2 Peter 1:1-2 ESV
“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
“To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
What does it mean to have faith in Jesus Christ? It isn’t something we do or profess or believe just so we can be forgiven our sins so when we die we get to go to heaven, even though that is what is popularly being taught.
For our faith is not of ourselves. It is not of our own doing. We can’t make it up. It is God’s gift to us. Jesus Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith, and we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness and as to our sinfulness, and as to our need to repent of our sins and to follow Jesus in obedience.
And faith is obedience to our Lord, for we are saved by God’s grace through faith which comes from God, which is initiated by God, and which is gifted to us by God. So this faith will align with God’s will and purpose. But if we do not obey the Lord we don’t have faith, we don’t know God, he doesn’t know us, and we don’t have salvation from sin, and we don’t have eternal life.
[Jn 6:44; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 11; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]
So, what is faith? It is believing (present active) in Jesus Christ, in who he is and in what all he stands for and in what he taught and what the Scriptures teach us who believe in him that we must do. And then it is doing what we say we believe, for faith is not lip service only, but it is actions which support what we confess with our lips. We must be doers and not hearers only.
For Jesus Christ died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who died for us. He shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so we will now honor God with our lives. And he died that we might be crucified with him in death to sin and be raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, no longer under the control of sin and Satan, but now walking in holiness in obedience to our Lord.
If by faith in Jesus Christ we were crucified with Christ in death to sin, our old self (which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires) was crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin but to God and to his righteousness. Therefore, we are to not let sin reign in our mortal bodies, to make us obey its passions, for Jesus set us free!
Now we walk (in conduct, in practice) no longer according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, for if we walk according to the flesh we will die in our sins. We will not have eternal life with God regardless of what we professed with our lips or thought we believed in our hearts. But if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live. For faith in Jesus Christ means denying self, daily dying to sin, and walking in obedience to our Lord, and then continuing in that faith until the very end of time.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-24; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 4:17-24; Eph 5:3-6; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Heb 10:26-27; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Pet 2:24; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28]
2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV
“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, 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.”
Some people today are claiming that if we are walking by faith, in obedience to our Lord, and if we are forsaking our sins that we are trying to earn our own salvation by works. But that is a lie of Satan in order to keep people still in bondage to sin, still deliberately and habitually sinning against the Lord, still headed to hell, but on the promise of forgiveness of sins and of spending eternity with God in heaven. This is a deliberate lie and it is a trap!
We can do nothing in ourselves to earn or to deserve our own salvation. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a part in our own salvation. We do. We must partake with Jesus in his death to sin and in his resurrection to new life in him in obedience to his will for our lives. But this can’t be done in the flesh. We are only able to do this by his divine power at work in and through our lives and with our full cooperation with his work of grace.
Yes, we are only able to walk in holiness and in righteousness and in godliness by his divine power which has been granted to us who believe in him with God-given (genuine) faith – which dies with him to sin and which lives to him and to his righteousness, by his grace. But we still have to walk. We still have to obey. We still have to do what the Scriptures teach us. Yes, we do it in his power and strength, but it still involves action on our part.
And please know that these precious and very great promises are not granted to everyone who just gives lip service to the Lord but who does not submit to him as Lord, and who does not obey him, but who still obeys sin. All our Lord’s promises have stipulations (conditions). These promises are granted to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with the Lord’s New Testament apostles who walked in obedience to the Lord and not in sin.
For we are called to his own glory and excellence and not to lives of continued deliberate and habitual sin against God. We are called to live holy and godly lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. Through his promises to us we are to become partakers of the divine nature, not continue in our old sin nature doing the things the ungodly do.
We are to be those who have escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. We are not to continue to give way to sinful desire while claiming that Jesus has forgiven us of all sins, and while claiming “who we are in Christ,” as though that somehow makes it okay to continue living in sin. And for the record, “in Christ” means we are no longer walking according to the flesh but now according to the Spirit (Rom 8:1-14).
So, please take this to heart. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is not all one-sided. It is not all about what Jesus does for us, but it is about our heart and love response to him and to what he did for us by dying with him to sin and living to him and to his righteousness, in his power and strength. For to love God is to obey him. If we don’t obey him, we don’t love him (John 14:15-24; John 15:10; Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 2:3-6,15-17).
In the Garden
Lyrics and Music by Charles A. Miles, 1913
I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.
I’d stay in the garden with Him,
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
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