In this message, Todd focuses on 2 Peter 1:1-11 and encourages us not simply to know about God but to have a true knowledge of God through a relationship with him. A relationship cultivated and developed by a disciplined life.
A Diligent and Right Response to "These Things"
A Reminder of How and When "Joy to the World" Comes
Saints and Scoffers Running out of Time
False Teaching and False Teachers: the Difference and the Danger of Both
False Teaching is a Trap
Lot: the Trampled Spring That Is Wonderfully Saved and a Horrible Warning
The Grace and Truth False Teachers Miss and the Judgment They Won’t
The Words and Ways of the False Teacher and What to Do about It
Stirring Truth That Makes Men Useful
The Choreographed Christian Life
Fear the Poison, Not the Persecution
Well, good morning! That's kind of a dramatic segue, isn't it? Are we about to go under? I don't know. Good morning. How's everybody doing in Dallas and Fort Worth and Plano? It's good to be together, isn't it? It is. Yeah. Well, listen, we don't want to go under, and that's why we're studying 2 Peter.
Peter did not want the church to go under when he was about to be undergoing persecution to the point of death. Peter knew that he, as one of the bedrocks of the church, one of the men to whom Jesus said, "Hey, listen, I'm out of here. You're going to stay for a while. The things, in effect, that I've taught you in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also," was about to be martyred.
This is Peter's effort to say to us, people who would follow after him, "Hold fast. Let's not pervert this thing. Let's not make it something it was never meant to be. And by the way, there are those who know about your Jesus but who don't truly know Jesus who are not teaching you what Jesus taught you. So there is a storm coming.
There's a storm without you, it is persecution, and it will beat you down and make you want to run from being faithful unless you remember that you shouldn't fear the one that can destroy the body but fear the one that can destroy the body and cast the soul into hell forever. There was a guy who was here who conquered death. There was a guy who was here that was God in the flesh, and he overcame death.
His name was Jesus. He was the visible image of the invisible God. He's seated at the right hand of the father right now. He has prepared a place for us to go to be with him. He's going to come again, not as a lamb, but as a lion. He will judge the quick and the dead, the living and the dead. All men will give an account. So fear him. Don't fear Nero.
By the way, there's another thing to concern yourself with. It's not persecution from without, but it's poison from within those that say that they are part of the faith. There is a storm brewing, both without and within. Your flesh is deceitful. Your flesh is always going to want to tell you that there's a way that's better than God's way. Listen to the Spirit. Don't sow to the flesh or you will reap destruction. Listen to the Spirit of God, which you now have because of your knowledge of who Jesus is."
This is the way that Peter is talking to the church. Some of you are here this morning, and all you have is your own power or your own sense of what is right, and you are powerless to do what God wants you to do. You might have a conscience and you might have outward consequence to choices that are destructive…where either society imprisons you or friends leave you…which somehow help you to conquer some of the more grievous stupidity which you're a part of, but you're ultimately powerless to live your life in a way that would be pleasing to God.
What you need to do is go, "I am impulsive. I am a coward. I am wayward. I need somebody who can save me." That's what Peter has presented. That's who Jesus was for him. What he's saying is that now that he's come to understand who Jesus is, God has reconciled him back into relationship with God. Now he is in relationship and has the Spirit of God. Peter knows that God is good and that his way is right and true.
So although his flesh still lives, he can escape the corruption that is in the world through lust, of wanting to do what we want to do. He can cling and hold fast to the truth, and his life will take on an entirely different tone. It will become melodious. It will become a thing of beauty and wonder. It will become excellent.
Though he is slandered for his crazy belief, others will go, "You know, as crazy as what they believe is, the way they live suggests that maybe they know something that we don't know." And when God ultimately comes to judge them, they will say, "Lord, thank you that you put before me a constant example that I could escape judgment through his preaching and I could escape corruption through his practical living."
Peter is saying, "I'm about to be out. Careful that you don't listen to your deceitful flesh. Careful that you don't try and earn your way to God by controlling your flesh and making it righteous enough for God. Careful that you don't have people who pull you away to error. Hold fast to truth. Hold fast to Jesus. They are one and the same." That's 2 Peter. It is serious stuff.
If you've ever wondered, "How can I know that I'm not deluded but that I am, in fact, a partaker of the divine nature?" then today is your day. If you've ever wondered how you can continue in your salvation and become what God wants to you be, then today is the day. This is one of my favorite passages in Scripture.
If you've been around Watermark for long, you know that when people ask me, "What's your favorite book?" it is usually the one that I'm diving the deepest in, not racing through like The Journey. Why do we call this The Journey? It is a flat-out sprint through the Bible, amen? Yeah, the couple of you who try to keep up with us know. It is a journey, and what we're doing…
Sometimes it's good to read the Bible the way it was written. It was written as a metanarrative, a larger story. It's not a bunch of rules to tell you how to behave so you can be loved by God. That is error. That's a lie. Don't believe it! You can't earn your way. God is not trying to tell you to follow a bunch of rules.
He's trying to tell you that he is a divine lover who wants to rescue you from the reality that you have left him and, therefore, your world and your life is a mess. You become lonely, isolated, and angry and you storm into a school full of powerless people and kill them because you couldn't connect with them. God says, "There's a better way. Connect with me. Re-engage with me, and I'll teach you how to re-engage with others, to deal with your own sin, and get the log out of your own eye.
By the way, I want to tell you that what you're seeing happening in our country is just the fruit of what happens when you have adults, people, who reject truth and who don't train up their child in the way of righteousness. They are panicked and fearful, and they are angry. They don't know what to do.
Because of the world that we live in, they have access to destroy people, and I'll tell you what. If they didn't have guns, they would use machetes and other things. All right? I am a firm believer that if you outlaw guns then only outlaws will have guns (if you care to know my position on that). All right?
What I would say to this, though, is that you'd better learn how to not be an outlaw and how to use everything you have for the purpose of being a blessing to others, to be a protector and a provider of others, and not some impulsive fool. You're only going to see these things escalate because you have people who are, frankly, absolutely out of touch with anything except pain, and hurt people hurt people. When you tell kids that there is no vision for hope it says the people are unrestrained, and it is scary to live around unrestrained people.
Second Peter is the solution. This is a great book. Let me just read to you this Scripture. We're going to go back and read verses 1 through 4, which we looked at last week. We read a lot. I started to show you that this is no isolated idea. What you're going to see when you read the Bible is that it is an amazingly consistent book. It was written by 40 different people over 10 centuries in three different languages on three different continents. Did you hear that?
If I grabbed a bunch of people over the course of a thousand years, gave them all kinds of cultures, everything from shepherds to kings, Jew and Gentiles, then said, "Why don't you tell me a story about life, man's problem, man's origin, man's destiny, and the solution to man's problem?" it would be absolutely chaotic unless there was one author that ran through it.
I'm going to talk about that specifically next week. There was one author, and he is divine. God took all those different instruments and wove together a beautiful symphony. That's his Word. What I showed you last week is that this highly educated Pharisee thought the exact same thing about the greatest threat to the church as this fisherman who was plucked out of darkness.
So we spent a lot of time, as we dove into 2 Peter, looking at Paul, because I was trying to convince you that this stuff matters. It matters for our very kids. In liberal, crazy places like Oregon, lives are at stake, and so are the lives of your very kids. Do you want to see your kids go to college and not tube it?
Listen today because they need to see in you a genuine faith. They don't need to see you going to church. They need to see you walking with Jesus. If they see you walk with Jesus and if your life is defined by all that is right and good and true and pure and lovely, of good repute, full of excellence, and worthy of praise they will want that, ultimately.
Second Peter, chapter 1: "Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours…" Peter is saying, "What I have access to, you have access to."
"…by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
For by these [his glory and his excellence.] He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust."
That's what we covered last week. All right? I told you at the very end of last week… I spent probably 10 minutes on that, and I spent probably 30-plus minutes on telling you why he wrote this book. Let me just give you just some massive applications from what we went over last week, okay? It would go like this…
1._ No matter who you have been, what you can be is useful to God and a blessing to others._ It doesn't matter where you've been or what you've done. Peter is saying, "I've met Jesus and he changes people. I walked with him for three years. I saw him take lame guys and make them run. I saw him take blind guys and make them see. I saw him take impulsive, cowardly, untrained fishermen and make them steadfast, courageous, and full of wisdom. I don't care where you've been; you're without excuse if you know Jesus."
That's what Peter is trying to let you know. This Jesus is the pivot point of your hope. He's the pivot point of your eternity, and he can use you. He can do more than just save you; he can make you useful. Peter said, "You have the same faith as me if you know Jesus. That's all you need to know. Know him."
2._ The difference between common men and men who God commends is their commitment to Christ._ You need to know this. Peter says, "The thing that will separate you…" Scripture says that wisdom will vindicate herself by her deeds. Proverbs says that by his deeds does a young man distinguishes himself if his conduct is pure and right. Peter is about to tell you how, through your commitment to Christ, your conduct can change. Your entire world can change.
You can become somebody who is a source of awe to others. They will literally stand back and watch you and go, "That, my friends, is how you raise a family. That, my friends, is how you walk as a single person. That, my friends, is what a high school student in all of his glory should look like. That, my friends, is how a man should die.
That is how somebody should grow old. That is how somebody should handle betrayal by a spouse. That is how somebody should take all the riches that can come by being an entrepreneurial, gifted, set-up, blessed person in Dallas, Texas. That's how they should use money."
The difference between a common man and men who God commends is their commitment to Christ. It grows out of their understanding of Christ. Peter is going to tell you today how you can be an uncommon person. You are a supernatural person. The word super is Latin for above or beyond. So there is Superman. He can fly; most men can't. He can stop a speeding locomotive; most men can't. He is faster than a speeding bullet; most men aren't. He is a super man.
A super man can control his flesh and not be a slave to lust; most men can't. She can be a source of glory, and strength and dignity are her clothing; most women aren't and that's not their clothing. You want to be a super woman or a super man? Jesus is the way.
This is great. Do you guys get this? All I get to do is tell you this. I don't get anything if you agree with me except the privilege of blessing you with truth. That's all Peter is saying. Together, we get to collectively live and spur each other on to more of this, okay? So how about this.
3._ Every one of us has access to everything we need to be everything our God ever wanted us to be_ (and not just our God, but our wife, our kids, and our world). In Philippians 4:19, Paul says, "My God has supplied all your needs through the glory that is in Christ Jesus." Everything you need is here.
It doesn't mean everything you need to buy a Range Rover or everything you need to have a lake house. It says everything that you need to be the person that God wants you to be. Every one of us. There is nobody in this room that is denied access to everything that you need so that you can be everything your wife, your world, your work, and your kids ever wanted. The question is whether you will tap into it. Today you're going to learn how to tap into it.
Here we go. This is 2 Peter 1:1-4 as clearly as I can say it, okay? Here's the summary of these verses. The person, who is Jesus, gives you grace and peace. That's verse 2. So Peter is saying, "I'm Simon Peter. I met Jesus. There's a person. His name is Jesus. He gives grace and peace."
The person who gives you grace and peace, this Jesus, has divine power. He can do what nobody else can do. That's verse 3. His divine power has granted to us everything that we need because he is glorious and excellent. It says, then, that his precious promises have told you that you can become partakers of his divine nature.
So look, if you have a Bible, I hope you're writing in it, okay? Some people don't want to write in their Bible because they go, "I don't know, is that somehow desecrating the Word of God?" No. It is helping you understand it. It is illuminating. It is opening up. If you ever wonder what's inspired and what's not, the stuff that came with your Bible when you bought it; that's inspired. Your handwriting is not, okay?
But here are some basic… Just think. The person (verse 1) who gives peace (verse 2) through his promises (verse 3) can make you partakers of the divine nature (verse 4). Do you want to live a divine life and escape the corruption that is in the world by lust? Tune in. Look at verse 5. I'm going to read verses 5 through 7, and we'll pick those apart.
"Now…" Given that there is a divine man who has given you his divine power so that you might be partakers of the divine nature, here is how you can live a divine life. I love this. It's just so simple. It's like a fisherman wrote it to other idiots, so it's accessible to you and me. "Hey, I know a divine person. He has divine power. He's made some divine promises so you can be a divine partaker of a divine life." Here's how you'll have a divine life. This is how you can know that you know the divine person. This is how you can finish the race well.
"Now…" Given that you know him. "…for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love."
You go, "I knew it! It's rigged! There's a ladder of works there. I knew I had to work. I knew it!" Even worse… I'm going to forge ahead. Because if you don't… It says, "For if these qualities are yours…" Which seems to imply that if they're not, what's going to happen? You might say, "If I'm not that guy that is morally excellent, bowed up in the brain, self-disciplined, persevering, godly, full of kindness, and loving like God is, then I'm screwed."
I'll tell you what. I don't know if you're screwed. You might be. Don't be offended by that word. The biblical word for screwed is lost, like destined for hell, okay? So what's more offensive? Somebody who is 60 is going, "Screwed is more offensive. Honey, we're never coming back. Screwed is definitely more offensive." It probably is.
So look, listen to me. Peter is saying, "Do you want to know how you can have a life that is increasing?" That's the goal. Peter is saying, "Let's not just get saved and then just skim through. Let's have a life that increases, that becomes more, so we're not useless or unfruitful." A useless life is an early death, isn't it? I mean, when your life is useless, you're like, "Why do I get out of bed? Why do I live? What's my purpose?" That's an early death.
That isn't even my idea. Some German poet wrote that a long time ago. Goethe, I think. Probably in the middle of a lot of other stuff, but he said, "A useless life is an early death." He's right. God came to give you life. Peter going, "He came to give you life, to call you out of a uselessness that is the joy of depravity and sin that is so fleeting and destroys you and others around you, so that you won't be unfruitful, that you might have a "…true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Peter continues in verse 9. "For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins." That's an awful verse. I'll explain that, and I'll show you back in that salvation tree what that means about you. "Therefore…be…diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you…"
This is what we're going to talk about today. Peter is saying, "Hold fast. Be strong. Stay strong. Our God is faithful. You're serving the right one." Look, if you feel like, "What am I doing? Has God saved me so that I can go to church?" I hope not. Wouldn't that be awful if the reason that God saved us is so that we don't get to go out on a Sunday and have a beautiful day? What a lousy God that would be.
What if, on the other hand, he shows us that, even better than a beautiful, free brunch on the most beautiful day that Dallas could give you, it would be better for you to gather together to be reminded of these things so that your heart would be strengthened so you wouldn't be useless and unfruitful?
I'm like, "I'll miss a brunch on some nice deck in Dallas, sleeping in, coffee, and a newspaper. I'll get up early. I'll serve first hour so that I can go to second hour so that other people can be encouraged in this stuff. I'll invest what God has given me so that more people can be aware of this stuff. That's why God saved me, so that I wouldn't be useless and unfruitful, not so that I'd attend a service."
This is what's at stake. This is why this book is so beautiful. "…be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble…" The word stumble doesn't even work there. It means fall, stop, reverse, bail out on all that's true. "…for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you."
What Peter is going to tell you is that verses 5 through 8 is not a ladder that you have to perform a certain way so that you might enter into a certain kingdom. Those verses are telling you how to know that you know the King. They are telling you how to make yourself useful and fruitful to the King, so that when the King, who is coming back, who is able to cast the body into hell forever and who will reward his servants…
He's telling you how you can be the guy that is running toward him because you're living faithfully and are useful and fruitful. So even when you're being persecuted, even when you're thrown in jail, even when you live in a country that is spiraling in madness, you're not freaked out. You're not even surprised. You saw the storm coming when people ignored truth. We created a storm. That's what happens: when you ignore truth, you create a storm.
We go, "Okay, what you're doing is you're just making a little chemistry experiment." If you take a Mentos and a Diet Coke…I'm not a genius, I'm not even sure I know why; I just know…it blows up. So I see us doing things, putting stuff together, and it's going to blow up. So here comes the storm. I'm not scared. I'm not wondering where it came from. I'm not worried that we upset the gods. God just told us, "It's going to upset your world if you live this way."
So you just hold fast. If you get killed during that madness then you're going home anyway. Meanwhile, you're not freaking out. You are standing faithful, and you are telling other people, "This is how we can deal with the storm. This is how we move past this. This is how we can turn this thing around." So you are useful and fruitful (that's who we are) for such a time as this.
Okay. Let me just show you this. A couple of weeks ago, we talked about preparing. Remember that? We did a whole series called Prepare, where we talked about preparing. This is how you can prepare for the fact that verse 11, right here in 2 Peter, chapter 1, says that one day, you're going to enter before this King of Kings, this Jesus, who is divine. He is coming again, and you're going to meet him again.
You want to be abundantly supplied with, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" You want to receive from him accommodation and celebration and reward for faithfulness. He is not so unkind as to forget your good works, and he has ministered to and is still ministering to the saints. Peter is saying, "Your bridegroom is coming, sweetie. Be dressed well so that you can embrace him. The wedding is going to be nothing but joy and gladness." This is how.
We've talked about the salvation tree. There is a gift of salvation. Some people say, "No, thanks," to it. They reject the divine person, okay? So we went through all this, and we walked down it with you. I told you that there are people who say, "Yes, I want that salvation," but there are some that are deluded. They know the Lord's name, but they don't know him. That's the perfect set-up for this section of Scripture.
How can I know that I'm going to be the person who says, "Yes, I really want to be saved. I really want to know Jesus, and I'm going to go forward. I know I'll still be judged. I know, as it says in verse 11, I'm still going to enter into his eternal kingdom, and I want it to be richly supplied to me.
I don't want to be somebody who is saved, who really did have a personal relationship and understanding of Jesus, but who was an individual who didn't deepen in their faith, so is saved but as one who passes through fire. I want to be that one who hears, 'Well done, good and faithful servant!' How? How can I know that I'm not deluded, and how can I be the one who truly excels?" Answer: Second Peter. Here we go.
Verse 5: "Now for this…reason…" Given what God has done and who he is, and the fact that you're already saved. "…applying all diligence…" That word means you bring every effort. You bring zeal. What if I told you, in your lost state, that God was good, his Word was true, that he loves you, he's dealt with all that you've ever done and all that you ever will do, and he's given you everything you need now to live a victorious life and not be a slave to sin? You would go, "Tell me more. I want to focus on that at the expense of everything else."
If you're a single girl and I said, "Hey, let me tell you what. I'm going to introduce you to this guy. He is so amazing. He is the most tender guy. He's loving. He's gentle beyond almost anything you can imagine exists in a man. And I'll tell you what. He is ripped. He is powerful. He is strong. He is not shaken. He is beautiful. And he wants to love you and have a relationship with you."
Now flipping it to the other way, if you're a guy: "This is the belle of the ball, guys. This is the homecoming queen who is humble and beautiful. This is the proverbial…" I'm a child of my age, all right? I think of Princess Buttercup. I just went and saw Everest this week, and Princess Buttercup does not look like Princess Buttercup anymore. Go see the movie Princess Bride and then watch Everest, and you'll go, "Wow, that's Princess Buttercup? She has not aged well." She also married Sean Penn, but that's another message. All right, so here we go. All right?
That being said, "She is the proverbial Princess Buttercup and Mother Teresa marriage. She's out there, and you can have her." If you're like, "Well, where do I go? How do I get on that? Where's that on Tinder? I won't swipe anymore when I get that one. I want to go all in with her." That's all this is saying, that you be zealous to deepen in your love for her.
It's hard work. That's what the word diligence means. By the way, this is what the Bible says: "…the precious possession of a man is diligence." See, because a lot of people know that this is what you have to do to be physically fit. You have to eat less and exercise more. When you see somebody who eats less and exercises more, you go, "Wow, that is something."
But everybody else goes, "No, no, where's the fast track? Where's the pill? Where's the new berry? Where's the shake? What can I do in 30 days?" Nuh-uh. Diligence. You have to change everything about what you're doing, what you're eating, and what you're thinking. You have to change your playmates and your playground. That will make you have a new life of joy. Diligence. It's just the truth.
All Peter is doing is saying, "Okay, come and get you some. Your lover is here." What I would tell you that you want to do when I tell you about this perfect marriage out there between this Princess Buttercup and Mother Teresa, this guy that is this perfect marriage of strength and tenderness, is this:
You would go, "I would leave everything, Todd. I would leave every other guy just so I could run toward him. I would cleave to him. I would make sure that once I'm in a relationship with him, I would never allow anything into my life that would affect my relationship. I would become one with him." Okay?
That's how you have a good marriage. You leave, adjust, or refocus every relationship or activity so it won't interfere with your covenant commitment to your spouse. You then evaluate everything in the future, "Is this going to hurt my relationship with my spouse or is it going to make my spouse and me closer? I'm going to leave and I'm going to cleave so that we might be one. I want more of him." This is what Peter is saying: "Be diligent to pursue your love, who has done everything for you and who has already said, 'Will you be my beloved?'" Get to know him.
"…in your faith…" This is an amazing word. Watch this. The faith that he's talking about there is the faith, once and for all, delivered to the saints. The faith where you said, on the salvation tree, "Yes! Yes, there's a Divine God. He came. He lived. He took on the form of human flesh. He died for me. He was raised from the dead as a sign that he was God's man. He imparts to me his Spirit if I believe in him. I am his, and he is mine."
That faith, once and for all, Peter says, "To that supply…" This is maybe my favorite word in the entire Bible, just because of what it produces for us. It's a word that, in the Greek, talks about… It's epichorēgeō. It means basically to come upon full support and funding. We get the word choreograph or choreographer from this word supply.
This is so brilliant. A choreographer, in ancient Greek language, was the guy… Different towns would put on plays. Towns become very famous in Greece because of people that were from those towns; some were gifted artisans and some were philosophers. These artisans would write plays and they would teach truth. What they would do is when these plays were written, this amazing monolith of revelation had been put on, it would go to these Greek theaters. They weren't there just to entertain you, but they were there to enlighten you and enrich your life.
There was somebody that would be the director of those plays. He would be the choreographer. He would get the chorus. He would be the one that would fund the whole chorus. Basically, this often wealthy benefactor would say, "I'm going to take all that I have and am going to call you out of what you were doing. I'm going to put you in this play. I'm going to give you a part in this play. I'm going to tell you what to say, where to stand, and what to do. It's going to be a thing of beauty, and it's going to give fame to the entire town."
If you were the director, you also were the provider of the chorus. You brought the supply to the people that were going to do the thing that was going to make the town famous. So in our vernacular, we took that word and made it choreographer. It takes a bunch of gals and says, "I'm going to design moves for you that when you do this together the world goes, 'That's amazing.'"
What really is going on here is what Peter is begging you to do is he's saying, "I ask you to come upon all this great faith, and that you would supply everything that you can to add to it. You bring everything to bear to this faith, that it might become this source of glory in your life." In other words, "You already have a divine choreographer, who is Jesus, and he has given you everything you need so that, if you want to, you can now, with him, divinely orchestrate your life to where people would go, 'That dude can dance!'"
What Peter is saying is, "Come on. You want to be that guy? Jesus has given you everything that you need. You have become the rich benefactor." "…my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Look, you may not be the person that can write a check here in a few weeks as we share with you what we believe God wants us to do next as a body to put together more resources for us to use. Okay? But all of us can do something.
Every single one of you is the rich person who has what you need to make this place dance. By the way, who do we typically make the choreographer? Okay? It's the best dancer, and it's the one who knows how to put things together. Hopefully, that's kind of what we do with our staff. We just take people that are dancing, and we say, "You can dance."
What we don't want to do is put you on stage so that people go, "This guy is cool. Watch those Watermark staff people dance again." No. What our Watermark staff is are people who are choreographing and giving you more so that you have what they have, which is knowledge and, hopefully, a life about which they can say, "The things you have learned and heard and received in me, practice these things." We're always plucking some of you guys out, "Hey, look, you can dance. Would you be a choreographer for others?"
The first thing you have to do is teach yourself to dance in conjunction with the Spirit of God. Well, how do you do that? Let's just move quickly. Peter said the first thing you have to do is you give everything you have to be, he says, morally excellent. That's a tough word. There's really only one word there, and the word there means to be virtuous. But it's not you doing it; it's you taking what you have and bearing fruit with it. Okay?
Watch what Peter is going to do here. This is Peter's, if you will, fruit-of-the-Spirit tree. What do I mean by that? What I mean is that there were… Lists were a very common way of teaching because it was a lot of oral teaching that was there. What Paul did at one point is he said, in Galatians, chapter 5, "Don't let your flesh be your choreographer."
This is what it says in Galatians, chapter 5, verse 19 through 21. It says that if your flesh is your choreographer, then this is what you're going to dance like. You're going to be immoral. You're going to be impure. You're going to be sensual, idolatrous. Sorcery, enmity (hatred), and strife are going to come. That's what's going to be in your dance.
If you do what your flesh wants to do, you'll be jealous. You'll have outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, and carousing. Does this sound familiar? Because if you're dancing with your flesh, this is what you're always going to get. Then it says, "…and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
The kingdom of God is a place of blessing, provision, prosperity, and peace. It's not a place where doors are kicked open, dads are violent, and kids kill each other. It's not a place where moms rip babies out of their wombs. There is no peace in that way. It's not a place of blessing. Citizens of heaven don't do that. "…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
One of the things we're seeing in our country is that we can't hire enough law enforcement officials to corral the mosh pit of the choreography of the flesh. You just can't hire enough police for that. That's why when you have a choreographed, by-the-flesh, with-the-wisdom-of-man land eventually you go to a totalitarian police state where there are strict curfews and extreme, oppressive regimes.
That's where we're headed. Mark my words. Because people always take totalitarianism over chaos. That's why people go, "Here are my guns. Take my guns. Will that stop this?" No, it won't stop this. It will make you more of a slave. Okay? Gang, listen. What Paul's trying to say is, "Do you want the kingdom? Do you want the land of the free and the home of the brave? This is the way."
Notice that Paul is not saying fruits of the Spirit. That's why you don't pray for patience, okay? What you do is you learn to yield to Christ because when you yield to Christ, the Spirit, you're saying, "Not my will but your will be done." What's the will of God? Well, patience, longsuffering…
You don't have a patience problem; you have a surrender problem. You have an intimacy-with-God problem. Don't pray, "God, make me gentler." No, pray, "God, make me more like Jesus. May the Spirit be sovereign in my life." Don't quench the Spirit. Don't grieve the Spirit. Let the Spirit be operative in your life. Dance his will and his way, and guess what? It will be a beautiful thing.
Your problem and my problem is that a lot of the time, I enthrone Todd Wagner, and Todd Wagner is given to outbursts of anger and all kinds of nonsense that were up there in verses 19 through 21. But, it's singular. The fruit, singular, of the Spirit is all of these things. It's love. It's joy. It's peace. It's patience. It's kindness. It's goodness. It's faithfulness. It's gentleness. It's self-control.
What Peter is doing right here is he's saying, "Be virtuous. Be a person that knows this divine person who has brought you divine peace through his divine power in the divine promises that allow you to partake in the divine nature because you know him." It's not a to-do command. It's, out of the foundation of that, just get to know your lover. Be with him. So that moral excellence here is that idea of intimacy with God. Just be virtuous. Be God's people.
You go, "Okay, well, how do we be God's people?" Well, become closer to God. Leave, adjust, or refocus any relationship or activity that interferes with your covenant commitment to your Savior. Don't let anything in your life without asking yourself, "How is this going to affect my relationship with Jesus?" That's how I should know if I should play fantasy football or watch Scandal on TV. Is this going to make me closer to Jesus or not? If it's not…
By the way, there are some guys that are tending to their wives in every way, and it's okay to do something with their friends. It's not immoral; it's just kind of neutral, and it's okay. God says, "Every now and then, go take a walk if that's what you want to do or play fantasy football for a little bit if that's what you want to do."
But if you're obsessed by that, if you're ruled by that, if that's what your life is about, if you can't wait for the next college football game, then there's a better way. If you can enjoy it every now and then, and it works in your schedule, then God's like, "Eat, drink, and be merry. It's fine. But tomorrow you die." You're going to get judgment. You need to ready, so be useful and fruitful, not a fan. Okay?
So look, this is so great. Peter goes on from there, and he says, "…in your moral excellence…" That is, in your commitment to virtue, "…knowledge…" Now this is a very important word here because we've already had the word knowledge show up a couple of times. If you have a Bible, or on your iPad or whatever you're looking at with me this morning, highlight in verse 2 where it says, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God…" and verse 3: "…through the true knowledge…"
Those are different words than the word knowledge here in verse 5. The word there up top is epignōsisi, which just means to have knowledge fall upon you. It's the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. Up top, in verses 2 and 3, it's like, "Those of you with the truth knowledge of Jesus…" Not knowing about Jesus but knowing Jesus within. When you know Jesus within, he says to learn more about him. That's what shows up down here in verse 5.
This is why we have guys that are incredible choreographers in terms of equipping you. They are the best teachers that we have. Our best teachers are not up here on stage. Up on stage are people that will hopefully draw you to want more of God. I told Blake Holmes that I think he's our best teacher at Watermark, okay? What I mean by that is that Blake gives you access to truth in a way that's memorable and clear. Right?
Listen, I'm hard to take notes on and follow, amen? Yes. Okay? But what I would say is, "You know what? When Todd gets done speaking, I'm at least curious about that bridegroom that he tells me I should love. Hopefully, there are some things that you can hold onto…probably 70…so grab one of them, all right? What Blake is going to do is go, "I'm going to teach you some things today," and you'll be able to walk out of here and you'll remember them.
He's kind of like Peter. Peter makes it very accessible. Really, it takes a very brilliant person to make truth accessible. Peter was dumb, but he had the brilliance of the Holy Spirit who said, "Just tell them this. You know a divine person who will give divine peace through his divine power and who gives divine promises allowing you to be '…partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.' In other words, have a divine lifestyle.
Here's how you do it. Just tell them to be diligent, to give all their zeal, to make sure that they organize their life and fund their life fully toward this purpose: that they would be virtuous. Specifically, that they would add to their understanding, of the godliness and the goodness that is God, knowledge. Learn more of him. Study. Deepen in your head knowledge."
This is the same word, by the way, in 1 Peter 3…if we studied it, which we're not because we won't go there later because that's in 1 Peter…where it says, "Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way." It's saying, "Grow in your head knowledge about your wife. Study her. Learn her. Be able to order for her. If her birthday comes around and you have to ask her what she wants for her birthday, then you don't know your wife. You should know what she likes."
Peter is saying, "Grow in your knowledge of God." Watch this. I love this. He says, "…and in your knowledge, self-control…" All that is, it's just saying, "Be a passionate person, but have your passions bridled." This is the word, in effect, for meek. It's not exactly the same word in the Bible, but… You're still a stallion, but just be controlled by the love of Christ. Get a grip on yourself. Don't make it about yourself. Just say, "I am now constrained by the love of God."
What Peter is basically doing is telling you, "This is what a person who really knows Jesus is like. They want to be like him; that's a love for moral excellence, a virtuous person. The way you're going to become that is by learning more about who Jesus is. Study to show yourself approved as a workman who won't be ashamed. Don't speculate about him. Get to know him. Spend time with him."
People go, "How do I get to know Jesus?" The same way you would have if you were alive… Let me ask you a question. This is the first century, and I'm Peter. I say, "Hey, guys, get to know Jesus." You go, "How do I get to know Jesus?" I would say, "Come and see. Come and hang out with him." Question: How does a disciple spend time with Jesus today? Anybody? Study. Read the Word. Get around people who know him. Listen to what the Spirit of truth…the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit…says about him. Prioritize your life to be near him. That's what you do.
So you do that, and Peter says, "But get a grip on yourself. You're no longer a wild man. You're no longer doing what you want to do when you want to do it because now the life which you now live, you live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and delivered himself up for you." He's just saying there, "Hey, listen. This is not going to be something where you can just now 'skip to my Lou' from here on out. It is tough work. You have to die to yourself."
Sometimes people go, "Man, I feel like I'm dying." You know what? That's exactly it. Have you ever felt like that when you're in a gym? You CrossFit freaks, when someone asks you, "How are you doing, man?" you're like this, "I feel like I'm dying." Do you know what you're doing? You're getting stronger. You have to make yourself get up and go where you need to go to work out so that you can be a person that is able to be useful and fruitful and strong and glorious and not some couch potato.
This is why some of you go, "I don't know what this abundant life is all about." It's like somebody who sits there and eats Cheetos all day and goes, "What's this fitness craze all about?" All right? Then they go walk to the fridge to get another longneck, and they're exhausted. They die of a heart attack when they're 41. All right? Come on!
Peter says, "…and in your self-control, perseverance…" Persevere. Peter is just saying, "This is what it takes." Proverbs 24:10 says, "He who is slack in the day of distress, his strength is limited." Jeremiah said it this way, "How can you run with horses if you've run with men and grown faint?" One of the ways you know the greatness of somebody is what it takes to take them out. Okay?
In college football playoffs, one of the things they're going to say is, "Okay, so you have a loss. Who did you lose to? Did you lose to, you know, Saint Mary's of the Poor and Sisters of the Blind or did you lose to Notre Dame? Did you lose to Alabama at Alabama? Okay, that may mean that you have something."
What Peter is just saying right here is, "You be that guy that doesn't bail out because Nero is threatening you and because your flesh wants to sin. You work hard, and you be somebody that struggles with great things." What you want to struggle with and persevere through is the desire to sleep in and not get up at 6 o'clock to meet some men to really be ready, and not just show up at 6 o'clock but have memorized and studied so that you have something to offer at 6 a.m. You persevere through maybe missing out on things that your flesh wants so that you can be who God wants.
"…and in your perseverance, godliness…" That's not keeping the law, but loving. It's almost like the "ying" to the moral excellence "yang." It's just loving what is good. Be that person that just loves what is good. If you love what's good then you're going to be somebody that's moving toward good. If you move toward good, then goodness is going to be a part of you.
"…and in your godliness, brotherly kindness…" Be filled with brotherly kindness. This is so important because this is the word phileō. It's Philadelphia. It's the word that says, "Love other people. Be thoughtful of others." Listen. If you're around the church, then you're going to run into people…guess what…who are not pursuing virtue at any given time, who aren't especially knowledgeable, who do not have much self-control, and who keep bailing out.
What God is saying is, "Just love the church. Stick in here with me, and just love people. People are annoying. People are not going to always be everything that God wants them to be. It's your job to spur them on and be gracious toward them." So "…do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." By the way, if you have an especially crazy Community Group, then guess what? We have somebody on staff assigned to your group. Just call for help.
Say, "Can you guys come over here right now? This horse is bucking. It's spitting the bit. I'm not going to sell him. I'm not going to make him into glue, okay? I need you to come help me, because I really think that these people want to be what God wants them to be, but I'm the only one in this rodeo right now who wants to ride straight." You have to be full of brotherly kindness.
What I love about my Bible is that it's very, very authentic. It just says, "Look, we're crazy people. You have to love each other in a crazy way." Persevere. By the way, this is the very top of the ladder. This is how you can know that you're really spiritual: that you love, that you're marked by agape.
All Peter is saying that if you're this person then you won't be useless or unfruitful. That word useless is the same word that James says when he says that faith without moral excellence, knowledge, self-discipline, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love is dead faith. It's no faith at all. You're probably deluded. You have head knowledge but not heart knowledge, because if you knew this lover you would run to him.
And it would be unfruitful. That word unfruitful is the same word that Jesus uses when he says that it's a seed planted in thorns, and the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the concern for many things make that seed unfruitful. It's amazing, isn't it?
Don't be blind or shortsighted. Blind people are deluded people. In this sense, they are folks who maybe think they see, but they don't. They're even blind to their own reality. They know about Jesus, but they don't know Jesus. They think they're saved, but they're not saved. They say they know the glory of God, but there is nothing in their life that speaks to it.
Or they're so shortsighted that they can't get beyond the temptation and the sin that's in the moment. Or they think that Jesus isn't coming for a while, so all they do is opportunity to be rebellious and self-serving today. Peter is saying, "If that's the case, it's not going to go well with you in the end."
Then he says, "But if you see what God has given you…" This is the thing, okay? Look, there are a lot of things that I can't do well. Sing is one of them and dance is another. I'm just not a good dancer. I'm prone to other forms of athletic expression. I can remember years ago watching a movie called White Knights. In there is where I saw Baryshnikov. I'd seen clips of him on PBS; don't ask me how or why, but I had. I know that if you know one ballet dancer, it's Baryshnikov.
I watched that movie in a fit of love for my wife; that was the movie that we picked. We watched this movie, and it's a movie about this guy who had been a great ballet dancer in Russia who had defected. He was free, dancing in the free land, but when he was going to dance in Tokyo, the plane had mechanical failures and crashed in Russia. He was put back in Russia and was now a prisoner.
He was trying to figure out how to escape, so part of how he was going to escape was to train and make himself strong again. He went through… This is basically his workouts in the movie, and it led to him being able to perform in the way he performed that night, which led to his escape. He got out, and it was all great.
But here's what I want to tell you. When you watch Baryshnikov dance…I don't care what you think about ballet and how unmanly it is…you look at that and go, "That is manly. That is bowed up. That is beautiful. When a human body can do that, I go, "If I could dance like that, I would dance. I would want to live like that."
But did you see the way he worked? Did you see the way he stretched? Did you see the way he disciplined himself? That's how he became Baryshnikov. He had, in his nature, what could make him that, but he disciplines himself to make him glorious. That's 2 Peter. So what I'm telling you is, "So you think you can dance? Peter agrees! But you have to get with it." Let's pray.
Father, we want to dance. We want to be your people. We don't want to be deluded. We don't want to just sit there and say, "We know you, the divine choreographer," and then we don't supply all that it takes to make your play happen. That's people that know about the play, but have no love for the play or the playwright. We don't want that to be us.
I pray, first of all this morning, for anybody who is here right now who doesn't know you, that they would not be confused that what you're looking for is a beautiful dance. I pray that what they would see is that Jesus is the beautiful dancer who has danced before you in perfection and become our provision so that our lives, though they are clunky and awkward, may be made beautiful in your sight.
Thank you that Jesus has danced with sin and death so that we might be set free. If there is anybody here this morning that does not understand your perfect love, I pray that they would see, in the choreography of your Scripture, where you supplied the fullness of your riches in glory to satisfy your perfect wrath so that sinners might be perfectly saved. I pray that they would come to you, the divine person, and receive your divine promises.
For those of us who have received those divine promises and have become partakers of the divine nature, may we dance with you, yield to your Spirit, and bring our full supply of attention so that our lives would be beautiful and the world would go, "How is it that you dance that way in a world filled with corruption?" Then we could tell them about you, and they would want to know you more. I pray this in Jesus' name, amen.
Hold fast. Worship well. God bless you.