- Preaching the Living WORD through the Written WORD - 2 Tim 4:2 -
REFINEMENTS OF CHRISTIAN VIRTUE: MORAL EXCELLENCE
(2Pe 1:5 from vss. 3-10) 8-12-12
Grace Bible Church, Gillette, Wyoming
Pastor Daryl Hilbert
I. PERCEIVE THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOD’S POWER (3)
II. PERCEIVE THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOD’S WORD (4)
III. POSSESS THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOD’S SALVATION (5)
IV. PURSUE THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOD’S CHARACTER (5)
A. The Believer is to Cooperate with God’s Sanctification
1. Though salvation through saving faith is without works, sanctification is another matter. The believer can only receive Christ’s finished work on the cross for salvation through faith. And even though sanctification (God’s work in the believer after he is saved) is wrought by God in the believer, God designed the believer’s cooperation, pursuit, and obedience as part of it.
2. The prime example is found in Phil 2:12-13. In vs. 13, Paul states that God is the One working in the believer’s will and actions to bring about sanctification. Yet in vs. 12, in regard to the believer’s sanctification (sometimes referred to as complete “salvation”) the believer is to “work out” (through obedience) what God has worked in his life.
B. The Believer is to Cooperate with Christian Virtue
1. Christian Virtue is part of God’s sanctification. Therefore, the believer plays a part in that he is to “apply all diligence” in adding Christian Virtue.
a) This word for “apply” (pareispher,ō) is an emphatic action of coming alongside (para), to bring (pherō), into (eis) great effort. Literally it is “having applied all diligence” (aorist active participle - pareispher,ō) to show that the results come only after the action.
b) It is to be applied with “diligence” (spoudê), a word that means with urgent haste (Luk 1:39), serious earnestness (Jude 1:3), and great fervency (Rom 12:11).
c) Furthermore, it is to be applied diligently with nothing held back at all times (pas - all or every).
d) So it becomes the believer’s task to give of his earnest, urgent, and utmost effort to grow in Christ and Christlike Virtue.
2. In connection with the believer’s saving faith, he must diligently “supply” Christian Virtue. “Supply” (epichorêge,ō) is an interesting word with poignant ramifications.
a) Literally it means “one who provides out of his own expense” (Friberg). Figuratively it means to provide in addition or add to. It means to fit or furnish with complete supplies generously and lavishly (cp. 2 Cor. 9:10; 1 Pet. 4:11; 2Pe 1:11).
b) This verb is in the imperative mood (command) which confirms that the believer is to exercise God’s divine power granted to him.
3. Peter names a list of seven virtues, that if the believer applies them into his life, will bring fruitfulness and keep him from stumbling. They are moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.
REFINEMENTS OF CHRISTIAN VIRTUE
I. MORAL EXCELLENCE
A. Explanation of Moral Excellence (Virtue)
1. In general, a virtue is a positive trait or quality deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. (Wikipedia)
2. The Greeks believed anything excellent is virtuous, a symmetrical chimney, a sturdy horse, or a courageous man. It was merely being the best you can be at whatever endeavor you were attempting. Aristotle believed ultimate virtue was the medium of two extremes (“Doctrine of the Mean”), Homer saw it as a courageous warrior, Seneca, as perfect prudence, Immanuel Kant, a melancholy analytical principled mind, and Judaism, the golden rule.
3. Though most ideas of virtue are generally helpful to mankind, the problem arises when deciding whose idea of virtue is correct. In other words, who ultimately decides what is morally excellent and what is not? Furthermore, where does one’s virtue come from?
B. Difference Between Christian & Secular Moral Excellence
1. Peter’s second epistle includes the Greek word aretê,, translated “moral excellence” (NASB). He lays down principles for understanding Christian Virtue as opposed to Secular Virtue.
a) Christian Virtue (aretê, from 2 Peter)
(1) Provided by God’s power (2Pe 1:3)
(2) Determined in Scripture (2Pe 1:4)
(3) Based upon saving faith and the new nature (2Pe 1:5)
(4) Connected with God’s own glory (2Pe 1:3 cp. 1Pe 2:9)
b) Secular Virtue
(1) Provided by human weakness
(2) Determined by mass human reasoning
(3) Based upon man’s innate “goodness” (depravity)
(4) Connected with man’s assumed achievements
B. Scriptural Usages of Moral Excellence (aretê,)
1. It is based upon the Moral Excellency of God
a) It refers to the praise, glory, honor, splendor, and excellence of God’s moral perfections (LXX - aretê, - Isa 42:8, 12; 43:21; 63:7; Hab 3:3; Zec 6:13; 1Pe 2:9).
2. It emulates the moral excellence of God (2Pe 1:3 cp. 2Pe 1:5)
3. It involves the believer’s pursuit of excellence in values and integrity (Phil 4:8).
a) The believer is to pursue excellence in all truthfulness.
(1) (alêthê,s - truthful and trustworthy, Psa 25:11; Psa 117:2; Joh 14:6 ).
(2) He is to be truthful with doctrine, (1Pe 1:22) speech (Eph 4:25), and behavior (Pro 3:3).
b) The believer is to pursue excellence in all honor.
(1) (semno,s - serious, good character).
(2) He is to be honorable in character and integrity (2Co 8:21; 1Ti 3:11; Tit 2:2).
c) The believer is to pursue excellence in all righteousnesss.
(1) (dikaios - morally and ethically upright - 1Jo 2:1).
(2) He is to be in right relationship with God and men (Mat 5:6; 1Jo 3:7; 1Pe 3:14).
d) The believer is to pursue excellence in all purity.
(1) (hagno,s - moral purity and innocent - 1Jo 3:3).
(2) He is to be pure in motives and morality (Pro 19:9; 2Co 7:11 cp. Tit 1:15).
e) The believer is to pursue excellence in all gracious disposition
(1) (prosphilês - kindly afftectioned, well disposed).
(2) He is to be gracious and pleasing in disposition towards all others (cp. Apoc. Sir 4:7; 20:13).
f) The believer is to pursue excellence in all reputation.
(1) (eu,phêmos - good report or commendable).
(2) He is to do all things for and in keeping with a good testimony (cp. Act 6:3; 1Ti 3:7).
g) The believer is to pursue excellence in all praiseworthiness.
(1) (e,painos - high evaluation - Psa 22:3).
(2) He is to have conduct worthy of praise (Rom 13:3; 1Pe 1:7).
4. Moral excellence (Christian Virtue) is the believer’s character emanating from God’s moral excellence and power in the believer. The believer is to pursue the excellence of virtue in every aspect of his spiritual life and in everything he says and does.