For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-8)
In my last post, I talked about “knowledge”. For me, in the context of this passage, it’s about the knowledge of God and his plans for us. He’s given us this amazing love letter, this “field manual for life”, if you will. Yet so many of us don’t know anything about it…..
And for those of you who are like me (there has to be somebody like me….), you may know it, but have struggled, or still struggle with putting it into practice. I love these verses in the book of James…
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
Many will argue that Christ free’d us from the law. And I agree. But I don’t think that means we shouldn’t still follow the law. Just instead of following the law to SO THAT – to obtain something (self-righteousness), we are following the law BECAUSE – becasuse he first loved us (Righteousness that comes from Christ alone).
I love that “Self-control” is also a character of the fruit of the Spirit. I wish I could write that I practice self-control well…. But sadly, I can’t. I’ve given in to lusts of the flesh too often, and too easily. A key word in Jame’s text is FREEDOM. That is what Christ gives us – FREEDOM. But we should be careful not to obsess with thinking it’s freedom from the law – the very law that points us to Christ. No, it’s freedom from sin. We are able not to sin. We are able to practice self-control. We are able to “be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect”. If we weren’t, Jesus would not have commanded that of us.
Freedom in Christ comes only from Christ. And it’s given to us, for his glory. Hallelujia!