Seven Outgrowths of Faith
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
“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.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)
“Having escaped the corruption that is in the world” (v. 4) through our “faith” in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we must now grow spiritually, conforming our nature and practice to His. We must put to use the divine nature we now possess, recognizing that He has provided all the resources we need.
In this passage, Peter assumes we already have “faith,” thus here our spiritual lives must begin. Peter instructs us to “add to” that faith seven character traits: virtue, knowledge, temperance (self-control), patience (perseverance), godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (agape love).
There seems to be, both in the text (i.e., “add to”) and in practice, a progression here. As new Christians, we should strive for virtue, eliminating sinful actions and thoughts from our lives, as the Holy Spirit brings conviction. A commitment to growth in knowledge, first the basics of the faith and then deeper doctrines, enables us to exercise wisdom in life’s choices. A self-controlled, disciplined lifestyle exercises perseverance, even strength in the face of adversity, which in turn produces godliness—an attitude of reverence toward God that strives to please Him by developing His attitudes and priorities. Our relations with others will thus be marked by brotherly kindness toward believers and agape love (self-sacrificing, undeserved love) for all.
Such spiritual growth does not come without effort. He has provided all we need, but we must “give all diligence” to the process, much more than simply allowing the Holy Spirit to reside in our hearts to work on our character and habits. Any lack of spiritual growth is our fault, not His. JDM