When Your Doing is Your Undoing

This beloved portion of Scripture was part of this morning’s reading (1 Peter 1:3-4) :

3 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, 4 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.

Many will tune out after the first major phrase: God gives us all we need.  Within itself, that is a wonderful truth, capable of fostering trust in God as the kind and capable Provider of all, to all.

However, Peter’s line of teaching goes a fair bit further.

Not only is God committed to providing life’s needs.  He is committed to making provision for each of us to journey into godliness, the state of God-likeness for which every human being has been designed.  To approach God is to open the door for Him to give you what you need for an existence of “glory and excellence”, even before we have any aspirations or desires for such a life.

The heavyweight phrase in this passage is undoubtedly “partakers of the divine nature”.  One could muse endlessly over the implications of such a five-word package.  But at least two points are clear:

  1. God has made outrageous promises that He intends to keep.
  2. These promises center upon delivering people into this form of existence: Partakers of the divine nature.

Then, in a clarifying statement, Peter expresses that one mark of this type of life is an escape from the corruption caused by sinful desires.  This corruption is in our world because it is in our hearts, and it is God’s intention on neither public nor private scales.  The one who knows anything about God will know this, and the one who values anything about God will make every move they can think of, in that direction.  This is where Peter’s list (faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love) finds its spot within the text: Pursue these qualities in your quest to experience both freedom and fruitfulness in Jesus Christ.

Efforts aside (and there are many to make), this escape from the dark and distorting desires of our hearts unfolds only as we:

  1. Embrace the promises of God (most call this “faith”).
  2. Seek to partake in the divine nature.

This second line matters greatly, as it speaks to the motivation behind every move we make.  Minus this motivation, we fall back into lesser motivations that actually undercut the transformation process:

  • Satisfaction in self, based upon some unwritten scoring system.
  • Reputation based on others’ perceptions of us or on inner illusions of ourselves.

Both of these can motivate us, but neither of them have anything to do with being freed from tainted desires.  In truth, both of them actually feed the corrupt (ie: Self-centered) tendencies that so easily sabotage our escape route into the God-designed life of “glory and excellence”.

“Make every effort”, to be sure.  But make them with measured focus, or our doing will actually be our undoing.

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