Seven Characteristics of a Growing Believer

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I was reading the Bible the other day and came to 2 Peter. I read chapter one and it has been on my mind ever since. So, for this blog post, I’d like to share a few thoughts I had on what I read.

My first thought was about Peter himself. We all know Peter. He has been the brunt of jokes and sermons ever since I can remember. We all know the stories of his failures. Sometimes it was his mouth that got him in trouble. other times it was his actions. Peter’s crowning defeat of course was his three-time denial of knowing Jesus. But later came Pentecost, and Peter and the other apostles were never the same. Peter soon became the head of a new movement and eventually martyred. What’s the takeaway from this? For me it’s this: if Jesus could pull Peter out of the muck he had gotten into, He can certainly do the same for you and me. But the question is, do we want Him to do that?

So, after Peter’s transformation and filling of the Holy Spirit he wrote the book of 2nd Peter. In verses 5-7 of chapter one, Peter talks about seven characteristic of a Christian who is growing in Christ. He says we need these seven characteristics to be added to our faith. It’s interesting that Peter didn’t say to, “add faith.” He starts with that assumption that we already have faith. After all, he is writing to believers who obtained a faith of equal standing to the apostles (verse 1). We too, have faith. Think about it. How did we become believers in Christ? It was “by grace through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). We may think that we have just a little faith, but we had that faith from the very beginning when we first became a believer.

Following that, Peter says to add seven characteristics to our faith. They are mentioned in verses 5-7:

1. Virtue—virtue can mean moral excellence, goodness or spiritual courage. Basically, when a believer has virtue, he seeks through God’s grace and power, to live a morally upright and courageous life that pleases God.

2. Knowledge—this is not just knowledge for knowledge’s sake. It is knowledge of spiritual truths. We need to grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. The best way to do this will surprise no one. It is to get into the Word. Read, study, memorize, meditate and pray. This will help us grow in knowledge.

3. Self-control—another word that would fit here is discipline. Discipline can be defined as a controlling of the will by the power of the Holy Spirit. It takes discipline to walk that narrow road that the Gospels talk about. It takes discipline to get into the Word, to pray or to overcome sins such as gluttony, lust, etc.

4. Steadfastness or perseverance—This means that we need to have a patient endurance of persecution and adversity. I’ve noticed a lot lately when I read the Bible, that there is always an element of perseverance or endurance. It is one thing to start off in the Christian life well, it is another to finish well. “Perseverance is the art of bearing up and pressing on in the face of all that seems to be against us.” (William MacDonald).

5. Godliness–We should be growing more and more to be like God. We will never attain that of course. But we need to have a heart toward Godliness. 1 Timothy 6:6.

6. Brotherly affection–this is caring for the needs of others in the Body of Christ. We show the world that we are believers through loving other believers (John 13:35). Sadly, we often spend our time tearing each other down.

7. Love–brotherly affection leads us to love all of mankind. It can only come through God’s Spirit. For example, how can a parent love a murderer who killed his son or daughter. Only through the Spirit of God.

I’ll end this with verse 10. I know that most of these seven characteristics don’t sound like much fun. They are not meant to be. Growing in Christ is no easy task. But such a life pleases God. But please remember, it is not a matter of us just toughing it out and going to work on these characteristics. Though there is work on our part, we also have God’s Spirit within us to strengthen us. It all may sound difficult or even impossible, but there is also a great promise that goes along with it. Verse 10 says: Therefore, brothers (and sisters), be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, FOR IF YOU PRACTICE THESE QUALITIES YOU WILL NEVER FAIL. When Peter talks about election and call, he is talking about God’s work to bring us to Himself. But the second part is for us. Developing these seven characteristics will keep us from falling. There will be difficult times. But a believer who is seeking to grow in the Lord will not fall away. I love Psalm 37:23-24 in this regard. “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when He delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.”

To put it simply. God has our back!! It doesn’t get any better than that. Blessings.

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