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THIS ISSUE: "Partakers of the Divine Nature" (see below)
and "Introduction to Mark"
Sometimes, to excuse a fault or transgression, people rationalize, "Well, that's just human nature." Actually different people have varying natures. Some people, vile sinners, have the nature of the devil (John 8:44). Others are so crudely rebellious in their actions they have the nature of "brute beasts." (2 Peter 2:12). But, if we are to receive God's blessings in His Son, we must be "partakers of the divine nature." (2 Peter 1:4,10-11).
of the Divine Nature?
The apostle Peter answers this inquiry in 2 Peter 1:2-11. He introduces his remarks by reminding us of the wonderful blessings that are ours if we do share the divine nature. By having this nature we now receive such blessings as "Grace," "Peace," and "all things that pertain to life and godliness." (2 Peter 1:2-3). In short, we receive "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" as our present reward (Ephesians 1:3). Not only this, "exceedingly great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4) await us in the future, none greater than that of "eternal life" for which we hope (Titus 1:2). Certainly, then, we should desire to be partakers of the divine nature.
The "divine nature" is simply God-likeness. In one sense all men, even the worst of sinners, are like God. "God created man in his own image." (Genesis 1:27) We bear His image in that He is the Father of our spirits (Hebrews 12:9), which, like Him, are immortal (not subject to death), invisible, rational (capable of reason), and moral (capable of discerning between right and wrong). In this sense, the divine nature is unconditionally possessed by all of Adam's descendants, regardless of race or sex.
But the "divine nature" of our study is conditional. It consists of "the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." (Ephesians 4:24, NASB). "Righteousness" is the state of being right under law, not guilty. "Holiness of truth" is separation from sin and consecration to God's service. Our character becomes like the very moral nature of God, that we might be fit to dwell with Him throughout eternity.
How do we obtain this God-like character? Peter mentions two great processes. First, we must escape "the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:4)
"Corruption," i.e., "decay," is the consequence of "the world." The term "world" here refers to sin and its allurements (cf. 1 John 2:15-17). We are led into this corruption through lust, i.e., evil desires. Thus, we are to escape the consequence of sin, which is eternal decay or ruin.
How do we make our escape? Two terms are used in 2 Peter 1:2-3 to indicate the means of our deliverance. They are "knowledge" (used twice) and "power." The two words are here interchangeable. Without a knowledge of the first principles of God's will one cannot be saved (John 6:44-45), for the Gospel is "the power of God to salvation." (Romans 1:16) Thus, we escape "the corruption that is in the world through lust" by faith in and obedience to the Gospel (Galatians 3:26-27). This one great process includes five simple steps into Christ: hearing the Gospel, believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, repenting of one's sins, confessing one's faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and being baptized in water for the remission of sins. The result is righteousness and true holiness as the consequence of the forgiveness of sins.
Obtaining God-like character does not end here, though. We must still develop righteousness and holiness by "giving all diligence," i.e., making every effort, to add the seven qualities of character listed in 2 Peter l:5-7. Thus, the second process in acquiring the divine nature is composed of seven steps.
Actually, eight qualities are mentioned in 2 Peter 1:5-7, but one, faith, is assumed on the part of the Christian as already a part of his life, for ".... without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)
But to our faith we must be add "virtue," i.e., moral excellence. The young man Joseph wonderfully demonstrated virtue when he refused to commit fornication with his master's wife and so "sin against God," even though his refusal caused him to be thrown into prison. (Genesis 39:7-10). Virtue is the courage to do right regardless of the pressure or temptation to sin. How desperately people in our day need this commendable quality, in order that they might not succumb to the immoral enticements in which our society wallows.
Alongside virtue, we must place "knowledge," i.e., having the facts of God's Word. Knowing what the Bible teaches comes only through diligent study. We should desire Bible study "as newborn babes" desire milk (1 Peter 2:2). Use every opportunity you have to learn more about the Word of God.
To knowledge we must add "self-control." This is the quality Paul demanded in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. As the athlete in training strictly disciplines himself to receive the proper diet, exercise, and rest and to have the proper attitude, the Christian must carefully discipline his thoughts, desires, words, and actions to keep them pleasing unto God. One who fails to control himself will soon "become disqualified."
Further, we must add "perseverance," i.e., steadfastness in adversity. We must not give up, no matter how difficult the circumstances. Job is held aloft as an example of this quality (James 5:11), because he maintained his integrity even though Satan buffeted him with horrible calamities (Job 1:20-22; 2:3,10). The life of a Christian is more like the marathon than the one hundred meter dash. One must endure all adversity and temptation, even to the end, not just offer a short-lived burst of clean living.
We must also possess "godliness," the attitude which seeks to please God, not ourselves. The boy Samuel when, by Eli' s instruction and as God called him, replied, "Speak, for Your servant hears." (1 Samuel 3:10) This is godliness. It should be our attitude toward God and His word. If we have godliness, it doesn't matter to us what we think or desire or what any man says. All we want to know is, What does the Bible say?
To godliness the Christian must add "brotherly kindness." This is the love that Christians cherish for each other as brothers. The practical fruit will be kindness and tenderness toward one another and a willingness to forgive our brother's trespasses against us (Ephesians 4:32). How far such a trait of character goes to promote the blessing of peace!
Finally, "love," i.e., active good will, must be a quality of our lives. We must show love for God by sincere and complete obedience to His every command (1 John 5:3). We must demonstrate love toward other people by seeking their good in all we do (1 John 3:17-18).
The one who has "escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" and has given "all diligence" to add these noble traits to his own character is a partaker of the divine nature. He is a fruit-bearing disciple, pleasing to his Master (2 Peter 1:8). But, the child of God who fails to add these good qualities to his life is short-sighted, not looking to the eternal goal, and has forgotten the purpose of his calling (2 Peter 1:9).
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