The text we will look into today is 2 Peter 1:2-4. The Scripture reads:
“2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” NASB
I am a pretty intelligent person, am well read, and still have a hard time unpacking this verse. It sounds lovely though doesn’t it? Well, if I have a tough time understanding this greeting and exhortation by Peter, then I assume that I am not alone!
So what I want to do now is unpack this verse and show that Peter is not the only one preaching this unbelievable message. For to understand this great mystery is to be one step closer to living a truly victorious Christian life. And to not understand this formula, if you will, is to be missing out on the real deal and doomed to failure. Sorry! I didn’t say it…I am echoing a theme found throughout the New Testament.
Let us quickly define some terms and phrases.
1. Knowledge of God is the same as eternal life. Now before you get all offended at this definition of eternal life, let us read how Jesus Himself defines eternal life. We can find that definition in John 17:3 which says, “3 This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Do you see here that by God’s own definition that eternal life is wrapped up in knowledge? How does that definition differ from our collective, religious definition? Look, eternal life does include life after death with the Lord, BUT it also means that eternal life can start right this minute! Peter wouldn’t have brought it up if it weren’t a reality…know what I mean? That is exciting to think about, but even more exciting when we learn to practice what the Scripture teaches us.
The thought of going on vacation makes us happy, but actually being on vacation is the real deal! You catch my drift…
2. His Divine Power is the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to go poring through the entire Bible to know that the power we have been given is indeed the Holy Spirit of God. If you have any doubt about this, you can read John 14-16 and hear it straight from Jesus Himself.
3. Partakers of the divine nature is the promise and call of sanctification. This word partaker is the Greek word koinonos (Strong’s #G2839) and means a companion, associate, or partner. That is an incredible thought isn’t it? That we are companions and partners with God in His nature. Most days I feel far from this idea, but as we will see, it is all about what we set our minds and hearts upon that brings us closer or further away from this partnership.
Peter’s formula in my own words is this: By keeping our hearts and minds focused on the promises of God, we are transformed by the Spirit into the person God wants us to be. But if we focus our hearts and minds on the carnal things in life, then we will not be transformed.
We want to focus on one promise, for there are many. In fact, part of the beauty and exhilaration of being a Christian is unwrapping all of God’s promises. But I want to focus on the biggest promise, the most important promise, and the promise that all the others rely upon and are built upon.
THE PROMISE: The main promise is encapsulated in the text and unified throughout the Scriptures, mainly, that God can be known! How many times do we read phrases like, “seek My face”, “God rewards them that diligently seek Him”, “seek first the kingdom of God”, and “I will reveal Myself to those that seek Me with all their heart”? The first and foundational promise is that God can be known by those whose hearts diligently seek Him. And if we refer to Christ’s definition of “eternal life”, we see the promise defined as knowing God and knowing Christ. Notice in the above text in 2 Peter, that Peter shows this truth in plain black and white when he says “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”. You see, grace and peace is multiplied (I like multiplication) by knowing God and knowing Jesus. If you were a professor at a university and read this letter by Peter, you would have to accuse him of plagiarizing John 17:3! They are identical. Also notice Peter brings it up again a few words later when he says, “the true knowledge of Him (Jesus)”. Are we beginning to see the model emerge? The Spirit changes us by guiding us into knowledge of the Father and the Son, and this knowledge is all we need in life! The phrase “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” is amazing. Did you catch that? Everything, not most, not some, not any lesser measure than everything.
Peter is really out on limb here, isn’t he? I mean, who makes such bold statements in an opening greeting? Good grief! And he says it like his audience already knows this. Ask yourself this question: Do I know that all that ails me is conquered by knowledge of God? And if I know this fact, then why don’t I practice this? Do I even know how? Let us see if this is found in other parts of Scripture.
Let me remind you again of what the formula is saying: If you focus on knowledge of God as revealed by the Spirit, then you are being transformed and walking in victory; if you focus on the world and its lusts, then you are being defeated and detroyed.
Galatians 6:8 says, “8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
Galatians 5:16-18 says, “16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”
Romans 8:5-6 says, “5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”
At this point, I think we all have grasped the basic concept of walking in the Spirit vs. walking in the flesh. Now, let us look at what this means in a practical way.
In life, we are faced with many lusts of the flesh. Some are obviously evil by nature and yet others are subtle and not so obvious. For instance, sexual lusts and especially some of the extreme versions are unfortunately typical and we know them to be wrong on many levels; lust or love of money is one that we know Jesus preaches against and His apostles preach against this also; lust for power, lust for control, lust for food, drink, and drugs are all good examples as well. But are we missing some of the lusts that infiltrate our lives without our knowing? I say “yes…yes we are”. What about worry? What about depression? What about being a workaholic? What about the quest for security? These above citations can be deemed uncontrollable in the case of anxiety and depression, and appropriate in the case of security and dedication to one’s vocation. It all comes down to what we are craving or longing for. Do we long for answers from above or human answers? Do we long for things of this earth or do we long for eternal things? That is where the rubber meets the road my friends.
First we must define lust; the word for lust in 2 Peter 1:4 in the original Greek is epithymia (Strong’s #G1937) and means a desire, a longing, and a craving. So based on this definition, what do you crave? Think about it for a minute…for a measured and honest response is key! When you day-dream, fantasize, or meditate on life, what are you longing for? Do you think of the new car in your future? Do you sit around in a panic worrying over the bills getting paid and therefore crave for financial gain? Do you think of another person you are in love with? What about if we sit around meditating on the problems we have to deal with? You see, God has a recipe for not only eliminating carnally evil lusts, but also the worry that comes from life’s burdens! Jesus said, “Do not worry” about the concerns of the world, but rather focus on the kingdom and His righteousness. Notice He doesn’t give it to us as a suggestion or a “tip of the day”; He says plainly in several different gospels…DON’T WORRY!!!! And how many times does He say “fear not”? I will answer that for you: a bunch! So our Lord and Savior is saying to us don’t worry and don’t fear…but we are disobedient children…
By the way, Peter totally got rolled, got thrown under the bus, and was full of fear throughout the time he and Christ walked together on earth. So how is Peter able to make such bold statements in his epistles? The reason is simple: what Peter couldn’t do, the Holy Spirit could! Once Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the game changed. So now he is telling us, or rather reminding us, to keep our thoughts on the promises of God and that process will lead us into every blessing and peace and godliness and all that the Lord has for us right here and right now. Peter wasn’t empowered for heaven; he was empowered while alive! We are the same as Peter in that we are fearful, doubtful, and like a vapor, sublimely human. But there is an answer to these weaknesses, and that answer is outside of us and yet resides within us…and that produces power: power to live in peace, power to love, power to conquer the lusts of an old life of sin, and power to be a partner with the God of the Universe…amazing…but true!
How do we keep our minds and hearts on God? The answer is almost too simplistic and hurts our ears to hear: Do what Jesus told us to do! Well, what did He tell us to do?
1. Keep abiding in His word (John 8:31)
2. Love one another (John 13:35)
3. Produce spiritual fruit (John 15:8)
Simple! Read and meditate in the Bible allowing the Holy Spirit to enlighten us in our meditations and prayers, learn to pray and spend time with God in communion which allows Him to pour His love into us by His Spirit (Romans 5:5), and learn to hear and obey the Spirit that guides us.
You see, we will learn to crave the Word; we will start to become obsessed with knowing the Lord; we will want nothing more than to seek, to knock, and to ask because the promises state that all (not some, most, or a few…ALL) who seek will find, all who knock will find the door opening, and all who ask receive.
So we all must ask ourselves every single day when our feet hit the ground: What do I seek or crave today? What will I set my mind and heart upon today? Do I set my mind and heart on the promises of God or the evils and cares of this world?
So I will leave you with this: learn to focus your mind and heart on God and knowing Him more and more intimately, and He will direct your paths, grant you grace and peace, lead you deeper into His love, and transform your life glory to glory. If we let our focus shift to the temporary things of this world, then we are fighting against what God wants. And what God wants is what is best for us! Who doesn’t want peace, love, faith, and victory? So if we know the answer, why do we so often get caught up into the mess of this world? Be wise my friends, be courageous, and continue to grow into the full knowledge of the God that loves you enough to lay His own life down for you…Praise Him!
9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:9-13