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Our Gift and Blessing from a New Birth

2 Peter 1:4 (ESV) … “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.”

Peter now speaks of the great essential: … “that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.…” The word partakers reminds us of something we have in common with someone else. Here it refers to the divine nature. In his first letter, Peter reminded his readers that they had been “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23).

By natural birth we are born with a fallen, Adamic nature, a nature that can do nothing right (Rom. 7:18). By means of the new birth, we receive a new nature, one that can do nothing wrong (1 John 3:9). Our old nature is incorrigible, and God will do nothing with it but put it to death. This death has already taken place—at Calvary (Rom. 6:3–12). Paul taught the Romans that the Lord Jesus not only died for us but also died as us. In Him we already have died, have been buried, and have been raised in newness of life. We now have to reckon this fact to be so (Rom. 6:11). Our new nature, given to us at our new birth, is the divine nature, the nature of Christ Himself. It is the Holy Spirit who activates it (Rom. 8:1–4). Our two natures are at war with each other (Rom. 7). The old nature has to be reckoned dead. As we yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit, our new life in Christ is made evident. Paul’s formula is “know,” “reckon,” and “yield” (Rom. 6:9, 11, 13). One of the “exceeding great and precious promises” is that “sin shall not have dominion” over us (Rom. 6:14).

Peter now draws attention to the other side of the issue. He speaks of the great escape: “having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (1:4c). The word for “escaped” is apopheugō. Peter alone uses this word. Moreover, he uses it three times and always in a similar context (2:18, 20). It means literally “to flee away.” That is the Bibles best advice for dealing with temptation. We are to flee from it. Lingering in its vicinity is dangerous. The best thing to do is 13 put as much distance as possible between us and the source of the temptation The word here for “corruption” is phthora. Paul uses the word to describe the condition of a corpse (1 Cor. 15:2) and to depict the condition of creation under the Curse (Rom. 8:21). The word carries the idea of destruction by means of corruption. Peter uses it to portray the effect of lusts upon human society.

People tend to become slaves to their lusts. The more they indulge them, the more the appetite grows. The gospel offers us a way of escape. The Christian life, as exemplified in the life of Christ, is the very antithesis to the corrupt life that this present evil world offers.

The book of Genesis sets before us two men who are setting out for the Celestial City—Abraham and Lot. Lot ended up in Sodom, where pollution, pornography, and perversion were all part of an accepted lifestyle. He lived amid fearful corruption. Nor did he remain uncontaminated. He ended up drunk and dishonored on a hill overlooking the smoldering ruins of the vile city where he had made his home and raised his family.

Abraham, by contrast, kept himself free from entanglement in the affairs of this world. He remained a pilgrim and a stranger, living in separation from the wicked. He was in the world but not of the world. He flatly refused to have anything to do with Sodom’s king. He was content to live in a tent and to cultivate the knowledge of God. As a result, he escaped all of the things that wrecked and ruined Lot. As believers, we, too, can escape the same way Abraham escaped—by deliberately choosing the path of separation from the world.[1]

[1] Phillips, J. (2009). Exploring the Epistles of Peter: An Expository Commentary (2 Pe 1:4b–c). Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp.

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