“SUPPLEMENT YOUR … VIRTUE WITH KNOWLEDGE”
2 Peter 1:5
1. The way to growth and assurance is put this way: “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge …”
2. Throughout this epistle, Peter places an emphasis on the significance and value of knowledge.
a. 2 Peter 1:2,3,8
b. 2 Peter 2:20
c. 2 Peter 3:18
3. Obviously we are talking about something more than just knowledge in general or knowledge for the sake of knowledge. What is it? And why is it so crucial to fruitful and faithful living?
1. Let’s start with the second question first. Why does knowledge receive the emphasis it is given in these graces and in this epistle?
a. One reason is that Peter was addressing a situation in which the thought of knowledge in the Christian life was being abused and neglected.
i. Chapter 2 suggests that he was writing to people who claimed a real knowledge of God and of Christ, but continued in immoral behavior.
ii. In fact, “knowledge” may have been a catch-phrase of theirs; they may have been boasting that their knowledge was already complete, that they had deeper knowledge than anybody else.
iii. Peter is saying to them, and to us, that true knowledge of Christ not only produces grace and peace in the life; it also produces holiness.
b. Another reason for Peter’s accent on knowledge is its necessary relationship to the other qualities he names in 1:5-7.
i. In one way, faith and virtue grow out of knowledge.
1. You can’t believe and trust what you don’t know. That’s why knowing the word produces faith (cf. Rom. 10:17).
2. Neither can you practice moral excellence unless you know what is good.
ii. In another way, though, both faith and virtue lead to knowledge.
1. Faith gives you a framework within which to understand the world and life in it (cf. Heb. 11:3).
2. And, moral goodness enables you to comprehend the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
iii. Neither the qualities that come before or after knowledge could exist apart from its being present and increasing.
c. But there’s a third reason for the apostle’s interest in growth in knowledge: it is the scriptures’ consistent emphasis upon loving God with the mind.
i. Christianity is not merely a matter of personal faith and practical goodness; the intellectual element in our personalities also has an important place.
ii. As you read the Bible, you can’t miss the fact that the presence or absence of knowledge makes all the difference.
1. Hosea 4:1,6
2. Luke 12:34
3. Romans 10:2-3
iii. We are to love God with all our heart, and with all our soul, but also with all our mind (Matt. 22:37). A hunger for understanding, the discipline of thought, and the effort of discovery are all essential.
2. But there is another side to this: What is it, after all, that we’re to know? What is this knowledge that we are called to add to our faith and virtue?
a. Consider first the word Peter uses.
i. One thing that may escape us as we read the English is that a different term is used in verse 5 from the one used in verses 2, 3 and 8.
ii. The word he used in the other three verses seems to refer to “a larger and more thorough knowledge” of the Lord. It was a way of saying to the false teachers that there is not a more valuable knowledge than what is learned from the gospel that makes a person a Christian to start with.
iii. But the word he uses in verse 5 has to do with “practical wisdom” or “the knowledge which distinguishes the good from the bad.” Barclay defined it as “that knowledge which enables a man to decide rightly and to act honorably and efficiently in the day to day circumstances and situations of life.”
b. We can see, then, what the apostle is calling for us to do.
i. He is calling for us to learn more and more how to live!
ii. He is interested in something more than our “knowing the scriptures.” He wants us to know what the scriptures mean and how their instruction applies in the crucible of everyday life.
iii. Faith must be at work in a life of moral goodness and courage, and this must be backed up by a steadily increasing knowledge of the way of the Lord.
c. But, when you think about it, you can see that what that leads to is what the first word was talking about – a deeper and more thorough knowledge of God.
i. Colossians 1:9-10
ii. Jeremiah 9:23-24
iii. Philippians 3:7-8, 10
3. How, then, are we to add knowledge to our faith and virtue? How are we to go about supplementing our virtue with practical wisdom?
a. It starts with an intentional decision to discern the difference between the good from the bad – we will not add what we have not decided to add.
i. This will mean placing a priority on knowledge in a way which brings to my life the discipline of prayer and study and thought by which understanding comes.
ii. In this busy and constantly stimulating world, with so many things calling for our attention, this is not easy.
iii. Eph. 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:15
b. The knowledge we’re after is gained in the practical exercise of moral goodness.
i. In other words, the practice of virtue will lead to a fuller knowledge of Christ.
ii. Philippians 1:9-11
iii. Hebrews 5:14
c. Peter’s letter also suggests that the knowledge we are to add must be stirred by memory of, and reflection upon, what is already known.
i. Several times he mentions that he realizes what his readers have already learned.
ii. “But,” he says, “I’m writing to stir up your memory so that when I’ve made my departure you will be able at any time to recall these things.”
iii. Knowledge doesn’t depend upon something new that no one has ever thought of before. It may come from paying more attention to what has already been heard.
1. The knowledge of Christ spans the whole arch of the Christian journey.
a. It begins with the knowledge of him who calls us by his own glory and virtue (v. 3).
b. It continues in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (v. 2).
c. And it will end in the full knowledge of him who has made possible all the graces in the lives of the redeemed.
2. Do you want to know him?