The apostle Peter commands, "add to your faith virtue"
(NKJV, 2 Pet. 1:5). The New American Standard Version translates
this Scripture saying, "in your faith supply moral
excellence." "Virtue," in Second Peter 1:5,
means "moral excellence" or "moral goodness."
The aim of this article is to explain the virtuous character
that Christians must possess.
Virtue Begins with Becoming a Christian
Moral excellence begins with diligent faith (2 Pet. 1:5).
Since faith demands hearing and obeying God's word (Rom.
10:17; Heb. 11:1f), the first step toward moral excellence
is obedience to God in repentance from sin, confession of
Christ, and baptism into Christ for the remission of sins
(Acts 2:38; 8:37-38; Rom. 6:3).
At the time we repent, we turn away from sin to obediently
serve God. Therefore, we are baptized making our appeal
to God for a good conscience (1 Pet. 3:21). With a good
conscience, we begin a morally excellent life. Unbelievers,
on the other hand, are not morally excellent since they
do not believe and have not appealed to God for a good conscience.
God's Word Sets the Standard for Morality, Virtue
Virtue is moral excellence. God is absolute virtue (excellence,
2 Pet. 1:3). Therefore, God sets the standard for virtue.
Since God has given us all things that pertain to life and
godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), He has given us the standard for
moral excellence in His word (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Society dictates neither morality nor virtue. We cannot
live by the world's standard of morality and expect to go
to heaven (Is. 55:8-9; 1 Cor. 1:18f). A virtuous life is
the result of hearing God's word, believing God's word,
and obeying God's word (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 5:9). When we live
according to the law and doctrine of Christ, we are virtuous
(Gal. 6:2; Col. 3:17; 2 Jn. 1:9).
Christians Grow Spiritually, in Virtue
As a babe in Christ, we feed upon the pure milk of the word
and begin growing spiritually (1 Pet. 2:2). As growing babes,
we thoroughly learn the first principles and move on to
perfection (Heb. 5:12f; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). As we grow in knowledge
(2 Pet. 1:5), we change our lives to live according to all
that we know about God and His will. Every time we change
to better serve God, we become more virtuous.
As we grow spiritually, we grow in:
- faith (2 Pet. 1:5). Therefore, we become increasingly
- knowledge (2 Pet. 1:5). Therefore, we become
- self-control (2 Pet. 1:6). Therefore, we become
- perseverance (2 Pet. 1:6). Therefore, we become
- godliness (2 Pet. 1:6). Therefore, we become
- brotherly kindness (2 Pet. 1:7). Therefore, we
become increasingly virtuous.
- love (2 Pet. 1:7). Therefore, we become increasingly
Christians Meditate on Virtuous Things
A Christian's life is a life of virtue (2 Pet. 1:5). Therefore,
Paul commands us to think on things that are virtuous (Phil.
4:8). We cannot allow our minds to dwell upon evil and expect
to live virtuously before God. "Evil company corrupts
good habits" (1 Cor. 15:33). If our mind is in the
gutter, we cannot live a virtuous life.
Christians can never escape all of the negative influences
of sin (1 Cor. 5:9f). But, we must work very hard to keep
from dwelling on the sin that surrounds us as we interact
with people of the world. We can never allow ourselves to
gleefully entertain the pleasures of unrighteousness in
our minds (2 Th. 2:11-12; 2 Tim. 3:1-4). To do so is sin
(cf. Matt. 5:27-30).
Virtue is More Valuable than Worldly Wealth
Solomon said, "Who can find a virtuous wife? For her
worth is far above rubies" (Pr. 31:10).
Solomon's rhetorical question implies that a virtuous woman
is extremely difficult to find. This is not just applicable
to women, but virtuous people in general are difficult to
find. In the time of Noah, there were only eight virtuous
people on the earth (1 Pet. 3:20). And Jesus tells us that
few people will be saved (Matt. 7:13-14) denoting that only
a few virtuous people will ever live on earth.
A virtuous wife is worth much more than rubies. We have
an abundance of rubies compared with the number of virtuous
women on the earth. Therefore, a virtuous woman far outweighs
the value of rubies. Generally speaking, virtue is more
valuable than worldly wealth. A virtuous life results in
eternal life, but worldly wealth is temporal (cf. Matt.
6:19-21; Jas. 5:1-6).
We will Behold God's Absolute Virtue
Absolute virtue (excellence) is possessed by God (2 Pet.
1:3). As God's children, we strive to imitate Him each and
every day (cf. Matt. 5:48).
One day, Christians will behold absolute perfection and
virtue in heaven while worshiping before God's throne. Take
a moment and think about your life.
- Are you a virtuous person?
- Will you eternally live in the midst of absolute virtue
while worshiping before God's throne? Or, will you only
get a brief glimpse of God's virtue as you stand condemned
before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10)?