2 Peter 1:5–7, Add to your faith. This list of seven character qualities shows us the progressive steps one must go through to become mature spiritually.
Faith: First there is initial faith in YHVH Elohim, which is the starting point in our spiritual walk. This is the same faith Abraham had when YHVH told him to leave Babylonia, and it was accounted to him for righteousness sake (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3).
Virtue: Second, initial faith in Elohim is “filled out with” (as J. P. Green translates it) virtue, which is defined as “moral excellence.” This is can be no less than one’s learning to conform one’s lives to the high standards of the Torah, which tells us how to walk in relationship with Elohim (as summarized by the first four of the ten commandments) and our fellow man (as summarized by the last six of the ten commandments). Virtue is the opposite of sin, and the Torah shows us what sin and moral excellence are by showing us what to do (the path of blessing and life) and what not to do (the path of curses and death).
Knowledge: Third, as one begins to walk out Torah-obedience, one gains a deeper and more perfect understanding of the heart, will and mind of Elohim as expressed in the Creator’s instruction manual for living—the Torah, which is Truth and is the path that leads to life. At the same time, one gains an understanding of the opposite side, which is that of sin and leads to death.
Self-control: Fourth, as one gains a fuller understanding of the difference between good and evil, right and wrong as defined by YHVH’s instructions in righteousness, the Torah, and as one fortifies oneself morally by choosing consistently to do the right thing, one gains self-control. One learns to control or master one’s fleshly passions and desires including selfishness, pride, greed, anger and lust and all the other works of the flesh (Gal 5:19–21).
Perseverance or patience: Fifth, as one becomes proficient and consistent in self-control, one begins to learn patience or perseverance, which is steadfastness, constancy and endurance. At this stage in one’s spiritual development, one becomes less likely to be buffeted or thrown off balance by one’s own carnal impulses or by those of other people that are directed at us (persecution).
Godliness: Sixth, as our life more consistently begins to reflect the heart, mind and will of YHVH Elohim as exemplified in his Torah and the rest of his Word (the Scriptures) and as walked out by Yeshua, the Living Torah-Word of Elohim, then our words, thoughts and actions will begin to reflect the very character and nature of our Father in heaven, which is godliness, to those around us, even as the moon reflects the light of the sun into the darkness of the night world. At this point, who we are is more defined by the character of Elohim than by the carnal, sin nature of the typical man.
Brotherly kindness: Seventh, obedience to the Torah naturally results in our being kinder and gentler to those around us, since the Torah demands that we treat others how we want to be treated (Matt 7:12; Rom 13:8–10). After one has completed these seven steps, one becomes perfect or complete in biblical love, which is the eighth step.
Love: The eighth step to spiritual maturity is love, which is the summation of all the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–24) and is the highest level of spiritual attainment (1 Cor 13:1–13). The previous eight steps are the components of a complete or perfect biblical love. Biblical love isn’t some nebulous or ethereal concept based on some heady concept or vague feelings. Rather love is a concrete idea that is rooted in one’s actions toward one’s brother as delineated in the previous seven steps above. This type of love is unconditional, and is an unselfish love for others even when there is no personal benefit to be gained. This is the love of Elohim—the love that he has for men, and the love that he wants us to develop, so that we will be like him, so that he can live with us forever in his eternal kingdom. After we have matured through these eight steps, we become spiritually and morally complete or perfect and are prepared to spend eternity with YHVH Elohim in the New Jerusalem of heaven on earth. Love is the eighth step, and eight is the number signifying new beginnings and infinity; therefore, love is the character trait that launches us into a new beginning of a immortal life in Elohim’s eternal kingdom of the heaven on earth of the New Jerusalem.
I Just delight in this simple factual reality of Elohim’s desire to manifest this Truth in us through His longsuffering, patient, mercy to us in Messiah. What a beautiful recipe! Worthy of eating eternally.