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Partaking of the Divine Nature

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“… He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature …” (2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

In previous chapters we examined scriptures that discuss the biblical description of the very nature of God. However, no knowledge has any permanent value unless we put it to use. Knowing and believing that God exists is of little value if we continue to behave as if He didn’t. As His Word tells us, “Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19 James 2:19You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
American King James Version×
).

Let’s now focus on one other crucial aspect of the story—how God relates to His human creation and what He wants us to achieve spiritually with His help.

Remember that Jesus is the mediator between God the Father and man, as well as the captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×
). He is the One whom the Father appointed to help us bridge the character gap between our human fallibility and the awesome perfection resident in Them. We are told to become perfect just as our Heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48 Matthew 5:48Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
American King James Version×
). We are challenged to attain His image of spiritual maturity.

We must in the fullest sense become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version×
) so that our personal conduct reflects the character of God Himself. This impacts on the very purpose for our existence.

The image of God in the New Testament

Genesis 9:6 Genesis 9:6Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
American King James Version×
substantiates the truth that men, women, boys and girls continued in the image of God even after sin had entered man’s world. Several millennia later Christ’s apostles confirmed this basic biblical teaching. New Testament scriptures reaffirm that human beings are still in the image and likeness of God (James 3:9 James 3:9Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
American King James Version×
; 1 Corinthians 11:7 1 Corinthians 11:7For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, for as much as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
American King James Version×
). But even more important for our salvation, Jesus Himself is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15 Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
American King James Version×
; compare 2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×
). Since sin has deeply marred God’s image in us, the creation of the spiritual likeness—the character—of God must be attained through Jesus Christ.

It is the righteous and sinless Christ who justifies men and women who have sinned and brought the death penalty on themselves (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×
). Paul tells us that we, who once “were alienated and enemies in [our] mind by wicked works,” are now “reconciled [by Christ] in the body of His flesh through death, [that He might] present [us] holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed [we] continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast” (Colossians 1:21-23 Colossians 1:21-23 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
American King James Version×
).

Step by step

Though we have fallen far short of our great potential, Christ—who is much more “the image of God” than we are—provides a way for us to be reconciled to the Father. This is the only way we may achieve the enormous goal of reflecting the character of God in our lives.

Salvation is a process. We progress spiritually one step at a time. The first step is heartfelt, genuine repentance —remorse over our sins and committing to turn our lives around, fully accepting the blood of Christ as payment for our transgressions against God’s spiritual law.

The next big step is baptism, followed by the receiving of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands of God’s ministry. This constitutes a formal beginning for the Christian life of overcoming sin with the help of our great High Priest, Jesus Christ. From then on, provided we follow Christ’s example and overcome our human nature, we are destined to attain our goal of ultimate salvation in the Kingdom of God. 

If we take these steps, then continue to grow in grace and knowledge, enduring in faith to the end, God will perform the final step through our resurrection to everlasting life. Paul explains: “For since by man [Adam] came death, by Man [Christ] also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
American King James Version×
).

Human beings in the flesh are incomplete, an unfinished species. However, everlasting life is ours if we become converted and continually go before the throne of grace to seek the spiritual help we desperately need. Our Advocate and High Priest is always there to help us when we stumble or fall on the way (1 John 1:7-9 1 John 1:7-9 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
American King James Version×
; 1 John 2:1-2 1 John 2:1-2 1 My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
American King James Version×
). No human being can attain salvation without the continued application of God’s grace through Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

Although He created us as physical, flesh-and-blood beings, God made us with the potential of ultimately becoming spirit as He is spirit. The Bible says so. Paul continues: “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam [Christ] became a life-giving spirit… The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man [Christ] is the Lord from heaven…And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Corinthians 15:45-49 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 However, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
American King James Version×
).

Moreover, Christ, as we’ve seen, bears the image of the Father. Thus we will be the same kind of beings as both the Father and Christ, not just created spirit beings like angels, but spirit-born divine beings who are part of Elohim, the universe-ruling family of God!

When we properly understand the Scriptures, we see this wonderful truth again and again in the pages of the Bible. God promises that true Christians shall attain His very image in the ultimate sense. This promise is variously restated in many places in the New Testament. One such instance is the encouraging wording of Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
American King James Version×
: “For whom He [God the Father] foreknew, He also pre-destined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Jesus is the captain of our salvation. He went before. He knows the way. He guarantees that many will join Him in divine glory. But we ourselves must make every effort to ensure that we make our own personal calling and election sure.

Reaching our fantastic destiny

It is the “new man” of the inner heart and mind that lives spiritually in the image of God now (Ephesians 4:22-24 Ephesians 4:22-24 22 That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
American King James Version×
; Colossians 3:10 Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
American King James Version×
). It is this inner transformation that will eventually lead to our ultimate and complete change to the full image of God. However, no one can accomplish this character transformation alone. “Without Me you can do nothing,” said Jesus (John 15:5 John 15:5I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.
American King James Version×
). The spiritual image of God can be renewed in us only through the living presence of Christ in our lives.

In a tremendously inspiring passage, Paul wrote, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
American King James Version×
, KJV).

Everlasting, abundant life in the Kingdom as part of the God family is our ultimate destiny. That is what Christ makes possible (John 10:10 John 10:10The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
American King James Version×
). That is why God created us in His image. That is why it is so important to understand the truth about the nature of our Creator. 

John wrote: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God!…Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He [Christ] is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1-2 1 John 3:1-2 1 Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
American King James Version×
).

Finally, Paul also makes it clear that believers are “children of God” and “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17 Romans 8:16-17 16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
American King James Version×
). He explains that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 Romans 8:18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
American King James Version×
).

In other words, says Paul, in the resurrection believers will be on the same plane of existence as God and Christ—having been transformed into the same kind of beings They are. Amazingly, this is the astounding potential destiny of all humanity, and, though we will number in the millions, even billions, we will be perfectly joined together as one. For at that momentous time we will all partake of the divine nature in the ultimate sense—being divine members of the very family of God for all eternity!

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