By Anita Marie Spencer
Member, Westside church of Christ. Louisville, Kentucky
The lesson is simple: when you learn better, do better.
God expects us to grow in grace and knowledge as we mature and age (2 Peter 3:18). He loves us and His grace, mercy, and forgiveness are very close. He does not expect us to know everything according to 1 Corinthians 8:2, but He is there to assist and has provided “…all that we need for life and godliness…” (2 Peter 1:3).
For Christians, it is as simple as confessing our sin and repenting (having learned better, doing better in obedience). For non-Christians, it is as simple as obeying the gospel, being baptized, and continuing to grow and mature spiritually (having been obedient, learning better, and doing better). When we learn better, we can do better—if we choose to apply the Lord’s standard, His Word to our daily living. My husband reminds me that we can all usually do better, no matter the circumstance. My Dad (a non-Christian) once told me, “You don’t always do the right thing”. I replied, “I try. And when I know I am wrong; I don’t have a problem admitting the wrong and getting it right with God.”
Learning better and doing better means we begin to resemble God more and more in our actions and most importantly, in our reactions. We can listen to all the sermons. We can listen, study, and engage in all the Bible studies—both personal and group on “adding to our 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…” but if we do not INCREASE these qualities (think LEARN BETTER, DO BETTER), we will continue to be ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
There is no way we can grow, if we do not hold on to our progress by remembering that we are cleansed from our former sins (I Cor 6:11) And being diligent while practicing these qualities that glorify God (think LEARN BETTER, DO BETTER). In 2 Peter 1:12-13, the bible says “Therefore, I intend to always remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder.”
LEARNING BETTER and DOING BETTER means…~Now that we know the truth, and are ABIDING in Christ, God will bless us according to Jesus in John 13:17. ~We accept and obey God’s Word, and this shows our love for God. (Think: accept + obey + abide in Christ = love for God.)
In accepting and obeying, we are being the good example for others to follow. 21Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” John 14:21.
By doing so, we are about the Father’s business (Luke 2:45-49) We hold on to our progress (Phil 3:16) that we have made because we are being nourished by the message of faith, good teaching, and are now imitating Christ who imitated God (John 5:19). In 1 Peter 1:14-16, Peter reminds us So you must live as God’s obedient children, don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
In 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth/God’s holy people throughout Greece: 2 Cor 7:1: 1Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear (reverence/respect) God,
(Think: knowing +learning + doing better = we are growing and begin to resemble Him).~We are being nourished by the message of faith and good teaching. In 1 Tim 4:6, Paul reminds Timothy that he will be a worthy servant of Jesus because he is nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching (from his grandmother Lois and Mother Eunice that) he has followed:
I Tim 4:6, If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters, Timothy, you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed.2Tim 1:5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. And I know that same faith continues in you.
(Think: We keep on learning better, we keep on doing better).~We are being nourished by seeing the examples of others who are learning better and doing better. We work towards being faithful and standing firm in God’s grace. Knowing that what we are experiencing in this life is truly part of God’s grace (1Peter 5:12).
~Heaven is our goal, and we cannot lose focus. We remember and remind others that we are to …”2Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God….7You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world.8But, now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.” (Colossians 3:2, 7-8)
~We continue to encourage one another in love” the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things (Gal 5:22-23). We remember our promises from God and pray that we cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And we work toward complete holiness because we fear (reverence/respect) God (2 Cor 7:1).
~If we mess up, accept that we messed up. We get it right. And continue moving forward towards our heavenly goal, thinking of heavenly things, and not the things of this earth.We get it right because we want heaven as our eternal home. We do not want the alternative! We remember that James 4:17, reminds us that it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
And we do not want to be ashamed or try to hide when Christ returns. (Adam and Eve, Gen 3:7-8; Joab & David’s soldiers after Absalom died, 2 Sam 19:3. Us ashamed of what we used to do? Rom 6:20-21; Us [refused to live righteously)? Instead, we look forward, are ready, to welcome His return because we have learned better and are doing better. We love His appearing, 2 Tim 4:8. We are ready and are at peace, 2 Pet 3:14. As Psalm 119:5-6 states “Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then, I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.”
~And we remember that in our freedom in Christ, we pray for and love one another and hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching we have learned that (Galatians 5, 2 Timothy 1:13) that we might all LEARN better and DO better.