This Bible study was shared last Tuesday and is the second in the series on 2 Peter. I only covered half a verse this time, as there was simply so much.
Underneath the video there is a written summary of the Bible study followed by some suggestions for prayer.
We’re returning to 2 Peter to remind ourselves of the glorious things we saw at the start of the year. Later we will pick up where our studies in 2 Peter stopped due to lockdown in March.
Two weeks ago, we got up to the middle of chapter 1 verse 4. We saw:
- Our identity as God’s people with a faith of equal standing even with the apostles.
- The blessing of grace and peace.
- His divine and sufficient power for us to live godly lives.
- His great and precious promises.
I had planned to go down to verse 11, but it would make the study too long. So for today, let’s finish verse 4:
1) New nature
V4: “…so that through them…” That is, through the precious and very great promises.
Peter here is specifically thinking of the promises of new life that are fulfilled in the salvation that God has given us in Christ. Our salvation is not just about me; it is God’s eternal plan. It is something that has been planned for eternity and promised throughout scripture. They were fulfilled through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and were fulfilled in us when we believed (we became partakers of the divine nature).
Here are some examples:
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”Jeremiah 31:33, ESV
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”Ezekiel 36:26-27, ESV
God promises a changed people. So, through the fulfilment of these promises, God’s people become “partakers of the divine nature.” We have become sharers/participators in the divine nature. Notice it doesn’t say we have become divine, but sharers in the divine nature, empowered for godly living.
We are not God, but we are indwelt by the Spirit of God, in fulfilment of His promises. If you are a Christian, you are not a bit religious, you are not simply (to use the latest in-phrase) a “person of faith.” You are a new person, you have divine life within you.
Here are two examples:
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”John 1:12-13, ESV
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”Galatians 2:20, ESV
The divine power brings divine nature. His precious and very great promises are fulfilled by His power. We also believe them through his power at work in us. John Owen said:
“He that would utterly separate the Spirit from the word had as good burn his Bible.”John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 3 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 192.
We are transformed, we are new creations. We are different. We need to believe that according to the word of God and ask for, and rely on, the work of the Holy Spirit. This is both now and future. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit now. That is why from verse 5 onward, we are encouraged to do something – “to make every effort.” But in the future, we are transformed completely.
God’s purpose is given for us in Romans 8:29 – “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
We have the great promise in Philippians 1:6 – “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
2) New freedom
Verse 4 continues: “having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
The word “escaped” has the idea of fleeing away. This is dramatic language to describe conversion. Again, it is not a minor change or new religion, it is a turning to Jesus away from the world, sin and self and running to Him for refuge. We have been rescued and set free.
What have we escaped from? “Corruption”. This refers to decay and destruction. Depending on context it can refer to perishing (as in death), or decay as in something rotten or decomposing. The word shows us the effect of sin. There is a moral corruption – the decaying effect of sin on people’s lives. There is the final corruption of death – the destruction of our bodies in death but worse, the eternal destruction, corruption and judgement of our souls.
Where does this corruption come from? It is “in the world because of sinful desires.”
The “world” is not the physical world as such but the world of rebellion against God – that will finally be destroyed by God’s judgement. So in 2 Peter 3:5-7 we read, “For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction of the ungodly.”
This corruption is “because of sinful desire”. It is those desires in rebellion against God. So, 1 Thess 4:5: “not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;”
The consequences of this are very great and serious – Ephesians 2:1-3 – “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
The Christian has been set free – no longer a child of wrath. We are free from the wages of sin, which is death.
So we will be raised and will not perish (1 Cor 15:42). But that glorious truth affects us now. We have a new nature that is different from the world around and different from what we used to be (Ephesians 4:24). We have something of His glory – we are new people and alive and are being glorified, but that also affects our behaviour – we begin to show His goodness.
Where does this leave us?
The power of truth: what He has done and who we are in Him. So, 2 Peter 1:1-4 lay a foundation for us to live. Our identity, grace and peace, power to live, promises that He has given, our sharing in the divine nature, and the escape that He has given us, all of these give us the foundation to then say (v5) that I will make every effort to grow.
These are the foundations that enable us to resist the lure of false teachers and to be ready for the second coming of Christ.
These are truths that are not simply to be admired – even though they should be admired – but these are truths that we use and apply. Use the truth when sinful desires come. Use the truth when you feel weak in the battle. Use the truth to encourage yourself.
Remind yourself where you belong. This world is not your home – you are different: you are loving, you have joy, pace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
You are at peace – you don’t need to worry as the world worries. You don’t need to pursue earthly pleasure and wealth as the world does. You don’t need to fear death as the world does. You are different, you are a child of God, you have escaped the world. And while your body is getting older and frailer, you are inwardly a new person.
And you have a glorious assurance – divine power has saved you, divine promises are unbreakable and divine nature enables you to live for His glory and will carry you home. And all this is of grace… these things are given to us. He has done it and He is not going to undo it.
Pointers for prayer
- Thank the Lord for your new life and that you no longer belong to the world.
- Thank Him that you will not suffer the wages of sin but that He has rescued you from the corruption that this world will face.
Pray for your own walk with God, for grace to see what He has done for you and to live for His glory.
Pray for the USA, for the election and for God’s mercy. Pray for true believers in the USA to be able to witness to Christ as the true Saviour.
Pray for the church. Give thanks for those who have visited our services. Pray that God would speak to them and that some may come and join with us regularly. Pray for those who don’t know the Lord to be brought to Him.
Pray for God’s mercy upon our nation, for the virus to decline rather than increase. Pray that the Lord would use this to show people their need to escape the corruption of this world.