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Cultivating Christian Character


"5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love."

Good Morning my beloved,


Welcome to worship this Lord's day! We're so glad that you are here with us today. Please know, that we continue to lift all of you up in our prayers. We respectfully ask that you would pray for this ministry to continue to reach the lost, the broken and the hopeless. And for us. We are so grateful for those of you who have been sharing the ministry website with all of your family and friends. Your faithfulness to share God's Word with others has brought about tremendous results. Where will God's Word be heard today? With your help, it will reach those that need it most.

Our responses to things in life say a lot about us. God has lavishly showered upon you His divine grace so that you could share in His own divine nature, so that you could become the very righteousness of Christ. As believers, it is our responsibility to make every effort to respond to God’s divine grace in a way that is pleasing in His sight. 
I'd like you to consider all of the resources that God has poured into providing you with your salvation, consider the incredible purposes that God will achieve in providing you with your salvation. God’s grace is incredibly valuable. Therefore, we must make every effort to accomplish the purpose of the gracious gift He has given to us.   
God wants us to have full assurance of our salvation, however, many Christians do not enjoy that assurance. I believe that every true Christian should enjoy that reality. In fact, not to have that assurance is to live in doubt, live in fear and a form of spiritual depression. It means you’re unable to truly delight in God, you’re unable to enjoy the anticipation of all of His promises, which is inherent in the Christian experience.
In order to enjoy all that has been given to you in Christ, presupposes having that assurance. There are so many Christians who have been sitting in churches for years, clinging to their "born again" certificates, who haven’t experienced much spiritual growth, if any at all. Tragically, far too many Christians are simply content to know they’re not going to hell. You cannot hold onto your Bible with one hand and your immoral lifestyle with the other. A true Christian ought not to be a question mark hanging over their head, it should be an exclamation point.
In fact, II Peter 1:9 tells us that "For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins."
If you're going to enjoy all that is yours in Christ, you have to first know that you are in Christ.
Let us pray
Heavenly Father,
Father, thank You for Your Word for us today, what a blessed reminder. Lord, we thank You for the joy that comes to the heart of every true believer. We pray for those who have been exposed to the tests, who now have come to the realization that no matter what they been claiming, there's no true salvation there. We pray for those who name the name of Christ, who continue to live in sin, who not obedient to Your Word. O' Lord, touch their hearts, convict them of their error, that they might come to You in full repentance, we ask that You would save them for Christ's sake and for Your glory. Cultivate in them, Christ-like character.
Lord, we pray for those who have never known Christ as their Lord and Savior, that You would open their eyes and ears, that they hear the truth, recognize their sinful condition and the knowledge that apart from salvation in Christ, they are condemned to eternal hell. We pray that You would speak to their hearts today Lord. 
We pray this in Jesus' precious name

Today's Message: Cultivating Christian Character

One of the biggest trends that is happening over the past decade, is Christians are attending church less. It appears to me that they will allow anything to get in the way of going to church. Many in my generation, grew up going to church two or three times a week, today, the average has dropped to 2 or 3 times a month. Sadly, they're are content with that. 
The University of Virginia, tells us that when a married couple attends church regularly together, they have a 35% greater chance of their marriage enduring trials. I suppose that's why we are seeing Christians marriages suffer the same statics as those in the secular world today. I believe that if you remove God from the center of any relationship, it is sure to collapse.  
Before we begin our study today, I'd like you join me in reading a few passages from I John,  because John deals with the same issue,  the matter for our joy and our peace as Christians. The New Testament writers were very concerned about this matter of true salvation, as was Jesus Himself. In I John 1:4, John says "These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete." In other words, he's saying that the purpose of writing the epistle, is so that together, we might rejoice.
Then, at the end of this epistle in chapter 5 verse 13, in a somewhat thematic statement, he sums it all up in saying "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life."
Certainly, inherent in that joy is the confidence of true salvation. That said, John writes his epistle to give us instruction, that we might know our salvation is genuine. I'm sure many of you have heard people say, that I John is a good place for new Christians to start. It's simple, and very basic. However, it is also very deep and very profound. It is often challenging, and a difficult epistle to interpret clearly. It is most apparent,  in the epistle is that there are a number of clearly-given tests, for one to to verify the validity of salvation. Therefore, if someone were questioning their spiritual condition, unsure whether or not they really possessed eternal life, this would be a good place to send them.
I don't want to discourage you from reading I John on your ow, so I won't go through all the tests, but you can find in chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. That's right, all five chapter in the epistle of I John. If you are going to claim to be a Christian, if you are going to claim to be in Christ, then your life is going to show some of the evident patterns of Christ. Because it is not the people who claim to be Christians, who are in Christ,  but those whose lives give evidence of being in Christ. In other words, in this day and age, people can claim to be anything, via social media for example, I've seen many claim to be models and actors, yet, there is no evidence to substantiate such claims. By the way, taking a few snapshots with your cellphone is not the evidence I'm speaking of.
I John 2:6 says "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked."  
Open with me your Bibles to II Peter, in our ongoing study of this wonderful epistle, we come to verses 5 through 11. However, so as not to rush through this too quickly, I have decided to again break it down to smaller, more manageable sections. Today, we will be looking at verses 5 through 7. 

I invite you to follow along with me as I read to you to set the text in our minds. Prepare your hearts and listen for the voice of our Lord. II Peter 1:5-7.

"Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love."
In verses 3 and 4 Peter indicated that we have everything we need in Christ. Now, in verses 5 to 11, Peter says we have to do everything that we can to add to it. This is that marvelous paradox of being complete in Christ, and having to do everything within our strength to follow Him. In verses 5 through 11, Peter gives us the path to assurance.
Let's look at verse 5, "Now for this very reason also," here, Peter is connecting us back to verses 3 and 4. Remember, in verses 3, he said "that His 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." And, in verse 4, he says "For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." You become partakers of the divine nature. You have escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust."
"Now, for this reason," because of that is yours in Christ, "do this." That's the point. "Applying all diligence," though we are given everything in Christ, it takes everything we have to follow up on that. Because in Christ, we have been given all of these gracious resources for spiritual sufficiency, give it your maximum effort. False teachers will successfully prey on those who are vulnerable, who question their salvation, who have doubts, who are confused about what they believe.
However, to those who are confident in their salvation, who are assured in the true knowledge of the Savior, secure in the riches Christ has given to them, false teachers have nothing to offer. "Now, for this reason, applying all diligence." Verse 5, calls for a diligent effort.
Let's just kind of review, first is the effort prescribed, second the excellence pursued, the options presented and the benefits promised. Now, in verse 5, effort prescribed, "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith." There’s the effort prescribed. Then, the next word is "supply."

The word "diligence," is the word "spoudḗ," it means haste, eagerness, quickly obeying what the Lord reveals is His priority. The word supply, is the word "epixorēgéō," It means to give generously, to give lavishly. All that is needed to accomplish a grand objective. However, in this case, it's a different word, chorégeó, it means choir master. Then, there's a preposition in front of it, epí.  
Because the choir master had the responsibility to supply everything his choir needed, the word came to mean a supplier. It never means to equip or supply in a sparing way. The word epichorgein, went on to mean not only to equip a chorus but to be responsible for any kind of equipping. To equip the soul with all the necessary virtues for life.
Because of all that Christ has done for you, you need to lavishly apply all zeal, coming alongside what Christ has done, do everything you can. The one who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, in faith, has every reason to be assured . There is assurance in that faith. 
Paul says in Romans 15:13, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." With faith carries assurance. However,
if there is no zealous effort made to lavishly supply what is required alongside what Christ has done, I believe that there will be the forfeiture of the joy of assurance.  
Heeding Peter’s words keep us from being useless and unfruitful in our relationship with Jesus Christ. We should therefore, approach them with a deep sense of their importance. We should diligently pursue the full supply of all these things. The fullness of assurance, the fullness of spiritual excellence. And lay it alongside the full supply of God’s gracious provision.
Then, at the end of verse 5 and through verse 7, he says "Supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love." Peter gives us seven virtues to be pursued. Out of faith comes moral excellence, out of moral excellence comes knowledge and so on. Each of these seven virtues are embodied in the previous one. This text which requires discipline and self-denial. Therefore, it is a challenge to every Christian for all the days of their lives.
The term moral excellence is the word "arétē," it means virtue. The word meant the God-given ability to perform heroic deeds, in classical times. It is very rare in Scripture, by the way, it is not secular Greek. It never meant a virtue as in an attitude, it meant virtue which is demonstrated in a life. The goal is to be like Christ. Christ is the model of excellence.

Paul said in Philippians 3:12, "Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus."
Pursue Christ-likeness.  Pursue excellence. 
In verses 1-4, Peter has already laid the foundation for the Christian’s exertion, he emphasizes the sovereignty of God in salvation. Now, Peter is writing about the kind of person the Christian should strive to become. The particular character qualities of God, which should be evident in the lives of Christians.  I'd like you to note, that Peter gives us a list unlike any other list in the Scriptures. I believe that Peter's list is compiled for a particular reason. I believe this list was specifically chosen because of the false teachers who will seek to distort the truth of the Scriptures and seek to seduce men to follow them. If the character qualities listed in verses 5 through 7 are the attributes of God, they are certainly in dramatic contrast to the character of the false teachers and their followers.
The second virtue, is knowledge. Discernment, spiritual insight. The word knowledge means correct insight, understanding truth properly, and properly applied. Understanding that in our pursuit of moral excellence there must be spiritual knowledge. In other words, before we can live, we must know. We must first know how we are to conduct ourselves before we can conduct ourselves in that way. I believe that this clearly involves a diligent study and pursuit of the truth in the Word of God.
Verse 6, Peter says inherent in your knowledge, is self-control.  And all bound up with that true knowledge is self-control. It is the Greek word egkratḗs, which means mastered from within. It was a term used in athletics. Athletes would beat their body into submission. They abstain from unhealthy food, from sexual indulgences, for the sake of athletic achievement. Controlling the flesh, passions and bodily desires, rather than allowing themselves to be controlled by them. Self-control is the opposite of self-indulgence. As unbelievers, are dominated by their physical appetites, enslaved by them. As we have been delivered from the desires of the flesh.
False teachers are self-indulgent, greedy, claiming to be free from the need for self-control. They follow their own lusts and desires. Typically, they restrain themselves from nothing. 
Peter continues in verse 6, with "And in your self-control, perseverance." It is the word "hypoménō," persevering in doing what is right. For the believer, this uniquely happens by God's power. By the way,  there is no English equivalent for the word hypoménō.
Then, at the heart of this persevering endurance is godliness. It really means reverence, a practical awareness of God in every area of life. It carries the idea of God-consciousness, one who worships and adores God. Reverence, gives God His rightful place, worshipping God as He ought to be worshiped. 
False teaching is not uncommon in the pulpit today. Rather than to proclaim a gospel which involves suffering and self-denial,  they proclaim a different gospel, one of self-indulgence, wealth and success. Or as Joel Osteen puts it, "Your Best Life Now."
In verse 7, Peter says "And in your godliness, brotherly kindness." A mutual sacrifice for each other. It is a love based on what we share in common with the One we love. As believers, we should be a blessing to our brother in Christ, and he should be a blessing to us.  At the heart of godliness, the heart of reverencing God, is brotherly affection. This unique love, based on our shared relationship with Christ, can be immediately sensed even though they may never have met before. However, this is not to imply it is automatic, otherwise, Peter wouldn't feel the need to instruct us to pursue it.
I John 4:20 says it this way, "If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen."  
If you are truly a Christian, you will show affection toward others. Because at the heart of kindness toward a brother, is the love of God shed abroad in your heart. While faith is the foundation, love is the culmination.
In Closing..
Yes, beloved, we have everything we need in Christ, and we are responsible for adding to it moral virtue, practical wisdom, self-control, perseverance and endurance in all temptations, reverence for God, brotherly kindness and an all-pervasive love for others.
Where there are these realities in your life, there is the confidence of salvation. Beloved, these prosperity preachers have nothing to offer except a pack of lies, and deceptions, for a reverence for God they offer you irreverence. For true love, they offer lust. For self-control, they offer you self indulgence. Sin not only alienates men from God, it alienates them from one another. 
I believe this is exactly what we are witnessing taking place in the world today. Sin! Because for a true believer in Christ, love crosses every barrier, whether racial or social. I believe that as Christians, this is something, we must all strive to practice and preserve.
May it be so..
And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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