In this sermon, Pastor Babij discusses the divine basis for Godly living taken from 2 Peter 1:1-4. Pastor Babij teaches two fundamental objectives for the Christian:
1. To know God
2. To become like Him
Pastor Babij also details several privileges and benefits Christians receive from knowing and becoming like God.
Okay this morning let’s take our Bibles and turn to 2 Peter 1:1-4. What we do in our church is go through the Bible because it is a big book and there are a lot of things to know. We don’t want to be those people where Jesus says to them in the New Testament, “Have you not read?” God’s people ought to be reading the Word of God and read it until you get it. And they should be listening to it too.
Let’s have a word of prayer. Lord, we thank You this morning that we are able to have the Word of God in our hand. The Spirit of God gives us illumination as we study it and He bring it to our mind and attention to make it clear. I pray that today You would do that today as we start this book and go through it, that it would really change us and give us the mind of Christ. I pray that it would set us up to understand not only what the gospel is but also what the Christian life is. And I pray as we understand that, that it would bolster our faith to continue on and putting one foot in front of the other to do the next thing for You. As we live our normal, regular every day lives, we pray that You would be glorified through it and that we would manifest the things that You are changing in us and the characteristics of Christ that You are forming in us would be evident to ourselves and others. I pray Lord as You grow us that we would desire this more and more and never be satisfied and that we would always be more of You. We thank You for the Word of God that helps us to understand what You have done, what You are going to do, and what You want us to do. And I pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen.
So let’s look at chapter one and read verses 1-7 today, but we’ll only look at 1-4. It says:
Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 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. For 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. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
Let’s look closely at verse 1, where we have Peter introducing Himself to us. It says Simon Peter, but in the original Greek his name is Simeon. This is the Hebrew spelling of Simon, rarely used in the New Testament and only in Acts 15. Actually let’s turn to Acts 15:14:
Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.
This verse falls in the context of the Jerusalem Council. There was a sect of Pharisees who believed that the Gentiles who were being saved should be circumcised and follow the law of Moses. So Peter stands up and this is what he says in Acts 15:8-11:
And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.
So the Apostle is saying that the Gentiles are being saved just as the Jews were saved. God is not making a distinction anymore. This was a little bit unnerving for the Jews but this is how God moved. And the Apostle Peter went on to say in Acts 15:19-20:
Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.
So Peter just lays out that if they’re going to place any regulations on the Gentiles, this will be it. The Jews weren’t able to bear all the stuff placed on them, so the Gentiles definitely wouldn’t be able to. Peter was there for all of what Christ has done and saw everything that the Lord did. He became the leading Apostle and the most famous man in the world, besides Peter. He was there from the beginning.
When we go back to 2 Peter, we’ll find that this writer mentions two characteristics about himself that explains who he is and his relationship with Jesus Christ. In verse one it says that he is a bondservant and an apostle of Jesus Christ. The term for bondservant is the Greek word that means slave. A slave serves in obedience to another’s will. One commentator puts it like this, a person totally devoted to and owned by Jesus Christ. His status is not his own, but derived from the Master.
This comes right out of the book of Exodus, where we know there is a law of slaves. This law is that someone is willingly giving themself as a slave to another. The law went like this in Exodus 21:1-6:
Now these are the ordinances which you are to set before them: If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment. If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.
See that is the picture of a bondlsave. Someone who is willing to give themselves to the service of another, and also to the instruction of another to do that person’s will. Slavery under Christ is completely opposite from that of slavery under sin. Satan and sin remain cruel masters, they always have been and will be. But Christ is a good Master to all who put their faith and trust in Him for salvation. So Peter loved the Lord, who was His Master, and Peter willingly because a bondslave. He had his ear pieced in a sense to show that he is a willing slave of the Lord. That should be the way for all Christians. We should be willing slaves of Christ. Whatever it takes, we should be willing. Peter is presenting himself as that kind of person.
A second thing in this passage is that he present himself as a slave and then as an apostle. An apostle is an ambassador and special individual whose qualifications were very specific and limited. The criteria of becoming an apostle are important to realize because people today are saying there still are apostles, which is not true.
An apostle has to be a person who has seen the risen Lord and is commissioned and sent to preach the gospel. Once they were called by the Lord, then He gave those apostles abilities that no one else had like the working of miracles, casting out of demons, and raising of dead. All those equaled works of power and all those were given to the apostles to authenticate the apostles’ message. It was also given to lay down a foundation to build a church with the message of truth. 2 Corinthians 12:12:
The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.
The third thing an apostle was given was the authority of Christ. The Greek word for apostle was apostlos, which means on behalf the authority of another. This term apostle means that the person was a delegate or an envoy for someone else. They were an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ. Like it says in Matthew 10:1:
Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
This means that today there are no more apostles. In the book of Revelation it says that the foundation stones, the names of the 12 apostles, are done. Peter is saying that not only is he a bondservant but also an ambassador for Christ.
So once Peter tells us about himself, he starts laying down the divine basis for godly living. If you look at the end of 2 Peter 1:1 you’ll it says there that it says:
To those who have received a faith.
The foundational provisions of spiritual growth for God’s people are found in what God has done on our behalf. First of all, there are three things mentioned about salvific faith which include that faith brings about salvation and is attained as a gift. Faith here brings a trust that brings a person salvation and is a God given capacity to trust God. The original word for receive is the word to choose by lot. It is what comes to someone always a part of that person’s effort. This means that the gift that comes in salvation is a gift. There’s no way to pay for it or get it. But you do get to receive it.
Here the faith comes by divine will and is received by divine will. In other words, you would receive a gift of God’s grace. A second thing about the salvific faith is that it says later in verse 1:
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours.
He’s saying that this faith is as precious as the apostles’ faith. Peter felt that the recipients of the letter’s faith equal to that of the faith of the apostles. It carries equal privileges just like the apostles received. Now you know that this means there is only one faith. There are not many faiths, but only one way to God. Just think of it, the gospel that was preached over 2,000 years ago is as adequate today as it was then. Did you notice that Peter put on the central person of the gospel? It’s Jesus Christ! In just two verses he uses His name 3 different times. There’s no gospel apart from Jesus Christ. But there are many people today that think you just need to have religion or believe in God.
But that’s very subjective because it leaves open to possibility one’s own interpretation of God. If a person says they believe in God, that does not make them a Christian or make them right with God. May people talk about God all the time, but the problem is there is no talk of Jesus Christ. Talk about God all you want but if you bring up Jesus you have a problem. Jesus Christ is a problem, but remember that Jesus is God.
If you are talking about Jesus, people’s understanding of Him seems to be at a distance from what the Bible actually says about Jesus Christ. The only way anyone can be righteous in the sight of God is to be clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That is by the righteousness that He has given to us in Christ freely in the gospel.
Well you might say how does that happen. Look at verse 1 again:
By the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Jesus came on the earth for one reason only, that He might bear the sins of man Himself. In Christ, God dealt with the sin of mankind, and God punished sin there and did away with it. And man can be right with God by believing that particular message and submitting to it. It’s when one comes to understand after hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them, that they have a real dilemma. Because of their sin nature and idolatry, they under God’s righteous judgment of wrath when they see that, they see they can’t rescue themselves or appease God. That’s when Christ becomes important and the gospel takes root when we see Christ and see Him in His work. He is the most precious offer of our lives, that they become like a man who has become very ill and goes to the doctor asking for any remedy no matter what it costs.
His health becomes the most precious thing at that point in his life and at conversion a sinner begins to realize how precious Christ is. A sinner calls out and says they have no righteousness of their own and they receive the righteousness that God gives in Christ. We are unworthy sinners but we can be clothed in His righteousness. The Apostle Peter is saying about this faith if the doctrine of Christ is precious to us? Is it our greatest gift that we can receive on this side of eternity that Christ chose us by lot to hear the gospel? We received it and were made right by Him based on what He has done and not what we could offer or do? It’s a free gift that He gives us, should that not be the most precious thing? That is what enables one to have the confidence to stand guiltless in His presence some day because it is His righteousness that saves anyone.
It’s like what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:9:
May be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.
So along with Christ’s righteousness given to a believer, there is also an ethical righteousness that comes with that. It’s not just a mere profession of faith or understanding that Christ is the One who saves. But along with that as God leaves us here on this earth, He gives us an ethical righteousness. That means the believer’s nature is transformed so that he or she will manifest the character of God. This is extremely important for believers because they have to know they are responsible to live the Christian life in a certain way.
There’s a third thing there said about faith and it’s a faith that must be grown into and guarded. In 2 Peter 1:2, a very rare verbal mood is expressed in the Greek. It is the mood like saying I wish, which expresses desire, and using the word may. In translations like the ESV it says “may grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ.”
It’s like saying “may the grace and peace of God be yours in greater measure.” That’s where Peter is heading because he wants us to grow in the Lord. Remember Peter is looking at the end of his life here and is told by the Lord that he will die a martyr. The only people who could have this grace and peace are believers. They are given it in greater measure as the knowledge of God is applied. As a person moves further in the direction of that which it seeks to know. That is he or she comes to know Jesus better and better. The growing personal knowledge only comes by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Christianity is really coming to know a person in an ever deepening personal relationship. Knowing Jesus Christ as a person is made clear when the Apostle Paul penned 2 Timothy 1:12, this is what it says:
For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
Paul didn’t say he knows what he believes, but whom. Can we say that today? Can you say that you know whom you believe? It’s not just knowing things about God and Jesus or a quick acquaintance like having met someone for the first time. This is a knowledge heading to a committed living for the sake of the Lord, like a bondservant or slave. Make no mistake, Peter is not saying that you can reach God by sheer power of human thought or some mystical experience that is more like new age teaching.
An infinite God can never be grasped by the finite mind of man. If God is ever to be known in greater measure, He must be known not because man’s mind discovers Him, but because God chooses to reveal Himself to mankind. That’s the only way we can know God, is if God chooses to show us who He is.
There was a commentator, named Douglas Moo who said, “We are rightly warned by the danger of a sterile faith, of a head knowledge that never touches the heart. But we need to equally be careful of a heart knowledge that never touches the head.” The Biblical writers and Peter definitely is in this group who demands a knowledge of God that unites head and heart together. Once someone is born again, then what is the believer to strive for? What is the most important objective of the Christian life?
It’s two-fold. The first objective of the Christian life is to know God. You can’t say you know Him because there are a lot of things to know about God. When you first believe you take baby steps in knowing who God is. There’s a second objective of the Christian life. Not only we are to know God but we are to become like Him. I don’t know about you, but when I hear that I think to myself that seems impossible. How could I know God the way I ought to, and also become like Him?!
Since you have been become a believer, ask yourself how much you have grown in the knowledge of God. Is God real to us? Do we know God when we pray? Are we aware of a sense of contact and communion and fellowship with God on a regular day by day basis? We must thank the Lord that He has included everything necessary to strive for these objectives with success. You know when you buy something, like shelves, in a box that’s small that has 15,000 parts in it? We all start putting it together without looking at the instructions and then realize that we forgot something! Then we need to look at the instructions. But you know, we have to thank the Lord that He gives us all the parts and instructions on how to do this life. And He gives us the power to do it too. That’s what Peter is communicating to us. He not only laid down for us some of the foundational provisions, but now he gives us the privileges for spiritual growth of God’s people.
This next verse is really saying to the believer that we not lacking anything to proceed forward to grow in a more detailed and fuller knowledge of God. The privileges come to believers in the form of a gift. The first privilege highlighted is found in verse 3, and it gives us several privileges, like the power to be like Christ. It says in 2 Peter 1:3:
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.
So God’s power has been given to us, everything we need is provided and the term power means an ability that produces a strong effect. What God gives to us is effective and produces results. It’s going to produce a certain result which we’ll talk more about next week. But just think for a moment that God has provided us at conversion the Holy Spirit. The Spirit illuminates the Word of God to us and we have the intercessory ministry of Christ praying for us as our High Priest in Heaven every day. We have the protection of angels and true faithful pastors that expound the Word of God. And we have the teaching of the Word of God, the full inspired, inerrant Word of God in its final form in our hands. God is not giving any more revelation despite what people say today. We just have to find out what it is. There’s enough of the Word of God for us to never run out.
It’s there right on the page for us. In fact, the word granted is actually the perfect tense of a verb that means the continuing nature of that which is given. This particular divine power never runs out. It is always available to us. Every spiritual resource is provided by God in order to live a godly and Godlike life. The real question is are you living it?
God has provided through the indwelling Holy Spirit, the resources that we need to live a holy, godly, and blessed life. One person put it like this: Jesus has provided everything needed for the Christian to flesh out his life in every day living so as to reflect His image. A Christian is someone who has divine power to live the Christian life. Christians are ones who develop the divine character and manifest it in every day life. In other words, if we fail to live a fruitful, productive life, it’s not because of any lack of resources. All the parts are there, the instruction is there, and the power is there. It’s gotta be our misunderstanding of what God has given us. So for believers there is no excuse at all. We are not lacking anything to proceed forward to grow in fuller detail in the personal knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The next privilege comes to the believer in the form of knowledge. In other words God says this is what He is done for you, and this is the process in which the transformation actually takes place. This is the process of becoming like Christ. Peter is informing Christians that this is what they are called for, to manifest the characteristics of God that are being formed in them by the Spirit of God. God’s glory, as reflected off of man will show forth God’s communicable attributes that are being formed in them, such as goodness, kindness, truthfulness. Look down at 2 Peter 1:5, it says:
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge.
All of these are added to your faith as you grow in Christ. If your life used to be part of bitterness and cursing, and anger, and malice, and an unforgiving spirit, and hatred, then that’s all the flesh. God’s going to transform you out of those things, that’s what a real believer is. A real believer never stays the same, they are always moving and growing and maturing. That’s what Paul said to the people at Galatia in Galatians 4:19:
My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.
The Holy Spirit’s goal for you and I is that we would manifest the characteristics of Christ and that Christ would be formed in us. If you notice in verse 3, it says:
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.
So how does it happen? By growing in the true knowledge of Christ, who called us to manifest His glory as it’s reflected off of us. He’s called us to manifest His goodness, so this term true knowledge really means full knowledge, one who comes to know and appropriate it through faith in Christ. This is a true knowledge that leads to moral knowledge, an intensive knowledge of knowing Christ. The Bible says that when you grow in that knowledge, it says in 2 Peter 1:8:
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
True knowledge produces results. Let me explain. There’s such a thing as true knowledge of Him. Opposite of this true knowledge is false knowledge. I say to people that when you come to know God as your Lord and Savior, you didn’t know anything right about God. You gotta cast it all out and get out your Bible to start reading it and find out who He really is. Then you’ll replace that false knowledge that you’re coming into the faith with, with true knowledge.
The reason why he mentions it like this is because there is a false knowledge and the false teachers are spewing out their own particular doctrine that does not produce the same results as true knowledge of Christ. Their teachings does not lead to godliness, in other words. Their teaching appeals to the lower nature of man’s corruption and that results from lust and an unconscionable and moral desire that displeases God. Remember that if you look over to 2 Peter 2:2, it says this:
Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned
The hearers of false teaching are not getting the true gospel which does not produce true conversion, nor a lifestyle that is not in the direction of godliness. The apostle Paul also taught healthy and sound doctrine that lead to godliness. Let’s look at 1 Timothy and notice these passage, because he brings out to us that somebody can teach a different doctrine and it’s not coming from the true knowledge of Jesus Christ, it will not lead to godliness. Look at 1 Timothy 6:3:
If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness.
In other words when you receive a healthy doctrine from the Word of God about the true knowledge of what God has done in Christ, it leads you to live a holy and a godly life. But if that’s not being taught then it doesn’t lead to that at all. In fact, look at the next passage in 1 Timothy 6:4-6:
He is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
The results of these false teachers is not contentment, it is strife! It’s fleshly stuff that comes out. They praise the Lord in their music but in their lifestyle there is nothing. Peter says that true teaching produces holiness and godliness. We must not forget that you are not lacking anything to grow in Christ likeness. That you have everything you need for a life of godliness and the source of the divine power is from Jesus, and is expressed in a godly life. It’s not a perfect life, but is a desire and lifestyle in the direction of god-likeness.
So what is the promise of being like Christ? Look in 2 Peter 1:4 where it says:
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises.
The antecedent is glory and goodness, or excellence. It means that Christ’s attributes of divine majesty and moral goodness have been instrumental in giving believers not only what they need for a godly life, but through these attributes, Christ has provided with the fulfillment of these promises.
It’s not clear what promises the Apostle Peter has in mind. But if we stick to the immediate context, it would include the fulfillment of those promises that the believer becomes the sharer in the richest things of all treasures, which is the nature and life of God. This is what you can live out in your life and the remarkable privilege of enjoying intimacy with the God of this universe, which leads to a new heaven and new earth.
So this promise of being like Christ leads to two benefits. One is a positive benefit and the other is the negative benefit. Look at the positive benefit in verse 4. It says:
Become partakers of the divine nature.
Make no mistake, Scripture does not say that you have a divine nature, but that you participate in the divine nature. To participate in the divine nature means that Christians share in God’s own holy character. Peter can say in 1 Peter to be holy for He is holy. If God didn’t say that then we would say we can’t because God didn’t say we can. You’d be separated unto God like we are separated from sin and evil. You have the power to say no to sin.
Also the Apostle Peter says we do not possess the divine nature in its totality and therefore are sinless. We’ll never be sinless, but as you grow in Christ you will sin less. The divine power has been given to live out the communicable attributes of God to make us more like Himself. God desires that His children look like His Son Christ. Participation in the divine nature is the reception of the ethical nature of God. This then leads to holiness which then leads to immortality. Christians are given an ethical desire to live for our Lord in holiness, purity, and goodness.
That’s the positive side, but the negative side is found in this verse also. This is the tension of the Christian life. While we are participating in the divine nature, which is going to make us like Christ, concurrent with that is the following in 1 Peter 1:4:
Having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
This is the escape from corruption in the world caused by evil desire. There is plenty of corruption in the world, and it’s due to the sinful desire of the human heart that is depraved and self-centered. Because of the fall of man and to sin, sin came between man and God. God’s own divine characteristics that were given to Adam and Eve were lost. Sin shattered the image of God that was stamped upon man. The part of man that had communion with God died in the fall.
So when the gospel comes to you, it’s coming to someone who is dead and cannot respond to God. So God has to do something to work on them. God has to open their eyes to see and give faith as a gift. He has to bring them to Himself and draw them to Christ. When that happens, God quickens them and makes them alive and they do believe and become born again to the Kingdom of God. But in the Fall we instantly die to God because we have no way to respond to God. Since that time, man has been running from God and are governed by sinful desires that panders to their lower nature. Sinful desires area ll around us.
We know that well because we are human beings. You know when you have a sinful desire or thought. Christians are very aware of those things because they have the Spirit transforming their mind and their life. They’re very sensitive to their sinful desires. And they think that they don’t want to have these desires anymore because they know where they lead to. We don’t have to give into them, because we are participating in the divine nature of God. God says He will give this characteristic of His so He can build into us and help us say no to this other characteristic. Sinful desire is at the root of moral corruption in the world.
Because of moral corruption, the world is subject to decay. God will eventually replace it with a new Heaven and new Earth. The escape is from corruption that still remains in this old world. Christians, as they grow in holiness, see clearly their need to separate themselves from the moral corruption that is so much a part of this fallen world. It becomes clear to us that that is not the way to go anymore in this world. So God restores us in salvation. He makes us spiritually alive and He recreates us after the image of the perfect Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. And He is not just putting a coat of paint on a collapsing house, but He is making us new.
A Christian’s participation in the divine nature has a new ability to resist sin through their union with Christ and His indwelling Spirit, through which the desire of the flesh is weakened. The rebel voice inside of us is weakened and we desire to obey the voice of the Holy Spirit and to please Christ. It becomes the desire of their heart and the pattern of their lifestyle. That’s what Peter wants to lay out before us before he gets into the details, so we are not lied to.Don’t hook onto false teachers that tell you strange things that sound true but are not. You have to examine yourself to make sure that you’re in the faith and one of the chosen ones. You have to make sure of that because you are bearing fruit that the Spirit of God is producing in your life. It is manifest outside of your body, to yourself and others.
If you get dragged into a court of law, if they ask you if you are a Christian you gotta prove it not by your profession, but by your fruit. You keep growing every day in Christ likeness because God is always giving the tools, power, and instructions to make that happen. We have not excuse, let’s pray.
Lord, thank You that these are the divine bases for a forward moving godly life that is always growing. We know that where there is growth, there is life. Embed these truths upon our minds so that we are not just hearers but also doers of the Word. We know that doers of the Word are blessed and that You are near to them for blessing and strength. Increase our true knowledge of You that we may display the true characteristics of God in our life. Thank You Lord, we give You praise, glory, and honor and all that hasn’t yet will be accomplished. I pray in Christ’s Name, Amen.