Peter has already made it clear that knowing God, the source of all life, is the only path to being fully equipped to live as God calls us to do: “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Pet 1:3) Now that we have been empowered to do so, we must “make every effort” to add the following qualities to, or alongside, our faith. In other words, we must begin to live as if what we believe is really true.

So in steady perseverance, we’re told to keep adding Christlike characters to our faith in Christ. “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.” (2 Pet 1:5-7)

Our ultimate reason to do good is the same self–sacrificing love that Christ showed for us. “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet 1:8)

But now we come to our next warning: “For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” (2 Pet 1:9) Peter says if we fail to add virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love to our faith, we have become so nearsighted that we are as good as blind. We are living as if we were unbelievers, who really are blind, spiritually. Peter is warning Christians who are preoccupied with the short-term, that they have lost the ability to see life from any kind of eternal perspective.

Those who set aside the positive traits Peter listed have forgotten that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Christians who have “forgotten” completely overlook who they are and the reason we’re still here on this earth. We still see participating in sin, or less-than-Christlike behaviors, as normal. Instead, we should see those as things we we’ve been cleansed from, which we have the power to move on from. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (Prov 4:23) If we aren’t diligent to guard against falsehood, evil thoughts, and lustful desires, our enemy Satan is standing by ready to take advantage.

It’s critical to remember that Peter is addressing believers: men and women who are saved by faith in Christ and will spend eternity with God. The tragic loss of abandoning these qualities, living only for ourselves, is the loss of opportunity. It’s not a question of losing salvation, but of failing to become who we can be in the here and now, used as God intended to fulfill His purpose on earth, and we will have to answer for it one day.

Jesus said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” (Matt 12:36) The Greek phrase is rema argos, meaning “careless or inactive or unprofitable words.” In context, Jesus is contrasting the “good things” within a good person with the “evil things” in the heart of an evil person. We are admonished to make the best use of our words, because words express what is in our hearts: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt 12:34b). Our choice is to walk in the Spirit and in love, or to act exactly like those who haven’t come to know Jesus. Can anyone tell the difference?