Partakers of the divine nature
2 Peter 1:3, 4.
His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Peter asserts in the above passage that God’s power has bestowed on Christians all things necessary for life and godliness. He goes on to speak of God having granted on Christians His precious and most magnificent promises viz., to become partakers of the divine nature. This is possible for all Christians those who have given up the corruption that is prevalent in the world and is produced through evil desire. The divine nature that Peter speaks of is the Christ-like nature that every Christian is instructed to wear (Romans 13:14).
Christians, now having the Christ-like nature after having exercised their faith in obedience to Christ’s command to be baptized (immersed) (Mark 16:16) and having identified with Him in the watery grave of baptism (Romans 6:3 and following), are now exhorted by Peter to add virtue to their faith, knowledge to their virtue, temperance to knowledge, patience to temperance, godliness to patience, brotherly kindness to godliness and cover these virtues with love. These are characteristics of the divine nature. We should do well to note that if these things are really ours and are continually increasing, they would keep us from becoming ineffective and unproductive in our pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately (v. 8). The more intimately we know our Lord the more effective and productive for Him we will be.
There is a warning for those who have put on Christ but lack the characteristics of the divine nature. Peter says that such persons are nearsighted. Therefore, he goes on to exhort Christians to make every effort to be sure of their calling and election for by so doing they will never stumble into sin and an entrance into the eternal kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ would be richly provided to them. When Christians remain clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ, a permanent entrance into His kingdom is guaranteed.
Paul, talking about the Gentiles in Ephesians 4 (and we can apply their lifestyle to those without Christ) says that they live in the futility of their own thinking. Their understanding is darkened; they are not enlightened about the superior, spiritual life that the Lord Jesus Christ imparts because they are living apart from God and refuse to accept Him. Then in verse 20, he reminds them that they did not learn about Christ like this; Christ’s nature is not like those living in and for the gratification and glorification of the flesh (carnal life). We learn that the Christians at Ephesus were taught to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with its deceitful desires and to be “renewed in the spirit of your mind and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth” (verses. 22-24). Instructions regarding the new Christ-like life is given in verses 25-32 where Paul (under the direction of the Holy Spirit of God) lists out the following characteristics of the fleshly (carnal) nature that need to be wrenched out of the new man in Christ to be replaced by new characteristics of the divine nature: -
- Lay aside falsehood; speak the truth.
- Be angry; do not sin, let your anger be temporary.
- Do not give the devil an opportunity; by being always clothed with Christ.
- Do not steal; rather labour, doing good with his own hands so as to share with the one who has need.
- Do not use unwholesome words (no crude jokes or curse words); but only what is good and beneficial for edifying, that it may give grace unto the hearers. In other words, be pleasant in your speech.
- Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
- Put away every kind of bitterness, anger, wrath, quarrelling, and evil, slanderous talk; instead be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.
To the Christians at Colosse, Paul says: “If you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” [Colossians 3:1-3; compare with Romans 6:3-11]. This is an instruction for all those who have identified themselves with, and put on, the Lord Jesus Christ. Such, being Christ-like in nature, are already partaking in the divine nature! These have put to death the desires of the flesh (carnal nature, without Christ) viz., sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed (greed is a form of idolatry). They are further urged to put off anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language, and lying (see Col.3:5-9).
Such holy ones who are truly saints (sanctified, set apart) in God’s sight, have been clothed with the new man (their nature is now Christ-like) and they are now being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the One Who created them. They are partaking of the divine nature! Among such, there is no division or distinction. To them, “Christ is all and in all” (v 11). The Lord Jesus Christ is everything to them. “When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him” (v 4)!
Further characteristics of the divine nature (Christ-like nature) are (Colossians 3:12-14) :
- A merciful heart.
Above all these virtues, God’s children are exhorted to add love to their nature, which is the perfect bond. The peace of Christ is to control their hearts and they are to be thankful. The word of Christ is to dwell in them richly and whatever they do in word or deed, they are to do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. As we have seen in the first part of this discourse, doing anything in the name of the Lord Jesus means doing it in accordance with the mind and Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Since Christians are called to a new, spiritual life, they are not wrestling against flesh and blood, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). They are fighting a spiritual warfare. While they know what is happening, the world without Christ does not.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10; read through to verse 18).
What a marvelous and awesome God we serve; Who has dealt graciously with us. He has taken us out of the mud and mire of the sin-filled life, washed us in the precious blood of Jesus and called us to be partakers of and participants in the divine nature! To Him be praise and honour, glory and thanks always! Amen.