“Or to use another physical malady, they suffered from spiritual amnesia. They were confused and forgetful. They had forgotten the former bondage of the devil. They had lost cognition of the redemption of Jesus. The marriage vows of Christ to them were not remembered.”
Agatha Christie, the famous mystery writer of the early 1900s, lived in Sunningdale, England. All seemed fairly well until one night in 1926. At the age of 36, Agatha Christie disappeared. Her family and the authorities commenced a search. Some days later, her abandoned and damaged care was found in a city about 100 miles away. However, Mrs. Christie was nowhere to be found. Many theories bounced about. Some believed the death of her mother was too much to bear. Others believed the trauma of her horrible marriage to Archibald had caused her to steal away in the night; perhaps the not-so-secret affair she discovered was too much to bear. Then there were others who speculated Archibald — her unfaithful husband — had committed serious foul play. However, this is not the end of the story.
Eleven days later, Agatha was found at the Swan Hydropathic Hotel. She was alive and well — at least somewhat well. Strangely, Agatha had checked in under the name Teresa Neele — the name of her husband’s mistress. And when she was discovered, she was somewhat disheveled and confused. She could not remember her name and address. She could not recall how she had arrived at the hotel. Her last week, and much of her personal life, was lost in the fog. Perhaps it was the trauma of her mother’s passing. Perhaps it was depression as a result of her dissolving marriage. Could it have been a result of the car accident? Who knows, but something in her head malfunctioned. Agatha Christie suffered from a temporary form of amnesia. For a short season of time, she forgot who she really was.
My friends, according to Saint Peter, this is something with which all Christians struggle. Let us listen in as he gave some spiritual counsel to his friends:
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. 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. 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. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (2 Peter 1:1-9)
Who were the recipients of Peter’s letter?
According to the inspired prophet, they were individuals with Apostle-like faith. This means they had “obtained a faith of equal standing.”
Like Saint Peter, these worshipers were equally and eternally graced with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Multiplied grace and peace were theirs in abundance.
They were not merely loved in time, but before time. They were the elect who had been called according to God’s “own glory and excellence.”
Within them was the Third-person of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit had taken residence within their souls, and consequently they had God’s divine power within. God had granted them all they needed for success in spiritual living and godliness. They were “partakers of the divine nature;” no longer were they in bondage to the sinful world order.
Therefore, from this point forward, their duty was to walk in beauty and dignity in accordance with the new nature and identity they had received. They were to think, talk, and walk like children of the King. They were to represent their Groom well as they walked as his beloved bride. Like a young man or maiden learning the etiquette of the royal court, they were to make progress showing forth virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love.
What was the problem?
However, sadly, some of Peter’s readers were spiritually near-sighted. Perhaps it was the persecution before them. Perhaps it was the world around them. Perhaps it was the flesh within them, but something had caused them to lose sight of the bigger picture. They could not see their Lover. They could not see his Kingdom. They could not see the way in which they should walk. They could not see the danger lurking in the shadows. As near-sighted believers, they desperately needed their spiritual glasses in order to see reality. Consequently, they walked not in accordance with their dignified status as the daughter of the King and bride of the Prince. Instead, they stumbled about like sad individuals who could barely see their next step.
Or to use another physical malady, they suffered from spiritual amnesia. They were confused and forgetful. They had forgotten the former bondage of the devil. They had lost cognition of the redemption of Jesus. The marriage vows of Christ to them were not remembered. Their new and glorious identity as the bride of Christ was lost in a foggy haze, and now they lived as if they were unwed, unfaithful, or married to another.
What is Peter’s charge?
Peter address his dear friends:
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. (2 Peter 1:10-11)
He urges these brothers and sisters to prove their eternal calling; they were to prove to themselves and those watching that they were the elect bride of Christ. And how were they to do so? They were to put on their wedding rings. They were to adorn themselves in their wedding garment. They were to practice the qualities and walk as members of the King’s court – faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. They were to put on their spiritual glasses and remember their relationship with the Son and the glorious inheritance that was eternally theirs. They were to wake up and come out of the fog. Why would they walk as children of darkness when they had been called out of the darkness and into God’s marvelous light. Like Mrs. Christie, they were to snap-out of their state of amnesia.
How about you and me?
Are we suffering from spiritual amnesia? Are we lost in the foggy haze of life?
- Have we forgotten our former depravity?
- Have we forgotten our former bondage?
- Have we forgotten the just wrath of God towards Lucifer and his hatred of those who do evil?
- Have we forgotten the condemnation to come and the Lake of Fire reserved for Satan and his sinful friends?
- Have we forgotten our total inability to help ourselves? We could not make amends. We would not make amends. WE were totally deprave through and through.
- Have we forgotten the electing love of the Father to give grace to some undeserving wretches who despise him?
- Have we forgotten the gracious and humiliating stoop of Jesus Christ? Can’t we remember his sorrow in living, his pain in dying, and his gut-wrenching despair as the Heavenly Father pummeled him with our sin-debt?
- Have we forgotten our cold response to his Gospel call? Do we remember how he invited us to come and we rejected his gracious gift over and over again?
- Have we forgotten how the Holy Spirit would not let us be, but worked revival in our wills?
- Have we forgotten how we were completely and perfectly justified, adopted, and filled with the Holy Spirit apart from any works of our own?
- Have we forgotten the peace of conscious that resulted from our conversion?
- Have we forgotten the gracious progress the Holy Spirit has worked in our life? (Fruit of the Spirit)
- Have you forgotten the improvement of the Holy Spirit in your life?
- Have we forgotten that God’s calling is without repentance; despite our lack of faithfulness he will do as he has eternally planned and promised to do? Do we see the “love that will not let us go?” Do we see there is nothing that can separate us from his love? Do we so that, though we be like Gomer again and again, he will always be the better Hosea?
- Have we forgotten the eternal inheritance awaiting when us when he returns or when we take our last breath?
Wake up my friends! Come out of the fog! Remember who you were. Recall who you are. What wondrous love is this! You are the elect and chosen one. You are the child of the king. You are the bride of Christ. Now, put back on your wedding ring; clean up a bit; adorn yourself with your wedding garment; enjoy the benefits of your heavenly marriage; and for goodness sake, walk with dignity as his bride. This is your duty. This is your calling. This is your joy and delight.
Joseph A. Franks IV is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Palmetto Hills Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina. This article first appeared on his blog, and is used with permission.