There are some pretty bold statements in God's Word. God is not afraid to make audacious promises to His people. One of these is found in 2 Peter 1:10. Here we see God, through the Apostle Peter, state that "if you practice these things, you shall never fall."
Wow! This is such a bold claim. Especially considering that much of the New Testament letters consist of warnings not to fall away from the Lord-- "remain faithful until death..." (Revelation 2:10), "do not go on sinning" (Romans 6:1), to "be on guard so you are not carried away by error" (2 Peter 3:17), "some will depart from the faith..." (2 Timothy 4:1-2). The Lord even threatens the Churches of Asia that he will "war against them" and "remove their lampstand" unless they repent (Revelation 2-3). The passages above, alongside many passages of the like, make the point very clear that it is possible to fall away from the faith after recieving the forgiveness of sins. This is statement is contrary to what many in the religious world believe. However, simply pointing out that the "once saved always saved" teaching is false, is not our primary point of discussion in this article. Rather, I want to discuss what the Bible teaches about how to never fall.
Peter starts his second letter listing a number of qualities that God desires a Christian to have. He states "make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love" (2 Peter 1:5-7). The book of 2 Peter warns Christians against falling into the doctrines of false teachers and falling out of a saved relationship with Jesus. It is a massively bold claim, then, that Peter says after this list of qualities "if you practice these things you shall never fall" (2 Peter 1:10). Wow! If God promises here that these qualities are the antidote to falling away, then it's safe to say that this list is worth our attetion!
Let's take a moment and understand this list of Christian qualities!
Faith or "trust" in Jesus, the saving nature of His blood, and the authority of His Word is necessary. Faith is the starting point of being a Christian. Trust is the building block. If we do not trust Jesus and His authority, nothing else is even worth doing- it truly is the place to start.
This Greek word means "excellence of character." The Christian is expected to have a good character, be morally and ethically upstanding. We read of the early church having good standing in their community. (Acts 2:42-47).
Christians are not to be ignorant of God, His Word and His commands. Many in the religious world believe that knowledge of God is unimportant. We need to "build a relationship with Jesus, not just know Bible." Some say something along the lines of "the Pharisees knew God's Word but didn't know God" and come out saying that a heartfelt relationship is more important than learning. This is a false dichotomy. A heartfelt relationship is bred out of learning about God and His word. Growing in knowledge is necessary.
The core of Christianity is self control. It seems in this list, each of the qualities builds upon the previous. As our knowledge of God and His teachings grow, our self control will follow. Our actions follow our mind.
Steadfastness is endurance-- the ability to continue even when it's challenging. I see many people's spiritual journey buckle and end right here. Everything is fine and dandy until something else get's in the way-- even as a Christian and a minister, I continue to have trouble at this point. Spirituallity is easy on the mountain top, but the valley brings an entire new test.
Our aim should be to be like God. This is what Godliness means-- we want to be like God. In every decision we are faced with, every temptation, every thought can be appropriately combatted with "what would God do." We should desire to be set apart and holy like God. "Be Holy As I am Holy" (1 Peter 1:16).
- Brotherly Affection
Brotherly affection describes our relationships with others. Do you dislike other Christians? Do you easily get annoyed by others? We must learn to enjoy others' company. It is interesting that the previous qualities are all introspective, but the last two turn outward. We often hear "you don't have to like them, but you do have to love them." This is simply not true. We need to desire and work on developing true relationships with others.
Finally, the quality to cap all of it off is love. This is agape love. This means self sacrificial love toward God and others. Each quality listed above must be met with self sacrificial love toward God and others. There is an interesting balance here-- some people lean heavily into knowledge and self control, but do it without love, and the end result is rigid Christianity with no connection to Christ. Others lean so far into "love, love, love" but end up ditching the necessity of knowledge, an it comes out ushy-gushy with little to no boundaries. Both are ungdly.
After Peter presents this list. He states "if you practice these things and they are increasing, you shall never fall.
I would encourage you to work on these things one at a time. Pick one quality per day, or one per week and focus all day on that one thing! If you aren't in a saved relationship with God, having been covered in the blood of Jesus, let me know!