Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Partaking of the Divine Nature

I'd like to discuss the subject of partaking of the divine nature, which is one that is misunderstood by some people. There are those who think it means we become little gods when we follow Jesus.  Others may incorrectly believe that this is all automatic, and happens without any participation on our part.  So let's see what the Scriptures say.

He Has Granted Us Everything
Paul said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” (Eph 1:3).  Paul was clear that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.  We know that's a gift from Him that we cannot earn.

Peter also said, “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.” (2Pe 1:3).  This is similar to what Paul said, in that by God's power's, He has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness.  All of this comes through the the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence, which is our Lord Jesus Christ. 

It's so amazing to realize that He has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, and everything pertaining to life and godliness!  All of this is by His glorious grace, and was paid for by the precious blood of Jesus Christ that He shed for us on the cross. It's one more reason to rejoice in the Lord and be thankful! 

Becoming Partakers of the Divine Nature
Not only has God done all of that for us, but He has also granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature.  Peter said, “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.” (2Pe 1:4)

What did Peter mean when he said we become partakers of the divine nature?  Here is the divine nature Peter meant:  moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Pe 1:5-8)

Participation of the Disciple is Required
These qualities or virtues don’t just happen in your life automatically. Peter said that God has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature.  Therefore, it is by His precious and magnificent promises that you may become partakers of the divine nature.  You must claim those promises and apply them, which requires diligence and practice on your part. Peter said you must "make every effort" to add these virtues into your life. 

It is up to you to be diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you, which means you must confirm it.  Peter said,  “… be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you …” (2 Pe 1:10). This diligence requires participation on your part.  You may be called and chosen well enough, but you have to make certain about His calling and choosing you. You have a choice to practice these divine virtues or not. That’s why Peter said, “…as long as you practice these things…”  He also said, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,” (2Pe 3:14).

You've got to grow in godliness.  You’ve got to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.  As Peter said, “…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2Pe 3:18).  The verb “grow” requires participation and action on your part.

Rewards and Punishment
There are either going to be rewards or loss, depending on whether or not you participate with the Lord and practice these virtues.

Rewards to those who do practice these things diligently and grow
Peter said, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” (2Pe 1:10-11)

He said you will be useful and fruitful: “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Pe 1:8)

Peter said you would be in peace, spotless and blameless: “…be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,” (2Pe 3:14).  That's how the Lord will find you during your life and at the end of your life.

Loss and punishment to those who do NOT practice these qualities or lack them
Now I'd like to talk about what happens if you lack these qualities in your own life or do not practice these virtues.

Peter said, “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” (2Pe 1:9)

This means that you are spiritually blind and near-sighted.  You are not walking correctly anymore when you are blind. And as a result of that,  by implication, you fail to "make certain about His calling and choosing you." (2Pe 1:10). 

The Greek word for “certain” is “bebaios, which means stable (literally or figuratively): - firm, of force, steadfast, sure.” (Strongs)

So if you lack these qualities, you have failed to make your calling and election sure, stable, firm, and steadfast.  Therefore your calling and election is actually uncertain.  You may have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord Jesus, but if you again become entangled in those defilements, your last state is worse than before. 

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.” (2Pe 2:20-21)

If you lack these qualities, you are headed back into being entangled by the world’s defilements.  And for anyone who ends up like that, it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.  The punishment will be far worse than for those who never knew the way of righteousness.

Be careful you are not led away by the error of wicked, lawless men and fall from your own safe position: “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,” (2Pe 3:17).  Are your spiritual leaders teaching you this?  Are the preachers you listen to on the radio and TV preaching this?  What about the authors whose books, blogs, and articles you read?  And the videos you watch?  Beware of error, especially in this regard.

Putting it All Together
So we know that God has indeed given us everything we need for life and godliness, and that through His very great and precious promises, we may become partakers of His divine nature.  That means we can think like God, talk like God, and act like Him in moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.

But this requires participation on our part.  It doesn't happen automatically.  You have to be diligent to make your calling and election sure.  You've got to make every effort to confirm it, by developing these virtues in your life. Then you'll be useful and fruitful.  You'll be found by the Lord in peace, spotless and blameless, and you will receive an abundant entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

You participation is necessary in order to avoid falling from your safe position. If you lack these qualities, you develop spiritual blindness and near-sightedness. You can no longer see the long-range rewards awaiting those who endure to the end.  You must be careful that after you have escaped the defilements of the world that you don't become entangled in them once again, or else your final condition will be worse than the first.  Beware of who you follow, because there are many wicked and lawless men teaching their own errors to others, and leading them down to destruction.  Don't be deceived into hell.  If you gave your life to Jesus at one time, and then drift away, it would be better for you not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to you.

That's why you need to repent of every sin, to the extent that you lack these qualities, and ask the Lord to forgive you.  Ask Him to cleanse you, making you spotless and blameless.  Ask Him to apply the cross to your earthly sin nature, and begin to apply His very great and precious promises of holiness, righteousness, and truth to your life, so that you may live in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Grow in Godliness" image courtesy of Act Like a Man.

Author's note:  This message has been beautifully expressed in a couple of poems my young daughters have written, called Perfect for the King and Reward of the Overcomer.  I encourage you to take a moment to read those.  And if you enjoyed this post, you may also like Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations and the other posts available through the links on the Home page.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  Some related articles I recommend are:

Doing What is Right Righteous Deeds and White Robes. Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations
Is Obedience Optional? The Cost of Discipleship Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice
The Law Fulfilled in Us The New Covenant Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.


Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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