“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature…” 2 Peter 1:3-4
The Second Epistle of Peter was written late in the Apostle’s life, most likely near the time of his death. Even as Peter is writing this letter, he seems to know that his time is short, and he is seeking to leave with his readers in the church a few final words of wisdom, advice, and exhortation, while also reinforcing sound doctrine. Though this epistle is brief, it is filled to the brim with true teachings.
Peter’s central focus in 2 Peter is addressing false doctrines. Even at this early point in the history of the church, there were already beliefs creeping in that need to be combatted and eradicated from the community of believers. Peter understood that false teachings represented a significant threat to the infant church, and the believers must be on the lookout for it, especially if he would soon be leaving them. Orthodoxy must be established, and Peter saw to it that he did his part in developing it.
Peter’s approach in helping the believers to identify false teachers is unique: he begins by reminding them just how much Christ has changed them. The follower of Christ—“those called to his glory”—now has a new heart and been filled with a new spirit. Due to this regeneration of heart and spirit, the believer is able to enjoy something previously impossible for them: to partake of the divine nature. As in creation, when God made man in His image, in the re-creation, Christ puts into man something which man lost in the fall; he injects us with a sort of “divine DNA.” He infuses us with His spirit so that we can finally live how He calls us to live. Christ goes beyond merely adopting us as His children; He gives the believer His own nature—he infuses us with his “genes”—so that we might be as His own children. Just as a child exhibits traits and characteristics of their parents, we now should exhibit the traits and characteristics of Christ.
Peter goes on to say that we should supplement—exercise, work out, develop further—this nature by developing spiritual disciplines that are consistent with being followers of Christ and partakers of His nature. Just as one would exercise their physical bodies to improve performance and strength, we should seek to strengthen our spiritual natures with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. What Peter is saying is that we should seek to develop further the divine nature that Christ gave to us by exemplifying the characteristics that Christ himself embodied. In living this sort of life, one will bear fruit, and according to Peter, one’s fruit will separate the authentic follower from the false follower. Those without the infusion of the divine nature will not bear fruit consistent with being followers of Christ, and their teachings need to be avoided.
Peter wants his readers to remember that they are to be different from everyone else. He wants those reading his letter to confirm their calling, to live it out, to make it real. Christ demands that we be different from all those around us, just as God commanded Israel to “be holy for I am holy,” (Leviticus 11:44). Israel was never able to live up to this expectation due to their disobedience, but we have no excuse. Christ died and rose again to be able to recreate our hearts and spirits and to infuse us with His own nature so that we might lead lives that are holy and righteous and under His will. He injected us with this divine DNA so that we might be His holy people, and through this, He empowers us to live the way He commands us to.
Live as Christ expects you to live; live a life that is worthy of Christ’s death. Exhibit the divine nature with which you’ve been infused.
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