W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
The AURA of PURITY
in Job and Habakkuk,
and the DESIGN for it
in II PETER
BEAUTY AND PURITY ... and YOU
How COULD there be a design for purity! one might well ask. Is it not of the essence of beauty in truth, righteousness and mercy, glowing with love and inspired by the vision of God*1 ? How then is there any design ?
The term here however is not used in the sense of some notion of man which, being applied, allows the manufacture of some article, not at all. It is intended to show the PURPOSE, the way of things for man, as in the mind of God and told to man, for example in II Peter 1. It is spiritual, not material; it is purposive, not manipulative, but it is for all that, not lacking in sound instruction.
Does Michelangelo then not study beauty and find its inspiration, alike, and does he not consider its scope and dimensions, and then in imagery splendid, with a very fast hold of understanding, portray something which arrests the eye or absorbs the heart ?
It is not, emphatically not, that beauty is susceptible to manufacture; but it is, equally emphatically, that it is akin to truth and goodness, which in turn, do have certain specifications. It is not that this is all that beauty is; but beauty is not less. Some of course will seek to find beauty in the trampled, the truncated, in that their spirits are jaded, their minds aloof, their emotions in tatters, their sense of justice outraged in some matter, and so they may make certain species of modern art, and even have it said that these possess a certain beauty.
The beauty of course lies fundamentally in the spirit of the thing: what is the message. If the message is one of truculent disdain, it is not likely to have beauty unless it has the inspiration of hope, and the understanding of the part in life which this fallen thing has, might have, or should have. In the end, you cannot define anything without God, who is who He is, and whose ACTUAL truth and love, tenderness and mercy is beautiful in this, that it knows man, and hence is descriptive, that it seeks for what man is designed to be, and hence is realistic, that it has a plan for man to reconstruct and reconstitute him in line with all that was best in his potential, and to confirm this in persistent continuance, and hence has form and meaning.
This too is not all that beauty is, for it includes an awareness, or a making aware of the harmonies, happinesses, tendernesses, majesties, marvels of the splendid creation of God, not in its fallenness, but in its features, not filtered through some muddied lens, but enlightened with hope. It may hold even horror in its scope, but interpret it with mercy, pity, or tenderness, or with the energy that evokes understanding, wisdom or hope.
In this light, a battle field in its travesties of truth and horrors of hate, can have some beauty in a painting, provided only that the pity and the pathos, this in included, and the hope and the vision of majesty, this is somehow lurking in the background. For there is no beauty in death as death, in disease as disease, or in guilt as guilt; but there is much in guilt to be met, disease to be mastered, death to be overcome, courage to be effective.
While beauty like courage can be distorted - for example some soldiers seem to like to refer to courage as pride, and as little else than the fear of failure or seeming to flinch, but it not so; for courage is far more than fear of failure, and far beyond the concern for one's fellow man's feelings about oneself. It is concerned with what one seeks to obtain, to gain, a spirit of concern for its worthwhileness and a determination not to yield to what is inferior, destructive of goodness, truth and mercy, and to repel the invader of land, love, life which would defile it.
Such things may, at times, be quite unknown to those who do not know God, but in the Lord and His word alone is all coherent and meaningful, so that even the distortions of courage, and the misrepresentations of purity have a place. First, this tends to the pathological because of aversion from God, hence from reality; and then, like anything in collision with the facts, any beauty residual in it depends on the extent to which there is at least some vestige of understanding, however debased, of the heights from which we have come, and to which in any earnestness of truth, we must return, of meaning and balm, salve or hope.
However, someone not without a measure of justice, might enquire why on earth, in a chapter about purity we are talking about beauty. It is, of course, because the BEAUTY OF HOLINESS joins these two conceptions, and that there is in purity, whether in the magnificence of some fresh water lake extending in sublime distances to the mighty hills which lend it vast waters from melting snow, or in some magnanimous and earnest personality, a certain beauty. Purity ? This implies of course the prior question of what the material, substance, design or person is SUPPOSED to be. Pure HCL is an acid of certain designations. It is PURE AS what it is! It is not pure because it lacks specks, but because it is precisely as its name determines.
Purity for personality is likewise only to be sustainable in terms
of what it is supposed to be;
and without God,
there is no supposition,
but only blind putations which masquerade with
indifference or ineptitude concerning the truth
It is so only because, as the necessary truth of the Bible displays (cf. SMR Ch. 1), purity in man is in the same domain as wonderful beauty of holiness likewise, since the knowledge of God, the companionship with God, the action in the Spirit of God is what man is designed to find and to share. Yet some might still raise voice and say, But why is there 'beauty' in such purity ? Since it is a matter of realism, why should the reality be deemed beautiful, say in the case of man according to mould!
In answer to this, one must merely see that there is in man a very remarkable potential. He can love, have pity, tenderness of concern, self-discipline and determination, imagination and resolution in mighty concord, vision and understanding, and with delicacy and discernment he may assist the weak, improve the strong, requite good for evil, overcome wells of bitterness, bring joy to the sad, mercy to the afflicted, thrust to the dismal and hope to the destitute. He may soar in knowledge, and find in the creation of God in his donated environment, some of the wonders of his Maker, or he may in ashen and dismal lack of desire, defile his own design, and simply add to the grief and dislocation of mankind.
When this potential is released,
realised and fulfilled in heart and in spirit (cf. Little Things
It Bubbles ... Ch. 9, SMR pp. 348ff.), there is a beauty because there is the Creator who not only made man, but made him in His own image, able to understand, to communicate, even to discourse with the Almighty as Job sought to do. In this, he may act with an understanding readily available, and find himself in the domain of beauty, God its source, and abundantly displayed not only in form and marvel, in wonder and intricacy, in spirit and in help, but in essence in one great feat for man.
Since God took the format of man to display righteousness, to make visible the
truth, to make operable the divine pardon and to make for man the destiny of
harmonious holiness in His own presence, which is the match to his gifts and
to his hope:
truth without interruption,
knowledge without rebuke,
explanation without omission,
relief without laxity,
justice with mercy,
purity with sacrifice,
sacrifice with power,
power with pity
and all with holiness.
Since God took the format of man to display righteousness, to make visible the truth, to make operable the divine pardon and to make for man the destiny of harmonious holiness in His own presence, which is the match to his gifts and to his hope: there is beauty, truth without interruption, knowledge without rebuke, explanation without omission, relief without laxity, justice with mercy, purity with sacrifice, sacrifice with power, power with pity and all with holiness.
It is because, then, GOD is beautiful in holiness, splendid in spirit, wonderful in compassion, alert in pity, available in grace, and has sundered the very body of His Son in love that we might find our plan, and fulfil our purpose, that there is a beauty which may be discerned even in human holiness, imperfect though this still is, even in the saints, who incidentally, are not some rarefied species ratified by some man who has his own thoughts about them, but simply Christians*2 .
The practice of trying to make selective approach to some Christians in terms of 'sainthood' is a vile and debasing one, which tends to emasculate and defile the ordinary practice of holiness in its beauty, on the part of Christians as such. It tends to reduce the standard of what the Lord requires of any of His adopted children (Ephesians 1:5-14), the wonder of what He provides, and to make a sort of dummy substitute for the spirituality which the Lord gives to His own, by virtue of their very birthright, as seen in I John 3 most clearly.
One should never settle for a false sacrifice, not Calvary, a false master, not Christ, or a false holiness, not beautiful with the presence of the Lord, if a Christian. Indeed, it is all forbidden (Matthew 23:8-10, Hebrews 9 and I John 3 cf. SMR pp. 1032-1088H), such debasement and truncation of the true stature of godliness for Christian people.
This little excursus is relevant. The very beauty of holiness, and of purity, is not to be found in some substitutionary display as of a pageant in someone else: it is to be the lot of the Christian because of the Spirit of holiness which having declared the resurrection of the very physical body of Christ (Romans 1:4, I Cor. 15:1-4, Luke 24), also enables the children of God to be transformed from glory to glory, according to His own likeness (as in II Corinthians 3:18). There is no division in this: it is yours or it is not, Christ is yours or He is not, the truth is yours or it is not, you trust Him or someone, something else, yourself or another or others.
There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end, as Proverbs states so clearly, is death! The word of God however is like a rock on which to build the most architecturally beautiful structures, and again, it is like a hammer to break down what is mere sub-standard imitation! Such do we see in Matthew 7 and Jeremiah 23.
What then are some of the elements that may lead to purity with its beauty, whether for man, for woman, or indeed for child ? for a child of pure heart, to the extent this is found, is indeed no less beautiful than a human of any other age. As Proverbs 20:11puts it, "Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right."
It is not for nothing that Christ declared the devastating dangers for those who defile one of these little ones who trust in Him (Matthew 18:6). Defilement of mind, spirit or body alike is to muddy the waters, incline the drains, misdirect the potential. It is not for nothing that one has to warn, for that matter, the South Australian Government of its incredible degradation of childhood, by its mythical conceptions which it binds, in all their sullied listlessness and unscientific pretension, on its schools (cf. Worn-Out Earth and Coming King Ch. 4).
Nor is this a matter of children only, for adults may also be deprived, diluted, defiled by the incursion of foolish propaganda, such as TV and news media most frequently display with profane seeming passion, whatever the motive may be. Small wonder that Christ exhorted us, "Be careful how you hear!" (Luke 8:18).
One element then, which leads to this ever closer movement as in an oil painting, to the sheer beauty of reality which is to be found in light, the light of truth from the Lord, to PURITY, it is PURGING!
You do not have to wait for this, for some imaginary purgatory, for it is far more practical than that contradiction of the mercy of Christ (cf. Romans 5:1ff., 8:32ff., 8:35ff., John 10:27-28, 4:14, 4:25-5:9), the invention of flesh. Here again is one of the distancing techniques of false religion, just as it seeks elsewhere
another master to honour, so foiling Christ's
provision in which all but He are BRETHREN,
So does it seek to provide
This we find in Hebrews 9:22-27:
"And almost all things are by the law are purged with blood;
and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
"It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens
should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves
with better sacrifices than these.
"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
"Nor yet that He should offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the holy place every year with blood of others;
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world:
but now once in the end of the world
has He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."
So also, then, this fabricated
system of religious misrule would provide
many times do people need to be told, and in what depth, with what emphasis,
before they consent to believe, even some who dare to mention His very name!
Purging then ? It is done before
that great excursion into eternity itself, where we are glorified (as in Romans
8:29ff.), where there being no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,
who have peace with God, who HAVE BEEN justified (Romans 4:25ff.), whose is
eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12), not in process but in peace. Not on trial for
adoption but adopted already (cf. Ephesians 1), these are not EVER going to thirst again
(John 4:14): there is joy which "no one takes away from
It is to Zion they return, and we are told there is
"everlasting joy ... upon their head." It is as from Christ - your joy none takes away. It is everlasting. These are called in Isaiah
"the redeemed of the Lord"
and this is their future! What else for those who cannot thirst again, who have passed from death to life, and who do not come into condemnation !(John 5:24).
In fact, "sorrow and suffering shall flee away."
So on earth for these who thus return, it is yet more total in heaven. Joy is suffused by His radiance and it is part of strength (Nehemiah 8:10, Romans 5:9-11). In the heavens, as a category, are the spirits of just men made perfect, and it is to these in faith, to join them, that the people of God as seen in Hebrews, are seen as coming.
Now on this earth is the transmutation, the transformation and the education into life. Such is the glorious message of Hebrews 12:22-29:
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn
who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,
to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
"See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape
who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,
whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying,
'Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.'
"Now this, 'Yet once more,' indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken,
as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace,
by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
For our God is a consuming fire."
Whether it be a swathe of Israel in its time (Romans 11 cf. The Biblical Workman Ch. 1, *3, and Ch. 3, incl. *1), to repentance in Jerusalem, because of Christ pierced (Zechariah 12:10), or earlier with the Gentile, the case is one. It is with rejoicing that they come, and they neither perish nor cease from the hand of their loving and solicitous Shepherd (John 10:27-29).
In heaven, in the heavens, are the spirits of just men made perfect. On earth however is chastening as the case requires, child-training (Hebrews 12:10ff.).
Purging is NOW! Purging is a partner in PURITY, and that in BEAUTY, the beauty of holiness!
JOB and HABAKKUK in Person
Job was purged. Did you notice some of his statements which, though innocent enough in intention, could well suggest a certain air of importance, even perhaps some slight relish in his exalted state ? Consider for example these words from Job 29:10-22.
"When I went out to the gate by the city,
When I took my seat in the open square,
The young men saw me and hid,
And the aged arose and stood;
The princes refrained from talking,
And put their hand on their mouth;
The voice of nobles was hushed,
And their tongue stuck to the roof of their mouth.
"When the ear heard, then it blessed me,
And when the eye saw, then it approved me;
Because I delivered the poor who cried out,
The fatherless and the one who had no helper.
The blessing of a perishing man came upon me,
And I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
My justice was like a robe and a turban.
"I was eyes to the blind,
And I was feet to the lame.
I was a father to the poor,
And I searched out the case that I did not know.
I broke the fangs of the wicked,
And plucked the victim from his teeth.
"Then I said,
‘I shall die in my nest,
And multiply my days as the sand.
My root is spread out to the waters,
And the dew lies all night on my branch.
My glory is fresh within me,
And my bow is renewed in my hand.’
"Men listened to me and waited,
And kept silence for my counsel.
After my words they did not speak again,
And my speech settled on them as dew.
They waited for me as for the rain,
And they opened their mouth wide as for the spring rain.
If I mocked at them, they did not believe it,
And the light of my countenance they did not cast down.
"I chose the way for them, and sat as chief;
So I dwelt as a king in the army,
As one who comforts mourners."
Here, to what appears a quite extraordinary degree, is a feeling of assured superiority, moral heights untouchable, social eminence verging on the majestic, a sense of altruism which though not at all arrogant, is intensely self-aware. He appears rather to savour the social appurtenances of his position, and to be sensitive to his heights.
When the book of Job is complete, and he has been despised by the children of those to whom he would have given only the most trivial tasks (Job 30), yes he says, "I am their taunting song" : degraded, stung by repartee which was more piercing than precise, left in the depths of indignity, scratching in the dust, arraigned by false friends, charged with unreal practices, torn into his very depths by awareness of his total dependence on the grace and goodness of God, then there is a different Job. He stands corrected and abhors himself.
Such lessons, though not at least the primary INTENTION of the episode which the book describes, which rather is seen in the acceptance of the satanic challenge to the very existence of such a thing as sincere righteousness, so that all men for all time might know the result, the result in truth, are an edifying, yes and a purifying result of the situation. Thus does the Lord compose events, so that while one purpose is prominent and primary, other ends may be achieved in the process. Here, one appears surely to be the purging of some elements close to vanity, or at least to superiority of feeling, so that a humbler and more watchful Job comes to meet the eye.
"I am meek and lowly in heart" is the word of Christ, and Job's earlier attitude seems to have become rather difficult to assimilate to such a spirit (cf. Matthew 11:29). Eminently commendable though his compassion and concern for the afflicted had been, when he was in his prime, yet the manner of it seems to leave a gap in the area of grace!
Thus the beauty of his moral strengths before these episodes is unquestionable, as we read the above large quotation; but how much greater is such beauty when past all duty, and past all considerations of consequences, however passing they might be, the deeds are wrought with full consciousness of the glorious grace of God supervening all, enabling all. Then is dignity the more enlivened by grace, and grace by the realisation that it is ONLY in such grace that one can live at all! How well has Ch. 19 of Job shown this! How much did Job learn in his scarification to show sincerity, of sanctification within it!
Again, with Habakkuk, we see the
prophet's intense concern for the arrogance of those who seek to domineer over
man, their nets to catch prey (1:16-17), their grasping selfishness a very criterion of
their lives. They catch men in their nets, he declares, and then make a
sacrifice to their net! They work evil and then glorify it! How often has one
met such ...Looking at such moral devastations littering the land: WHY, he asks, WHY, WHY and WHY again does the Lord, who is of purer
eyes than to look on iniquity
(1:13), suffer such things!
He realises that his request for an answer to this question is verging on lèse-majesté, but he is so incensed that he determines to proceed.
Once again, and the reader will perceive perhaps a limited but definite similarity to Habakkuk's concern in general, to that more personal on the part of Job, concerning comparative impunity for the unjust, while the just may suffer in the interim. In fact, there is no small relationship to the book of Amos here, except that in the latter there is coming judgment announced for the gross and uncivil violence and vileness of heart which is depicted by the prophet in his national review of Israel, in the name of the Lord (cf. Amos 5:23-27). Habakkuk for his part is concerned at the apparent escape of many, and the horrendous abuses they are suffered to commit, because their end comes not at once, and they proliferate in moral pollution and violence, guile and corruption.
The prophet, intense in his pursuit of the Lord on this theme, is told to receive the answer so that running, he may read, that people may in haste deliver it (2:2). The just, the righteous, the godly are to live in a certain way. They are not supposed to live in another.
It is BY FAITH (2:4).
"The just shall live by his faith."
Certainly, in such a world as this, he cannot be expected to live in peace and purity in any other way! That is obvious.
Yes, the tenor of Habakkuk 2 continues, as the Lord answers the prophet: there are the most gross and horrible practices, well deserving of judgment, but faith is necessary for the just, since the present does not supply the answer.
He is shown, as seen in Ch. 3, the Lord's coming with His anointed, His Messiah, and that in that culminating epoch, divine judgment will be swift, final and decisive. To that time, justice in much will wait, as the pit is dug for the wicked; and judgment, being suspended for a period in the interests of freedom and the entire plan of exposure of the Lord for man, will proceed unabashed and uncomplicated.
Meanwhile, now as to eternity, man will live by trusting the God who knows what He is doing, will complete all unfinished business when the audit comes, and not limp into bitterness because God is patient, and has a schema past the various stages, which is fulfilled only when it is finished.
You see something of very considerable likeness in Psalm 94:
"Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord,
And teach out of Your law,
That You may give him rest from the days of adversity,
Until the pit is dug for the wicked.
"For the Lord will not cast off His people,
Nor will He forsake His inheritance.
But judgment will return to righteousness,
And all the upright in heart will follow it.
"Who will rise up for me against the evildoers?
Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
Unless the Lord had been my help,
My soul would soon have settled in silence.
"If I say, 'My foot slips,'
Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.
In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.
"Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law,
Have fellowship with You?
They gather together against the life of the righteous,
And condemn innocent blood.
But the Lord has been my defense,
And my God the rock of my refuge."
FAITH is the overwhelming conviction of these things, the assurance that they are so, that God is God and not in abeyance; that His patience is thus, and not weakness; that His righteousness is not indifferent to man's unrighteousness, but acutely aware, but that it will not be accomplished in all its facets till He comes to this earth with His Messiah and presents the bill, payments chargeable, which were long on account.
Seeing this, and the charge is that one must now be acutely concerned to live by FAITH, expecting what the Lord will do will be perfect and that nothing will be impervious to His pure eye and sight, when the scrolls are read and the end has come. So it is given to Habakkuk to realise, and the prophet now perceives the result both in judgment to come, and in faith-living in the meantime. What then is the immediate way to live ?
It is this. He will joy and rejoice in God his Saviour, even if all fruit, all crops, all beasts and produce should fail.
This we see in Habakkuk 3:13-19.
"You went forth for the salvation of Your people,
For salvation with Your Anointed.
You struck the head from the house of the wicked,
By laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah
You thrust through with his own arrows
The head of his villages.
They came out like a whirlwind to scatter me;
Their rejoicing was like feasting on the poor in secret.
"You walked through the sea with Your horses,
Through the heap of great waters.
"When I heard, my body trembled;
My lips quivered at the voice;
Rottenness entered my bones;
And I trembled in myself,
That I might rest in the day of trouble.
When he comes up to the people,
He will invade them with his troops.
"Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
"The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills."
Here, incidentally, is the source for Paul's citation of Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 5. It is God alone who will secure justice, and it is by faith that one must receive this, and through that faith one must live, not in seeking self-aggrandisement or by war making greatness for oneself or nation, but in humility acting as the Lord directs. Purity must be sought as it is to one's hand to secure it on all sides, but it is In faith this finality for judgment is to be received. Yes, one's very life as a grant of grace in the midst of evil is to be lived in joy in God our Saviour, who is also is wise, and knows all that He does, testing, exhibiting, demonstrating, showing, judging here and there according to His word, purging His saints, exposing the world, letting it gather its rope for its own hanging, and showing for all eternity the nature of truth in action, as also in word.
When it is over, then the laboratory equipment is removed - indeed, in the end, the entire universe of current mode, is removed altogether and God, having created at the first, brings His people to a haven fitting for holiness. With Job, we have concentration on the BODY to be given for such a purpose at the resurrection; in Isaiah on a new heavens and a new earth, as likewise in Peter in II Peter 3, who there specialises for his part, not on the removal of the body in the throes of its termination, as Job tended to do, before the resurrection, but on the removal of the universe in the throes of its wickedness, when its works are burnt up and it is replaced with a glory which suffers no indent.
Thus as always, so in Habakkuk, the faith comes at length to rest only in the Messiah. By Him will the Lord overcome all evil, and complete all His work on this earth.
Thus does Habakkuk become resilient, more patient and imperturbable, clearer on the necessity of faith as basic to life in the Lord, and able to rejoice in the midst of loss, knowing that events are not their own determinants, but given licence by God for His own purposes, cumulatively culminating in their just deserts. Meanwhile, as for those who are the godly, it is by faith, and not by works of power or force, self-congratulation or self-advancement that they live (Habakkuk 2). It is in the presence of God that one lives, in the hope of the Messiah and in assurance that the righteous God is His own standard, and will enact with justice all that could be desired in all truth (Habakkuk 3): for the one who trusts Him, in mercy, and for the one who will not, in wrath that alone remains where mercy is rejected by the godless refusing all remedy.
PURITY AND PETER
These two examples of PURITY and PURGING are now to be seen in the light of the PRINCIPLES which Peter declares. We shall see this by first of all examining II Peter 1.
II PETER 1, ADDITION
Abraham and Exemplification
Godliness and Implementation
What does Peter tell us ? How does Abraham fit in ? Where is godliness ?
I. II Peter I:3 -
"Life and godliness
through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue"
is the divine grant to the believer (cf. Eph. 1:17-19). It is the glory of God, His pity and power, His service and beauty of holiness which is the source of His action. In love, He is glorious; in glory, He is loving, in might He is merciful, in pardon He is compassionate. He comes without a shadow of sin, or unrighteousness, iniquity far off like the noise of a distant war. He donates ALL godliness, ALL that life needs, where there are hands of faith to receive it. Faith then is not only looking to what is to come, but to what is here now, as Habakkuk in his joy of the PRESENT, also depicted.
II. II Peter 1:4
Great and Precious Promises for Faith are sitting by faith. This we are now told. They are ready for delivery, for action, for utilisation.
It is necessary to realise that character and life, the beauty of holiness and being what you should be in the creative power of God is FAR more important than mere means of life, or its accolades from man, who often wants what is morbid. WHAT LIFE needs is already there, if you are His by faith in His Messiah.
Hence these promises, to cover whatever godliness requires, whatever life itself must find in man who lives in, by, with and for God, are prodigious, and must be utilised by every Christian. It is by faith these are to be taken. This is part of the DIVINE DESIGN. It is necessary to stress, however, that it is used by faith.
Concerning faith, then, let us make a visit.
Romans 4 visit - for example of faith:
"For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed
by the law but through the righteousness of faith."
God promised, and Abraham "did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief,
but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,
and being fully convinced that what He had promised, He also was able to perform.
And therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness."
IV. So we also, as in II Peter 1:5,12-13,
faith, and multiply the place of grace,
"You know and are established in the present truth," he says, but he insists on spreading out the multiplication tables. The point is this: if you HAVE faith, THIS is the multiplication you'll DO.
If YOU decided on your new school, then we expect you to work at it. If YOU are born of God, then we expect with confidence you, having a new heart, will PUT IT INTO HIS WORK! After all, if you are born of God, you are HIS CHILD, and love what is His!
Again, you HAVE the promises ? then "for this very reason," looking to their end, the apostle enjoins you to be "giving all diligence", to hasten, to set about your additions and so multiply your service.
II Peter 1:1:6-8
What do you add to multiply blessings ?
First, to what do you add it ?
To faith, for it is for those who have "obtained like precious faith" – I Peter 1:1.
Notice that this gift is
"by the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ."
These last words are all in one grammatical case, and there is no article in front of Saviour. It is "God and Saviour", it is "ours" and it is "Jesus Christ."
Whatever denies these things has NOTHING to do with Christianity, except for being an enemy! This is the FOUNDATION, and on this you build. Christadelphians, JWs, Liberals, all of them fail just here, providing an appalling abuse of the name of Christ, whom they reject in His place just as the Jews did, long ago. That, it is unlike and non-precious faith!
Nor is this all, even this. These multiplied blessings, we read here, are by the RIGHTEOUSNESS of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ (II Peter 1:1). God that blessed Trinity INSISTS on righteousness, has no iniquity, is not disposed to any such thing (Deuteronomy 32:4), lives with a shining beauty of holiness past all measure (I Timothy 6:16), and in disposing love towards man, He has allowed in His righteousness no slightest dint or dimming, far less its demise.
Rather death than that, so God in covering guilt has suffered His only begotten Son to be sent into a format that could die, a sacrifice to cover sin (Romans 3:23-27); and then, despising death, He has taken Him from it in that same format, one able to be resurrected, and by His own power, raised Christ incorruptible, the flesh restored, and the way into eternal life for man presented both as a gift, and as a visual assurance. It is to be taken BY FAITH! Thus He has made for ever the point that love has a way, and justice a requirement, that they meet. As Psalm 85 puts it, mercy and truth have met, and righteousness and peace have kissed.
In mercy, God did it Himself; in truth He did what was necessary; in righteousness He endured it till it was done and in peace He provides the result: He is thus the One who WAS DEAD and is ALIVE FOREVER MORE (Revelation 1:18-19, I Cor. 15:1-4), and the disposition of life for one and for all, is His, who was that eternal life of God before His incarnation (I John 1:1-4), remains the same after His resurrection, and is to be the Judge of all (Acts 17:31).
With such magnificent divine nature and character demonstrated, man who loves God is delighted, and seeks to be made more like Him. In the process, there are additives, spiritual and delightful, for man to grasp ... by faith, as he grows in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18).
The ADDITIONS ?
First, VIRTUE. This is that special goodness which relates to the best use of your nature and gifts with all vigour and strength, yes and responsibility, setting firmly aside what weakens, breaks, frustrates vitality and serviceability.
Second, you add KNOWLEDGE. You do not slough off the scripture, but EAT it, work on it, labour in it, dwell on it, ponder it, seeking wisdom from it and obedience to it, for when God speaks, His children do listen; and when they listen, they learn. Make your Bible study significant, spiritual and continual. You WILL, if you love Him (John 14:21-23) - a good point on which to examine oneself!
Thirdly, to this you add SELF-CONTROL. Consider what a short lapse cost King David in the Bath-sheba affair, what wildness cost Samson in this very area, what ungratefulness cost Absolam, what a short loss of temper cost Moses! These, except Absolam, did not LIVE that way; but they erred that way. Samson erred longer by far, and his life was nearly forfeited; but in the end, he yielded himself up completely and completed his task.
Fourthly, add to that, PERSEVERANCE. Don't dabble, don't seek to imitate dappled light: be in the sunlight of His grace, for the Lord will arise with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2), the sun of righteousness gleaming on your blessed head. Don't say, But for me, it is quieter in the shade! Imbibe the full dose of spiritual vitamins in His very direct presence in prayer, and as you obey, remember this is not some mere rule book: you obey HIM who in this way is giving you guidance, so that you may walk with Him, companionably (cf. Matthew 28:19-20, John 15:14).
Consider that! Do not grieve your friend, like a wilful dog, witlessly or idly into every blind alley. Conserve your strength by following the way provided; and in following it, the power of the Spirit of God is the more given you, so bringing about what you might call a VIRTUOUS CIRCLE (cf. Acts 5:32).
Fifthly, add GODLINESS! By now it is becoming almost like a fast-ripening apple, and you are approaching this glorious situation. We have brought nothing into this world, can take nothing out of it, and living with God in it, like Enoch, in spirit, in word, in decisions, in priorities, in values, in helpfulness, involved in His affairs better than our own, securing things for His kingdom, being like it and of it: so you move into that salty and savoury, yes that fragrant life of faith which is one of joy and strength, governed by God! (cf. II Cor. 2:14, I Peter 1:7-8). By becoming a savour of life to the living, of death to the dying, you remind of Him on all sides, not in word only, but in spirit and grace.
Sixthly, add to this, BROTHERLY KINDNESS (from the Greek for which the city of Philadelphia takes it name). To be kind is one thing, and most pleasant and human in a fine sort of way; but to have BROTHERLY kindness is to have a special variety of it. You give to your fellows in the faith a brotherly attitude, a family reception, a warmth and comfort.
Seventhly, add to brotherly kindness, LOVE. Take the case, within the domain of love, of BROTHERLY LOVE. You may think the two, brotherly kindness and brotherly love, virtually the same; but Peter separates them in category, just as he did virtue and faith! Brotherly love is more than kindness, in this, that although being kind like a brother is most special and delightful, so that godly families have this special joy, yet loving like a brother is even more. It not only looks as to a brother, but feels it in the heart!
The best way to seek purity in this respect is as I John 5:2 tells you: “By this you know you love the brethren, if you love God and keep His commandments.” Then the vertical and lateral love, to man and to God, are both there! and the second follows from the first. When the love of God is shed out into your heart, then it is there to dispose towards others (Romans 5:5). .
As to these commandments, says John, they are not burdensome, but to overcome this world, it is the work of faith, which gives you, in Christ its focus, the victory.
IN GOD you have the strength and knowledge which ENABLES you to show the love that counts, not the superficiality which does not!
Do these things, and you will be anything but barren or unfruitful, and your entrance into His kingdom will be abundant!
Lack of these things is mere blindness, and casts large doubt on faith's presence at all. Faith sticks to these things, naturally loves them, as a fire 'loves' wood and burns it. If the wood does not burn, we ask: Is the fire alight! But if the wood burns, the answer to that question is very abundant!
CONSEQUENCES IN PURITY
Here then is the DESIGN from DEITY. Here is the path of purity. Here is the PROGRESSIVE and PROCESSIVE way to become pure in heart. If of course your motives were mixed at the first, how do you have faith ? It might be urged that if, on the other hand, they are not mixed, you are pure in heart already. This however is not necessarily so.
First, it is necessary to realise that purity of heart and lack of complete sinlessness are not incompatible in the Christian life. If you lose your temper on some occasion, this does not make mutant your motives, but merely shows your lack of necessary self-control. It is better you lose this temper, than foul your temper, your strength, like distorted steel, and become proud of your humility! In the meantime, you must GROW in grace, and in this in particular, self-control. It is rather futile to glory in one's temper when means are to hand to correct it (cf. Mark 11:22, II Peter 1:3-4).
Has not His divine power given all needed for godly living, and has not glory and virtue given great and precious promises for escape from lust, disordered emotion and dynamically misdirected practice ? We must grow ? yes, and in growing, overcome, and faith is the victory (I Peter 5:4).
Secondly, one must see no less that the beginning of being a Christian is not necessarily some drab thing without any graces, just because one must GROW in grace and in the knowledge of the Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ (as prescribed in II Peter 3:18). On the contrary, the "first love" as Revelation puts it (Rev. 2:4, in speaking to a church as one whole), this may indeed be a commendable thing, and pure as Spring. A body may even lose this, and be warned, lest mere emotionalism become their way, and not faith, and they be found frauds.
You see something of this in the 'bride' in the Song of Solomon Ch. 5, where 'she' is so replete in a feeling of niceness, perfumed and abed in comfort, that she fails to arise at the knock of the 'bridegroom', who in that action is the Messiah! What a time she has in seeking Him, when fresh from His kingdom work, and not give entrance, He goes! She is mocked as she seeks, but seeks past all mocking, until she finds Him! (cf. The Song).
GROWING in grace implies an initial SHOWING in grace, or there would be nothing there to grow. You cannot cause growth in a creeper if it is not already there.
Further, whilst in presentation one has rather stressed from II Peter 1, the PLUS aspect, this is not for some superiority of conception for those who have 'arrived' (cf. Philippians 3:12), an attitude which defies humility at the outset, but for passion of seeking likeness to Christ simply BECAUSE this is God on earth as man. Foul is idolatry of any mortal sinner; no less so is failure to worship God Himself, and to discard or even disregard what He has come to do, and show. The nature of grace is this, that one relishes its source and does not entertain notions about its recipient! If one is given a million, is this some coup ? Coup indeed, but of the donor, not the recipient!
Worship involves receptivity, and where the power of God is present, into this receptivity of heart comes power and purification, purging by showing the wayward foolishness of sin and the strength and beauty of holiness, as in Isaiah 6, where the very nearness to the Lord, ready for imparting commission for Isaiah in his forthcoming work for that same Lord, led to a certain purging of his lips. Symbolically this was shown by the use of a hot coal from the altar, touching his lips.
Worship is a keynote of purity, and the indwelling life of God by His Spirit is a constant conforming dynamic (as shown in II Corinthians 3:18). How strange that II Peter 3:18 and II Cor. 3:18 both deal with growth in grace, in conformity to Christ! just as II Timothy 3:16 and I Timothy 3:16 deal with the power of the word of God, its reliability throughout, and the power of God manifest in Christ, and His power in Him; while John 3:16 deals with the love of God for the world, that souls be won from it by His own sacrificial action, and pardoned, given eternal life, and Jeremiah 3:16 shows the days to be coming, when the Old Testament symbolism would be replaced by the more direct revelation that God was preparing, namely as we now know, that of John 3:16!
Mere mnemonics though these numbers be, they are as such most useful. They help to tie things together in the mind, and hopefully, to bring them to focus together in one's life!
Thus is the saint built up with these qualities that II Peter 1 expresses; but it is built on LIKE PRECIOUS FAITH as expressed at the beginning of this epistle (II Peter 1:1), and the growths do not substitute for the original adoption, by which a person becomes a child of God, for the regenerated life in Christ, but rather they merely indicate paths to follow, as when one puts sticks for a creeper, that it might follow the outline of a tree on which one may wish it to grow!
Thus as in a car, the motive is not ultimately to have the parts in due relationship and presence, but rather to have the complete design operational, and the form visible, with its aesthetic and practical sides. This is certainly aided in implementation by the connection of parts, and their being formed into a sound size and shape; but those things are aspects of the whole, and formed for it.
The beauty is the Lord's, and purity enables its best expression; and when it is the Lord with whom one is dealing, or rather who is dealing with one, then purity as in glass, is most desirable, because of what is on the other side! The life of God is beyond all, and it is given to those who receive it; and it is this in its purity, which is untouchable in excellence, magnificent in brilliance, a gift to the saints, eternal by nature, dependent on none, available to all who in faith receive it. It is this which alone gives hope to a warring world, stature to man, meaning to his intelligence, scope for his living and joy to his soul: not a passing self-complacency, but an assured ground for building, and a spirit for enterprise, that its way be not the initiative of darkness, but the path of light.
See Beauty of Holiness, and Beauty for Ashes.
An excerpt from Worn-Out World and Coming King Ch. 10 is here to the point. It is discussing just this practice of 'making saints' on the part of man, when in fact it is done only by God and done to ALL Christians.
To be sure, such Romanist practices are a ludicrous shambles in view of the New Testament's clear designation of ALL Christians as saints (cf. Romans 1:7, where all are called for sainthood, while in II Cor. 1, we see Paul speaking to a Church "with all the saints who are in all Achaia", which is a universal application, not a restrictive address to some miniscule set of mysterious and unknown individuals. Similarly, when he speaks in Ephesians 1 "to the saints who are in Ephesus", it is apparent that he is not feeling need to speak only to the remarkable, but to all! It is a letter to the Ephesians, not some sub-sector. In the Epistle to the Philippians (1), he speaks "to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi", and it is apparent that not all are remarkable for holiness (cf. 4:1ff.)!