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 very 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.
For this very reason, 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. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. (1 Peter 1:3-9)
When I think about my desire to live a godly life, I experience a variety of feelings.
Ill-equipped? Very. Ineffective? Often. Hopeless? Never.
I would feel hopeless — absolutely so — if it all depended on me.
All the ingredients for a godly life are available and obtainable when I know God. I know Him through his Word, His Holy Spirit, and through my personal experience with Him.
Through His glory and goodness, He promises forgiveness,and redemption to all who will make Jesus Savior and Lord. These are precious promises indeed. Under my own steam, I could never be good enough to save myself. I’m promised salvation as a free gift when I realize my need, regret my self-reliance, and reach out for the gift with both hands. Through accepting God’s promises of real freedom through Christ, I — imagine it! — I am able to participate in His divine nature under the empowerment of His Holy Spirit. What an awesome, life-altering thought!
I’m called to be an eager and active participant. Many schools now give out participation awards to children who do their best, who take part in what was offered, who have a willing spirit. Participating in the divine nature means wanting to become more like God (not trying to be my own god), and matching my effort to that desire.
I can’t participate meaningfully in something I know nothing about. Gaining knowledge is no guarantee of adequate participation in the divine nature. Knowledge for its own sake is unproductive and ineffective. Knowledge about God is where I start, but the desire to know Him personally is what moves me forward. Peter outlines some stages in the journey:
- My response to God’s goodness will be to want that kind of goodness in my own life, recognizing how many gaps I have in my own nature.
- I’ll want to know Him more, be hungry for His Word, and thirsty for His Spirit.
- I’ll realize my need for self-discipline — daily dependence on Him to follow where He leads; a daily decision to surrender to Him in the perpetual tug-of-war between the world and His will.
- I’ll react to my frequent failings by renewing my resolve, resisting Satan’s urgings to just give up, taking fresh hold of God’s strengthening hand, and pressing on.
- As God helps me to move more deeply into relationship with him, I’ll see a heart change in the way I relate to others. Looking at Jesus will bring into sharp contrast any thoughts of judgment or dismissal of others. I’ll take these as warning signals that I’m going backwards, and I’ll do something about it.
- The more I learn to adjust my focus on others, the more ready I become to see others through God’s eyes. I’ll see people who are just as flawed and feeble and frustrating as I am — yet who are longed for by God, died for by Christ, and are somewhere on the same journey I am. My sense of my own countless mistakes, rabbit trails and backtracking will help me to love my fellow travelers with more of the quality of love God lavishes on me.
Father, help me to keep moving forward in my journey with You, I pray. May I be a willing and eager participant in Your nature, not because I’m worthy, but because You are. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.