Great and Precious Promises
2Peter 1:4 kjv
Four verses, one sentence; Peter's compound thought continues. To understand this next section, I would like to first approach the concept of corruption.
What is it that we are to escape, lust or corruption? The casual reader is likely to interpret this statement as an escape from lust, as in sexual desires or perversions. If this is so, then the use of the word corruption makes little sense. Corruption is seldom associated with sexual desire. More times than not it pertains to criminal behavior, a crime boss, a politician or the like. Lust must point toward spiritual corruption rather than corruption pointing to physical lust; how driven one is to be corrupt.
Now that is not the easiest thing to explain. Very few of us in our right mind feel driven toward corruption. That is because we have known nothing in our lives other than the driving forces born of this world and self. It also is because we know not what the measure is that our lives are being compared against. Not having this knowledge nor the comparable standard makes us assume that neither our drive nor our end product are in any way corrupt.
It would be better for us to think of this corruption in comparison to perfection. Corruption would be the measurable distance between perfection and our present imperfect state. No matter how close one is to the mark, not being on the mark involves a measurable distance of corruption.
Self would say that there is no perfect measure and be right in terms of human behavior, but wrong in its conclusion that mankind is the only available standard. No, the standard to be compared to is of God, HIS intended design for man and woman. How far are we off from that? How much are we driven not to meet that design standard? The Bible leaves us with very little doubt. Even those patriarchs closest to that standard were a considerable degree off. Nor could they stay close to that mark for any duration.
The argument then is that God has given us too high of a standard. I am going to answer that with something that may shock you. The standard was not set high for us, it was intentionally set that high for Christ. You see, from the time of Adam, the mode of operation has been for self to become a god in its own eyes. Gods not in the sense of creating whole new universes, gods in the sense of determining its own standards, set to levels that it can achieve for itself. Having achieved its own standards, self thinks itself justified and in no need for a Christ. This is the way it wants things to be. Self drives itself towards this position with its every hunger and lust.
From day one, God had promised to Adam that his generations would be brought successfully back out of this by means of a Christ. Man was now dead of spirit, he would not be able to pull himself back out of this. This unconditional covenant was sealed with a symbol of blood sacrifice, in this case of an innocent animal, whose skin would then be provided as a covering for the guilt of sins. That same symbol became the fulfillment of Christ.
The comparable standard cannot be one's own self. It cannot be the standard of this world. It cannot either be the Law of Moses, for only by the Law can it be proven that no mortal man can ever attain to this standard. No, the standard of the Law was given for Christ alone to attain to so that then the dead "gods in their own eyes" mindset can be extracted by means of spiritual regeneration.
John 15:24 kjv
We can also think of the lust behind corruption as hate. Self has developed an image of God all its own. It does not hate the image that it has made for itself. It loves that image because it suits self's high opinion of itself very well. Instead, it hates the image of God that God has HIMSELF revealed, the image that includes the person and work of Jesus Christ HIS only begotten. The act of producing its own image is hateful to the correct image of God., not as self sees it, as God sees it.
Corruption in the Greek points to dict:strongs G5356 (see: PhthoraCorruption - decay that is ruin). In one important sense corruption has brought about the death and decay of the spirit. In an equal sense it continues to bring the decay and ruin of the physical and emotional and intellectual world that yet remains. Each generation gets further and further away from the faint echos of that long ago living spirit. Still, the "desire to be wise", "to have their eyes opened", "surely God did not mean it" hunger for the forbidden fruit continues even stronger. In turn this drive hastens the final decay and ruin of both man and his self created society.
The physicist would tell us that all matter is in a state of decay; they call that being in a state of entropy. The physiologist tell us that all the cells in our body are on the course to decay. With each replication, the body is one step closer to being unable to support the vital health and life of the human body. We can take this Greek idea of decay and apply it to the world. It is the world's lust that makes for its decay (see: EpithumiaLust - longing for something forbidden).
It is not only the lusts of the flesh and mind that we are talking about here, if it were, we could escape by our own measures. It still comes down to the image we prefer to have of God versus the image that Jehovah conveys of HIMSELF through Christ and the hunger with which we seek to continue imagining it.
Why does God's righteous endeavor need to be by such miraculous power? Couldn't HE bring about our escape by more familiar and natural means? No, regeneration requires new life to enter the soul. Couldn't we partake by less foreign and radical means? No, partaking requires the divine nature of Christ of which we have not ever experienced at all. If it seems that Peter's verbiage is overkill that is because the self is still attempting to protect its place in the heart. Self is trying to minimize what all it has done and is not about to give up yet. God's effort is miraculous because has to overpower self's.
You'll notice that it is not the evolution of some super human nature like the utopians would imagine. It is not us making ourselves better and better to the point of some imagined perfection. You'll notice that it is not some evolved political or economic system. It is not any nature of yours or mine or science's or technology's or pharmacology's or philosophy's making. No, the answer is in the truly escaped partaking of His true divine nature.
Now some would think that this means that we will each become Gods or Christs in our own right. Partaking does mean anything of the sort. It means that it is His nature alone, and it remains His nature alone, only that we share in the benefit of His nature being as it is. HE is who He is, and friends we are then all the better for it. This is partaking.
Up till now we have partaken of our own nature which is not entirely ours, it is mostly Adams. We have taken it on and made our own, as has the rest of the world.
Along with this partaking or influence, there is the world's righteousness and there is ours. There is the world's grace and peace, its formulations of life and godliness. There is even its own calling towards its own glory and virtue. Yes there is all of this, but it is the world's nature that is partaken of; the corrupt world remember. It is also the individual influence of man or woman's nature; corrupt man or woman no doubt. Can anyone say that by their own nature and resource they have escaped this world's corruption, or that they even see the need to try, or that divine influence has even been sought for?
The Greek word for partake used by Peter is dict:strongs G2844 koinōnos - a sharer, associate, companion. It means to share in the benefit of another's wealth. Peter is using it to build on the sense of escape. Where we could not associate with God prior to this escape due to HIS holiness and our corruption, now, because of Christ, we can. It is not our nature that we now benefit from, it is Christ's nature, and Christ's alone.
One way to think of this benefit is with justification. My nature will never justify me before my God, no matter how high I think of myself. The world's nature will never justify it before this God, no matter how worthy we all think of it. Only Christ's nature is justifiable before God; as proven by His resurrection and ascension. I benefit therefore from His nature covering over me. What I could not do for myself because of my nature, He has done for me by His. I am as if I was a dead man six feet in the grave who, if not for God's grace sharing the good nature of Christ upon me, would have no escape from this decay both in this life and in the life then to come.
- What an amazing statement of faith Peter encapsulates into one complete sentence kjv@2Peter:1:1-4 in this regard of partaking:
- We partake only because of the righteousness of God and our Savior. Now that the recognition and acknowledgment of who is who and what is what has been given Peter, he cannot help but commit himself to the "like precious faith". It is in this righteous nature of God and Savior Peter gets benefit from.
- In partaking there is an increasing grace and peace through the recognition and acknowledgment of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Grace as in God's gracious influence over Peter's life, peace as in being set back as one again with God, with himself, with those around him, with whatever situation the worship and service to this faith leads him into. It is this new influenced and united nature that Peter gets substantial benefit from.
- Partaking involves a recognition and acknowledgment of having been called into this righteous God and Savior's glory and virtue and that THEIR divine power has provided everything required to make that happen. It is this purpose driven and Spirit empowered nature that Peter gets benefit from.
- Partaking is not just a desperate hope. All of this is part of a series of great and precious promises made by God Eternal to raise HIS children out of this present world's corruption on the wings of HIS Son's own good nature. These promises are considered great because they exceed the aims of any other human faith or religion. Precious because it cost its Savior His very own blood to secure. It is this long promised and now achieved Christ nature that Peter benefits from.
Does this mean that Peter has escaped all forms of corruption? Well at the very least he has escaped the world's. He is in this world but at the same time he is not of this world. This world is not his, his is a world to come. This world means little or nothing to him, he is no longer a friend of this world and this world is no longer a friend to him. He knows now for certain having witnessed Jesus return from the grave, firstborn of many brethren, for him there is now much more opened up to him beyond this world. Like Peter, there is a glory and a virtue beyond this world's that we called to, and a path provided for.
Does this mean that Peter is free from his own personal corruptions? Bible context suggests that he must still be on his guard and watchful of his former self. We can be purged of the former nature as he states (verse 9) and yet somehow forget that we have been purged from it. Elsewhere, we are exhorted to crucify self, to mortify sin, to not be entangled again by it, to not make any occasion again for it, to not again give ourselves over to these still possible corruptions.
Does this mean that he is always partaking of Christ's divine nature? Elsewhere, scripture exhorts us to abide in it as if we might not, to persevere in it as if we could retreat, to walk in it as if we stumble, to confess and repent to God and even to one another at every opportunity, to encourage and strengthen one another so as to not fall back into it. No, partaking involves us being escaped and being escaped involves us partaking. Too much of the time too many of us act as if we are neither escaped nor partaking. Without Christ's miraculous influence there is no experience of the grace and at peace. Without Christ's miraculous influence neither is there the receiving of all things pertaining to a quickened life and godliness. We might become blind and shortsighted and forgetful. Our all diligence might become lack. To this escape and partaking we might still be particularly vulnerable and for others quite contagious. Isn't this what Peter is attempting to put us all back into remembrance of?
We know these present truths and yet Peter feels he must be vigilant to be remind us of this.
In Review - Verses 1-4
My mind keeps going back to Peter and the needs that he was attempting to address in the Church in his day and age. The young Church of that day was already facing its own fruitlessness and set backs to the faith. In our day, I fear, we have institutionalized this ill into our modern religion even more so. How did Peter go about addressing this problem? He used the tools of stirring and remembrance.
Seems that in this day so little stirs us. We speak righteousness as if we know everything there is to know about it; how much of an influence does it have over us? We speak of grace and peace as if we already hold to it; how much of its influence are we actually under? Escape; why does what we are calling escape so closely resemble the corruption of this world? Partaking; is there any similarity in nature between us and Christ? How can the facts on the ground not disturb and stir us?
If we fail at these few core foundations, if our lack of fruit proves our failing, what else then are we failing at?
How did Peter seek to address this? In the opening sentence of this epistle he comes out with guns a blazing, bullet point after bullet point. I would put his opening sentence up against any modern writer's opening. I would put his opening sentence up against their entire sermon or 500 page best-selling book. Peter then continues his counter attack on fruitlessness in his second sentence. Here he lists the specific things fruitful people would add to this special faith. The very same things that unfruitful people neglect.
Peter is using very specific concepts here. The concepts he is using are like bullet shells packed tight with explosive material. When he fires off concepts like "the righteousness of God and Savior" we know that there is so much more to understand than we currently do about it. A Jewish reader might have more of a familiar acquaintance with these concepts than we, but not in conjunction with a risen glorified Christ. Peter does not wait for our minds to unpack each meaning however, he shoots off the next bullet in rapid succession.
It is not so much a lecture of everything we will need to know that he is giving us as it is a brief composite view that we will have to take home, study and then digest. He is stirring us into looking into this further and at the same time drawing upon our previous remembrance.
I have gathered my study notes on several of these bullets into a resource appendix (see: SeriesAppendix) for your further examination. In fact, I consider these appendixes of greater worth than my own words because they are packed with much essential Holy Scripture; it is the scriptures that I most want to turn your attentions to. Please, please avail yourself of these many resources.
PhthoraCorruption - Word study EpithumiaLust - Word study KoinonosPartake - Word Study TorreyDivinePromise - Topical study TorreyDivineNature - Topical study TorreyCovenant - Doctrinal study TorreySin - Doctrinal study TorreyRedemption - Doctrinal study