Since the fall of Adam, human nature has been tainted with sin and is hopelessly defiled and defiling. A famous writer and Bible teacher of yesteryear whose name has slipped by me said, "It is the overflowing fountain of uncleanness." No wonder the Apostle Paul could say."For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not" (Rom. 7:18). Christ said, "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man..." (Mt. 15:19). Jeremiah,the prophet, declared, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked..." (Jer. 17:9).
Adam's fallen nature has been handed down to us generation after generation so that all mankind [since] him has been corrupted with sin, leaving each one powerless to do right and unable to keep from doing wrong. The human nature is sinful not because it is human but because it became sinful when Adam fell so that each one is born with a sinful nature and needs to be reborn in Christ. God made provision through the new birth by faith in Christ to make us partaker of the divine nature so we can live victoriously over sin in the liberating presence of the Holy Spirit.
The possibility of being a partaker of the divine nature is presented to us in 2 Peter 1:1-4.
"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
The context states in light of it that God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness so that we need not live in defeat. Consider the wonder of it.
Each of us is a sinner at birth, has a depraved nature, is in the same fallen state as Adam after he fell, so that the Bible says, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Rom. 5:12). Consequently, it is impossible for us to save ourselves since we are sinners and have no righteousness of our own so that we must depend upon receiving righteousness by faith in the shed blood of Christ (Rom. 3:21-26). By the same token, our nature being sinful through and through we cannot live as we ought by our own nature so that God has made us partaker of His divine nature. Success, therefore, in the Christian life depends upon learning to live by union with the divine nature. It is illustrated by the teaching of Jesus in the vine and the branches (John 15:5). As the vine gets its life and strength to bear fruit from the vine so believers get their life and strength from Christ. He said, "Without me you can do nothing."
Notice the three elements in the text (2 Peter 1:1-4) upon which the divine nature is built.
I. Precious Faith (vs. 1)
The word "precious" is peculiar to Peter's writing. It indicates something of great value as is true of our faith which is priceless. In 1 Peter 1:18,19, Peter speaks of being redeemed by the precious blood of Christ apart from which there is no salvation.
It is faith in the atoning blood of Christ that makes it possible to be "born again" as Jesus demanded as entry into Heaven. The Bible declares,"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). Faith in Christ is both the only means of our salvation, as well as that body of truth contained in the Gospel. It is, therefore, "the faith" as seen in Acts 16:5; I Cor. 16:13; 2 Cor. 13:5; Eph. 4:5,13; Phil. 1:27; Col. 1:23; Tit. 1:1; Jude 3. It is faith that brings us into the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Faith not only brings us to God, but it also makes possible the entry of God into our lives. Being "born of God" makes us a partaker of His nature like any son is a partaker of the nature of his father. As we have been a partaker of Adam's nature by our natural birth even so now by faith we are a partaker of the divine nature.
II. Precious Promises (vs. 4)
Christians build there lives on the promises of God. There is no other lasting foundation. To build on anything else is like building a house on sand (Mt. 7:24-27) which will surely fall.
There is the great promise of eternal life (I John 2:25; John 3:16, 36; Titus 1:2; I John 5:11-13). To be sure of eternal life makes the bells of your heart ring. To miss eternal life is more than pathetic. It is tragic when one realizes the horror of eternal Hell for those without Christ.
There is that matchless promise of the Holy Spirit that Christ gave and which was fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 1:4; Luke 24:49-Acts 2:1-4) and which was promised to all believers throughout this entire age (Acts 2:39). The Holy Spirit is God Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit who is called God (Acts 5:3-4). He makes real in our experience in the present all that Christ did in history when He died on the cross.
Then there is that wonderful promise of prayer by which Christ promised, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:13-14). "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know he heareth us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that that we desired of him" (I John 5:14-15). Those who know how to pray need never live in defeat, but those who do not pray live in defeat all the time. If you can pray, all the resources of Heaven are at your disposal. Prayer gives you immediate contact with the throne of God. You can call on Him at any time and any place.
God has promised that He will never leave you (Heb. 13:5). Friends may fail you and forsake you, but God never. He has promised to always be with you. You can go anywhere on that promise. He that began a good work in you when you were saved has promised to keep on working in you even until Jesus comes (Phil. 1:6; 2:13).
What of that great promise of Rom. 8:28? "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose."
The Bible contains hundreds of promises and God is able to make them all good.
Notice especially that by the promises, we are made partakers of the divine nature. He is able to fulfill that too. Note the next great truth.
III. Divine Power (vs. 3)
In other words, God by His divine power is able to bring to pass and fulfill all He ever promised. If that is not true, then we are deceived. Then there is no Heaven, there is no such thing as sins forgiven. There is no answer to prayer. Life becomes totally hopeless if there is no power in God to do what He said.
God is omnipotent which means He is all powerful. There is nothing He cannot do. He is the Creator and holds all things in place. He is the living God. He knows you and wants to make Himself real to you if you will allow Him to do so. Believers must learn to live by His power. Then there is success. God revealed His power throughout the whole of the Old Testament. It was God that divided the Red Sea and delivered the Jews out of Egypt.
It was God that took care of the Jews for forty years in the wilderness and gave them water out of the Rock and bread from Heaven. It was God that took Joshua and his band across the Jordan River on dry ground. It was God that knocked down the walls of Jericho when the Jews had marched around them for seven days. It was God that brought Christ into the world without the instrumentality of any man. It was God that raised Him from the grave. What more needs to be said? Man is unable to fulfill all his promises. For example, our politicians after their election. However, God is able and will fulfill all His promises. God has made us partakers of His divine nature as He promised. We need to believe that wonderful truth and act upon it. He is able to make it real in our experience when we believe Him, realize the impossibilities of our own sinfulness [and] our own human nature in attempting to do what is right, and learn to yield ourselves to His divine nature.
Your house may be wired with electricity with all its resident power, but it is your fault if you want to keep lighting the house with kerosene lamps. You cannot blame the electric company if you have an electric stove and you cook with wood. It is equally true that you cannot blame God if you keep on living in the powerlessness of the flesh, defeat, and sin, when He has come to indwell you and make you a partaker of His divine nature.
IV. Partakers of the Divine Nature (vs. 4)
A believer is made a partaker of the divine nature with the new birth experience and made a participant of it when he realizes that God is in his heart by the presence of the Holy Spirit and he will yield himself to God's control (Rom. 6:11-14; Gal. 5:16, 25). The Holy Spirit gives life to your spirit so that it will control the soul and together the body (Rom. 8:11). The spirit and soul are quickened or made alive with His incoming presence and putting you into vital life giving contact with the living God. The original text of Romans 8:10 would read "the body is dead because of sin but the spirit is alive because of righteousness". Note that the spirit is small "s". However, the Spirit dwelling in you gives life to your spirit giving life to your body so you are able to live a righteous life under His life giving control. Believe the promises of God, rely upon them, act upon them, and God by His divine power will make real in you the truth of being a partaker of the divine nature so you do not have to live in the defeats of the human nature. You draw upon the power of God by faith, vital prayer contact, and feeding on the Word of God. This helps you to participate in the living "Christ in you" (Col.1:27) rather than trying merely to imitate Him.
The "rest of the story" is simply to be faithful in adding to your faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. This speaks of continuance in growth. Doing these things make you fruitful and solid in assurance so that you never fall (2 Pet. 1:5-11).
From Quarterly Notes, vol. 13, no. 2, "Bible Studies," by Al Troester. Used with permission of author.