Look at our motivation for denying self, taking up our crosses and following Christ! If we obey our Lord in our sanctification, working it out with fear and trembling then we will be putting to death our flesh and its sinful desires. In doing this, we become more and more Christlike because we are becoming Spirit-led. If we do this then we will have assurance. If we have this assurance then we will have joy and hope and will run the race set before us in the power of the Holy Spirit as we keep our eyes on our Lord. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
1 Simeon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received the same kind of faith as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the full 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 full 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. 2 Peter 1:1-4 (LSB)
We have spent a large amount of time lately looking at forms of “Christianity” that are really forms of apostasy or heresy. We have also compared their false beliefs with those of other aberrant forms of our faith such as the seeker movement and “liberal Christianity.” There are others to be sure, but what has been amazing is how they all do the same thing. They elevate Man and demote God. They teach salvation by works instead of by grace through faith as a gift from God.
Is it possible to know whether we are genuine partakers of the divine nature and not simply religious converts? Let us look at the Apostle Peter’s understanding of this. If anyone would understand that our own efforts to please God are a total waste of time, Peter would be the man. He declared to our Lord on the night of His arrest that he would rather die with Him than desert Him. However, we all know that Peter not only deserted our Lord that night, he denied Him three times. From that failure and his later restoration by our Lord after He was resurrected, we know that we cannot please God with our own efforts. Any work that we do that is outside of His Grace is just works of the flesh and totally worthless.
Peter was restored to fellowship and service by our Lord. That should be an encouragement to us all. Who hasn’t failed and stumbled horribly? How do we feel when we do that? It should break our hearts and also drive home the point that we cannot walk before the face of God in our own strength. If we try, we will be constantly fighting a losing battle with our flesh, which is still enslaved to this lost and dying world. The only solution is to become Spirit-led. It is through becoming Spirit-led that the evidence of our new nature becomes apparent and the assurance that we have escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire becomes enhanced. (See 2 Peter 1:1-4 at the top of this post) Let us look at Peter’s counsel on what we will do if we are enslaved to the Spirit of God rather than to our own flesh.
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these things are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the full knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For in whom these things are not present, that one is blind, being nearsighted, having forgotten the purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and choosing sure; for in doing these things, you will never stumble; 2 Peter 1:5-10 (LSB)
Our faith was a gift from God at our regeneration (Ephesians 2:8-9). However, our sanctification is according to the will of God; therefore, we are to grow more and more humble as our pride is put to death. This makes us become Christlike. Only genuine Christians can overcome the world and deny their flesh. Everyone can make temporary decisions to do something or stop doing something, but that is only the fruit of will power and is not only temporal, but outside of the grace of God.
What are we to do then? Peter tells us that we are to make every effort to supplement or “supply” our faith. How do we do that and what is it we are to supply it? Again, the answer is to become Spirit-led. This breaks the chains of our fleshly desires and puts us into a mode of obedience to God that is by His strength and direction instead of our own. Again, this is only possible for the Spirit-led, but all who are partakers of the divine nature are able to do this because our sanctification is according to the will of God.
2 For you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God did not call us to impurity, but in sanctification. 8 Consequently, he who sets this aside is not setting aside man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:2-8 (LSB)