Summary: #1 out of 2 Peter. We learn that we have "everything we need" through the true knowledge of Jesus Christ.
EVERYTHING WE NEED!
"Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust" (2 Peter 1:1-4 NASV).
This past week my wife and I had the opportunity to counsel someone who wanted to get my take on whether or not a certain behavior was okay. Since they considered themselves a Christian, my first question was, “Would Jesus do it?” After thinking for a minute, they reacted with, “Well, I’m not Jesus!”
Sadly, their response reminded me of the game show “Family Feud,” where, no matter how silly or nonsensical the answer, the other family members always say, “Good Answer!” even though they know it’s not a good answer. “I’m not Jesus” is not a good answer for a believer. First of all, it’s an attempt at justifying one’s behavior, and, secondly, it shows a profound ignorance of what we are in Christ and how we are to live.
When a person is born again (John 3:3), they become a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Pet. 1:4). The Apostle Paul confirms that truth when he says in Ephesians 4:22 that we “lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit”…and that we put on the new self which is created in the image of God. In other words, we take on the identity of Jesus. We’re given His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21) and the characteristics of His Spirit (fruit of the Spirit) take root in our personalities (Gal. 5:22f).
But, sadly, not understanding that leaves too many people who claim to be a Christian, susceptible to living an ineffective and unproductive life (2 Pet. 1:8).
Which leads us to our study of 2 Peter. In this letter to believers, Peter reminds them/us that through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, we have received a faith that is worth knowing more fully and worth guarding against error. So, let me start by pointing out that Peter mentions the word “knowing” and “knowledge” a total of ten times throughout his letter. He mentions “knowledge” five times in the first eight verses:
• Grace and peace are multiplied to us in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (vs. 2)
• His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him (vs. 3)
• We are to add to our moral excellence, knowledge (vs. 5)
• To our knowledge we are to add self-control (vs. 6)
• As we grow in the qualities of His divine nature, our knowledge of Jesus stays real and productive (vs. 8)
Thus, it would be an understatement to say that “knowing” is essential to our spiritual well-being. If we learn anything from our forefathers in the Old Testament, it is that when God’s people neglect or reject the word of the Lord, ruination follows. Remember Hosea’s admonition to the children of Israel: "…Because there is no truth or loyalty or knowledge of God in the land. There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes…My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…" (Hos. 4:2, 3, 6 NASV).
Now, brethren, we understand we’re not talking about simply knowing Bible facts – right?! Let me give you an example. How many times is the phrase “greet one another” used in the New Testament? (The answer is 4). But, that’s a worthless piece of information until we place it in the context of loving one another. We “know” we are to greet one another because it is an act of God’s love. He has “greeted” us in the person of Jesus. But until those facts result in a relational change, then they are useless. And the danger of instruction that does not have love as its goal (1 Tim. 1:5), results in an attitude of superiority and self-righteousness. The Apostle Paul warned against that when he wrote: “...Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him" (1 Cor. 8:1-3 NASV).