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2 PETER 1:3-11 - Virtue, Duty and Dominion

It's Good To Be A Man  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  35:02
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A couple of months ago, I turned on our TV and discovered that WJAC had stopped carrying ME-TV! (My disappointment was immeasurable and my day was ruined.) The “Memorable Entertainment Television” channel was one of our favorite channels on TV, because it was a channel you could watch without worrying that you were going to get smacked in the face with profanity, violence, nudity and things like that. Some of the best shows ever produced— The Dick Van Dyke Show, M*A*S*H, Maverick, Wagon Train, Bonanza—and one of our all-time favorites, The Andy Griffith Show.
That’s a show that would never be made today. Andy Taylor was an honest, kind, upstanding man of integrity and wisdom, who always knew how to handle a situation, and never gave in to spite or selfishness or hatred. So, not the kind of TV character that television audiences in 2022 are interested in watching. In fact, Mayberry, the town Andy watched over and cared for has become a word to describe people who are particularly gullible, naive or idealistic.
The kind of honor and virtue that was at the heart of The Andy Griffith Show is ridiculed and dismissed today. We want our heroes to be “complicated” and rough and dark and flawed. The honest patriotism and idealistic honor of Steve Rogers is played for laughs against the selfish dissipation and cynicism of Tony Stark.
And I want to submit to you this morning that this is not an inconsequential development in our culture. A society that hates and fears masculinity is a society that will ridicule and demean the notion of virtue.
As it is defined in the Bible, virtue is
VIRTUE: Reflecting the EXCELLENCE of God’s CHARACTER in your LIFE
A virtuous man—a man who reflects the character of His God in honor and strength and industry and wisdom and steadfastness—is a man who is equipped to obey his high calling of exercising dominion in this world as God’s representative ruler. To put it simply; if you are going to represent God’s rulership in this world, you must first represent His character in your life.
And so you can see why the evil patriarchies of this world hate the idea of virtue; it is attacked and torn down and debunked and erased wherever it is found. In the memorable words of C.S. Lewis in The Abolition Of Man:
“We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” Lewis, C. S. (2015). The Abolition of Man (31705th ed.). HarperOne.
The spirit of this age hates virtue in men because a man of virtue is a man who is equipped to take dominion in this world. And so this is how I want to say it this morning:
Cultivating godly VIRTUES equips a man for the DUTIES of taking DOMINION
Look with me at 2 Peter chapter 1 (p. 1018 in the pew Bible). The Apostle Peter starts of his letter with a great encouragement to his readers that, through the divine power of Christ at work in them through their salvation, they have everything they need for life and godliness:
2 Peter 1:3–4 (ESV)
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Brothers, as you consider the high calling of the duties for taking dominion that God has called you to, you begin with these great and precious promises. See in verse 3 that God’s divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, who has called you to His own glory and excellence (the word “excellence” is the same word translated virtue elsewhere in Scripture.) God has called you to His own virtues—to image His excellencies in your own character.
You have escaped the corruption of this world’s destruction of masculinity, you are free in Christ from the penalty and power of your sin, and you have been given everything you need to image God’s rule on this earth through the gift of the masculine nature He has given you. When you come in repentance to Jesus Christ for salvation from your sin by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He transforms you from clueless bastard to a man of honor and strength and wisdom, fully equipped for life and godliness.
And then Peter goes on in the very next verse to say that, since all of this is true in you, brother, that you can bend your strength to cultivating virtue:
2 Peter 1:5 (ESV)
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,

I. "Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue...” (2 Peter 1:5)

When we look through the Scriptures, we see at least three masculine virtues, three “excellencies” that God commands. (To be sure, He commands these virtues of men and women, but there are particular ways these virtues express themselves in men versus women.) The foundational virtue of all is found in Proverbs 1:7:
Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The Scriptures tell us that
A man of WISDOM grasps his WORLD when he FEARS God (Prov. 1:7; Ps. 119:99-100)
When you begin with obedient reverence for God and submission to Him in all things, you find that your world makes sense. Wisdom to understand what is going on around you, wisdom to perceive the motivations and actions of people, wisdom to know how to react in a given situation is all grounded in that foundational fear of God and obedience to Him. Psalm 119:99-100 says
Psalm 119:99–100 (ESV)
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
Brother, when you make God and His Word your meditation, when you determine to submit yourself to Him in everything and obey Him first and foremost, He will give you more understanding and more insight and more common sense than any Ph.D philosopher who refuses to acknowledge God.
God calls you to cultivate the virtue of wisdom—and He calls you to cultivate the virtue of workmanship—cultivate masculine productivity and usefulness. This goes back to the very creation of man, when
Genesis 2:15 (ESV)
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Once again—see how the virtues men are called to reflect the character of God: He is a Creator, and so men are called to be creators. God is a workman and craftsman, and so men are designed to be workers; to be productive and creative. This shows us that
A man of WORKMANSHIP develops the TALENTS he receives from God (Gen. 2:15; Matt. 25:28-29)
This is what we read earlier in our worship from Matthew 25—the master expected his servants to develop the resources he had given them. They weren’t meant to just sit on them (or bury them in the ground); they were expected to make something of them. Brother, God has given you a nature to work. To be a productive member of society; to develop and hone your skills in creating and building and ordering. God calls you to cultivate the virtue of workmanship in your life.
The third virtue we can identify is one we saw a couple of weeks ago; it’s worth revisiting again:
1 Corinthians 16:13 (ESV)
13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
God is a God of strength:
Psalm 46:1 (ESV)
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Samuel 22:33 (ESV)
33 This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless.
God is a God of strength, and so He has created men to be strong, to develop the virtue of strength. This is reflected in the physical realm; men have more muscle mass, more bone density, more height and weight than women. But there is a particular virtue of strength that God has designed men to cultivate:
A man of STRENGTH can WORK while bearing WEIGHT (1 Cor. 16:13; Josh. 1:7; Haggai 2:4)
In the book of Joshua, as God is commissioning Joshua to move into Canaan to conquer the Land in the Name of YHWH, God says to him
Joshua 1:7 (ESV)
7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.
Centuries later in Israel’s history, when Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the priest were tasked with rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, God called specifically on the virtue of their strength as they carried out the task:
Haggai 2:4 (ESV)
4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts,
Masculine strength is the virtue that enables a man to work hard and long, bearing up under the weight of hardship or adversity or opposition. It is the glory of a man to cultivate these virtues—to supplement the faith that you have in Jesus Christ with the virtues of wisdom, workmanship and strength.
The Scriptures command and commend these virtues to men to exercise in a particular way. Cultivating godly virtues equips a man for his duties of taking dominion in this world as God’s representative. In 2 Peter, the Apostle promises his readers that cultivating those godly virtues in their lives will make them effective in their work:
2 Peter 1:5–8 (ESV)
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 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.

II. "For… these qualities… will keep you from being ineffective” (2 Peter 1:8)

As you cultivate these godly virtues of wisdom, workmanship and strength, they will combine in your life to cause you to be an effective representative of God’s rule. We can look at some examples in Scripture of men who exhibited these virtues, and how they were effective in exercising the dominion God had assigned them to.
The first example is Nehemiah—turn with me to Nehemiah 2 (page 398 in the pew Bible). What I want to point out to you in Nehemiah’s life is how the manly virtues of wisdom and workmanship equipped him for his work:
NEHEMIAH - A man ENVISIONS and PLANS for his dominion (Nehemiah 2:13-20)
Starting in verse 13, Nehemiah goes out to take inventory of the condition of the walls of the city:
Nehemiah 2:13–15 (ESV)
13 I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass. 15 Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned.
And once he had taken stock and envisioned what needed to be done, he came back to the city officials and laid out his plan:
Nehemiah 2:17–18 (ESV)
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
Throughout Chapter 3 you see how Nehemiah’s workmanship informed by godly wisdom made him effective in restoring the walls of Jerusalem—even in the midst of opposition and threats.
Nehemiah needed the virture of workmanship to know what needed to be done to build the walls, and he needed the virtue of wisdom to know how to go about doing the work. When a man cultivates the virtues of virtues of wisdom guiding workmanship, he becomes a man who envisions and plans for the way he will exercise the dominion God appoints him to.
And when the virtue of workmanship is upheld by the virtue of strength, the result in a man’s life is a man who
SOLOMON - A man EQUIPS and BUILDS his dominion (1 Kings 6)
We see an example of this in King Solomon’s life. If you look in 1 Kings chapter 6 (p. 284 in the pew Bible) you see the massive undertaking that Solomon carried out to supply the materials to build the Temple in Jerusalem—as you run down through the chapter you see all of the materials and supplies that had to be organized and arranged to complete this task: Cedar planks and timber (v. 9), stone cut and shaped at a quarry (v. 7), cypress flooring (v. 15), pure gold (v. 20), olivewood (v. 31)—not to mention the artisans and craftsmen and carpenters and stoneworkers and quarrrymen that labored for seven years to complete the task (v. 38). A man’s virtues of workmanship upheld by strength make him a man who equips and builds and supplies his dominion.
One more example to consider is King David in 1 Samuel 30 (p. 251). David was a man of wisdom and strength—and when his strength was guided by wisdom, he was equipped to be a man who
DAVID - A man FIGHTS for and GUARDS his dominion (1 Samuel 30)
In 1 Samuel 30 the Amalekites carried out a raid and captured all of the inhabitants of the town of Ziklag, including David’s two wives, Abigail and Ahinoam (v. 5). 1 Samuel 30:6 tells us what a bitter blow this was, that even David’s own people were threatening to turn against him:
1 Samuel 30:6 (ESV)
6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
David was a man of great military prowess; a man of great strength. But notice that he does not just fly off to destroy all of the Amalekites—the first thing that David did was seek the wisdom of God:
1 Samuel 30:7–8 (ESV)
7 And David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. 8 And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.”
And because David’s strength as a fighter and soldier was governed by his fear of the LORD—his wisdom—he was a man who was effective in fighting for and rescuing his dominion:
1 Samuel 30:17–20 (ESV)
17 And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled. 18 David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all. 20 David also captured all the flocks and herds, and the people drove the livestock before him, and said, “This is David’s spoil.”
Brothers, cultivate godly virtues that will make you an effective and fruitful representative of God’s rulership. As those virtues combine in your life they will draw you into greater skill in envisioning and planning, equipping and building, fighting for and defending the dominion God has called you to take on.
Peter says that the qualities that flow from these virtues--
2 Peter 1:5–7 (ESV)
5 faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love...
you will not only be kept from being ineffective or unfruitful, but indeed that

III. "For if you practice these qualities you will never fall...” (2 Peter 1:10)

Peter says in verse 10:
2 Peter 1:10 (ESV)
10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
Peter says that since you have been called and chosen by God to image His own glories and excellencies; since you have been given all of His great and precious promises so that you may become a partaker of His divine virtues, you can throw yourself into becoming more and more into the excellencies of godly manhood.
As you are diligent to cultivate these virtues of wisdom, workmanship and strength into your life, brother, you will become
A man of CONSTANCY (1 Cor. 15:58a)
As the Apostle Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 15:58:
1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV)
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable...
A man who develops these virtues is a man who (as we saw last week in Psalm 15), “will never be moved”—a man who is steady, who is not thrown around by circumstances, but a man whose strength and wisdom rooted in the fear of the LORD will make him a dependable man, a man whose duty of building and supplying and guarding and fighting makes him a man who will not be moved.
And not only a man of constancy, but
A man of ENTERPRISE (1 Cor 15:58b)
1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV)
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord...
A man who develops the duties of envisioning and planning along with building and supplying is a man who abounds in his work—a man known for his workmanship. Initiative, ingenuity, risk-taking—vision and drive to accomplish something—these are the characteristics of a man who has cultivated godly virtue.
A man who develops those duties of guarding and fighting with envisioning and planning is a man who is prepared for trouble ahead:
A man of READINESS (Eph 6:18; Mark 13:35; 1 Peter 3:15) (2 Tim 4:1-2)
We hear calls to readiness throughout the New Testament—from readiness to act when God calls:
Mark 13:35 (ESV)
35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—
to readiness to give an answer for your faith
1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
to a readiness to defend and fight for the truth
2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV)
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
A man who is ready—ready to fight, ready to provide, ready to speak, ready to respond to the needs of those around him.
This is what God calls you to, brothers—the traits, duties and virtues of manhood. This is how He calls you to reflect His glory; ordering your life more and more around Him so that you will be increasingly useful for His purposes.
And as you look at what God requires of you, and you feel the weight of that calling and consider how far short you have fallen—you have not acted with wisdom but have been foolish in your rejection of God; you have not cultivated workmanship and enterprise but have succumbed to laziness and apathy; you have not cultivated strength to work while bearing weight but have found ways to avoid responsibility or hard work—you have no constancy in your character, but break your promises on a regular basis. You may feel that you have screwed up so much for so long in what you are called to be as a man that there’s no point in even trying.
But God’s Word calls you to shake off that apathy; push back against that inertia that says there’s no point in trying to change now. The truth of the matter is that you have no ability to cultivate those virtues in your life apart from the grace of God at work in you. Brother, listen again to Peter’s exhortation here in God’s Word:
2 Peter 1:3–4 (ESV)
3 His divine power has granted to you all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called you to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to you his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Here is the end of the matter: All of those failures and sins and rebellions—all of the complaining and childishness and laziness and passive aggressive apathy, all of the refusals to provide and work, all of the abdications of leading and defending, all of the failures of virtue in your life can be taken off of you. Bring them to the foot of the Cross, come to Jesus Christ and confess all of them, believe the great and precious promises He has made to you. Because through those promises you become a partaker of His divine nature! His virtues become yours, His qualities shine more and more brightly through you, His wisdom and strength and workmanship pervade your life more and more as you grow in effectiveness for His kingdom. So believe His great and precious promises, and make every effort to confirm your calling and election,
2 Peter 1:11 (ESV)
11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 13:20–21 (ESV)
20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.


Why are wisdom, workmanship and strength all important for men?
What are some of the typical masculine ways of being weak and avoiding responsibility? How can you avoid bad emotional habits and take responsibility?
Which of these traits do you think you struggle with the most: enterprise, constancy, or readiness? Which one do you tend to be best at?
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