Moral Virtue

2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”

Virtue has been defined as “conformity of life and conduct with the principles of morality.” The virtues are thus the practical attitudes and habits adopted in obedience to those principles. 

The idea of virtue in the Bible has many connotations, none of them being anything less than Godly excellence. According to patheos, the word virtue has many different connotations but ultimately it can be a trait or disposition of character that leads to good behavior. Someone with virtue might display wisdom, courage, kindness, good manners, courtesy, modesty, generosity, and self-control in their life. They will treat others fairly and esteem others highly and value the sanctity of life. They treat others better than they are treated. Someone who has virtue has good, moral ethics and makes biblical choices in life.

What has been confusing to me are the ways I see virtue manifest through scripture. In many places, biblical interpreters substitute the term power with virtue.

Mark 5:30 “And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?” KJV

The term ‘dunamis’, or power is the greek term used when Jesus’ power healed the sick. Dunamis is defined as the inherent power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth”.

The reason we see this substitutionary use of terms is related to the source.

The source of all virtue is God.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Do you see what Paul is declaring here?

It is in the midst of infirmities or weakness that we see the power of God being made manifest in our lives.

If we pray for God’s power, we must be prepared to accept the way God answers those prayers. If we want to grow in virtue, we must expect the spiritual growth of virtue to be in accordance with God’s path of growth.

How does God bring us toward weakness? What does that even mean?

Hebrews 11:33-34 “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

When we examine the faith of great men and women in history, it was in the midst of their weakness where the power of God was made known. Even Samson, who displayed great power was brought low when pride and self-indulgence entered his life. It wasn’t until God’s strength was removed from his life when he realized what he had lost was not his in the first place.

Moral virtue does not happen by accident, it is acquired, —O. Chambers.

Virtue is acquired through God testing us.

When God tests us, it’s not like sitting down and partaking in an examination, it is through a myriad of circumstances, people, loss, or even gain. It is when He brings about these tests, which for a believer is certain to happen, is where we see growth. We can even see God using evil spirits to test people and determine where their hearts are truly at.

1 Kings 22:22 “By what means?’ the LORD asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’

We see evidence of this testing in 2 Thess. 2:11, Judges 9:23, 1 Samuel 16:14, 1 Samuel 18:10, 1 Samuel 19:9, and Job 1:8. What the enemy meant for evil, God means for good.

Psalm 66:10 “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us like silver.”

The refining process of testing removes impurity, it cleanses us from the filth of this world and leaves the one tested with greater value. Not that we were any less valuable in God’s perspective, but our value in the Kingdom of God as minister’s of His grace.

After the refining process is complete, the refiner then tests His product to see how what it produced.

Psalm 26:2 “A crucible for silver and a furnace for gold, but the LORD is the tester of hearts.”

*The perspective required for us to maintain a correct view of our lives is the ability to recognize testing when it occurs.

There are times when we think testing is some attack by Satan and so we begin to pray against it. When we pray this way, we are praying contrary to God’s will.

There are other times when our trouble is a direct consequence of sin. When we continue to disregard God’s path of righteousness and choose our own form of what we deem as godliness, we walk a path that leads to sinful consequences. The patterns of righteousness has been made very clear through God’s moral law. The reason why the law was not abolished is because it remains relevant today. To unbelievers, the moral law is the measure of God’s judgement, to believers, the law is representative of God’s holiness by which we live.

Maintaining good perspective comes through the knowledge of God’s Word. The knowledge gained comes by way of obedience and we are given opportunity to obey by God’s testing.

Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

*When you’ve come through the crucible of God’s testing and you’ve gained the power of God’s virtue manifest in your life, remember the source by which it came!

It is in times of victory where we have a tendency to become either prideful or complacent. Remember the source of your power and you will have an endless supply for all of your days.

Draw from giver of life, He wants to give it to you, He is waiting for you to ask.

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