Sermon Manuscript . . .
You Have All You Need to Live for Christ
2 Peter 1:4–part three
How many of you have ever lost your keys? Nothing stops your plans more. We need our keys to get going, to get in, to get through where we’re supposed to go. And keys are amazing things. Charles Dickens wrote, “A very little key, will open a very heavy door.” Keys are so crucial, when we can’t find them we have to get a locksmith to open the lock.
The promises of God are similar to keys. In fact, God’s promises are much like the locksmith’s ring of keys. In previous days, a locksmith would bring hundreds of keys in order to try to unlock a chest or unlock a door. The locksmith was certain one of his keys would somehow fit. As a result, he would try each key one at a time, very patiently. Eventually, he would find just the right key–then he would turn the tumbler and enable you to get to your treasures, or get through the door.
The promises of God are just like the locksmith’s keys–there is always one promise which will meet your need, unlock the treasures of God on your behalf, or open a door in the midst of a trial you are locked in. Like the perfect key, God’s promise will be the exact fit to unlock the struggle. Why? Because these promises are made by the One who knows everything, is completely wise, has all power, and is completely trustworthy to keep His Word. And once you are part of God’s family and transformed by the gift of saving faith, called to salvation by a gracious sovereign God, then His promises are yours in order to meet any and every need of your life.
Don’t you love 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes.” This is what Peter has been teaching the churches in Turkey, who have experienced persecution from Rome externally, and now are being torn up internally by false teachers. Turn to 2 Peter and take your outline and follow along.
Peter begins his second letter encouraging believers to remember the incredible salvation they have been given by a gracious God. No matter how hard life gets, any day you are not in Hell is a pretty good day, amen? So Peter begins his letter in verses 1 to 2 with a reminder of their salvation. Then verses 3 to 4 with a declaration of the sufficiency of Christ in their salvation. And a big part of Christ’s sufficiency is God’s great promises.
Some of us love the idea of promises and others of us consider promises a bad word. Some have enjoyed promises fulfilled, others have experienced the hurt of broken promises. Lawyers would have a hard time making a living if everyone kept their promises. Politicians spend half their time making promises, and the other half making excuses. Some Christians stand on the promises, others just sit on the premises. The promises of men often falter, but the promises of a perfect God never do.
Our Lord confirms this in 2 Peter 1:3 to 4, “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. 4For 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.”
You have all you need to live for Christ–you are sufficient in Christ. In these two verses, Peter gives the churches in Turkey and (you believers at FBC today) four essential components of the sufficiency of their salvation. You have all the power, provision, promptings and promises you will ever need. Peter continues his celebration of salvation from verses 1 to 2, to now in verses 3 to 4, focusing upon the sufficiency of salvation in Christ. For two weeks, Peter has been encouraging us with these four truths–you have . . .
#1 All the POWER you need is in Christ
Verse 3a, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” The power operating in you and me as believers is the same power that fed the 5,000 and raised Jesus from the dead. It’s the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Christians may distance themselves from God’s power with their sin or lack of service. But regardless, God has bestowed His power in every believer and continues to do so. Additionally, God has given you . . .
#2 All the PROVISION you need is in Christ
Verse 3b, “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” Nothing is missing in your sanctification process. Genuine believers have received not only divine power, but they have received everything they need for sanctification. You and I have no lack at all–everything. Like a baby–just feed it, water it, deal with the consequences and it grows. All the DNA necessities are present–all the baby needs is already a part of the baby. And for you, everything that pertains to living Christ-like today has already been provided by Christ. So what’s my motivation to pursue my resources in Christ?
#3 All the PROMPTINGS you need are in Christ
Verse 3c, “through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” Peter wants his churches to be encouraged to rely on God’s power and resources and He does it three ways.
First The encouragement of CLOSENESS
Verse 3c, “through the true knowledge of Him“–through the true knowledge is close intimacy with God Himself. That relationship encourages us to rely on Him for everything we need–not knowledge of facts about Christ, but the knowledge of personal relationship with Christ. Not religion, but relationship. Not Christianity, but Christ. Only intimacy with Christ can satisfy–and the more you know Christ, the more you will depend on Him.
Second The encouragement of CALLING
Look at verse 3, “who called us“–through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. This is not the general call of the proclamation of the Gospel, but God’s special call–the irresistible, internal, efficacious call which God uses to awaken the lost and regenerate their hearts, causing them to be born again. This call never fails. It always works. People called this way always come running to Jesus.
This internal call is only given to the elect (God’s pre-chosen children) and always brings the sinner to salvation. In contrast, the other external call (the Gospel message) is given to all people without distinction, but is often rejected. Peter motivates his readers with Christ’s amazing grace, love and mercy toward sick, corrupt sinners. How? The Spirit internally calls you to Himself, awakening you from the dead and making you alive in Christ. Why is this call so great?
Third The encouragement of Christ’s CHARACTER
Verse 3, “through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” You didn’t save yourself, God alone saved you and called you by His own glory. More than an escape from Hell, more than to clear your conscience, and more than to go to Heaven–true salvation is found in a person. You are overwhelmed by the God-man, Jesus Christ–Christ’s glory as God and Christ’s excellence as man is worthy of your trust.
Those who are born again see Christ as the best–there is no one better. There is no one who can save you but Christ. There is no one more awesome than Jesus. There is no one who is more beautiful than Christ. There is no one more loving, more gracious, more merciful, more sacrificial, more powerful than Jesus Christ. And looking to Him will lead you to trust . . .
#4 All the PROMISES you need in Christ
Verse 4a, “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises.” God has given you keys to unlock the troubling and difficult locks found in this life. When you’re worried, you can cast all your care upon Him. When you feel unloved, you can bathe in the truth that He first loved you. When you don’t know what to do, you rely on His promise of wisdom. God’s promises are literal obligations He imposes upon Himself. God makes a promise, faith believes it, hope anticipates it, patience waits for it.
In verse 3, God’s power has granted to us everything we need to live for Christ. Then in verse 4, God’s promptings of closeness, calling and character grant us His promises. There was a men’s ministry once called Promisekeepers, which was misnamed–it should have been called Promisebreakers–we do not keep our promises well. We live in America, the land of promise–but only in an election year. This is why my Jean won’t make every day promises–she calls them pie crust promises–easily made and easily broken.
But in verse 4, you have promises made by the One who cannot break a promise. The all-powerful, all-knowing, cannot lie, completely trustworthy promise keeper. He has granted you, meaning given you a gift of, promises. Promises are presents, beautifully wrapped in the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. He has first given us His salvation, verses 1 and 2. Then He’s given us all we need for life and godliness, verse 3. And now, He has given us His promises, verse 4, that we can bank on. God’s promises are blank checks, drawn on the bank of Heaven, signed by the Lord Himself, given to you personally. All you have to do is fill in the name and present the need.
But what kind of promises are they? “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises.” Peter describes all the promises which come with our salvation in Christ as precious–meaning of high worth, extremely expensive, and the highest cost. And the promises are magnificent–meaning large, great, grand, majestic and mighty. Precious and magnificent–valuable and greatest.
Think about this–Spurgeon did, and makes this comparison. “Many things are magnificent but are not precious. Like rocks–they are great but they are not the highest cost. Other things are precious, but they’re not very large, like diamonds. But the Lord Jesus has given you promises that are so great, they’re infinite. And, the promises are so precious, they are divine. The greatest and the finest.”
So in using precious and magnificent, Peter is telling you nothing can compare to them. A king may promise half his kingdom, but that’s nothing compared to a promise from God. How do we know? Well, what has Peter already said in verses 1 to 3? God has already given you the highest and greatest gift–His own precious Son is His first gift. God already made and fulfilled a promise that has no comparison on Earth or in Heaven. God has gifted you with salvation, and with that first gift comes many more incredible promises.
So when you’re discouraged, you can lean on John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” When you are worried, you have 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Those times when you’re lonely, Hebrews 13:5, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’”
When you are confused, Proverbs 3:5 and 6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” When you are tempted, James 4:7, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” The greatest gift is Christ, then with Him hundreds of others. God’s promises are like life preservers–they keep you from sinking in the sea of trouble.
So do you now hear what Peter is saying about the sufficiency of Christ? You have everything you need. You have God’s power, God’s provision, God’s promptings, even God’s promises. His promises are so powerful, they do two incredible things for every Christian–what do they do? God’s promises have a purpose–they give you . . .
First The Power of a new NATURE
Verse 4b, “so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature.” You say, “Chris, that sounds bad! Partakers of a divine nature sounds like we become a part of God, like we were little gods in some manner.” Peter doesn’t say that. Think carefully–Peter intentionally borrows terms like, partakers of the divine nature, from the vocabulary of Greek philosophy. He includes it here because the false teachers were including Greek thinking in their error, mixing it with biblical truth to create heresy.
So Peter uses their terms as an in-your-face, direct refuting of his opponents. Then to teach the truth, Peter employs their terminology, but carefully gives each word of his an accurate, apostolic theology. Many Greeks in this period wanted to escape the material world of decay around them, believing their soul was divine, immortal, and belonged in the heavens above. So Greek philosophers taught that mankind is caught up living in a corrupt world of physical pleasure, and therefore enlightened souls must become like the gods, or become a little god in order to rise above the physical, corrupt world.
But that is not what “become partakers of the divine nature” means. To be a sharer of the divine nature is not to become God or a god–that cannot be. The essence of deity cannot be participated in by the creature He created. Between the creature and the Creator, there’ll always be a gulf fixed in respect to essence. But you and I, because of the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, are in a deeper sense remade to the image of God, and are partakers, literally in fellowship with, the divine nature. We are, by grace, made like God. “God is love,” so we become love–“everyone who loves has been [fathered] born by God.” God is truth, so we become true–we love the true and hate the lie. God is good, so He makes us good–by His grace.
Let me state it another way–stay with me. Peter has chosen his words carefully. Peter uses this clause, “we become partakers of the divine nature,” to describe God’s purpose is in giving us His promises. He gives His promises so we become more like Him. But notice, Peter says we participate in God’s nature, not in God’s being. Peter uses the term nature because it indicates growth, development, and character. In contrast, the term being, which Peter does not use here, points to essence and substance. You and I can never participate in God’s essence, for we are, and will remain, human beings who’ve been created by God.
So Peter is declaring, you share in God’s character, you are like God, because in saving you He gave you a new nature, and you are now able to depend on His promises. You are now able to obey His Word through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. First Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
What then, is God’s purpose in making us share or fellowship in God’s nature? This expression then is not different from the truths of being born again, born from above, being in Christ, and you being the home of the Trinity. The precious promises of salvation result in becoming God’s children and thereby sharing in God’s nature by the possession of His eternal life. Christians do not become little gods, but they are new creations and have the Holy Spirit living in them.
By being born as a baby in natural birth, we are born with a fallen, Adamic, old nature–a nature where we can do nothing right. Romans 7:18, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me.” By means of the new birth we receive a new nature–it’s one that can do nothing wrong. Our old nature is hopeless, and God will do nothing with it but put it to death. This death has already taken place at the cross. Romans 6:6, “Knowing this, that our old self [nature] was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”
Paul taught the Romans, the Lord Jesus not only died for you, but also died as you in your place. In Christ, you have already died–you have been buried and you have already been raised in newness of life. And now you have to reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to Christ–right? Romans 6:11, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Your new nature, given to you at your new birth, is a divine nature, the very nature of Christ Himself.
Through all of God’s promises that came to you in Christ, in salvation, you have become partakers of the divine nature. Look at each word in this phrase–“so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature.” May become is not merely a future possibility, but a present certainty. This verb may become builds on all that Peter has written, meaning–in salvation, you are effectually called by God through the true knowledge of the glory and excellence of Christ. Therefore you receive everything needed for life and godliness, AND priceless spiritual promises.
Because of that, believers may become–meaning certainly here and now, are possessors of God’s own eternal life. John 1:12, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” Peter also says, you may become (may become is a certainty) partakers. Partakers is often translated fellowship in the New Testament. It means sharer or partner. In this life, you believers are partners–sharers in the very life that belongs to God. Colossians 3:3, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
When a sinner believes on Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to impart the life and a new nature, the character of God, within Him. A baby shares the nature of its parents, and a person born of God shares the divine nature of God–character, not essence. The lost sinner is dead, but the Christian is alive because he has a new nature. The lost sinner is decaying because of his corrupt nature, but the Christian can experience a dynamic life of godliness because he has God’s divine nature within. All people are under the bondage of corruption, but the believer shares the freedom and growth that is a part of possessing the divine nature.
Nature determines appetite. The pig wants slop and the dog will even eat its own vomit, but the sheep desires green pastures. Nature also determines behavior. An eagle flies because it has an eagle’s nature and a dolphin swims because that is the nature of the dolphin. Nature determines environment–squirrels climb trees, moles burrow underground, and trout swim in the water. Nature also determines association–lions travel in prides, sheep in flocks, and fish in schools.
If nature determines appetite and we have God’s nature within, then we ought to have an appetite for that which is most like Christ. Our behavior ought to be that of a servant–most like Christ. Our environment is to share the Gospel, and speak the Word of God. And we associate with the church body.
Peter is telling his readers they have all they need. God gave them His promises, which enable them to live like Christ. You have a new nature–we sometimes call it a new heart. But a new nature, which is like Christ, loves Christ–even loves obedience to Christ, remember? Romans 6:17, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.” Partaking in the divine nature will not only cause each believer to live more like Christ, but also to live less like the corruption that is in the world.
Second The POWER to escape CORRUPTION
Verse 4c, “having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” Here Peter turns from what believers do partake in, to what they do not partake in. All who are genuinely saved have a divine, new nature and have escaped the power of sin. What is it? Corruption. Where is it? In the world. How is it? By lust. And what’s amazing about the promises of God and a new nature in Christ is that it allows born again believers to escape corruption.
The day you were saved, you escaped from the power, the constant deterioration, of sin that constantly springs from the strong evil desires of our fallen nature and continues to eat us alive with corruption as we live in this world. Peter says, you escaped from two terrifying, horrifying, chain-filled prisons. One was the prison of this world, with its ugly, gross and decaying corruption. Two was the prison of your own make-up, your own nature, your own person–why? Because your very nature was enslaved to strong desires, and your being was captive to powerful emotions, which were opposed to God and His Word.
Not only did Christ give you a new Christ-like nature, but He also freed you from this corruption and lust. He freed you from this evil world and your fallen flesh. “Having escaped” is the negative side of the positive, “partakers of the divine nature.” “Having escaped” summarizes your past life and announces your full deliverance from it. This deliverance is a God-given benefit, resulting from the gift of a new nature. “Having escaped” is the picture of a successful flight from danger–you are delivered. Escaped implies effort on your part, but it is effort that comes from God’s gracious action in giving you a new nature.
When you’re born again, God gives you the power to turn your back on the evil of your old life and God gives you a desire to do so. How bad was your old life? How does God view your sin? The noun “corruption” contains the root idea of decomposition and describes decaying organisms. You have escaped deterioration of sin and the smell of decaying bodies of sin in the midst of a huge landfill loaded with refuse, called the world.
The term corruption occurs five times in Paul’s epistles, four times in 2 Peter. Why? There is a lot of corruption coming from false teachers in Peter’s 2 Peter churches. “Corruption” was often used as material corruption, but here it pictures moral corruption operating in human nature. Corruption accurately illustrates the moral filth found in a decaying world without God. And it hints of depths of sin found in all of us and the display of sin coming from the false teachers in chapter 2.
Now Peter uses two modifying phrases to describe the nature of this corruption. The first is “in the world,” meaning living as a human in the place alienated from God. This degenerative corruption has the power to pervade all of unredeemed life and exercise a tyranny of control which no human effort (no person) can escape from.
The second modifier, “by lust” (literally in lust or “in connection with lust”), describes the source of this corruption, which is the evil passions of the human heart. Our Lord told us about the heart in Mark 7:21 to 23, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Evil behavior comes from a sinful heart.
The word lust in verse 4 basically denotes a strong desire or craving. Human desire may be either good or bad, so in itself the term lust/desire is neutral. Three times in the New Testament, lust denotes a good desire–but in the remaining 35 occurrences of lust, it describes desires or cravings that are self-centered and contrary to God’s will. Because of the predominantly evil nature of human cravings, lust has an accepted evil connotation. And here in verse 4, living under the sway of these lustful desires inevitably leads to moral deterioration and ruin of all non-Christians.
The promises of God fueling our new nature from God and from the indwelling Spirit of God enable you and me to escape, overcome, and live above the corruption of sin. Ephesians 4:24, “And put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” This corruption of sin in a rotting world and its accompanying stench driven by the evil desire of lust is overcome by all born-again believers. You and I have escaped the penalty and the power of sin, enabling us to live for Christ in this world.
We will battle with sin until we are one day freed from the presence of sin with Christ. You and I are able to avoid sin, confess sin, repent of sin and overcome evil. Even though you and I live in this corrupt world, as a believer you’re not of this world any longer. Peter’s readers are able to discern evil and resist the error of the false teachers. Why? Because all believers have everything we need to live for Christ. Verse 4 teaches you can live the life of a Christian because . . .
#1 God himself lives within you
#2 And God has given you the power to live totally different than this world
TAKE this truth HOME and seek to be a doer of these final truths
A The new nature Christian has been given a new DESIRE
Instead of continually desiring sin, a regenerated heart desires to obey God. Instead of a nature bent against God’s Word, a new nature wants to follow God’s Word. Are you a real believer or a make believer? Test yourself to see if you are in the faith. All people either become regenerate or degenerate. Either your nature is subject to a slow decay of sin then the wages of sin death, or your nature seeks to fellowship with Christ and those who follow His Word.
If your nature is not changed, then you can’t live nor enjoy the promises of God. If your nature is not the new nature, then you are not a child of God. So cry out to Christ today to transform your heart as you trust in God, becoming a man in the person of Christ, dying for your sin, rising from the dead and living as the only one who can give you a new life now and eternal life forever.
B Part of winning the battle with sin is reckoning yourself DEAD to its power
Romans 6 says because of the work of Christ in dying for your sin, because you are now dead to sin, verse 11 reminds you, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). Christ killed the penalty of sin and the power of sin in your life. Part of living according to your new nature is living your life under the knowledge that you are dead to sin and do not have to sin if you choose not to.
Part of living victorious is pursuing Christ Himself, seeking to put on Christ-like qualities, serving Christ in ministry, and passionately pursuing Christ’s mission of making disciples. The other part is knowing, because of salvation and the incredible promises of God, you don’t have to sin but are dead to sin. Next, by learning and living the promises of God, the Spirit empowers you to overcome sin.
Stop believing you can’t help yourself. Stop believing you can’t gain a measure of victory over sin. Stop thinking you cannot grow in obedient living–reckon yourself dead to sin.
C Part of the battle with remaining sin is to keep us longing for HEAVEN
Philippians 3:20 and 21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” At glorification, all believers will be redeemed completely so they possess eternal life in perfect holiness in a new heaven and new earth, where no sin or corruption will ever exist. Keep your heart focused on eternity and longing for Heaven. Let’s pray.