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Pastoral Exhortation - Series of 2011

Nurture Of Godliness

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An Exposition of 2 Peter 1:3-4


"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:3-4).

The prospect of godly life

Christians struggle daily with temptations and sins that easily beset them. Is it then possible for us to live a godly life? Can we live a life that is holy and pleasing to God? Regardless of our doubts about the possibility of living a godly life, Peter firmly asserts that it is possible to live a godly life because "his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness".

Like Peter, Paul also says that the grace of God given to believers will urge them on to a godly life. In Titus 2:11-14, Paul teaches us that "the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; ... who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works".

Godliness is possible only because of God’s gracious provision for its nurture in us. If we reject what God provides for this purpose, we cannot be godly.

The power for godly life

It is known to us all that, like most of us, Peter also has a story of failure and full restoration to a godly life to tell us. He had tasted the bitterness of failure in the spiritual pursuit. Though he made bold claims about being loyal to Christ, when the time of testing came, he denied his Master three times. However, he had been changed by the divine power of the Lord. As he repented, he received the power of the Lord to be a loyal minister of God’s truth. And now he declares to believers who have been struggling with temptations, failures and disappointments that godliness or true piety is possible through the power of God. His message for all of us is that we should stop self-pitying and doubting, but start thinking about the provision of the unmatched divine power. That is why he assured us that it is “his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness".

Now read how Paul’s pen writes about the greatness of the divine power made available and the results of it in our lives (emphasis is added):

"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Colossians 1:10-13).

"And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:19-23).

"That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; ... Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Ephesians 3:16-21).

The perspective of godly life

The perspective of godly life "... through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3b).

To be godly, we can have no other perspective about our life than that which Christ’s life would grant us. Without a thorough and intimate knowledge of Christ, none can lead a godly life. To be godly, we need to follow our Master. Whatever He counts as glorious and virtuous, we must strive to attain. Then we shall inherit the glory and virtues of the Son of God. In short, a godly person is one who is preoccupied with the glory and holy virtues of Jesus Christ.

Paul's life illustrates this – "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:20-21; cf. 3:7-10).

The promises for godly life

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4a).

In order to help us to stay the course, the Lord has given us many promises. These promises are unmistakable assurances because God will always keep His word. They are better than silver and gold, which are perishable. God’s promises are never affected by circumstances. As God is unchanging, His promises are also unchanging. So their value is indescribable, indeed “great and precious”.

His promises help us to overcome temptations and trials, and walking in ungodly ways. Trials will normally compel us to reject godly ways. But when we think of the great and precious promises of God, we realise that if we patiently wait on the Lord, He will help us to overcome them. This helps us not to forsake godly ways.

Peter leaves us to wonder at the blessedness of men who live by God’s promises by pointing to the promises they inherit as "exceeding great and precious promises". Their blessedness is as great as the value of the promises they inherit from God.

No wonder Paul urged, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1).

The purpose of godly life

"... that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4b).

The ultimate purpose of living a godly life is that we may be partakers of the divine nature, and thus overcoming the lust and corruption of the world. The pursuit of godliness purges a man from uncleanness of this world and fleshly lust. A carnal lifestyle must be a thing of the past for a person who pursues godliness. "For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries" (1 Peter 4:3).

Divine nature and worldliness cannot co-exist. Thus the grip of lust and worldliness decreases steadily in the life of a godly person. At the end, we shall be "changed into the same image from glory to glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Pastoral Exhortation