The Christian life is never on an even plain. If you are a Christian and you are walking on the level, there is something wrong with you. You must always be climbing in the development of Christian character. If you are not climbing, you are automatically going downhill. This article is designed to afford us the opportunity to do some climbing—a ladder, Peter’s ladder.
“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord. According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:1-4.
The Path to the Foot of Peter’s Ladder
I believe the Lord expects each and every one of us to climb that ladder in our development of Christian character. If there is any hope of us developing a character like that of our Lord Jesus Christ, such as Peter talks about, this is the process. Apparently there were some who had obtained that precious faith.
It is necessary for us to apply that which the Lord has given us in His Word so that we can become more and more like Him. Why do we go to church Sabbath after Sabbath? It is not to fellowship; it is not to be entertained; it is to learn the prescription that God has for us that moves us out of a sinful nature into a divine nature. There is a process that is necessary for us to go through so that we can indeed reflect the image of Jesus in our lives. That is why we go, so we might be able to glean some word, some help along that pathway to the kingdom of heaven.
There are several things that come to our attention in this passage. Notice verse three says, “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.”
Divine power, from which we may partake, is there. It is ready, and available for us. The Lord does not expect us to accomplish something that is impossible for us to do. He only asks us to accomplish that which is possible. If it is possible to accomplish divine principles, then He is going to give us the power to accomplish divine principles.
Our problem is that, much of the time, we try to accomplish divine principles in our own human strength. We cannot do it. It does not work. It takes divine power to accomplish divine principles. And so, He has given us that power. How do we grab hold of that divine power? It is through faith; faith that will allow us to do what God says to do.
All too often we find ourselves listening to the voice of the deceiver, paying attention to what he says and do nothing about the things that pertain to life and godliness that have been outlined for us. That divine power is ours, and it is backed by divine promises. Verse four tells us that divine promises allow us to come into the presence of God and to become a partaker of the divine nature.
That holds quite a challenge, coupled with the incentive that there is the possibility, through divine power, that we can become a partaker of the divine nature. I do not know how many of us can grasp that kind of challenge, that we do not just have divine power to live a natural life, but we have divine power that helps us to become partakers of the divine nature. That is what Peter is trying to convey to us.
If, somehow, that could just sink into our consciousness, I believe it would make a tremendous difference in the lives of Christians today. We can indeed become partakers of the divine nature. All of this, of course, is for the purpose of helping us climb the ladder, step by step, round by round, to lead us into an experience with our God and allow us to, as Peter says, escape “the corruption that is in the world through lust,” through desire.
“Giving All Diligence”
That is what is before us in this work. Verse 5 says: “And beside this,” or in addition to this, (in addition to the divine power that is given to us so that we can become a partaker of these precious promises, and then the divine nature,) “giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue.…”
We need to have faith in order to step up on the ladder. The first round is virtue, but we need to have faith to get there, for “without faith it is impossible,” the Bible says, “to please Him.” Verse 6.
What is diligence? I want to share with you what I found in Webster’s Dictionary. It has two definitions. The first definition is “persevering application,” and the second is “the attention and care legally expected or required of a person.”
“And beside this, giving all diligence [persevering application and attention and care legally expected or required of a person], add to your faith virtue.” In Christianity at large, we hear a lot of talk about love, grace, and believing today, but we hear too little of what God actually expects of us. According to what Peter is conveying, there is a legal responsibility resting upon each one of us as Christians.
A Binding Legal Agreement
When we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, it places us in a legal agreement with God. Do you know what the theological word for that legal agreement is called? It is called a covenant. God has made a new covenant with His people, a new legal agreement, if you please. He expects something of us and it does not take us too long, as we begin to read the Bible, to discover that God not only expects, but requires something of us.
In the book of Genesis, chapter three, you discover the fact that God has requirements upon His people that are based upon legal aspects. The Lord made, if you please, a legal agreement with Adam and Eve concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was a covenant. The cost of breaking that covenant, or that legal agreement, was death.
In reality, that same agreement is given to each one of us—obey and live. The Ten Commandments are the basis of obedience that God requires of us; they are the covenant. The covenant was ratified or sealed, with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to keep them.
The question we need to ask ourselves is, Are we really taking God seriously? Are we making a persevering application into our lives of these requirements, or do we make excuses instead? The apostle admonishes us to make persevering application to the “things that pertain unto life and godliness,…giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue.…” 2 Peter 1:3-5.
A Measure of Faith
Here again is a word that we have heard, that we are familiar with to a degree, but what does it really mean? What is virtue? Going again to Daniel Webster we read, “Virtue, conformity to a standard of right, morality; a particular moral excellence.” So what is Peter telling us? He is saying that the first thing that is necessary is faith, but you do not stop there. You add to it. Without faith, we cannot go any further. Without faith, we cannot climb any higher on the ladder of Christian character perfection.
Faith is essential. Faith grows. How much blood did you have when you were first born? All the blood you have now? No. I do not know the pint capacity of an infant, but I know as an adult it is normally about 13 pints. But you do not have 13 pints of blood as an infant.
When a person is born of the Spirit, a measure of faith is present. At first this measure is a small amount. When faith is exercised, it will grow. Just as the physical body grows. Faith grows as we exercise it and as we come more and more into conformity with what is right.
Of course, the standard of right is the Ten Commandments, the divine principles of God. Divine principles, accomplished by divine power, through divine promises. Do not let anybody ever tell you that you do not need to, or that you cannot, keep the Ten Commandments. Only Christianity in a state of apostasy would ever make such a statement, and it is for sure that the Bible does not teach such a thing.
Everywhere we look in the Bible, we find that we are to give diligence to the Words of God. As Verse 5 said, we are to “add to your [our] faith” a conformity to a standard of right. There are many examples we could look at in the writings of Inspiration to gather some direction concerning this matter of conformity to a standard of right.
One example is the life of Daniel. Certainly his was a supreme example of moral excellence, and because of his consecration to the God of heaven, he served as the Prime Minister of Babylon through several changes of government. That only happened to Daniel because of his conformity to the standard of right.
Then, of course, there was Joseph. Kidnapped, sold as a slave into Egypt, being made to do things that were strange to him, he was willing to do what he could to please God. Rather than taking the attitude that it was all God’s fault, Joseph had virtue. A lot of times we excuse ourselves by saying, Well, God put me there; God caused all of this, so why should I worry about it? Why do I not just go with the flow?
You were never called to go with the flow. You were called of faith to virtue. We so often hear of Joseph and Daniel, but there have been men all through the ages who have added virtue to their faith. We can read about them in Hebrews 11.
One we do not hear too much about is King Asa. This man’s life was nearly as exemplary as Daniel’s or Joseph’s, but the Bible does say in 1 Kings 15:11, 14, that “Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did David his father.… [And] Asa’s heart was perfect with the Lord all his days.” What was it that prompted such a testimony to be written about Asa?
Would you not like Inspiration to record that about your life, that your life was perfect all the days of your life? I believe, in Asa’s life, that it was basically the result of climbing Peter’s ladder.
Prompted to do Right
2 Chronicles gives us an insight into what prompted Asa to do right.
“And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; but if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you. Now, for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found of them. And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, or to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries. And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity. Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:1-7.
These words had a great impact upon Asa’s life. He began to see that the Lord had great plans for him and for His people. “And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the Lord, that was before the porch of the Lord.” Ibid., Verse 8.
There were many areas around him that he influenced by the change. There are some people, who are in administrative positions, who can make change possible through their administration. There are others who can make change by their influence. Asa made change by seeing that all the idols were taken away.
As Asa followed the Words of Inspiration, change began to take place. The question we need to ask ourselves today is, Does that apply to us individually? Of course, it does. But, you may say, I may not be able to make such a large impact as Asa did in removing all the idols of the land of Judah and Benjamin, so why should I try? You have been given divine promises, coupled with divine power, so that you can become a partaker of the divine nature. That rests with us individually.
Learning From Someone Else’s Experience
Asa made a change. 1 Corinthians 10:11 says, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” Does that apply to us, then? Can what took place in Asa’s life happen in my life, if I follow the same direction that Asa did? Of course! God, in His great mercy, has left lessons for us who are living right down in the end of time.
Lessons were given by the lives of these people who lived in distant times, and the Lord expects us to study those lives and make application to our own life. He expects us to study them and learn. Paul evidently had anticipated the fact that some would make various forms of excuses to justify not following the counsel. So he goes on to say, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Verses 12, 13.
The Lord is not playing games with us. There are some very serious issues at stake. Those issues become more and more serious as we near the end of time, because the deception level raises significantly as well.
2 Chronicles 15:8 tells us that one of the important aspects of Asa’s reform, apart from tearing down the groves and the idols, was the re-establishment of the altar of the Lord. Although he renewed, or rebuilt, that altar, as reform was taking place, they did not drive out the Canaanites. They were content to live in those conditions.
Ephraim became as corrupted as the Canaanites, and later, in the days of Hosea, things were so bad that even the Lord could not move them away from their apostasy. Finally the Lord said, Leave Ephraim alone, let him be joined to his idols. (See Hosea 4:17.) Sadly, as a result, in Revelation 7, the tribe of Ephraim is not listed, they are eternally lost.
Before this time, they were in a state of decline, but there were still many who were faithful within the boundaries of Ephraim. The testimony is that “they fell to him out of Israel in abundance.” Verse 9. Just like falling out of a tree, we might say. When we make a commitment like that of Asa—to put the idols of the land away that have been influencing our lives and renew the altar of the Lord, not only in family worship but also in private personal worship—the Lord is going to move for us.
Look again at verse 8. “And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the Lord, that was before the porch of the Lord.” Again, this is very important information for us, because I believe we are living in a time that parallels this stage of Israel very closely.
Scripture says, “…Believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper.”
2 Chronicles 20:20. If we do not care about the Bible and about the Spirit of Prophecy, that special counsel the Lord has been pleased to give us in these last days; if we are content to ignore what this counsel says, we are going to slide back further, and further, and further, just like Israel did when they did not pay attention to the words of Inspiration that had been given to them.
The testimony of the Bible and of the Spirit of Prophecy is what we need to stand in the strength, the might, and the power of the Lord. If we allow anyone to influence us away from what we know is right, we are going to lose out on eternal life. It is just that simple, regardless of whether or not we believe in the Lord. Jesus says, “Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and not do the things that I ask you to do?” (See Luke 6:46.)
Breaking the Shackles of Sin
Do you claim to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ? Are there things that you are doing that you know are not in harmony with His will for you? Are you willing to change? Are you letting your husband or your wife hold you back from doing what you know you should? Are you letting your work or your friends hold you back? If you are, it is serious business. You are bound by the shackles of sin, and you need to break free.
That is just where the devil would hope that you would stay, but you do not have to remain there. Take that measure of faith that has been given to you. Step up to Peter’s ladder and place your foot on the first round of virtue—giving all diligence, step up on that round.
“The Lord demands uprightness in the smallest [matters] as well as the largest matters. Those who are accepted at last as members of the heavenly court will be men and women who here on earth have sought to carry out the Lord’s will in every particular, who have sought to put the impress of heaven upon their earthly labors.” Review and Herald, January 11, 1912. That should be the goal of every one of us in our walk.
“Ample provision has been made that the people of God may attain perfection of character.…Let every individual draw for himself from the inexhaustible source [divine power] “of all moral and intellectual power, in order that he may work the works of righteousness.…The Holy Spirit ever abides with him who is seeking for perfection of Christian character.” Ibid., November 30, 1897.
If you want perfection of Christian character, mark it down, the Holy Spirit is given so that it can become a reality. This is a promise given in Peter’s instruction to us in 2 Peter 1 . “The Holy Spirit ever abides with him who is seeking for perfection of Christian character.”
Are we looking for a greater abundance of the Holy Spirit, not just an abiding, but an outpouring? We all need to be looking for that outpouring. But we will never receive it until we are seeking for Christian perfection of character. The Holy Spirit will be falling, perhaps all around us. We can be right there in the pew, and it will miss us, and we will be as dry as the hills of Gilboa when we go out the door, while everybody else is soaking wet. That is sad!
Great and Precious Promises
“According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:3, 4.
This is God’s plan. We have stepped on the first round. We are going to climb the ladder as we deal with other issues that move us toward Christian perfection.