“in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge.” (2 Peter 1:5b, NASB95)
In verse 3 we read, “seeing [knowing and understanding] that His [Jesus Christ] divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3, NASB95) Verse 5 instructs us that from this knowledge that Christ has given us what we need according to His own glory and excellence we are to apply that same excellence to our lives. Our response of faith is to live as Christ calls us to live in the way that He demonstrated for us that He lived. This is not a response of hoping we will be good enough to please Him and gain His favor, but a response of knowing that we have been shown His favor and in a response of belief and trust we live accordingly.
To “supply” means that we add effort, and in context with the first part of verse 5, it is to be diligent effort. The two Greek words that make up the one used here (epichoregeo) are “epi” and “choregeo.” “Epi” means that we are to add to or to put upon. It means that we bring above and beyond to the table. It is a common prefix used to take an instruction to a higher level. “Choregeo” means to supply or to furnish abundantly. Together we get the picture of making every effort to respond fully in a specific way. And the specific area in which we are to excel in our faithful response is in moral excellence or in the same excellence that we have learned from Christ.
Of Jesus, we read, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, NASB95) In everything that Jesus did and said He applied moral excellence. He was pressed in all ways. We read in 1 Peter 2:23, “and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;” (1 Peter 2:23, NASB95) Jesus never cut a corner on moral excellence. The purpose for His coming was to fulfill the will of the Father, and He did it perfectly. In His prayer to the Father on the night He was betrayed He said, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4, NASB95) As God taking on the form of man, the Son applied perfectly moral excellence to accomplish the work of the Father. And, this is what we are called to do in response to Him. We are to daily and even moment by moment apply His excellent standard to all that we do and say, knowing that we have been given the Spirit in us to minister to us in the process and the Word of God to set that course.
We are called by God to live outstanding lives and to do amazing things. It may or may not be heroic in the way that the world views things, but our responses to all that comes our way in life make a huge statement about who we are and where we place our trust. Even in the darkest of times, we can continue to respond in heroic ways because we know that with our God there is no difference between light and dark and there is no place where He also does not also hold us close.
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” (Psalm 139:7–12, NASB95)
It is so amazing that our God has not called us to do something that He has not also shown us how to do and enabled us to then do. In our moral excellence, we are instructed to add and apply knowledge. It is as we hide God’s Word in our lives that we can then apply the truths that we have learned to the daily situations that we face. Being a Christian is not a check-list kind of life, but a life of continual response in trust to our God who reveals Himself to us. Our responses are to be informed responses to His truth.
As we study His Word we gain knowledge which leads to understanding and the insight to properly apply it. This is what we read in 2 Timothy 3:16. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” (2 Timothy 3:16, NASB95) Head knowledge is one thing, but unapplied it really amounts to nothing more than boxes of once read books buried in the garage. Unless they are pulled out, dusted off and practically used they serve no real good. Teaching is the starting point, and the implied reciprocal part of that is learning. Then from that learning, to have value it needs to be applied.
The model we see here of Scripture is that it is profitable for “reproof” as well. This means that Scripture shines a light on the areas of darkness in our life. Those areas in our life where we are missing God’s mark, Scripture points them out to us with the illumination of the Spirit working in us. God does not beat us up over our wrongs, unless maybe we thumb our nose at Him and He decides to push a bit harder. But, He does show us where we need to change, and then with that He also gives us the proper way of change. This is where the next word, “correction,” comes into play. I wear glasses in order to see better. My glasses are corrective devices just as a cast or even surgery might be for someone who has something else wrong with their body. God’s Word is not only faithful to point out the misdirection, but also to set us straight in the right direction. He shows us where we are off track, how to get on track, and then how to stay on track. As we continue in verse 16 we read, “for training in righteousness.” God’s Word instructs us in righteous living, and we are each called to not only hide His Word in our hearts, but to apply it to the entirety of our lives whether that be thinking, speaking, or acting. Then verse 17 of 2 Timothy 3 speaks to the outcome of the knowledge of God understood and applied. “so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:17, NASB95)
Living His moral excellence as revealed in His Word according to the power of the Holy Spirit in us as those saved by faith in Christ is how we are called to live by faith. The other stuff of life is really a proving ground in which it is to be applied, knowing that our God is incredibly merciful, gracious, and patient.