2 Peter 1:1-2 ESV
“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
“To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
This epistle was written to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with that of the apostles – a faith which is by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, not by our own righteousness, of our own flesh. And, yet it isn’t absent of works. For, as God’s workmanship, we were created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared in advance that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:8-10; Tit. 2:14; Rom. 2:6-8; 2 Co. 9:8).
So, what exactly does that faith look like? This is God-given faith, and it is God-persuaded faith. It is of God and for God and for his glory and praise. Thus, it submits to Christ as Lord, it leaves our sinful lifestyles behind us, and it follows our Lord in obedience to his commands (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).
2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV
“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, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
A lot of people these days are claiming faith in Jesus Christ, and thus they are also claiming for themselves all of God’s promises to his people, i.e. to those who have that faith of equal standing with that of the NT Apostles. And, this is why you hear them claiming who they are in Christ. But, the promises of God are conditional. They are not unqualified (unrestricted).
First of all, the “us” here is not everyone who says they believe in Jesus Christ. James (of the Bible) said that even the demons believe, and they shudder, but they are not saved from their sins. So, belief in Jesus is not a mere acknowledgment of him. It is death to sin and living to righteousness.
So, who are the recipients of his precious promises? They are the “us” to whom God has granted all things that pertain to life (in Christ) and godliness. Believing in Jesus Christ means we now have the life of the Spirit of God living within us, who is living the life of Christ out through us, as we submit to his Lordship. And, that life is a life of godliness, not of wickedness.
They are the “us” whom God has called to his own glory and excellence. This means that we, as believers in Jesus, are called to live lives which are to the praise of God, for his glory and honor, and which are holy, godly, upright, pure, faithful and honest, etc. – all in the strength and power of God at work within our lives, as we cooperate fully with God’s work of grace.
And, what is the object or the purpose of these great and precious promises? It is that through them, through the things he promised us, we might become partakers of the divine nature, “having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
So, the promises of God to all who believe in him are not to be thrown around as some badge we wear that we can use to comfort ourselves when we are living in open rebellion against God in willful, habitual, and often premeditated sin against Almighty God. And, they are not to be taken out of context and broadly applied to anyone who says they believe in Jesus.
The whole purpose of Jesus dying on that cross was not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. His purpose in dying for us was that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. It was that we would no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us, and that we might now honor God with our lives, as His possession.
He saved us out of the pit of sin and darkness. He delivered us up out of our slavery to sin so that we would no longer be entangled by it. He transformed us in heart and mind away from living to sin and self to now living for him and his righteousness. But, this is not of ourselves. This can only be done through Jesus Christ, by God’s grace. But, we have to yield to our Lord, and we have to forsake sin and follow Jesus in obedience (Ephesians 4:17-24).
2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Okay, so this is obviously not works-based salvation. This is not us adding works on to our faith. This is us, as God’s workmanship, walking in the works that he created for us to do all along, as part of our relationships with him, and as part of our walks of faith with him.
These are not the works of our own flesh, but the works of the Holy Spirit. So, they are given by God and empowered by God, but we still have to put them into practice in our lives. We still have to do them, but as we yield control of our lives over to our Lord, and as we walk in obedience to him.
These qualities listed here are really the fruit of lives which are committed to Christ, and they are part of our process of maturing in Christ in our walks of faith with him. The more we get to know the Lord through the study of His Word, and through obedience to what he teaches us, the more we want to be like him and to walk in his footsteps. And, so we will grow in him, by him.
2 Peter 1:9-11 ESV
“For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
But, our walks of faith in Jesus Christ, and us growing to maturity in Christ, becoming more like him, are not optional. It is not merely recommended or suggested that now that we are “saved,” that we are “supposed to” also grow to maturity, as though we can be “saved” for any length of time and not grow in our walks of faith.
The Bible is real clear on this subject. It is those who are walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh for whom the righteous requirement of the law is fully met. If we want to have eternal life with God, we must walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 5:3-6).
So, this is why there is a caution here to all those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. If all we did was “get saved,” and now we think heaven is guaranteed us, but we think that spiritual growth and development is optional, we need to think again. That is not what the scriptures teach. So, we need to know what the scriptures teach on this subject, for we are all going to be judged one day on the basis of whether or not we bore fruit in keeping with repentance (Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; John 15).
So, we need to be diligent to confirm our calling, and it isn’t by reading off a list of “Who I am in Christ,” for you may not even be “in Christ” if you did not surrender your life to him, and if you did not forsake your former life of sin, and if you are not walking in his ways according to the Spirit of God.
So, know what the scriptures teach regarding your salvation. But, don’t cherry pick the scriptures you like which tell you what your itching ears want to hear. Read the New Testament book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse, IN CONTEXT, praying and asking the Lord Jesus to show you his plan of salvation for us humans, and then follow what He says.
Soldiers of Christ Arise
Lyrics by Charles Wesley, pub. 1741
Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies, through His Eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of Hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.
Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.
Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul;
Take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole.
From strength to strength go on; wrestle, and fight, and pray;
Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well-fought day.
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