“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)
As a prominent leader in the church, Peter was constantly in danger from enemies of Christians. He continued to preach boldly, but by the end of his life, he like many others were imprisoned and awaiting martyrdom. He wrote the epistle of 2 Peter shortly before he died to encourage believers, reminding them of their salvation and of the basic principles of their beliefs. In the middle of the rampant persecution that was sweeping through the lands, it was imperative that believers understand their position in Christ and not have any doubts concerning their salvation. To help them with this, Peter provided a list of qualities that would help give believers assurance of their position in Christ.
“Make every effort,” Peter wrote, “to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (1 Peter 1:5-7) These are all excellent attributes, tied closely to the fruit of the Spirit which Paul wrote about in Galatians. If someone has all of these and is growing in them, he can have assurance that he is in fact saved.
But what if someone who has professed faith in Christ is lacking one or many of these qualities? Does that mean he was never saved at all? Not exactly. According to Peter, it’s possible for believers to become “nearsighted” in their faith; that is, they’ve gotten so far from where they should be that they can no longer see where they are. They have forgotten that Jesus has cleansed them of their sins and are likely living in a way that doesn’t honor Him. That does not mean the person is unsaved; it just means he’s forgotten what it means to be saved.
It’s important to note that Peter instructed his readers to “make every effort to supplement your faith with [these qualities].” They don’t just come naturally; rather, it takes effort on our part to cultivate them. God’s divine power has given us all we need to live for Him, but we have to choose to accept that power and what it can do in us. It’s not easy. Even Christians succumb to sin several hundred times a week. But when we are constantly growing in these qualities and seeing the fruit they bear in our lives, we can have confidence in our salvation. If someone is struggling with seeing fruit in his life, he can refer to this list and see what areas he might be lacking in. We’re all prone to nearsightedness; but when we cultivate a godly character, we can see clearly. “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” (1 Peter 1:10)