1. Define Virtue Accurately
- In the world of Jesus and the Apostles, virtue meant excellence, courage, and right disposition. The “virtue” of a matter is found in its correspondence to the highest ideal or quality the matter can attain.
- Jesus is virtue incarnate because he is God incarnate.
- None of us today saw Jesus with our own eyes. We were not directly taught by Virtue Incarnate. So, for us, the highest quality of understanding we have is the New Testament.
- The church is “virtuous” when it keeps aspiring to New Testament ideas.
- The church is departing from virtue when it adds to (zeal without knowledge; obsessive) or subtracts from (lack of conviction; addictive) New Testament ideals
- Zealotry is the choice to protect holiness by living beyond what the Bible says, and it finds in that zeal a source of immunity from being wrong. . . Zealots judge and sometimes condemn others who do not live by their rules, who explore things they are uncomfortable with — not because they’ve thought through it but because they don’t trust others to make good decisions. The freed, however, can live with the ambiguity that freedom in the Spirit creates: they can trust God to work with others, they can trust others to be responsible, and they can trust another group to discern its way in this world. -Scott McKnight
2. Grasp God’s Historical Progression
3. Admit the Heart’s Resistance to True Virtue
BALANCE 1 Cor. 6:12, 10:23 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be mastered by anything. . . “All things are lawful,” but not all things work for the common good”
HUMILITY Prov. 18:12 Before destruction a man's heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
TEMPERANCE Eccl. 7:16-19 Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.
4. Practice Virtuous Living