Saturday, January 12, 2008

Virtue vs. Innocence

I found the following quote a few months ago, I can't remember where, but it struck me at the time as being very insightful:

"There is a difference between virtue and innocence. Virtue has successfully passed a point of temptation. No one is a mature Christian until they have attained virtue--innocence is not enough." Anonymous

I hate temptation, I quite often pray that God will remove it. But as a good friend pointed out in his comment on my post about the Desert Fathers, according to James 1:2-4, the testing of our faith is a good thing, because persevering through trials and temptations brings us to maturity.

I was reading 2 Peter this morning. I really really love the first chapter, particularly verses 3-9. It also addresses this issue of growing in virtue. Peter lists a number of virtues that the Christian should add to their faith; goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. Peter says if we possess these qualities in "increasing measure" we will be productive and effective in our knowledge of Christ. I think "increasing measure" indicates a process of growth, as the wording around the list of virtues does by use of the "and to this quality add that" phrasing.

What I think is particularly useful is verse 9. Sometimes when we are going through a season of temptation and are not seeing progress it can be difficult to see how we will ever move forward, and think will I always be this sinful?? Is this the area of my life that will never be sanctified this side of eternity. God's answer in verse 9, is that we are short-sighted to think like that, and that we "have forgotten that he has cleansed us from our past sins". I think this means we trust in Him to cleanse us again and again, we trust in the finished work of Christ.

So I think we keep at it, keep working to add those virtues, keep facing the temptations knowing that He is using them to work in us, and remember the cross, and that as much as we continue to fail He is still faithful to forgive us when we confess our sins.

God bless,

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