Consider this beautiful passage from the opening chapter of First Peter:
“Applying all diligence,
in your faith supply moral excellence,
and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
and in your knowledge, self-control,
and in your self-control, perseverance,
and in your perseverance, godliness,
and in your godliness, brotherly kindness,
and in your brotherly kindness, love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you.”
Wouldn’t it be great to have all of these qualities? Who couldn’t use a little more moral self-control from time to time, or some additional brotherly kindness every once in a while? Who wouldn’t want to be full of godliness and love?
Notice, then, what Peter says can rob us of these qualities. He tells us that a person who lacks these qualities has “forgotten his purification from his former sins.”
It sounds like this individual does not understand or else does not appreciate the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross in order to pay the price for our rebellion against God.
As if to make this teaching even more clear, Peter continues, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you,” or as the King James translation says, “give diligence to make your calling and election sure.”
Peter is telling them that if they do not understand, cherish, and rest in what God has done for them, they will not be able to grow as God calls them to. The way to avoid the “uselessness,” “unfruitfulness,” and “blindness” of one who lacks these qualities is to truly know, and appreciate, and be certain of, our salvation, and the love of God that purchased it.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 says something similar: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.”
Just as in Peter, Paul tells us something that we must do: we must possess out bodies in sanctification and honor. And just like Peter, Paul goes on to tell us what can cause us to fail in this endeavor: not knowing God.
Do you really know God? Sure, you know Biblical facts about Him. You can make statements such as “God is love,” or “Jesus Christ is the propitiation for my sins.” But do you know Him, personally? Are your calling and election sure? Do you know that He loves you, has paid the price for you, and welcomes you into His arms?
We must strive to be filled up with the virtues spoken of by Peter, and the purity spoken of by Paul. But we will not succeed unless our motivation, our inspiration, and our encouragement are in knowing God, and the love with which He first loved us, and with which He calls us, has mercy on us, and pours His grace out on us.