Christ is central to our belief system. Christ sacrificed everything. It takes faith in Him to reach heaven. It was His gift of grace that saved our souls. But, what do we do once we have faith in Him? What are we supposed to do after we have accepted grace?
Do we just sit, and think about grace? Do we just leave our faith alone? No, we add to it.
But, what are we to add to something as awesome as faith in Christ? What can possibly equal the importance of the grace of Almighty God? Why would we want to tack on “extras” to the faith that keeps us from hell and guarantees us heaven?
2 Peter 1:5-7 says, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” There are several things that we can add, and according to this passage we are to add them in order. God would not have put them in order, if He did not want us to pay close attention to that detail.
What are these things? A simple list is: virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. We will look more specifically at virtue and what it means to add this to our faith.
Virtue can be defined as behavior showing high moral standards. Virtue itself is only used in the New Testament six times; the first time it is mentioned, Jesus was the main subject.
Mark 5:22 “And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him. And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?”
This woman with the issue of blood, an impurity, was healed just by touching Jesus garments. Jesus was so virtuous that He was able to heal a woman just by the touch of His clothing. Jesus noticed that His virtue had gone out of Him in this process; this implies that virtue and purity go hand in hand. His morality, His purity, was so substantial that the impurities in the woman’s blood disappeared after coming in contact with Christ. A Christian that is virtuous is pure in every aspect of our lives—not just physically pure, but also mentally and doctrinally pure.
This is the purest essence of virtue, absolute purity. But, this is not the only meaning of the word virtue.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, which bases many definitions off of biblical context, has ten different definitions for this word. The first two deal with strength or bravery, which all combine in the third definition: “Moral goodness; the practice of moral duties and the abstaining from vice, or a conformity of life and conversation to the moral law. In this sense, virtue may be, and in many instances must be, distinguished from religion. The practice of moral duties merely from motives of convenience, or from compulsion, or from regard to reputation, is virtue as distinct from religion. The practice of moral duties from sincere love to God and his laws, is virtue and religion. In this sense it is true.”
In the Bible, virtue is given a very high regard and high price. In Proverbs 12:4, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband,” a virtuous woman is well-regarded. Proverbs 31:10 says, “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” we see that her virtue has gained her an extremely high price. “Far above rubies,” rubies are in fact the most expensive gems in the world, considerably rarer than any diamond, and can be worth ten times as much! Yet, God places the price of virtue even higher.
In the passage that we started with, we are instructed to add virtue to our faith, but look a few verses before in 2 Peter 1:3, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”. Christ’s divine power gave us all things that pertain unto life, bringing our dead spirits back to life, and godliness, those things which pertain to God. But, it is our knowledge of Him that calls us to glory and virtue. Not only are we instructed to add this to our faith, but we are also called of God to glorify Him and have virtue—the practice of moral duties, and the abstaining from vice.
Salvation, the free gift of God, calls you and I to be a virtuous, morally upright people. We are not given the opportunity to sin freely because of God’s grace. We will sin, we will fail, we will fall; but we are called to live virtuously. When God looks at you and I He sees the blood of His Son, the spotless Lamb of God. This does NOT give you and I the freedom to live as we please or sin whenever we want!
Philippians 4:1-9 states, “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Things that are true, honest, pure, just, lovely, and good report are linked to virtue in this verse. We cannot be a virtuous person and sin freely. If we are willingly committing sin or omitting those things which God has commanded, then we are no longer living up to our calling of virtue; and we are most definitely not glorifying God.
Live a virtuous life—abstain from sin and evil, and live up to God’s moral code of purity, chastity, and truth. This is just the first addition to our faith.
~Tim J. Bish