5 “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.“ (2 Peter 1:5–7 ESV).
The Holy Spirit commands believers, through the Apostle Peter, to supplement, or add, to their saving faith. This supplementation is not contributing to their justification but rather it is a necessary component of each believer’s sanctification. Sanctification is the believer’s growth in holiness.
Pastor Burk Parsons explains that, “Even though a certain degree of mystery may exist with respect to how we are sanctified in holiness, without which no one will see the Lord, we do know this: Our sanctification is established on Him who knew no sin but became sin for us and died for us that we might die in Him and live for Him in order that we might reign with Him without the power or presence of sin within us. It is only then that our countenances will reveal our genuine and uninterrupted contentment in the One who has bid us to come and die and live in Him.”
Believers are to add to their faith virtue or godly character and moral excellence. To virtue, believers in Christ are to add knowledge.
Knowledge (γνῶσις; gnosis) in this context refers to biblical knowledge. It is knowledge by the Holy Spirit which is focused on the person and work of Jesus Christ and which is found in the Scriptures. In other words, a follower of Christ is not to be biblically ignorant: either of the truth of God’s Word or the application of said truth.
However, we must be on our guard that our pursuit of knowledge does not become a snare of arrogance. If knowledge for knowledge sake becomes our goal, then even the study of the Bible can become an idol replacing knowing God with a knowledge of God. This can never be.
As one pastor wisely wrote, “Theology can become a game, a power game to see who can display the most erudition. When it is such a game it proceeds from an unholy passion. A holy passion is a passion inflamed by a godly motive. To pursue knowledge of God to further our understanding of Him and deepen our love for Him is to embark on a quest which delights Him. Knowing the truth is the most liberating power in the world. Not the power to dominate; not the power to impress: These are not the powers we seek. But the power to set free—to give true liberty—is tied to a knowledge of the truth.”
Another pastor writes, “Knowledge means understanding, correct insight, truth properly comprehended and applied. This virtue involves a diligent study and pursuit of truth in the word of God.”
Pastor Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “Spiritual knowledge of Christ will be a personal knowledge. I cannot know Jesus through another person’s acquaintance with Him. I must know Him myself; I must know Him on my own account. It will be an intelligent knowledge–I must know Him not as in the visionary dreams of Him, but as the Word reveals Him. I must know His natures, divine and human. I must know His offices (Prophet, Priest and King)–His attributes–His works–His shame–His glory. I must meditate upon Him until I “comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. It will be an affectionate knowledge of Him; indeed, if I know Him at all, I must love Him. An ounce of heart knowledge is worth a ton of head learning. Our knowledge of Him will be a satisfying knowledge. When I know my Savior, my mind will be full to the brim–I will feel that I have that which my spirit longs for. This is the bread that satisfies all hunger.
Spurgeon continues by saying, “At the same time it will be an exciting knowledge; the more I know of my Beloved, the more I will want to know. The higher I climb, the loftier will be the summits that invite my eager footsteps. I shall want more as I get more. Like the miser’s treasure, my gold will make me covet more. To conclude, this knowledge of Christ Jesus will be a most happy one; in fact, so elevating that sometimes it will completely lift me above all trials and doubts and sorrows; and it will, while I enjoy it, make me something more than “Man . . . born of a woman . . . few of days and full of trouble,” for it will throw about me the immortality of the ever-living Savior and cover me with the golden cloak of His eternal joy. Come, my soul, sit at Jesus’ feet, and learn of Him all this day.”
Are you actively pursuing the truth of God and striving to add biblical knowledge to your moral excellence? They go hand in hand.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!