************ Sermon on 2 Peter 1:4 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on August 23, 2020

2 Peter 1:1-4
2 Peter 1:4
"Promises, Problems, and Participants"

I Promises
A Our text starts with the great and precious promises of God:
(2 Pet 1:4) Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises ...

"Through these ..." Through what? What is Peter referring to? Peter is referring to God's power. What is this power? It is the power that made heaven and earth out of nothing. It is the power that called to Himself a people. It is the power that brought them from Egypt. It is the power that made the walls of Jericho fall down. It is the power that shut the mouths of lions and quenched the fury of the flames. It is the power that plants the new life of Christ in those who are dead in sin. It is the power that someday will raise our bodies from the grave to live forever with Jesus. We especially see this power in and with Christ:
-A virgin conceived and gave birth to a son.
-Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk, and cast out demons.
-Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven.

B Through His power God has given us "great and precious promises." We see three things here. First, the word "promises" -- plural, not singular. Do you know how many? God has given us around 7,500 promises in the Bible!

Second, the promises are described as "very great." That is, exceedingly great. Peter is talking about their size. Think promises that are mind-boggling, awesome, and unbelievable. God's promises are immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20-21).

Third, the promises are also described as "precious." In the book, "The Lord of the Ring," a sad pathetic creature named "Gollum" had possession of the ring. He would stroke it and hold it and call it "precious, precious." The ring was the most important thing in his miserable life and controlled his body and mind.

Like Gollum, Peter uses the word "precious" a lot -- at least 5 times in his two letters: precious faith (1 Pet 1:7, 2 Pet 1:1), precious blood (1 Pet 1:19), precious stone (1 Pet 2:4-6), precious Lord (1 Pet 2:7) and precious promises (2 Pet 1:4). Anything to do with Jesus was precious to Peter.

If something is precious that means it is valuable. It is of high worth or cost. It is prized, valued, held in honor. It is like a gem or a diamond or a classic car. Peter valued God's promises about Christ.

C What is it that makes God's promises so great and precious? First, because they come from God and not man. We are entering what I call "promise season." This happens every time we have an election. Most politicians make all sorts of promises. Promises they know they can't keep. Promises that are nothing but words. When we have someone like President Trump who actually keeps his election promises, people don't know what to say or how to respond. But the President is only a man and in spite of his best efforts and intentions, some promises may go by the wayside. But this does not happen with God. He makes promises. And, He keeps them. Always and forever. Without fail. You can depend on God, His promises, His Word. God keeps the promises He makes and turns them into reality.

Second, God's promises are so great and precious because He loves us and cares for us and wants the best for us. So what God promises is meant for our good. What God promises displays His love and care. What God promises also displays His "glory and goodness" (2 Pet 1:3).

II Problems
A At the end of our text we find a word which explains why we need God's great and precious promises. It is the word "corruption." Man's first and biggest problem is corruption.

Corruption means man is not righteous. Remember how Paul puts this?
(Rom 3:10-12) "There is no one righteous, not even one; (11) there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. (12) All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."
Paul describes the absence of whatever is good and upright and righteous.

Corruption also means the presence of evil. Remember how Paul puts this in the same passage?
(Rom 3:13-18) "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips." (14) "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." (15) "Their feet are swift to shed blood; (16) ruin and misery mark their ways, (17) and the way of peace they do not know." (18) "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
Do you hear all the acts of evil: deceit, cursing, bitterness, bloodshed, ruin, misery, fighting, no fear of God? Or, as our text from Peter puts it, "corruption ... caused by evil desires" (2 Pet 1:4).

B Corruption is part of original sin -- the sin we are born with, the sin everyone inherits through their parents from Adam and Eve. What does it do? It is the source from which arises all that is wicked, evil, and sinful in the life of man. There are many today who like to think of sin as a disease -- something you catch, something you are not responsible for, something that makes you a victim. I hear this kind of language for drug addiction, alcoholism, homosexualism, and even temper tantrums. But sin is not a disease that invades our body after we are born; no, it is part of our nature, part of our makeup, part of our being as fallen human creatures, something we are born with.

Because of corruption we are totally depraved. Which means that man's corruption extends to every part of man's existence and every facet of his being. There is not a single part of human life about which we can say, "Look, it is untouched by sin." Pick what you want. Pick who you want. Pick where and when you want. You will find nothing that has not been polluted by sin. Look ahead at the list of positive virtues in verse 5: faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love -- all of these have been touched by sin.

Because of corruption ours is total inability -- a total inability, that is, to do any saving good; and, a total inability to stop loving sin and evil.

Because of corruption we face God's judgment and punishment. Corruption means we all are headed to the everlasting fires of hell.

III Participants
A What is God's answer to this problem of corruption? God's answer is His great and precious promises. What promises of God does Peter have in mind? Peter sums up God's great and precious promises in the last half of our text:
(2 Pet 1:4) ... you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Peter mentions participation in the divine nature and escaping corruption.

B God's promise, as we face the problem of sin, is that He makes us participants in the divine nature. All of you should say "wow" about this. In Christ, we are participants in the very nature of God. The actual Greek word is very familiar: koinonia. We often translate that word as "fellowship." It means to share or to partner. We partake of God's life in us; we are partners in that life; we share in God's life.

If you are a Christian, you are a partaker in the nature of God. You aren't God but you participate in His nature. John 1:12 says you become children of God. Romans 8:9 says the Spirit of God lives in you. Galatians 2:20 says I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Colossians 1:27 speaks of Christ in you.

When we become a Christian we have a new nature. What is that nature like? It is like God. You have a new nature in Christ; it is the life of God in you.

C What can we say about the nature of God? He is holy, righteous, just. He has what? He has no evil desires. To use the word of our text, God has no corruption. Peter uses the word "escape" to describe the result of the divine nature in you and me: "So that you may escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." When we participate in the divine nature we escape corruption. It begins in this life and it isn't finished until we die or Jesus comes back. We don't escape like a prisoner breaking his way out of prison. It is not something we do; it is something only God can do. It is all of grace and not of works.

When we participate in the divine nature we escape corruption. We become like God. What does this look like? What should it look like? Nature determines appetite. The pig wants slop and the dog will even eat its own vomit (2 Pet 2:22), but the sheep desires green pastures. Nature also determines behavior. An eagle flies because it has an eagle’s nature and a dolphin swims because that is the nature of the dolphin. Nature determines environment: squirrels climb trees, moles burrow underground, and trout swim in the water. Nature also determines association: lions travel in prides, sheep in flocks, and fish in schools.

If nature determines all this, and if we have God’s nature within, then we ought to be pure and holy like God. To be like God means the Spirit of Jesus works in us, renewing us, sanctifying us, purifying us, making us dead to sin, so that we are whiter than snow. To participate in the divine nature means His "righteousness" becomes ours (2 Pet 1:1).

My brothers and sisters, God "has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."

Isn't this great and awesome and beautiful?
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