2 Peter 1:3-11
These days it is very easy to create an amazing image of ourselves. We craft our Facebook posts, Tweets, and Instagram posts in such a way that portrays us as being flawless or as having our lives perfectly together. We often market ourselves as something better than we are. God has called us to genuinely live out the faith we speak so loudly of. To be authentic with God we must remove the masks we have given ourselves and others. We are authentic when we view ourselves as who we really are, the good, bad, and ugly.[i] At the heart of every believer should be a desire to please God in all of life. An authentic believer constantly strives to become more like Christ.
Free Super Bowl Tickets
Imagine you have just received a pair of Super Bowl tickets from a friend. Your favorite team is competing for the national championship. Without checking into the validity of the tickets you begin the process of reserving your hotel and booking a flight. You are excited about attending your first Super Bowl ever. Game day arrives and you check in at the ticket gate only to discover that your tickets are phony. In fact they came from the Lucky Charms cereal box. At this moment your temper begins to rise. Your friend gave you an artificial ticket. You wanted the real thing, but instead have been given an artificial representation. The world is waiting to meet the real Jesus while you and I live out artificial lives. The world outside the church desperately needs the Truth that you and I know is found only in Jesus, but their eyes are clouded by our artificial lives. An authentic Christian constantly strives to become more like Christ.
Living an authentic Christian life: 3 Keys
Just like no one wants the fake game ticket, no one wants to see an artificial person of faith. Peter knew that the Gospel was seen as powerful when people genuinely lived a different life. He also knew that the Gospel was adversely affected when Christians failed to live up to the demands of the Gospel. 2 Peter 1:3-11 gives us three keys to living an authentic Christian life.
- We must recognize that God alone is the source of our new identity. vv.3-4
It is impossible to live an authentic life if we fail to acknowledge to source of our new nature. The work of Jesus Christ in the Cross/Resurrection event is the only means we have of being made right before the father. Peter writes, “His divine power has given to us all things pertaining to life and godliness.” (v.3) Peter emphatically connects what he is about to say with God’s power and grace. In fact, Peter is writing to those who have obtained a like precious faith by the righteousness of God. (v.1) The new nature enjoyed by the believer is possible only because of the work of Christ on our behalf.
In Genesis 1:26 we read that we were created in the image of God. Something happened to cause His image in us to be seriously damaged. We sinned against him and His image was marred, almost unrecognizable to us. God, in Christ, is restoring His image in all of creation. Our nature is contrasted with the perfect and holy nature of God. Peter writes that by the virtue and glory of God we have been given promises that we may take on a new nature. (v.4) This new divine nature enables us to escape the lustful corruption that is in the world. Living an authentic Christians life requires that we first acknowledge God alone as the source of our new nature.
- We must intentionally decide to become more like Christ. vv.5-9
Our new nature is a result of God’s working on our behalf. His image will not be perfectly restored in us until Jesus returns. However, that is no excuse not to make a clear decision to grow spiritually. An authentic Christian is one who intentionally decides to become more like Christ.
Many people neglect holiness in their own lives because they love the excuse, “No one is perfect, so why should we try?” Truly none of us are all that God has intended us to be, for we have all fallen short of his glory. (Romans 3:23) We are absolutely correct when we insist that our justification comes only through the work of Christ, but sometimes we forget the second aspect of our salvation sanctification, or the process of becoming more holy. Justification deals with the problem of guilt caused by sin and sanctification deals with the problem of our sin nature, also called depravity. Remember what Peter said in verses 3-4, His divine power has given us all things relating to life and godliness. God has given us all we need to become new creatures. Because God has graciously worked in our hearts and made them new, we must work at becoming more like Him. Peter gives us 8 attributes of holiness that we should work to develop within our own lives. These 8 attributes exist together and cannot be separated. Peter encourages us to “diligently pursue” these things.
- Deepened faith: Faith is the foundational Christian virtue. Growing faith is an increased trust and dependence on God.
- Virtuous Character: God has called us to faith by His own glory and virtue. Because God is perfectly good and virtuous, as His new creatures, we should be also. Virtue entails all that refers to a high moral standard. God does not make a standard, He is the standard.
- Knowledge: This is the specific ability to discern God’s will and orient one’s life in accordance with that will. It is the wisdom referred to in proverbs-it is knowing the right thing to do and why. We grow in this knowledge as we expose ourselves to solid Bible teaching and submit ourselves a supporting community of faith.
- Self-Control: Self-Control enables us to avoid falling into various temptations that seem unavoidable in our world. This virtue is also listed in the “fruit of the Spirit” passage.
- 5. Increased perseverance/endurance: This refers to the ability to remain steadfast under trial. There are many trials in the Christian life, like loved ones being diagnosed with cancer, financial pressures, and death. Jesus promised his followers that they would indeed have persecution if they chose to follow him. Authentic Christians will not flee at the first sign of danger, rather they will rest in the hope and power of God to deliver them. You and I may see a day where we are called to stand up for our faith. Will we have patient endurance?
- Godliness: Authentic believers work at developing a love for God and His standards. This is the goal to which knowledge of God should lead. Godliness is the behavior expected of those who have come to know and love the God of the Bible.
- Brotherly Kindness: Peter should not have to tell us to treat fellow believers kindly. The way we treat each other is noticed by those who are outside our community of faith. Christian people do not run over each other. They treat each other as those who have been redeemed by the marvelous grace of God. We treat each other with respect because we have been made in His image. If we are arguing and fighting among ourselves, we are not representing Jesus well. Will Harmon has said, “No more! It’s time for us to say ‘No More’, ‘No more fussin’, fight’n, and feudin!”[ii]
- Love for God and others: This attribute of authentic godly living connects all the others. The Greek term Peter uses refers to brotherly love. The same term is used for brotherly kindness and brotherly love. That is we treat everyone like they are part of the family, like they belong with us. All of the Christian life revolves around love for God and love for others. We cannot love others properly if we don’t first love God. We love Him because He first loved us. Authentic Christian living is motivated by love.
- If we refuse to live an authentic Christian life we will not be granted access into Christ’s eternal kingdom. vv.10-11.
In our text Peter presents the positive side of the above claim, “If you do these things you will never stumble and an entrance will be abundantly supplied for you to enter Christ’s kingdom.” There must certainly be a negative side to that claim as well. Our faith is not works based, but there is a work to be done. James 2:24-26 tells us that faith without works is dead. Trusting in Jesus is the means by which we enjoy the blessing of union with Christ, but it is not all that is required of Christians. We must work at becoming more like him. An authentic Christian will desire to do this work. Our lives must consistently reflect that we belong to Jesus. Belief always determines practice. Authentic faith must be lived out every day of the week. Every moment we are striving to become more like Christ.
Authentic belief affects our actions
People are tired of seeing fake Christians. They are tire of those who regularly attend church on Sunday but act like heathen on Monday. The world is longing for Truth understood and lived out by its followers. We can only make an impact in the world if we are authentic, if our faith translates to action. God has redeemed us in order that we might be agents of redemption in the world. Authentic believers constantly strive to become more like Christ.
This week we will have opportunities to show others that we belong to Jesus. Eternity is at stake and people are watching us. They are waiting for someone, anyone to be authentic.
[i] This information was retrieved from http://verticalthree.com/fwbnyc/theme/, accessed at 7:00 PM on August 6, 2014. Being authentic was the theme of this year’s National Youth Conference for FWB in Fort Worth Texas.
[ii] Will Harmon at the National Association of Free Will Baptists at the National Convention in Fort Worth Texas.