What Have We Forgotten? – 2 Peter 1:9

In 1 Peter 1:5-7, the writer has described a virtuous life. But the one who lacks these qualities has forgotten they are cleansed of sin (v.9).  Two metaphors are used to describe someone that lacks the virtues listed in verses 5-7.

First, they are like people who have poor vision. They are not blind, but so nearsighted that they might as well be blind. Perhaps we might call that “legally blind” in contemporary Mr-magooculture. If you really cannot see well, you find yourself in difficult, embarrassing, or potentially dangerous situations. It is one thing to not be able to read a menu in a restaurant, for example, and quite another to not be able to tell one person from another. Worse yet, if you cannot see well enough to read street signs, driving a car becomes very dangerous.

In the same way, someone that is not developing godliness does not have the spiritual vision to recognize dangers around them and may find themselves not just in an embarrassing situation, but a spiritually dangerous place. A Christian who lacks self-control may say something that is harsh or judgmental when they ought to have controlled their tongue (this is something I have done many times!) They might even be too blind to know that their harsh speech is doing more harm than good.

The second metaphor is forgetfulness. A person who is not perusing godliness has simply forgotten what they are, a forgiven sinner. Most people have had a moment when they forgot something important. Usually it is a name, or something that you RememberAllsaid you would do, etc. Like blindness, forgetfulness can lead to embarrassment (who are you again?) but also to potential danger. Think of people who have serious problems remembering who they are, such as an amnesiac or a person suffering from Alzheimer syndrome. It might be dangerous for a person to be on their own because they have forgotten critically important information that will keep them out of danger.

The person who is not pursuing godliness in Peter 1:9 has forgotten the most important thing imaginable, they have forgotten that they have already been cleansed from sin. Imagine a very dirty child who takes a bath so that they are ready for bed, and then wants to go out and play in the mud again. The believer has already been cleansed of sin, why would they “forget” and go back to their past sins?

This too might be a hint at the problem Peter needs to address in the letter. The opponents claim to have superior godly knowledge of God, and that knowledge allows them (or so they claim) to behave in any way they choose. They are “sinning that grace may abound,” to use the Pauline phrase, since later in the letter Peter will say that the opponents are twisting Paul’s letters in order to support their sin.

Once again I think Peter’s letter is applicable to the current state of the Western church. In our pursuit of some good things, we have lost sight of the most important elements of the Gospel. What is the Church blind to? What are we not seeing (or worse, closing our eyes to?) What have we forgotten in the Gospel?

Is it possible by forgetting what is really important we have become like a child who wants to go play in the mud again?

 

19 thoughts on “What Have We Forgotten? – 2 Peter 1:9

  1. I think the modern church has become blind or forgetful to the true needs of believers and to the importance of unification. Nowadays churches are willing to split over anything and they forget what the truly important things are. I think this has to do with blindness when someone in charge gets so focused on one thing they neglect other important things and it has to do with forgetfulness because they forget what something means to them and begin to go through the motions. Going through the motions is something that many christians struggle with and I believe that it can come down sometimes from those in charge who force certain things with so much vigor that they forget about the heart. Actions are seen as more important than the condition of the believer. I also think it is possible for us to forget the danger and pain of sin and we get drawn into what it has to offer for us. The devil takes away shame before sin and then gives it back after, with the time before being a period of forgetting the harm that is really being done.

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  2. Modern churches have been influenced by culture and let things in that are contrary to what God says. I agree with what Karen Jobes said that this second letter is applicable to those today who wish to think of themselves in some sense as Christians yet resent the biblical claim that they are accountable to God and will be judged by the standard of his revealed word in Scripture. Today’s culture is so demanding in keeping up appearances, we forget that God is present in us and with us all of the time, and eventually forget that he is even there. Decisions and choices then become our own to make, and God is left out of the picture which gives freedom to our worldly selves to make the wrong decisions. Jobes also says what one believes about the future determines how one lives today, and that affects how Christians let the “little” sins by and integrate culture and church by losing focus of our life beyond the grave. Losing sight of why we were put on the earth, and where we are heading after our time here, affects how we judge our lives, by being like God or unlike him. We also lose our interest to live like God and get pulled into culture when we forget the purpose that was meant for us and lose desire to live for God.

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  3. Peter describes in 1 Peter 1:9 someone who is lacking of the characteristics of one living a virtuous life. He describes one who is forgetful and has poor vision (v. 9). It’s clear to me that all of us can tend to have both poor vision in life and how we make our decisions and forgetfulness in the sense of what Christ has done on the cross. These are challenges that we all experience and go through. But I also believe the church today is in battle with these two challenges as well. Is seems as if the American church has forgot the true meaning of the Gospel and discipleship and has casted a poor vision on where it needs to go moving forward. Often it seems as if many churches are focused on large numbers, perfect worship, and flashy buildings. While many of these aspects of ministry are not bad, it’s important that one goes back to the origin of why the church is in existence. Is it to sell merchandise, grow gratuitously in numbers or have the most current and poppy worship? No. It is to spread the true, authentic Gospel and to grow in spirituality with one another in fellowship and discipleship. I hope that Paul’s words is able to not only challenge ourselves as individuals, but also challenge the body of Christ.

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  4. Your comparison to a child playing in the mud to a human playing in the mud is really good. We tend to revolve around this cycle of us sinning and then being forgiven, sinning then being forgiven. We say we are sorry over and over until it has become an obsession. But is that how God wanted it? I do not think that God wants our desperate apologies every day that we might (or more likely will) sin. I think that after Jesus died on the cross we no longer become dirty which is why God turned his back on so many (Isaiah 59:2). I think that 2 Peter 1:9 says that we are no longer in mud because we are cleansed. The only thing that could allow us to be “dirty” is what we believe about Jesus as God. Jobes says that what we believe about the future determines how we live today (Page 376) and believing that we will see Christ in Heaven has a major role in our cleanliness.

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  5. I totally agree and even would argue that it seems very common that believers forget the sacrifices that Christ had to endure to provide us with eternal life. As 2 Peter 1:9 says people are forgetting that they have been cleansed and for that reason they believe it is still ok for them to sin. However, I would also argue that Romans 6:1 is a example of another extreme, where people are so aware of the grace that Christ has given us that they seek to take advantage of it as a excuse to sin. The secret is knowing that while we sin, and our sins are pardon; we must be sincere about our intentions and always try to glorify God. 2 Peter 1:5-8 goes through a list of virtues and calls us to supplement our faith with them. We must hold strong to our faith, and my getting in the word, we will be less prone to forget the wonderful things that Christ has done for us because we will be reminded daily of his deeds.

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  6. It is pretty easy to see that we have a world view problem here, not only a forgetful problem. We focus so much on our becoming a Chistian we, as a whole, forget how to teach others about living a Christian life. You always hear how we have fallen short of the glory of G-d, accept Jesus Christ as your saviour every week at Church. We don’t teach how to live a Christian life. Beyond just being an honest ethical person, we have to teach how to live a life with a Christian world view. We are influenced by so much in society without learning how to fight it. Christians have sacrificed the public sphere and only play in the private sector. We teach sociology from an athiest book, pschology from a secular book and don’t use Biblical based world view books. Imagine if we taught how the Bible answers these questions better than these other views. It is another way to have us increase our faith and redirect it to Him.

    If the Bible is true, it should have the answers as well as influence us in the right way to find those answers. Christianity is treated like a mythical story because we have sacrificed so much of our influence. If everything we taught it based off the Bible it would be more difficult to forget and go play in the mud. It would be easier to have vision that sees past what the world throws at us. Instead of living for a safe life we lived for a G-d filled life. Every Christian should be taught apologetics and be able to debate with answers of equal credibility in the scientific community. It is easy to forget because we aren’t living a life that’s soul purpose is to fulfill G-d’s plan. Maybe our forgetfulness comes from our lack of commitment to G-d’s plan in our lives?
    If everything we do doesn’t focus upwards, how are we to expect to live a life without so much sin and failure?

    Some thoughts I have been thinking on lately. I’ll leave with this example. Imagine that instead of teaching as a job you taught to spread knowledge and understanding of the gospel. Would you then need the paycheck? Is it right for students to go into debt to go learn about the Bible? What if the goal of Grace was to make Biblical education affordable and seek ways to minimize the cost to students. How many more could Grace reach by living a life of Giving? Wouldn’t the low cost bring others in who want but cannot afford an education? What if it was free? It could be paid for by Churches and donations and through volunteer work. The business part of Grace could actually run businesses, taking parts of the profit to help pay for costs.

    What if we adopted a missionary view of college instead of business view of college.

    This is what I hope to do in my future. Create a place where people can learn without going into mounds debt.

    Rabbit trails, everywhere.

    TL;DR
    Yes, it is very possible we have lost sight of what is important.

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  7. The church now needs an overseer is what Peter is saying. You need someone to guide even the leaders so when they start to forget or get off topic that overseer can lead them back to the path that they have left. It is also important to note that Peter doesn’t always exclaim that they do this knowingly but over some time you lose sight of your goals and what God has put in you to desire to do. Then since we no longer can see what his desire is we use ours instead and we forgot what he has for us.
    I have found that without content research into what you believe and without the content exercise of growth in your relationship with God you lose sight of not only him but what you were doing and why you were doing it. The bible asks us to find God’s desire in our lives, John 7:17 English Standard Version (ESV) “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” This versus is John talking to the people on understanding that if they follow God truly than they will know if what he says is not of God. You can also take for it that if YOU truly desire to do God’s will, you will know his will for you by what you and others say.
    I remember that I translated a verse in the Bible, I have eyes but do not see and I have ears but do not hear. But Matthew Explains what Peter is saying. “For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’” (Matthew 13:15) Peter is asking you to do these things and has given you instructions on how not to fail. All you must do is fall them.

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  8. Blindness and forgetfulness have become epidemic in the modern day U.S. church. The main symptom of this I think is judgmentalism in the church. Especially with the forgetfulness. I think that when believers forget that we all started from the same place, and though we may be in different stages along the way, we all needed the blood of Jesus, but we spiral into this attitude of judging others. I think blindness is a huge problem, and I think is also a symptom forgetfulness. When we forget everything that Christ has done for us, then we start to go blind; we get spiritually complacent and dumb. Peter’s warning for his people also applies to us, and is one that we need to pay attention to as well lest we fall into the same traps.

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  9. I can relate a lot to this blog, especially with poor vision. In societies terms, I am “legally blind” and at times I even need reading glasses to help assist my vison. I know if I were to drive without my contacts or glasses I would be in a serious problem because everything just blurs together and I can’t make figures out. And I think that is what is really happening in churches, they are blurring biblical truth with what society says true. Like homosexuality, the Bible goes against it but society says it is okay, but some churches are saying it is okay. I don’t think that churches are becoming blind to issues as much as they are blurring issues together. I think it is possible that we can become like the forgetting child if we are not careful. I know in my life I have become that forgetting child and did what I enjoyed because that sin made me happy. I think that is what many people tend to do, they go back to doing what makes them happy, but it doesn’t fully fill them the way God does and that is something they have to learn on their own.

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  10. I think it is very possible to forget that we are cleaned and want to go play in the mud again. I think that this problem has something to do with not understanding that once Christians have given their lives to Christ, they are now called to live life dramatically different. This could be the person who dedicated their lives to God but think it is still okay to treat their spouse badly or maybe even someone who struggles with addiction. However, another mindset that could cause this is the mindset of there is better things in the world than what Christ calls us to do. You want to follow Christ but you do not want to miss out on what the world offers, you want to “enjoy life to the fullest”. I have a friend who is like this, she proclaims her love for Christ but on weekends she goes to parties and drinks alcohol, at the age of nineteen. Her actions reflect poorly not only on herself, but on the Church as well. Peter states in 1:4-5 that as Christians we are to live a life of virtue because Jesus saved us from the corruption of this world. There are two parts to being a Christian; proclaiming faith in God and salvation through Jesus and living a life of virtue to reflect Christ. Works and faith go hand in hand, and this is often a subject Christians struggle with. As Peter has stated with passion in this first chapter, living life without virtue brings no fruit and is ineffective (1:8). Having faith and no virtue brings embarrassment upon one’s self and reflects poorly on the faith.

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  11. After reading this post this quote by Jobes stuck out to me. “Peter wanted his readers to live well today by growing in virtue (1:5 – 8), by not being taken in by false teachers (2:1 – 2), and by not losing patience or growing weary with the Christian life (3:9) (Jobes, 402). This post talks about Christians being not blind but nearsighted. In other words someone that is not developing godly behavior will find themselves in some dangerous situations. When thinking about my own life i have seen both scales of this. I have done things that i regretted later because i made a choice to follow through with behavior that was not godly. On the other hand, i have made the right decisions and got our of situations that would harm or go away from my faith. With maturity i have gotten better at handling these situations. Also, i do believe it is easy to forget and lose sight of what is important (like the child going back to the mud). I believe this happens with selfishness, or when things go wrong.

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  12. With respect to the aricle, both words (forgetfulness, and vision) have often played a role in both the individual and church itself. Jobes, as stated above, is depicting the actual meanig of Peter stressing the fact that by living well will grow your maturity virtue. 1 Peter is stressing the idea of both of these actions that through building an individuals moral standards through the word can help one attain a good self-satisfaction. Ungodly behaviour is a support subject because Peter is speaking to the idea that this kinda behaviour will lead to danger. Choices and events tend to have an impact on a persons decisons because of peer-pressure (mainly young adults) or the benefit if its a risky decision. Either way, it’s difficult to go back and make a different decision for a scenario that had a negative outcome. However, if an individual continues to make the negative choices, it will impact their “forgetfulness” in their identity. Which is the other aspect of this post, because a person can easily forget who their true identity is with the continued choices. All throughout high school, I dealt with identity issues, and it does make you lose focus on your spiritual life. The Peterine is speaking to this and I think he is warning and encouraging the reader to not lose their identity in Christ and continue to seek guidance and wisdom to live a godly life.

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    • I think that by living, yes we will grow in maturity and virtue, but I also think that gaining a head knowledge of what the Bible has to say will help to turn into wisdom. I think that the letter is bringing to light that some of the people during that time (and like people in the church today do) were having ‘poor vision’ in the sense that they were blinded by some of the choices that they were making. They were not fully understanding how their actions and words were impacting those around them as well as their witness to others. I think that for the other metaphor of forgetfulness that the people were forgetting who they were in Jesus Christ; they were forgiven sinners. I think that this forgetfulness happens a lot today in the church, we have our separate lives, our church life and our own personal life and we try not to let the two overlap all the time.

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  13. I believe people can be clean but then go back to playing in the mud because just like the people that Peter was addressing, they can just simply go get washed off again over and over before they head to bed. Yes God’s grace is endless and we cannot possibly run out of it. But, this does not give us the freedom to continue willingly, in light of grace, to choose sin over what we as mature Christians know hurts God. At this point, the people Peter was talking to were people who knew what they were doing was a sin, therefore they knew God did not like it, yet they continued to choose that over what God wills for them expecting that God will just forgive them later. This is not the Gospel, the Gospel is supposed to free us from this, so we are not held down by our sin. It gives us a new purpose and a desire to want to obey God. His Grace spurs us to worshiping him, with everything that we do! His grace is like a tyvec suit, so that when we slip and fall in the mud we can get right out and we arn’t even dirty. We just keep going, living our life for him.

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  14. What the author seems to be getting at is whether or not the hearer was actually living out their faith. The passage is clear on saying that the “Christians” who do not example certain qualities which are intrinsic of being filled with the Holy Spirit) have forgotten all together the faith they say they believe in. Jobes writes that some of the believers to which Peter was writing believed in false teachers who said they were doing God’s will without thinking about what was right and what was wrong. (Pg. 375) This logic allowed them to sin, most likely claiming that whatever they did was within the will of God. Whoever then lives this lifestyle, one that is void of this almost secondary “fruit of the spirit”, makes it seem as if they forgot Christ’s sacrifice. If they did know it, their lives would look a lot different. This makes me think of “Sunday morning Christians”. They come to church to feel good (they may have even said a saving prayer) then they leave and revert back to whatever sin they were in the middle of when they decided to go to church. Do they actually believe in Jesus’ forgiveness or are they just feigning an appearance of Christianity?

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  15. I guess what comes to mind reading this is…what then for those who have forgotten? For those who are blind? I can say from my personal experience with not feeling very close to God that being blind is a difficult experience without any real easy answers to get out of. Perhaps the answer is more simple than it seems, but for some reason my experience with Scripture does not really give a very easy answer about this.

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  16. It becomes easy to fall back to our own ways, because we start to take our faith for granted. I think that is the most dangerous place to be is stuck in “forgetting.” Peter was trying to warn the body not to warp the words of Paul so they can continue to play in the mud. When we accept Christ as our savior we are to be rid of our old selves. When we are not pursue God we end up stuck in our ways. We do not view it necessarily as wrong when we have a “fall back” plan of asking God for forgiveness. That is not what Christianity is about. It is about diving into the Word and trying to living an honorable life for Christ.

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