Monday, December 13, 2010
the Word of God & moral transformation
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
2 Peter 1:3-4
I believe that this text is a key to the process of individual holiness and discipleship. It shows us just what every Christian is supposed to do. And it was penned by one of the most impetuous, and serious, followers of Jesus... the apostle Peter. In his journey from fumbling disciple to articulate preacher and church leader, Peter learned what he taught in this letter. And this is not just some theological discourse. This is the process of personal and practical spiritual maturity described from God's gracious point of view.
First, anything I can become is rooted and grounded in God's power, not my own. I lack sufficient ability to morally mature. God's power must grant me what I need. Thankfully, in Christ, God holds nothing back. The text says that He gives us "all things that pertain to life and godliness". There is sufficient information and abundant strength to become holy in Christ's power to transform my life. I have no excuse.
Secondly, there is a specific and exclusive means to this transformation. Peter does not believe nor does he teach that everything is right or that any path to God is acceptable. It only comes through "the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence". I can only be transformed by the knowledge of God in Christ. Jesus claimed to be the exclusive person through Whom the world must come to God (John 14:6). The scriptures constantly affirm this, and logically, there cannot be many ways to God when those ways contradict one another.
Thirdly, there is a clear means to know God. It comes through the Word of God, what Peter calls "his precious and very great promises". God has granted us by His grace all the instruction and examples we need to please Him in the Bible. It is a vast and complex book that I have committed my lifetime to understanding. And I am blessed by doing so. But it is the primary and exclusive way in which I can know God's thoughts, because they have been written down and preserved through the ages. This is a indeed a precious book.
Fourthly, there is a clear goal to holiness. It is nothing short of being holy as God is holy. That is what "partaking in the divine nature" is all about. Peter is not teaching some sort of "oneness" with a conglomerate God. Rather, he is teaching that God is the standard of holiness for which we must aspire, and that when we do receive that holiness in Christ and apply it in our lives, we share in his nature as we act amazingly like Him. This is transformation into the image of Christ... what a "Christian" (little Christ) is supposed to be.
Finally, there is a clear focus of this transformation into a partaker of God's nature. It is clearly a moral transformation, one that escapes "the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire". Christians are remarkably different, not so that we can play the "holier than thou" game. We are different because all people have one very deep root problem: we are sinful. And when Christians are transformed into people who truly live holy lives like God lives in the world, it will stand out in a society of sin. We swim in a less polluted stream by the grace of God. And that is a joyful gift of the transformation the Son of God and the Word of God have brought to us.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13