The Stable Soul (7)
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1.10, 11
Working out, not for
We noted, at the beginning of this series, that being a Christian is hard work. Peter said that, if we didn’t want to end up as unstable souls who may not be real believers, we need to “be even more diligent” to shore up our salvation.
This means working hard to understand and nurture our souls according to the patterns and practices God has revealed in His Word. We dare not neglect this daily work, or grow weary in it. Too much is at stake, both for ourselves and others, if we fail to work at stabilizing our souls for growing into Christ Jesus.
Being assured of salvation is not just a matter of having prayed some kind of sinner’s prayer, or even of going to church. Peter said there is a way to make sure that “entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” But we’re going to have to be diligent in nailing this down.
Understand that Peter is not talking about earning your salvation; we are saved entirely by grace through faith. Rather, what he wants is for us to make our salvation sure – both to us and to any who may observe us. He is saying just what Paul did when he called us to “work out” the salvation we have freely received (Phi. 2.12). The only way to avoid becoming an unstable soul, who is easily enticed by false teachers, is to work hard daily at being stable in your soul, giving even more diligence to making your calling and election sure.
A lived reality
But what does this involve?
Peter tells us in the first chapter of his second epistle. If we have truly entered the promised salvation of God, and have removed ourselves from the lusts of the world, then, Peter says, we must give “all diligence” (v. 5) to build on that faith those things which can assure us that we really belong to the Lord. What are these? Well, here’s how Peter put it in 2 Peter 1.5-7: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” These are the kinds of evidence of faith that a stable soul can bring to light in our lives (Heb. 11.1).
In other words, working with the Holy Spirit of God, according to the teaching of God’s Word and the example of Christ and the Apostles, we must work out into lived reality the gift of salvation we have embraced through faith. The life that is growing in our stable soul must become the life we express in words and deeds.
And Peter adds a promise (v. 8): “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now, presumably, if we are ineffective and unfruitful in our daily life with the Lord, we are more like those unstable souls who are ripe to be plucked for heresy and false teaching. But if we begin to acquire these qualities – virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love – and if we are increasing continually in them, then our relationship with Christ will prove to be genuine, our souls will be stable, and we will be fruitful and effective disciples of the Lord.
Working out our salvation like this is a daily calling and duty that begins with attending to the renewing of the mind, cleansing the heart, and purifying the conscience in Jesus Christ – daily attending to the business of building stability into our soul.
Nearsighted and blind?
Peter continues (v. 9): “For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” Failing to acquire these virtues as the fruit of faith, and to increase in them, does not automatically mean that we have not been cleansed of our sins. It does mean, however, that we’re not being good stewards of our calling, and we cannot be sure that a place in God’s eternal Kingdom awaits us.
By insisting on this – that our faith must be confirmed day by day in transformed lives – Peter is doing nothing more than Paul, James, the writer of Hebrews, and the Lord Jesus Himself taught. Mere faith, merely believing or claiming to believe in Jesus Christ is no guarantee of salvation, no evidence of a stable soul. Apart from the life of faith leading to virtue and love, and everything in between, we can have no assurance that we truly belong to Jesus and are citizens of His eternal Kingdom.
We must give all diligence to work out our salvation in daily reality, nurturing and stabilizing our soul, so that words and deeds of salvation and life issue from us as the manifestation of Jesus Christ. Whoever neglects this important aspect of what it means to follow Jesus is on a path to become an unstable soul, susceptible to false teaching, and, perhaps, destined to prove that he does not belong to Jesus Christ at all.
Don’t let this happen to you. Know the mind of Christ. Grow in the heart of God. Listen to the conscience as it reads God’s Word for the stabilizing of your soul. Then live for Jesus the life of Jesus, unto the praise and glory of Jesus in everything you say and do.
1. What does it mean for you to “be even more diligent” to nurture your soul in the image of Jesus Christ?
2. What obstacles or impediments stand in the way or stabilizing your soul? How can you overcome these?
3. How can you plan your daily activities so that you add to your outward life the things Peter commends?
Next steps – Demonstration: How will it be evident to you and others today that you are being supplied an abundant entrance to the Kingdom of God?
T. M. Moore
This week’s series on The Stable Soul is available in a free PDF download by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.