Stunted Growth

Stunted Growth 

2 Peter 1:1-11 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have [a]obtained like[b] precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the [c]corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control [d]perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither [e]barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For he who lacks these things is short sighted. Short-sightedness, or myopia, is a common eye condition that causes distant objects to appear blurred, while close objects can be seen clearly. I am farsighted. In fact I have eagle eye vision far away. I currently cannot see up close, not because of any eye condition. It is old age. 

And so Peter says to the church that Christians who do not put to death there sin and move forward in godliness, growing in the knowledge and grace of the Lord “cannot see afar off” – The word used here, which does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, means to shut the eyes; i. e., to contract the eyelids, to blink, to twinkle, as one who cannot see clearly, and hence to be “near-sighted.” We are to press on from glory to glory of Christian excellence, for, if we do not so press on, we sink back. The second of the two words describing this state is defined as denoting the state of those who are naturally “short-sighted,”. The man in this state in his spiritual power of vision sees the near things, the circumstances, allurements, provocations of his daily life, but he has lost the power to look to the far-off things of the life eternal. 

This is important when you understand the purpose of this second letter from the apostle. He writes twofold, (1) to exhort believers to diligently pursue godliness, and (2) to expose and repudiate false teachers who were undermining apostolic truth. He exhorts believers to be on their spiritual guard and grow in our knowledge of the Lord so that we are not led away with the error of the wicked.

Peter is about to give us a list of Christian virtues that we must develop in order to be victorious and fruitful before our Creator. And so in order to come against anyone who says that “these things are not possible”, Peter gives us assurance that we have the power to overcome and do all things HE commands us to do.

“as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the [c]corruption that is in the world through lust.”

He has given us ALL things that pertain to life and godliness. The love of our heavenly Father, salvation through Jesus, Christ’s intercession for us in heaven, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the communion of the saints, God’s inspired Word….all are sufficient to meet our needs for this life, to overcome sin and to live godly in this present world. We share in His nature and therefore we are without excuse.

No additional wisdom, technique or theory is needed to complete the sufficiency of God’s Word that reveals our perfect salvation in Christ. If the gospel we hold is found wanting, it is because the gospel you are holding onto is something less than the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are called to live godly and be holy in this present world. Peter tells that without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. We must heed the word of God and be holy as He is holy by actively pursuing godinness.

Holiness is a gift of God and is something that can never be accomplished apart from the work of the Spirit. Yet it is our responsibility to strive for it and to work towards this goal.  A farmer plows his field, sows the seed, and fertilizes and cultivates – all the while knowing that the final outcome is utterly dependent on forces outside himself. He knows he cannot cause the seed to germinate, nor can he produce the rain and sunshine for growing and harvesting the crop. For a successful harvest, he is dependent on these things from God. Yet the farmer knows that unless he diligently pursues his responsibilities to plow, plant, fertilize, and cultivate, he cannot expect a harvest at the end of the season. In a sense he is in a partnership with God, and he will reap its benefits only when he has fulfilled his responsibilities. Just as farming is a joint venture between man and God, in which man cannot do what God must do and God will not do what the farmer should do, so too is the pursuit of godliness. God will not bestow a life of godliness upon us the day we are saved. He requires that we pursue these things with the confidence that He will work with us and empower us to achieve the desire of our hearts. He gives us the power to do what he requires and expects of us.

Peter tells us to “give all diligence” to pursue godliness demonstrating that believers must be actively involved in our Christian growth. What causes stunted growth? In the world, malnutrition is the most common cause of growth failure around the world. Signs of stunted growth include: Slow development of physical skills such as sitting, standing, and walking. Delayed social and mental skills. Slow growth stemming from stomach disease can cause diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and nausea; a loss of energy, dry skin, dry hair, and trouble staying warm.

There are signs of stunted growth in the spiritual- sexual sins, follow one’s passions and desires, idolatry, manipulation which is witchcraft, hatred, quarreling, envy, explosive anger and outbursts, strife, seeking power and position, divisiveness, jealousy, drunkenness, partying. All these are in accordance with the works of the flesh found in Galatians 5 and are signs that your spiritual growth maybe stunted.

We must be actively involved with our growth. WE are to cooperate with God’s grace and power. He has already done His part, now we do our part. Paul affirmed this concept of us cooperating with God

Philippians 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

So God is working in us and we have to cooperate with Him in this process. WE must sincerely endeavor to add to our faith; otherwise we risk stunted growth. Godly characteristics do not automatically grow without our effort to cultivate them. Peter says, YOU add to your faith..

We start out with faith. You must have a working faith in order to even begin the spiritual growth process. WE have been given a measure of faith from God and thus we must put that faith into practice.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Faith is more than a static belief in God. It is a non-doubting belief coupled with unswerving loyalty to Jesus. This is the kind of faith that pleases God. Anything less than this, is not faith.

Giving all diligence, meaning with the utmost sincerity, earnestness, carefulness and business in a way that is with haste. Remember there are false teachers infiltrating the church. This adding to your faith in order to grow requires a measure of hastiness so that these would not be deceived. We must be growing. If our faith is truly growing, it will naturally lead into these characteristics.  Every present step produces and renders easy that which follows: the following tempers and perfects the preceding.  

1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Our faith is only purified when we endure trials and testing without quitting. Faith is purified when we allow correction and instruction in righteousness and when we obey our leaders in the faith and allow them to help refine us. Buck these instruments of refining, and you will never grow your faith. Run from your trials and refuse correction and you will become stunted.

The result of a faith that has endured trials will be virtue.

Virtue according to the Greek language is manliness, valor, excellence. The Greek word for virtue is ‘ARETE’.  For the Greeks, the notion of virtue is tied to the notion of function (ERGON).  The virtues of something are what enable it to perform excellently its proper function.  Virtue (or arete) extends beyond the realm of morality; it concerns the excellent performance of any function.  For example the function of a paring knife is to cut fruits and vegetables.  A paring knife “has virtues” relative to that function, eg., a good paring knife has the virtue of being sharp, strong, etc.  From this, the Greek implies that virtue is excellence in performing one’s proper function. What then is our proper function? 

Ecclesiastes 12:13 King James Version

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty (function) of man.

There are also functions that pertain to men and pertain to women. There are functions for children and for parenting. There are proper functions for the gifts and calling of God. Virtue is operating in the function God has called you to with excellence- to the best of your ability, fearing God and keeping His commands. Are you operating according to your proper function?

Next, we add to virtue, knowledge. Walking in virtue will bring to us knowledge, Gr. “gnosis”- the act of knowing and perceiving. Knowledge makes us active, watchful, circumspect, separate and discreet, so that we consider wisely what is to be done or avoided, for the sake of God, ourselves, and others; and in what manner it is to be done, and where and when and to what end. 

Hosea 4:6 English Standard Version “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

Your stunted growth in the knowledge of God will affect your children. Want wisdom and knowledge? Read Proverbs and obey. It contrasts the wise and the fool. Study the Word to show ourself approved. I will not be mislead because I know what God’s Word says. I had a philosophy professor who’s whole class was to disprove the Bible. I don’t care what letters he had after his name. I knew God’s Word. I knew what God said. Do not twist the Word. Take God at His Word. If HE says do not, then do not. If He says be warned, then be warned. I do not understand. Stop fighting with the Word.

The knowledge of God’s ways will lead us to have self-control. This is the result of knowledge, since it is knowledge which distinguishes evil from good, and teaches us to flee from evil. Self-control is a discipline that God grows in us when we continually choose to die to our flesh and live in Him. Self- control is putting into the practice the wisdom of God.

Proverbs 25:28  A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

It leaves you wide open for an attack. Next in order is patience. This is an interesting word in the Greek. It means a continual enduring that is cheerful and hopeful. You might say it is hopeful, expectant endurance. It is not waiting in the wrong line at Walmart. It is to bear trials hopefully; to stay under the trial until it is done knowing that there is a good outcome waiting for you on the other side. Expectant. This is patience.

Romans 5:3-4 King James Version 

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

James 5:11 King James Version

11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

Job 23:10-12 10 But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
11 My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. 12 I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my [a]necessary food.

Patience then removes all the hindrances to godliness

Titus 1:1 King James Version

Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

The gospel is in accordance with godliness. Let no one deceive you. Godliness is “well-reverent”. It means you have respect unto the Lord in all things, to be pious and worship towards God. It is more than a position, it is an action. It is how we dress, how we talk and what we say or do not say, it is our actions and our inactions, it is in what we look at, what we watch, read or put into our spirit. IN short, it is to walk in the Spirit and not walk in the flesh.

Galatians 5:16  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

When you walk in the flesh, you stunt your growth.

1 Timothy 4:7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.

Here is what I will tell you, if you will stay put under your time of testing and allow God to work in you that patient endurance, godliness will be the natural outcome. But if you refuse to stay under the trial, and continually hop from place to place never allowing God to refine you; you will never perfect the fruit of godliness. You can act pious to the world and you can even look a certain way, but your fruit will find you out. People can only hold it together for a time.

Next in order is brotherly affection. He who has his natural and fleshly affections sanctified, advances to a natural affection for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

1 John 3:14-15 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love [a]his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Do not say you love God if you treat your brothers/sisters in Christ poorly. It is shameful.

The last of these virtues is agape, love to all. You cannot love others if you do not love the brethren. We learn how to truly love our enemies by sacrificial love to the brethren. This is our family and our bond is sealed in blood. Faith is the start and love is the end tying it up.

Colossians 3:14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

 When our heart is rightly positioned towards God and our brethren, it is easy to extend our love to those who are less nearly connected to us, and even to enemies. Each present step produces and renders easy that which follows. In the same way each step which follows, tempers and perfects that which goes before. IF these virtues are in you and they are abounding (there’s our word for this year), you will be fruitful. Abounding entails fully maturing and growing, not the stunted growth of those who are unfaithful and not diligent. 

10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our faith and salvation must not be taken for granted. WE will continue faithful until the end only if we sincerely endeavor by God’s grace to pursue godliness. Diligence will reward you. Negligence will cost you and you will stunt your growth and be barren and unfruitful.

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