II Peter Chapters 1 through 3
The Bible has a lot to say about self-control. One of the main passages that deal with this matter is found in this week’s reading, chapter 1:3-5. “God’s divine power has given us everything (not just some things, but everything) we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these, 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.” Isn’t that what you desire: to escape the corruption (alcohol abuse, gambling, drug addiction, gluttony, porn, anger, etc.) in the world caused by evil desires? Sure you do. But how do you escape these things? The next sentence tells us: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue (goodness); and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control…” (vs. 5).
The first thing you must do to have self-control is to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. This makes you a partaker of God’s divine nature. Self-control is God’s attribute. He will give it to those who are born again. But self-control is not given at conversion. It comes by adding to our faith. After you are born again, you must add to your new faith: virtue or goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. Please notice that the Apostle Peter does not give us a haphazard list of virtues we should possess; instead, he gives us a progressive list of Christian qualities that produce continuous growth. Look carefully at the list and notice how each virtue gives birth to another each in its respective order.
First, we need faith. Without it, you can’t be saved. Yet, it does not end there, sad to say for many Christians it does! So it starts with faith. Then we add goodness or ‘virtue, a life dedicated to following God. Then we add knowledge, then we add self-control. It ends with love! Peter says, “…and to knowledge, add self-control…” Self-control follows the gaining of knowledge. So if we want to get self-control what do we have to do? Get knowledge. What kind of knowledge is Peter talking about here? Is he talking about collecting a lot of information? Is he talking about scientific knowledge or mathematical knowledge? No. He is talking about ‘spiritual’ knowledge. It is amazing how many people spend their lives collecting information about sports, business, health and everything else but when it comes to spiritual knowledge they are illiterate! How do we get spiritual knowledge? Through reading God’s Word, through prayer and through fellowship with other Christians, through quiet times with God, and through worship.
The bottom line here is that in order to get to self-control, we need to get spiritual knowledge. If knowledge is essential in order to have self-control, then the lack of knowledge destroys self-control. Lack of knowledge is simply believing in false information. Much of the information that people have gathered about life is simply not true and as a result, they struggle with self-control. We need to gather true knowledge, true information, not just information. Jesus said in John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” What sets you free? Knowing the truth. The opposite is also true. Lies will keep you bound. Jesus called Satan the “father of lies.” Satan will lie to us so that we stay bound in sin and hurtful habits. When we believe these lies we lose control of our lives. If you want self-control, gaining spiritual knowledge. Truth is the path on which we must walk. Are you on that path?