True Knowledge of Him Who Called Us


Gil Rugh

Copyright © 1978
Indian Hills Community Church
Lincoln, Nebraska

GR946  - 2 Peter 1:3, 4

(The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh on Feb. 18, 1996)

The Apostle Peter is writing this second letter as he anticipates his imminent death by execution, and he writes to encourage and warn the people of God in the churches of Asia Minor about the dangers of false teachers. He warns them about the doctrine that they will bring. He warns them about the corrupt mortality that will characterize them. He warns that false teachers will be subtle, so they must be anchored in the true, thorough knowledge of the living God in order that they are prepared when they encounter false teachers.

Turn to the book of Hosea, the fourth chapter, in your Old Testament. The nation Israel provides a very vivid and tragic picture of what happens when the people of God turn away from the truth that God has provided for them. Hosea was one of the prophets of the Eighth Century. That was a great prophetic period for Israel, but it wasn't a great period for Israel as a nation. Hosea was prophesying in the Northern Kingdom with his contemporary, Amos, about the same time that Isaiah and Micah were prophesying in the Southern Kingdom. There was much prophetic activity because there was much corruption among the people of God.

Note how Hosea begins chapter 4: "Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, For the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land, Because there is no faithfulness or kindness Or knowledge of God in the land." God here is addressing Israel. These were the people that God had called out for Himself. They were to be His own special possession among all the peoples on the earth. They were to function as a nation of priests, with privileged access into the very presence of the living God. And yet God says there now is no knowledge of God in the land.

Look at verse 6: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." You ought to have that marked in your Bible. These people who had been given the knowledge of God are now suffering destruction and ruin because of the lack of knowledge. The problem is that they rejected the knowledge God gave them. "...Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest..." Their privileged role as a nation of priests is about to be removed because they rejected knowledge. "...Since you have forgotten the law of your God..." God's word has been forgotten by God's people. "...I will also forget your children." This nation and its children are going to suffer serious consequences.

In the New Testament, God establishes the Church, not Israel, as His people. The similarity is that the people of God today are to come from the Church. Yet the same dire situation faces the Church. It is being destroyed for lack of knowledge. The tragedy is that we are coming to the point where the professing Church is rejecting the knowledge of God. I was talking with a pastor this week who said he was finding it hard not to get discouraged. He said people are so indifferent that they don't even want to consider biblical issues or to grapple with the word of God. I could understand the discouragement he felt in the ministry he had. What will be the impact of this upon our children who are raised in an environment where the word of God is being rejected?

When you turn to 2 Peter, you find that Peter is writing to warn the churches -- to warn the people of God -- about the impending danger of false teachers who will move them away from the truth of God. This movement away from the truth will result in corruption. I'll be reminding you of this again and again. Do you want to find out what the response was to Peter's message? How serious was the danger? Peter writes about A.D. 66 or 67. He writes to the churches spread throughout the region that we know as Asia Minor, according to his first letter. We can find out what's going on in these churches 25 or 30 years later by reading the letters from Christ to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. Overall, it's not good news. For the most part, those churches fail to take to heart the warnings and instruction Peter gave. They become corrupted by the false doctrine and corrupted by the morality of the false teachers. I point to their corruption as a reminder lest we study these things and say, "Oh, yes, we know that. Oh, yes. Yes, that's true." Does it really grip our hearts and minds? Are we living under the authority of the word of God? Are we committed to live obediently? Will we commit ourselves to know and understand His truth so that we might be prepared to be faithful in the face of opposition?

1. Knowledge Is Best Defense

A thorough and correct knowledge of the word of God is the best defense against error. We need to be a people who are well informed regarding God's truth, and we are not just talking about having a good collection of facts. The knowledge Peter talks about in his second letter transforms our lives. We will see that in our study this morning.

In verses 3 and 4 of chapter 1, Peter lays a foundation for everything else he's going to say. And he will directly build upon verses 3 and 4 with what he says in verses 5, 6 and 7. Those three verses will emphasize the development and growth that must take place in the people of God. In order for growth and development to occur, you first must understand what you have received as the child of God and how you received it. Verses 3 and 4 emphasize what we have as God's people and how we got it. Failure to understand the basic, concise truth of verses 3 and 4 is causing much confusion and much misdirection in the Church of Jesus Christ today. We'll make observations of this as we move through these verses.

You'll note that verse 3 begins, "...seeing that..." The New American Standard Bible doesn't begin a new sentence to start verse 3. It's connected back to verse 2. Following it out of the knowledge of Jesus Christ is a further development in verses 3 and 4. That's possible grammatically, and it makes sense. Personally, though, I like to put a period at the end of verse 2 and start a new sentence at the beginning of verse 3. There's not a major difference, but I would say that the first two verses are the introduction to the book and that Peter begins the major section of the book with verse 3. I'm not redoing the word of God, you understand, but there was no punctuation when the New Testament was written. In fact, there was no division between the words when the Greek New Testament was written. They didn't even write in small letters and capital letters. It was all written in capital letters without any breaks in the words. You just had to be familiar enough to know where one word ended and another word began. We appreciate those who translated it into English, separated the words and put in punctuation for us, even though we might not always agree with the punctuation. The truth is still the same.

2. What God Grants Is Permanent

Back to verse 3: "...seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness..." Peter knows what he has received through Christ's divine power. He wants his readers to understand that they, too, must clearly know what they have received in Christ if they are to function as they should. I take it that "His divine power" probably refers to Jesus Christ, since that's the One who was mentioned at the end of verse 2. That's the logical reference back from the word "His." Whose divine power? Jesus, our Lord. It's one of those passages that doesn't change the meaning. The triune God operates on our behalf in salvation, but Peter has been stressing Jesus Christ. Peter stresses His deity and sovereign role as God and Lord at the end of verse 1 when he writes: "...our God and Savior, Jesus Christ." He continues that identification at the end of verse 2: "...of God and of Jesus our Lord." Now in verse 3 Peter speaks of His divine power. Jesus, indeed, is God, and it is God's power that operates on our behalf so that we might live in a manner that is pleasing to God in every way. What he is going to talk about here could only be accomplished by the power of God. It's important that we see this. This is God at work on our behalf.

You should make a note in your Bible or highlight in some manner a couple of words -- has granted. It is first seen in verse 3, then is repeated in verse 4. Both are in the perfect tense. One is a participle and one is in the indicative, but they are both perfect tense. Perfect tense is something that happens in the past and its results continue in the present, so it indicates permanence. That's the idea here. There is a finality in this provision. He has granted to us -- finally, permanently -- these matters. This word granted is different than the word that normally is used in the New Testament for giving something. The flavor of this word is sometimes used of a king who gives something. It conveys the idea of generosity. It doesn't mean just giving; it's giving generously or abundantly. So you see here that He has permanently and in abundance granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.

I don't want you to get lost in grammatical points, but we must examine the phrase to us everything. As the Greek text was given by Peter, the order is: "Seeing that everything to us His divine power has granted." When you wanted to emphasize something in Greek, you just rearranged the order of the words. You could put something at the beginning of your statement to emphasize it, or you could put something at the end of your sentence to bring emphasis to it. Here, Peter places emphasis on everything and to us by putting those words right at the beginning. The words are placed in a little different order in our English Bible, but I want you to see where the emphasis is. You can see the strength that is here. He has granted is a word that means to provide generously. He has provided generously everything to us. And we will see who the to us are. It's the redeemed -- those who have been born again by the power of God and who have come into the true saving knowledge of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ.

He has granted everything generously to us, and there is an emphasis on the completeness of the provision. Peter is not saying that now I am allowed to claim for myself all material possessions. Instead, He has provided everything in the realm of life and godliness. I believe we have a form of speech here that joins the two together. Peter is really talking about a godly life. So he's talking about the godly lives we live -- our spiritual life in Christ and its manifestation in the way we live. He's provided everything for life and godliness, or a godly life. We use this form of speech in English when we take two words and connect them with the word and. They really elaborate the same thing. You might say, "The person sitting in that chair was relaxed and comfortable." Or you might say, "He was comfortably relaxed." You're saying the same thing, and that's is the idea here.

God makes every provision for us to live godly lives through the spiritual life we receive in Christ when He causes us to be born again. Peter said in 1 Peter 1:3: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again..." Now that we have been born again, we have new life in Christ. We've been born into God's family. God has made every provision necessary for us to live godly lives -- lives that are pleasing to Him. Godly means that which is pleasing to God. Pleasing to God is what godliness is. So He has made provision in every way, all that's necessary, for us to live lives that are pleasing to Him.

3. Preachers Can't Give Blessings

Now, let me say something right here. If God makes every provision for me to live a godly life, He is all I need. Any other teaching is false if it promises me, a child of God, something else to make my life fuller. Any other teaching that says I will be able to please God more, or that I will be more effective for God, or that I will be more godly, is false teaching. It may be sincere, but it's sincerely false. He has generously granted all things to us by His divine power. On what basis would you say you need something more? Something more, as I understand it, includes all emphasis on a second work of grace in a life. Some say there is the baptism of the Spirit -- a second work of grace -- and a particular preacher can give it to you by the laying on of hands. No! The people of God ought to be armed by a proper knowledge of the word of God. Such teaching of a second grace has to be false because He has permanently and generously granted to us everything necessary for a godly life. It is unbiblical to teach otherwise.

We ought to be forearmed against much of the teaching that goes on. All you have to do is watch some of the television preaching. It all seems to be built around the idea that some preacher has something more to give you. He will even send you a rag in the mail. If you send money back, wrapped in the rag, then they will pray for you and you'll really get it. We will find in chapter 2 of 2 Peter that they make merchandise of you. They use you to get money. How does the Church get taken in by such foolishness? Remember what Hosea 4:6 says: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." Is it because they don't have knowledge? No, God has given it. It's because they've rejected it.

"...His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness..." How do you get this? I do want to be clear on this. I might be able to offer it to you if you'll join our church and give at least 25 percent of your income. Ten percent won't do it. Twenty-five would be a good start. Could you get it then? Wait a minute. You've already got it. You don't get it from me or any other person. You get it "through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." That word knowledge is the compound word epignosis, and here it is translated as true knowledge. It's the same word for knowledge that is used in verse 2, but the translators didn't put true with it there. Still, it is the same word, and it means true knowledge, correct knowledge, full knowledge. You get everything granted to you through the knowledge of Him who called us.

In verse 2, Peter said, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." This provision is made when you come to the true knowledge of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ. This is in the context of the call of God. It comes through the true knowledge of Him who called us. How do you come into this true knowledge? You come into it by the call of God. That call is what we refer to in the epistles of the New Testament as the effectual call of God. It's the effectual call because it is always effective. It always results in salvation. So as this word to call is used of God's work for believers in the New Testament epistles, it refers to God drawing them to salvation by faith in Christ. Peter used it a couple of times in his first letter. In chapter 1, verse 15, he wrote: "but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior." It was God who called us, and in calling us, He drew us to Himself. 1 Peter 2:9 says: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." Those same concepts are going to be coming up in a moment in our study in 2 Peter.

4. Believers Equipped for Godly Life

So you come to be the possessor of everything necessary for a godly life through the knowledge of Him who called you. It's God and His Son, Jesus Christ, who called you, and it's the knowledge of the living God and His Son that brings you all the provision of God. That's the picture here. There is going to be an emphasis of God's sovereignty. He granted this to you. He called you. Look at the end of verse 3 in 2 Peter 1: "...Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." He called you by His own glory and excellence. This statement indicates that the call of God was based in Himself, not in something external. It wasn't something in you, but in His own character He called you by His own glory and excellence. God's sovereign work in salvation is firmly set forth.

It's interesting. Peter began his first letter with a strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God in salvation. That sovereignty is the doctrine of election, and it causes some people to be uncomfortable and others to get angry. But it's biblical doctrine. Peter started out his first letter by calling them the elect and saying they had been chosen of God. Now he says here that we have entered into all the provision of God by coming into the true knowledge of God, and we did so only because He called us by His own glory and excellence. It is important for us to understand God's sovereignty if we are to be prepared to deal with false teaching. His sovereignty is humbling, but it's supposed to be. Man wants to exalt himself, give himself prominence, make himself important. God allows no room for that. He is sovereign.

Turn to Ephesians 1:3 and note how similar it is to what Peter is saying. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." Sounds like what Peter is saying in verse 3 of his second letter, doesn't it? He "...has granted to us all things pertaining to life and godliness..." God's sovereign work means that He called us. He chose us, as Paul says in Ephesians 1:4-5, "...that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Christ Jesus to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will." I think this is a weak translation here. It's a change in translation from the original. It's literally "...according to the good pleasure of His will." The idea is that it is according to what was pleasing to Him. Peter makes the same point. He called us according to His glory and excellence by virtue of His person. He acted out of Himself. Here, Paul says He acted according to His own good pleasure. Look at Colossians 1:19, "For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him" -- Christ. That good pleasure is the same word translated kind intention in Ephesians 1:5. It pleased the Father that all the fullness of deity would dwell in the Son as a human being. And that's the point here. God acted according to what pleased Him.

Turn to Ephesians 1:9: "He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention..." Paul literally is saying "...according to His good pleasure; according to what pleased Him." Look down in verse 11: "also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will." That's as far back as you can go. God counseled with Himself and decided to do it this way. God counseled with Himself and determined to call you to salvation. As the Old Testament asks: "Who has been His counselor?" Who has given Him advice? No one. Why would God do it this way? I can't give you the answer. He simply decided to do it that way. Couldn't He have done it another way? I don't know. He didn't ask me. He didn't consult with me. In His sovereignty, did it. Peter doesn't elaborate on that. He just simply states it.

5. New Testament Writers Used Greek

Come back to 2 Peter, chapter 1. When Peter says that Christ called us by His own glory and excellence, he means that Christ called us out of His own Person, His glory, His excellence. That word excellence is a rare word in the New Testament. It means virtue. It was used in 1 Peter 2:9: " that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." Now turn back Isaiah, chapter 42. While you are turning there, be aware that most of the Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language. It was translated by Jewish scholars into Greek a few hundred years before Christ, and that Greek translation became the normal Bible for people of the day because most of them no longer knew Hebrew. The reason, then, that some Greek words are used in the New Testament as they came out of the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament is because most of the New Testament writers used a Greek translation of the Old Testament. For instance, Isaiah 42:8 states: "I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images." When this was translated into Greek, they used the two words we have at the end of 2 Peter 1:3 -- glory and excellence. The word praise is translated excellence here. The same thing is seen down in verse 12 of Isaiah 42: "Let them give glory to the Lord and declare His praise..." There's the word for excellence again. That allows us to see who He is. He is saying, "I am the Lord, My glory, My excellence, My praise." So I take it that Peter is saying that God operates out of Himself; and when He called, it was a sovereign decision from Himself. It's not important that we understand how He would come to that decision. We can't understand. We simply know that He did, and we submit and accept it. We see, then, that we have everything necessary for godly living. We came to possess that when we came to the knowledge of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ, through His call to us that came out of His sovereign Person.

6. Promises Regarding Salvation Granted Through Christ

Back to 2 Peter 1, verse 4: "For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises..." "For by these..." refers back to His glory and excellence at the end of verse 3. By His very nature, His person, He is the God of glory and praise, of glory and excellence. "For by these He has granted to us..." There's that word granted again, and it's in the perfect tense. Something has been permanently granted to us -- "...His precious and magnificent promises." These are the promises He gave regarding salvation through His Son, the Messiah of Israel. His promises encompass our salvation in their completeness. In fact, the only other New Testament use of this word that is translated promises is in 2 Peter 3:13: "But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells." That is among the precious and magnificent promises of God. He declares that our salvation will cleanse us from sin and promises us residence in the glory of His presence in a new heavens and a new earth characterized by righteousness.

"So that..." continuing with verse 4 in chapter 1, "by them" -- by these promises -- "you may become partakers of the divine nature..." By these promises and by believing in these promises, salvation will occur. Look back in 1 Peter 1:9. Remember, now, that Peter doesn't repeat everything he wrote in his first letter. He presupposes they have received his first letter, and he can build upon that theology. He says in verse 9, "...obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls." As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to come predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that were to follow. These were the precious promises -- His suffering, death and coming glory -- regarding the coming Savior. We are told in verse 9 that the outcome of our faith in these promises is the salvation of our souls. Look at 1 Peter 1:22-23: "Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls... for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God." You see, it's the word of God that is the promises of God. And you're born again by believing the promises that God has made in His Word. Thus, you become partakers of the divine nature.

Back in 2 Peter 1:4: " become partakers of the divine nature..." That's a remarkable statement. This is the only place in the Scripture where it's worded exactly like this. Some false teachers have corrupted this into meaning that we become gods because God is divine, and you become divine when you partake of the divine nature. Now that's not only bad theology, it's stupid logic. Think for a moment. God, by very definition, is eternal. He has neither beginning nor ending. So how can you become God? It's an impossibility. If you have to become God, you can never become God because God never becomes. He always has been.

7. False Teachers Lack God's Moral Character

But we do become partakers of the divine nature. Peter is saying that we partake of God's moral character, which is so necessary for us to understand. When we get into chapter 2, we'll find this character is lacking in the false teachers. We become partakers of the character of God, and it is now produced in us. This will come out in the negative side at the end of this verse, "...having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." This shows us the change that takes place in our character. We will no longer be characterized by the corruption produced by our lusts but by the divine nature -- the character of God -- seen in us. This is what Peter was talking about in his first letter when he wrote in chapter 1, verse 3 that God "...caused us to be born again." Since we have been born again, we are, according to verse 22 of that same chapter " fervently love one another from the heart." What? Yes, that's the character of God. We see in 1 John that God is love. If you don't have God's love in your heart for fellow believers, you don't belong to God. You see, it's His character. We've become partakers of the divine nature.

It's important that we understand because we don't want a false teacher to say without being challenged: "Since you have become a partaker of the divine nature, you are a little god." A little god versus a big God. You stop and think, "How does this foolishness get a hearing among the people of God?" It takes root because we are not anchored in the knowledge of God, and we are easily deceived by smooth and flattering speech. Turn to Ephesians 4:22-24 where we will break into the thought here: "that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit." Remember that phrase -- "corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit." It's going to come up at the end of verse 4 in 2 Peter 1: "...having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." Now, continuing in Ephesians 4: "and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." Rather than being characterized by the corruptness of lusts, we are characterized by the likeness of God's righteousness and holiness. We partake of the divine nature -- His character. That's what Paul is talking about in Ephesians.

Look in Colossians 3:8-10: "But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge..." Here we again see the emphasis placed on true knowledge, which is what Peter is talking about. Now continue verse 10: "...according to the image of the One who created Him." You see, the new man was created by God who called us. Now, as new persons, we are being made new and conformed to the image of the One who created us new. We see that in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come."

8. Discipline Produces Righteous Fruit

Look in Hebrews, chapter 12, where it is talking about how and why God disciplines His children. Pick up in the middle of verse 10 : "...but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness." All discipline, according to verse 11, trains us and "...yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." Holiness, righteousness. We are partakers. We share in the divine nature, the very character of God. The fruit is described in Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..."

Now turn to 1 John 3:6: "No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him." Look down in verse 9: "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." This doesn't mean that you can't commit an act of sin, but you cannot live in sin. You cannot have sin as the focal point of your life because you are born of God. You've partaken of the divine nature. Verse 10: "By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother." You see, if the character of God is not being produced in your life, there's a reason -- you don't belong to God. The devil's children produce the devil's character. It doesn't mean they become fallen angels. But the moral corruptness of their father, the devil, corrupts them and characterizes them. The moral purity, holiness and righteousness of our Father characterizes us and is produced in our lives.

Now come back to 2 Peter 1:4. We see this in a balance. The Church today is being corrupted by false teaching because we have not grabbed onto the knowledge that God has given us. "So that by them" -- by the precious and magnificent promises God has given regarding the salvation in His Son -- "you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." That you may become in verse 4 is an aorist tense. Have escaped is also an aorist tense. Having escaped is an aorist participle. A participle always functions in relationship to the leading verb. Both are in the aorist tense here. They both happen together at the same time. The one is tied to the other. We become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is the world through lust. There is a very vivid picture here of an escape taking place and deliverance happening. You escaped corruption. You became a partaker of the divine nature. It's just the opposite of the corruption produced by lusts that is in the world.

Listen to what a Greek lexicon -- or dictionary -- says about the meaning of this word translated corruption. It means ruin, destruction, disillusion, deterioration, corruption. You know the style used by a dictionary. It gives you the first, second, third and fourth meanings in order. The first meaning is the longest for this word, which can be used to describe physical corruption or spiritual corruption. Then the dictionary gives numerous examples of how it's used outside the Bible concerning physical corruption. It describes a body that is being eaten by maggots. You use this word corruption in that sense. I want you to understand the flavor of the word. It means rottenness, decay -- corruption in that sense. Peter is using it in the moral sense here. He's talking about moral rottenness, moral decay. When you came to the magnificent and precious promises of God regarding salvation in Christ, you escaped the rottenness, decay and decadence -- all the corruption that is in the world through lusts.

9. Vile Hearts Defy Understanding

Let me say a little bit more about this before we tie it all together. This corruption is in the world by lust. 1 John 5:19 says "...that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." This world is corrupted by lust, which refers to the desires and passions that move, motivate and drive fallen beings. But the problem is not that the world is decadent, rotten and corrupt. We have to understand why the world is decadent, rotten and corrupt. It is by virtue of the lusts of fallen hearts. According to Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it." He's saying your heart is so utterly rotten and filthy and corrupt that you can't fathom it. It's not possible for you to plumb the depths of your own vileness. But verse 10 of Jeremiah 17 says, "I, the Lord, search the heart..." He knows how wicked, vile and corrupt you really are.

Turn to Mark 7. The Jews in Jesus' day were confused because they didn't know their Scriptures. They were concerned about corruption, about being tainted by things from the outside. Jesus tells them in verses 18 and 19 that what they eat and drink doesn't taint their bodies. We as Christians get confused by this as well. But note what He says in verse 20: "...That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man." You're not defiled by what goes in your mouth. It's what comes out of you that defiles you. Verses 21-23: "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man." This is the rottenness that is in the world by lust. It is because the world lives under the authority and control of a fallen being, Lucifer. It is populated by people who are corrupt and rotten at the core. This world is corrupted and made decadent by the lusts of fallen, depraved hearts.

Look at Ephesians 2:1-3: "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." We once lived in the lust of the flesh, but we've escaped the corruption and become partakers of the divine nature. We were by nature children of wrath. Now you can see the corruption and the vileness that characterized us and characterizes the world. Peter will speak more of this in chapter 2 when he talks about false teachers.

I want to note here that knowing what God has said should help us discern false doctrine and false teaching. It comes at us in a variety of ways. Believers should not be caught up in an effort to restore America to its Christian foundation. What does it mean that we are going to restore a Christian America?

10. Movements Can't Restore Christian America

I was reading an article this morning about a man who is calling us back to Christian America. He says you are not truly being a godly person if you are not involved in this movement. How do you call America back? What's wrong with this concept? The movements that center on moral improvement all deny the word of God, which says the problem is not what they are doing. Instead, the problem is the corruption of their hearts that drives them in what they are doing. That dead body is decaying. It's rotting. You don't go over and spray it with perfume. That may be temporarily helpful, but by its very nature it will rot. Do we really understand the depravity of fallen hearts? By our very nature, we are rotten. We are running around trying to spray perfume in the air. Why should I get ulcers over the fact that people are openly flaunting their homosexual behavior, or that they are openly parading their immorality and having sex with everyone they feel like, apart and outside of marriage? What do I expect from people who are rotten?

Turn back to Galatians 2:20. I want you to see a connection of two verses here. "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." When you look at commentaries on 2 Peter 1:4, on what it means to partake of the divine nature, Galatians 2:20 is one of the verses almost all of them use. Fittingly so. Jesus Christ now lives in us, and His character and life is being produced in us. Note verse 21: "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly." He's saying that righteousness does not come by trying to conform to something external. Righteousness is produced in the life -- in the heart -- and thus flows out.

Look at all the attention being focused on crusades. "Oh, we are going to make men what they ought to be. We want men to take their responsibility and men to take the lead." Do we think we can produce righteousness by law? What is wrong with the Church? You can get people to sign petitions and march in crusades, but do you know what is missing? The presentation of the cross of Jesus Christ. It's not there because the preaching of the cross is offensive to those who are perishing. God does not call us to make rotting, stinking, corrupt corpses smell better or look better. We think we are doing something wonderful when we take that rotting, maggot-infested body and put new clothes on it. At least it looks better, but likely nothing of substance is done. It takes the precious and magnificent promises of God. It takes the new birth. You can escape the corruption that is in the world only by believing in the precious and magnificent promises of God's salvation in Christ. Then you become a partaker of the divine nature. No longer by nature are you a child of wrath, but you are by nature a child of God, and your life is changed.

We have a doctrine -- the doctrine of anti-lordship -- that's taking hold in the church. It was promoted by a man who taught at an evangelical seminary for many years. It is being promoted in an extreme form today that as long as you've made a decision for Christ, you're saved. It doesn't matter how corrupt and vile your life becomes. It doesn't matter whether later in life you deny that Christ is the Savior and you deny that He's the Son of God. Despite all that, you're still saved. This man has influenced many men who went through that seminary and are out in pulpits today pumping out the same foolishness and unbiblical teaching. How does it ever take hold? Doesn't God say that you escape the corruption that is in the world and that you partake of the divine nature and by this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious? You must escape the world's corruption, and you must become a partaker of the divine nature if you've never been born again. How does the church get so confused? "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge," Hosea says. It's not that they don't have knowledge in their possession. It's because they have rejected it.

Peter lays a firm foundation here for all that's to come. We have everything necessary for life and godliness. There is nothing else. There is nothing more to enable you to live a godly life than what you have been given by God in grace. We partake of that by believing of the promises He's given regarding salvation in the death and resurrection of His Son. And when you believe in Him, you escape the corruption and become a partaker of the divine nature. There's no other way out of the pit. There's no other way out of the corruption and the vileness.

11. World Is Like 'Rotting Corpse'

There is much talk today about the filth of this world. It is a filthy world, and we like to say it's getting much worse. Do you think it's much worse? Peter said of the world in his day, "It's like a rotting corpse." Jeremiah said under the inspiration of the Spirit hundreds of years before Christ that "the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things." What kind of theology is the church preaching today? People are being told that these are the worst days. "If only we could get back to the Victorian age, wouldn't it be wonderful?" What kind of foolishness is this? Put some clean clothes on that maggot-eaten corpse. Is it any wonder the church is susceptible and open for every foolish idea that comes along under the guise of helping us?

May God grant that we become people committed to truth and the true knowledge of the living God, and that we absorb that knowledge into our lives. As individuals and as a church, we must be building and growing to maturity, as Peter will show in verses 5-7, so that God's purposes are clearly evident in all that He's doing in us and through us. Let's pray together.

Thank you, Lord, for the power of Your grace. How easily we forget just how hopeless we were; that we were dead in our trespasses and sins; that we were consumed by our lusts and passions; that we were rotten at the core, corrupt and vile. Is it any wonder that Peter calls to mind these precious and magnificent promises granted to us by Your grace that we might escape that corruption and become partakers of the divine nature. Lord, we give You all the glory, honor and credit for what we are because only Your power could have accomplished such great deliverance. Only Your sovereign power could have made such abundant provision that enables us to live godly lives in the midst of a fallen world. We give You the praise in Jesus' name, amen.

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, © Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. All quotations used by permission.

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Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the posting of this file on Bible Bulletin Board. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for leading Pastor Gil Rugh to preach/teach messages that are bold, and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.

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