Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Are you participating in the divine nature?

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness 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 we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." 2 Peter 1:3,4

Immersed in God

God saves man to be like Him (see previous post: "What are we saved for?" ). Peter says the believer has received everything he needs for life and godliness (Christ-likeness) as he participates in the divine nature. Through faith in Christ, the believer is immersed in Jesus and joined to Him. Having been joined to Christ, the believer is crucified with Christ and raised to newness of life - a life empowered by the Spirit of God to be like Him (see Romans 6). Consequently, the believer is able to produce the fruit of the Spirit (see Gal. 5:22).

Growing in Christ

The apostle Paul describes the maturation of the believer as Christ being formed in him (Gal. 4:19) and the believer becoming mature by "attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). The maturation of the believer is therefore not a process of God improving the old nature but of the believer's increasing dependency on Christ to be like Him! Sanctification is not a process! God planned that those who believe in Jesus would be like Him so that Christ would be the firstborn among many brothers (Rom. 8:29).

Empowered to choose

God has given the believer "fullness in Christ" (Col. 2:9) so that he can "escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." That means that the believer is empowered to choose to be Christ-like! As sons of God, believers are set free from the control of the old, self-centred nature so that they can obey the Holy Spirit's leading to live a life of Christ-likeness. That is why Paul writes;

"Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation -
but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it." Rom. 8:12

We are to live according to the Spirit. That means choosing to live a life that is Christ-like in the power of the Holy Spirit. Consequently the believer is without excuse. Since God has set the believer free from the power of sin, the power of the old, ungodly nature and the enemy; ungodly behaviour is simply disobedience.

Put on Christ

For this reason Paul says the believer must take off the old with its ungodly behaviour and put on the new which is Christ-like. The believer is empowered to participate in Christ's divine nature because his life is "hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3)!

Created for good

The believer is saved to produce good fruit (John 15), to do good works (Eph. 2:10) and to live a godly life (Eph. 4:24).

Satan's lie

Satan has managed to sow a lie in the Church causing Christians to believe that sanctification is a process and that being ungodly can be excused. Don't be deceived! It is for freedom that Christ has set you free so live by the Spirit to be like Him (Gal. 5:13,16). Produce the fruit of righteousness because the Righteous One dwells in you (Phil. 1:11)!

How to participate in the divine nature

There are some very practical steps for the believer to stop his disobedience. Here are some keys I believe will help:

Stop making excuses!

As long as you make excuses for your ungodly behaviour you will remain defeated. The first step to overcoming ungodly behaviour is admitting that it is your responsibility to simply obey the Holy Spirit. Stop blaming God, the devil, your old nature, your past and others! Read James 1:13-16.

Believe the truth!

Take hold of God's truth about your life in Christ. Replace the lies of Satan with the truth (see "Are you building godly stronholds?")

Be strengthened by God's grace!

God's gift to you is fullness in Christ. God does not condemn you but He wants you to be strengthend by His love and presence in you (see Heb. 13:9; 2 Tim. 2:1; Titus 2:11-14) so that you will live a godly life. Approach the throne of grace to be strengthened (see "When do you approach the throne of grace?")

Get prayer support!

Share your struggles with someone and ask them to pray for you (James 5:16). Just as Christ lives to intercede for us, so we should commit to praying for one another to stand firm in righteousness and godliness.

Now is the time!

Now is the time for the sons of God to be revealed (Rom. 8:19). Walk as Jesus did in the power of the Holy Spirit.

"This is how we know we are in him:
Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6


Saturday, 14 January 2012

What are we saved for?

"God saved us and called us to live a holy life." 2 Tim. 1:9

I want to ask you a life-changing question:

Does God save people for them to become like Jesus or does He save people for them to be like Jesus?

Your answer to this question will determine your Christian life! Before we can address the difference between "becoming like Jesus" and "being like Jesus," we must have a clear understanding of what it means to be saved.


Mankind was created in God's image to live in close relationship with God, to reflect the very nature of God and do His will on earth. As God's offspring, we were created to be like God (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:8). Because of man's disobedience he separated himself from God's will and consequently God's presence and nature. Having become ungodly (no longer like God) mankind became God's enemy as he continued to walk independently of God and in rebellion to God's will. The apostle Paul describes man's separation from God like this,

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath." Eph. 2:1-3

God's image that was to be revealed through mankind, became distorted. Consequently, mankind is ungodly by nature.

The last Adam

In order for God to restore man to His original nature and purpose, God sent Jesus to both reveal man in his original image of God as well as to restore man to his original godliness. Jesus came to rescue, restore, reconcile or save man from ungodliness and separation from God. Paul writes,

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." Rom. 5:6

So we see that God made a way for man to be restored to Himself so that man would be in close relationship to God, reflect His nature and do His will.

Saved to become or saved to be?

Understanding God's purpose for creating man and for giving us His Son, it should be clear that we are not saved to become like Jesus but to be like Him. That is why we read in Scripture:

"Be holy, for I am holy" 1 Peter 1:16
"Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6
"Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" Matt. 5:48
"Be imitators of God" Eph. 5:1

Created for what?

Let me ask you: What was God's purpose for creating Adam? Was it so that he would become like God? Was the whole purpose of the creation of man an experiment to see how he would develop in God-likeness? Clearly not!

The problem with thinking that our purpose in life is to become like Jesus is that it paralyses the believer and causes him to be introspective and ineffective in "reigning in life" (Rom.5:17).

Preoccupation with self-improvement and responding to the accusations of the enemy keep the believer caught in a satanic trap that stops him from fulfilling God's purpose for his life!


After explaining to the believers in Ephesus that their previous nature and behaviour separated them from God, Paul shares the amazing truth that because of His great love for man, God has provided a way for us to be restored to Him and therefore restored to fellowship with God and to godliness. The restoration to godliness cannot be accomplished by man's own effort (works) but is retored by faith in Christ! Grace restores man to God and to the Creator's original purpose for mankind.

God's workmanship!

Having described God's gift to mankind, Paul says,

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do." Eph. 2:10

God restores us to Himself and to our original godliness so that we will do God's will and fulfill His purpose for us. 

The believer is not created in Christ to become like Jesus but to be like Jesus, doing the Father's will in the Father's image out of fellowship with the Father!

That is exactly how Christ lived on earth (see John 14:8-14).

The problem of sin

I believe that God hates sin. He hates rebellion and disobedience to His perfect will. However, let me ask you this question:

If there weren't such a thing as sin, how would you live your Christian life?

The answer to this question will reveal whether you are preoccupied with self-improvement or whether you are set free to pursue the "good works, which God has prepared in advance" for you to do. Let me repeat what I said earlier: Preoccupation with self-improvement and responding to the accusations of the enemy keep the believer caught in a satanic trap that stops him from fulfilling God's purpose for his life!

Grace is risky

God took a risk when He gave us the gift of grace. He knew that we could either ignore it by still trying to become godly in our own effort (see Gal. 3:1-4; 5:4) or misuse it by continuing to live in sin. However, regardless of the ignorance of grace and the misuse of grace do you realise that grace empowers? Paul writes,

"You then my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." 2 Tim. 2:1

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and wordly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himslef for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." Titus 2:11-14

God saves us to be like Jesus. Having received this indescribable gift of grace, will you ignore it or misuse it or will you walk in it to be like Jesus, enjoying intimacy with the Father, revealing the Father's nature and doing the Father's will?