LIVING IN IDENTITY
(2 Peter 1:1-11)
In 2 Peter 3:18, Peter exhorts us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”. This is said in contrast to scoffers in the last days who will grow in their wickedness and ignorance. What does it mean to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus? And what does this look like?
We can explore 2 Peter 1:1-11 as below.
1. We must have received faith in and through Jesus. Grace and peace are ours in abundance when we know God and Jesus as Lord.
- 2 Peter begins with a greeting to “those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours”.
- Peter continues in verse 2: “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”
2. Knowledge that we have called by God because of his glory and goodness gives us understanding of what is needed for a godly life – we know his promises and participate in them.
- [2 Peter 1:3-4] “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
- Participating in his promises requires understanding of his promises (explored in the previous section) and is an active process in looking forward to the day of the Lord, speeding its coming in prayer and proclamation, living holy lives and carrying the light of Christ on earth.
3. We require additional qualities to keep us from being unproductive and ineffective in our knowledge of the Lord. Without them, we forget we have been cleansed from our sins and become blind. (2 Peter 1:5-9)
“…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control; perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love…”
- We receive faith through accepting Christ’s gift on the cross for us, His Holy Spirit living in us.
- We add goodness to faith when we recognise that it is out of God’s goodness and choice that he called us to love Him and share in His Son’s inheritance.
- When we experience the goodness of God, we receive knowledge and revelation of what happened at the cross, and of the intimate relationship God desires with us.
- It then takes self-control to carry through our desire and decision to live for Christ, in a way that is pleasing to Him according to His word.
- In living such a life, we will face many struggles and may stumble at times, so we need perseverance as we press on toward the goal for which Christ has called us heavenward.
- As we persevere, we grow in godliness as we learn to focus more on the throne of God and understand His supremacy and majesty. As we persevere and remain in Him, we become more like Christ.
- This is how we learn to love each other with a brotherly love (Greek: Philadelphia)
- In loving each other, God’s love is made complete in us (1 John 4:12) and we grow in our understanding of God’s perfect and divine love (Greek: agape)
4. It takes effort to confirm our calling in Christ but in doing so, we invest in eternal reward.
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 1:10-11]
- It is important to confirm our calling in Christ, to know who we are in Him and to know the purpose of our journey here on earth and eternally with Him.
- The key to Paul’s zeal and diligence for God on earth lies in His strong sense of identity in Christ and knowledge of where He was going. (Philippians 3:12-14)
2 Corinthians 4:13-15 reiterates the connection between growing in Christ, receiving His grace and understanding His revelation.
“It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have the same spirit of faith, because we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself (knowledge of God, of the cross and of our destiny in Christ). All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. (more and more are receiving and understanding God’s grace, and as we ourselves grow more in understanding of Him, we overflow with thanksgiving because we understand His way and experience who He is, His grace and His love.)”
We need to separate ourselves from darkness.
The Holy Spirit lives within us and is our light. We are the lampstand that holds the light of the Spirit. Why should we separate ourselves from darkness?
1. God (our Father) is holy, therefore let us (His children) be holy
- (1 Peter 13-16) – We are children of God, let us be obedient to our Father and grow in His image
- (1 John 5:28-32) – We are born of God and live according to His truth
- (1 John 5:3) -Love for God goes hand and hand with obedience to His word
2. We are the temple of God. Let us not desecrate His temple, by watching how we live.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20) – “Do you not know that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.”
- (Matthew 6:22) – What we see, listen to, invest in translates to the position of our heart
- (Corinthians 6:14-7:1)
- What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
- This does NOT mean to avoid unbelievers completely
- We are sent to witness to the unbelieving world (Matthew 28:19-20)
- Instead we are to live in a way that we influence them, rather than being drawn into the world ourselves (we require wisdom and discernment to know when to stay, when to leave)
- 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
- We need to know what it means to be everything to everyone, BUT to do this for the sake of the gospel
3. When we live apart from darkness, we honour God, and are enabled to walk in the fullness of His blessings and purposes. We are enabled to experience the fullness of what he would do with the talents we have been given
- (Psalm 1) – That we would be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither, but that we prosper in whatever we do
- (Matthew 25:14-30) – How faithful we are with the talents God gives us, determines the extent of divine multiplication of our earthly ministry, and the reward kept in heaven for us.
Characteristics of worldly living vs. godly living
Worldly Living/Acts of the Flesh
- “…debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, destestable idolatry…reckless, wild living…heap abuse” [1 Peter 4:3-4]
- “…obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like… will not inherit the kingdom of God” [Galatians 5:19-21]
- “…arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy…haughty… did detestable things before me.” [Ezekiel 16:49]
Godly Living/Fruit of the Spirit
- “…alert and of sober mind so that you may pray… love each other deeply… offer hospitality to one another without grumbling…serve others” [1 Peter 4:7-11]
- “…love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law.” [Galatians 5:22-23]
- “Be very careful…how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity… understand what the Lord’s will is… be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music you’re your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Ephesians 5:15-20]
Let’s take a closer look at some of these aspects of godly living, so that we might understand them better.
1. Be alert, be careful, make the most of every opportunity
- Understand what the Lord’s will is (comes through the Spirit)
- Know the times (1 Chronicle 12:32, Matthew 24)
- Be careful to keep the Lord’s commands (1 John 5:3)
- Be alert and awake, not falling into compromise, test everything (Acts 20:28-31)
2. Pray (Ephesians 6:18)
- Invest time and energy into relationship with the Lord
- The more time we spend with Him, the more of His will, heart, thoughts and character He can impart to us
3. Love and serve each other (Philippians 2:3-4, 1 John 4:11-12, 1 Peter 3:8)
- Actively seek to be as a servant to each other, see everyone as better than ourselves
- Live in humility as Christ did
4. Speak to each other with spiritual words (Ephesians 5:19, 1 Peter 3:9)
- “psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit”
- The Spirit calls “Abba Father”
- So we speak to each other songs of thanksgiving for what the Lord has done, testimonies of His faithfulness, and all the praises of who He is
5. Be continuously giving thanks to God (Psalms 9:1-2, Ephesians 5:20)
- Have a thankful heart which praises God for His mercy, love, and for everything on this earth, for life, for food, for discipline, for friendship and for the wilderness
It is important to know God’s emotions and response towards us. While in the flesh, we are guaranteed to fall short many times. Yet, when we do, we have a choice to run to God, or away from Him. Jesus enjoys us! He enjoys us in our sincere live for Him, that we position our hearts to obey Him. Even when we make mistakes, He enjoys us every step of the way. Jesus sees that the spirit is willing (Matthew 26:41) and this pleases Him, though we see our weak flesh.
Listening to a sermon (“Interpreting God’s Emotions to Us in the Midst of Our Weakness”) by Mike Bickle, a few points really struck my heart:
1. God enjoys sincere believers even in their weakness
- God is angry with the rebellious (unbelievers)
- God is grieved at believers who he loves, who persistently resist his leadership
- God enjoys sincere believers even in their weakness – Luke 11
- If we, though evil, can love our immature children, how much more does God love us, His children, in His holiness and perfect love
2. Spiritual immaturity is NOT the same thing as rebellion
- Sometimes the outward behaviour of the sincere believer and the unbeliever look the same BUT the sincere believer has a very different heart response to the behaviour
- Hypocrite – says something, and doesn’t seek to obey it
- BUT a sincere believer’s heart is position to obey God! Their spirit is willing, but flesh is weak. We can stand before God as a first class citizen as we repent and are washed clean in His blood.
- Sheep vs Swine
- Sheep =clean, swine = unclean
- Both get stuck in the mud
- When pig is taken out of the mud, it looks for another mudhole
- If a sheep gets stuck, it kicks and tries to get out, but its feet are stuck
3. We should not mistake God’s blessings, and His patience, as approval of what we are doing or the way we are responding to Him
- God blesses evil men BUT don’t mistake God’s blessing of evil men that God approves of their relationship of how they are responding to Him
- Romans 10:5
- He enjoys us but does not approve everything the sincere believer does
- Revelation 3:19 – Because He loves us, He will press in on that issue so that we can be zealous and whole hearted in love towards Him
- While we are repenting, he is enjoying us every step of the way
LIVING WITH SUFFERING
Why do we suffer in this world?
1. The world hates Jesus, so it will hate His children
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you had belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)
2. Jealousy and greed
- Acts 17:5, 19:26-27
- Jews in different cities rose up to persecute Paul because of jealousy and greed. Satan does not like it when people live active, wholehearted lives for Jesus so when we proclaim the truth of his gospel and live it out, we can expect opposition.
3. For building of perseverance
- Romans 5:1-4 – “… we glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance…”
4. When we suffer as Christ suffered, we attain glory as He has glory
- Philippians 3:7-8, 1 Peter 4:14-17
- We remember that the glory of knowing Jesus surpasses all else
How do we live victorious in the midst of suffering?
Both Revelation 12:10-12 and 2 Corinthians 4, give us the winning battle plan. To live victorious in the midst of suffering, we must know (1) the hope of our Salvation in Jesus, (2) the peace of resting in His wings, and (3) the confidence of His return and victory.
(Revelation 12:10-12/2 Corinthians 4)
1. By the blood of the Lamb / Since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart
- Knowing Christ Jesus as Saviour and Lord through the revelation given by the Holy Spirit
- We preach not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as servants for Jesus’ sake
- We know that all-surpassing power if from God, not us
2. By the word of our testimony
- That we declare the power of Jesus, our inheritance in Him
- We know we have been given God’s light to shine in our hearts, so that we would have the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ
3. By not loving our lives so much as to shrink from death/ Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day
- Having confidence that we will be raised from the dead to be with Jesus, firstborn from the grave, in victory forever – so we live dead to ourselves but alive in Christ
- We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body
- We die to ourselves daily, take up our cross and follow Christ, having life by His spirit and By His name
- We have confidence and fix our eyes of what is eternal – the Kingdom of God