“You can stay home from school today,” my wife explained to my teenage daughter who will remain nameless. “But you need to clean the kitchen before I get home from work.”
My daughter had been suffering from some pretty severe sleep issues, going about three days without sleep. When my wife came to her room early that morning to wake her up, my daughter was laying in bed, staring at the ceiling.
In agreement with my wife, I let her sleep until 2:30 that afternoon (I work from home). But when I woke her up, I reminded her that she had about an hour to clean the kitchen.
An hour later, she still hadn’t touched it.
“I told you that the kitchen needed to be clean by 3:30,” I told her.
She stood there and gave me the look that says, You’re not the boss of me.
“I cleaned the kitchen last time,” she spat back at me. “Make [sister] clean it.”
“[Sister] was at school all day while you were sleeping,” I scolded the daughter in question. “Mom told you she would let you stay home from school under one condition—that you clean the kitchen.”
At that point, the other sister chimed in and only made matters worse.
“You need to shut up and do what he says.”
And with that, the daughter in question walked out of the kitchen, marched into her room, and slammed the door.
Anyone out there want a daughter to raise for the next three years?
Nevertheless, this very recent conversation reminds me our study in 2 Peter.
Peter, who was one of Jesus’ closest friends during his earthly ministry was nearing the end of his life. Followers of Christ were being persecuted. Peter, who was living in Rome at the time, knew his days were numbered.
As his life was winding down, teachers were appearing who were preaching a different gospel than Jesus. It was a gospel they said that Jesus gave them. But it didn’t ring true with Peter and it didn’t sound like the Jesus who Peter knew.
“Your physical body is corrupt and cannot be redeemed,” they preached. “Your soul is incorruptible because Jesus has forgiven you. So anything you do cannot affect your soul. The grace of Jesus covers all our sins, so live as you please.”
God does want something from you
Two thousand years ago, church leaders dealt with this heresy, which theologians call “antinomianism” (meaning “no law”). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia defines it as “The view that Christians are exempt from the demands of the moral law by reason of their reliance upon divine grace alone for salvation.”
At the beginning of his second epistle, Peter begins by explaining that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Our flesh doesn’t and shouldn’t call the shots for the way we live. We looked at this last week. Then he writes,
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, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, 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 1:5-7
Some of the terms in his list appeal to the inner person. “Goodness” and “knowledge” may or may not affect outward behavior. But then he adds “self-control” and “godliness” to his list. Those are definitely outward behaviors. Reading between the lines, he’s saying that our souls and outward behavior are inextricably tied together.
Interestingly enough, he tells his readers that they need to “make every effort” (that means “work hard”) at developing each one of the qualities on his list. To ensure he made himself painfully clear, Peter actually uses the phrase twice in the passage.
And if we don’t make every effort to grow in these qualities?
But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. 2 Peter 1:8-10
Basically, Peter is saying that God saved you for a purpose. The salvation we receive through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is free and available to everyone. But becoming followers of Jesus means dedicating to living like Jesus. It means growing in character and love, but also dedicating ourselves to living with self-control and godliness.
You were forgiven for a reason: to be like Jesus. You were forgiven to be effective and productive (literally “fruitful) in your relationship with Christ (see verse 8). And how can we be effective and productive? By adding faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, etc in increasing measure.
If you get to stay home from school–then make sure you clean the kitchen!
Receiving the grace of God without responding with our lives is akin to staying home from school with the agreement that we would clean the kitchen—and then, at the end of the day, refusing to follow through.
Believe me, I’m preaching to the choir. As I studied this passage yesterday, I realized that I have wasted years of my life just coasting in my walk with God. I’m ashamed to admit that far too often I have taken the grace of Jesus for granted and indulged in flesh-satisfying sin.
The good news is that I don’t have to live like that. I’m better than that because Christ lives in me. And you are too, if you’ve given your life to Jesus.
Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. After the conflict cooled down, the daughter in question eventually cleaned the kitchen.