However, our sanctification is the will of God; therefore, we are to grow more and more humble as our pride is put to death. This makes us become Christlike. Only genuine Christians can overcome the world and deny their flesh. Everyone can make temporary decisions to do something or stop doing something, but that is only the fruit of will power and is not only temporal, but outside of the grace of God.
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 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. 4 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. 2 Peter 1:2-4 (NASB)
Is it possible to know whether we are genuine partakers of the divine nature and not simply religious converts? Let us look at the Apostle Peter’s understanding of this. If anyone would understand that our own efforts to please God are a total waste of time, Peter would be the man. He declared to our Lord on the night of His arrest that he would rather die with Him than desert Him. However, we all know that Peter not only deserted our Lord that night, he denied Him three times. From that failure and his later restoration by our Lord after He was resurrected, we know that we cannot please God with our own efforts. Any work that we do that is outside of His Grace is just works of the flesh and totally worthless.
Peter was restored to fellowship and service by our Lord. That should be an encouragement to us all. Who hasn’t failed and stumbled horribly? How do we feel when we do that? It should break our hearts and also drive home the point that we cannot walk before the face of God in our own strength. If we try, we will be constantly fighting a losing battle with our flesh, which is still enslaved to this lost and dying world. The only solution is to become Spirit-led. It is through becoming Spirit-led that the evidence of our new nature becomes apparent and the assurance that we have escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire becomes enhanced. (See 2 Peter 1:3-4 at the top of this post) Let us look at Peter’s counsel on what we will do if we are enslaved to the Spirit of God rather than to our own flesh.
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 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. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 2 Peter 1:5-10 (NASB)
Our faith was a gift from God at our regeneration (Ephesians 2:8-9). However, our sanctification is the will of God; therefore, we are to grow more and more humble as our pride is put to death. This makes us become Christlike. Only genuine Christians can overcome the world and deny their flesh. Everyone can make temporary decisions to do something or stop doing something, but that is only the fruit of will power and is not only temporal, but outside of the grace of God.
What are we to do then? Peter tells us that we are to make every effort to supplement our faith. How do we do that and what is it we are add to it? Again, the answer is to become Spirit-led. This breaks the chains of our fleshly desires and puts us into a mode of obedience to God that is by His strength and direction instead of our own. Again, this is only possible for the Spirit-led, but all who are partakers of the divine nature are able to do this because our sanctification is the will of God.
2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:2-8 (NASB)
Take this admonition from Paul and apply it to Peter’s wise counsel from 2 Peter 1:4-7. Peter tells us that we are to add virtue to our faith. What’s that? The Greek word translated as “virtue” here means “excellence.” This is noble and dignified character that is rooted firmly in God’s work of sanctification by His grace in us. We are commanded to work out our salvation with fear and trembling in Philippians 2:12. This is what we must do to become Spirit-led and have the chains of our flesh broken and cast away from us so that our character will one of excellence that is both a component and a fruit of our faith.
Peter then tells us to add knowledge to our virtue. This is the Greek word gnosis. It simply means knowledge. This is speaking of knowledge of God and His ways. It does not mean knowing what God knows and becoming a little God man or God woman who can speak words of knowledge that commands God to do things. No! This is a horrible misreading of this passage and the Word-Faith folks are guilty of it. How do we gain this knowledge? It comes as we live more and more in God’s Word and sit under the feet of godly Bible teachers and preachers. From this we come to know God and His ways. Combining this with excellence in our faith means that we will walk closer to God in obedience. To know God is to fear and obey Him.