Look at 2nd Peter 1:4-8. I stole this from my friends at daniel11truth, even though it’s off the path of their professed direction (the impending rapture of the Believers as prophesied in chapter 11 of Daniel, which will arrive in the next two months or so, we think). I’ve written many pieces explaining why it’s important to continue to grow as a Christian (see Spiritual Korea, which hits the topic as well as I can hit it). But I’ve never approached it from Peter’s point of view, as this article does. Start with the post-greeting introduction to the second epistle of Peter…
4 … He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith –goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;
7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In other words, keep adding to you faith to become mature and productive.
Below the chart, I briefly connect Peter’s instructions to my steps above.
In general, maturity takes time because you’re “building faith”, each time you add a level. As illustrated below, ‘all’ of these qualities increase ‘proportionally’ as you mature.
In other words, you don’t maintain the same amount of ‘faith’ because you become ‘more certain’ as you gain ‘more knowledge’ and everything else.
1. Faith is the ‘root’ of everything because it’s impossible to please God without faith. (Heb. 11:6)
2. Goodness is the ‘initial change’ experienced by all Christians because we are a ‘new creation’. (2 Cor. 5:17) Notice that ‘knowledge’ is not even necessary for this step because it’s just ‘common sense goodness’.
3. Knowledge is the basic building block of ‘faith’. (Rom. 10:17) You can’t go any higher without ‘knowledge’ of God’s Word.
4. Self-control is fourth because you can’t get there until you gain enough ‘knowledge’ to know what’s important not to do. As I said, God knows you will make mistakes but they will diminish as you mature and your ‘spirit’ gets stronger.
5. Perseverance is “holding onto one’s faith” in times of trouble or persecution. Notice that it’s achieved after mastering ‘self-control’ (words and actions), which gets you closer to God, so you can resist the devil. (James 4:7)
6. Godliness is when your desires begin to align with God’s and you start to see what His perfect will is for your life. (Rom. 12:2)
7. Brotherly kindness is ‘doing things for others’, not because you have to, but because you want to. (step 7) Notice how high this step is. This is different from simple ‘goodness’. It takes sufficient ‘faith’, ‘knowledge’, and ‘godliness’ to know how God wants you to ‘serve’. Then, you might be led to do something in church or somewhere else. Remember: It takes all parts of the body and no part is more important than the others. (1 Cor. 12:14-26)
8. Love is the final step but this is not an ‘ordinary love’. John said, “Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Paul said, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8) As you can see, Peter’s scale goes all the way to the top. I am always encouraged when someone forgives a person on death row. That takes a lot of maturity. Yet, how many would take that prisoner’s place? Jesus did.
Where are you on Peter’s maturity scale? I fear I’m stuck on step four myself. Faith I have, goodness I have, knowledge I have. Self-control? That’s where I struggle. I know that perseverance is still beyond me, at least on any consistent basis. Because of my lack of self-control, I still have too many nights where my physical pain is overwhelming, and the devil’s underlings start on me to end the pain forever. And I know it would be so easy. Since I’m still here, typing away to you, you know that they’ve yet to win that battle. So far, the Lord has always strengthened my self-control enough to keep me here, fighting His battles as I’m supposed to. But if my self-control was where it’s supposed to be, I wouldn’t be susceptible to those attacks. I would be able to persevere without needing to lock medicines away.