.
We can think and act like Christ, to the extent that it is so part of us we did it "automatically".
• We behave like Him almost unconsciously.
• I believe that’s why it is possible for Jesus to say, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:48)
Look at how Jesus responded in two incidents.
• One in Matt 17 a boy was possessed and the disciples failed to deliver him.
• Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of the boy immediately.
• Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn’t we drive it out?" (Matt 17:19)
• 21["But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."] NAS
The 2nd incident is Jesus’ last night with the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane.
• The disciples were full of good intentions but they failed to stay awake to pray.
• Jesus said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matt 26:41)
The plain meaning of these comments is that by engaging in a certain type of action – fasting and praying, watching and praying – they would be able to attain a level of spiritual alertness or power.
• If they HAD watched and prayed, they would have the required power to stand firm when it was needed.
• Without these disciplines, they would not be able to experience that strength to overcome the devil or temptations.
These disciplines help us to act right when ‘put on a spot’.
• They enable us to be like Christ and act like Christ. That’s the goal of spiritual disciplines.
• It has nothing to do with your spirituality – it has to do with your FRUIT.