Follow Me: Taking Hold of the Divine Nature

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Taking Hold of the Divine Nature

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Follow Me: Taking Hold of the Divine Nature

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Have you ever lost your keys, or maybe your purse or wallet, and gone on a scorched-earth rampage searching through your house, garage or car?

If so, why has this happened? We probably got so distracted or preoccupied that we forgot where we put them. Our world can then become rather shaken up. In such moments, my wife always smiles and reminds me, “They don’t have legs.” That’s true! They must still be here. Even so, till I take hold of them they remain so near yet so far!

In a sense, the same can be said for what our Heavenly Father has done for us through Jesus Christ by placing His divine essence of life—His Holy Spirit—inside us for safekeeping. This condition is not one with legs to walk away, so to speak. But we can become humanly distracted or preoccupied with the cares of this world and forget the powerful reality of God having lovingly placed His Spirit in our hearts and minds (see Ezekiel 36:25-27 Ezekiel 36:25-27 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.
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).

Christianity is not developed by inculcated theory but by practice. And God has granted us a target-rich environment of people to deal with who are sometimes unlovable—perhaps starting with ourselves if we are honest and allowing God’s Spirit to convict us.

In the past three issues of Beyond Today, this column has been exploring this reality based on Jesus’ incredible promise, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18 John 14:18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
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).

Christ’s early followers, having received the Holy Spirit, were able to live as if Christ had never left them. His presence was felt. But some became distracted along the way, and the apostle Paul had to remind them: There are no legs here! The divine presence was still there with them. “Don’t you know that Jesus Christ dwells in you?” he pointed out (compare 2 Corinthians 13:5 2 Corinthians 13:5Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?
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).

The Spirit of God isn’t something we have to search for in the different compartments of our life. If we have repented, surrendered our lives to God, been baptized and received His Spirit, that Spirit is at the core of our being—in what Paul called “the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16 Ephesians 3:16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
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). It is always there to draw upon—this vital resource of the “divine nature,” as Peter referred to it (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.
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), from which flows the wonderful attributes of godly character.

Grabbing hold not by accident but design

So how do we handle times of distraction or preoccupation with the passing matters of this life and draw on the Spirit of God? Allow me to share a verse that always brings me back to the basics. It’s very graphic and tangible— gripping, one might say!

It’s Philippians 3:12 Philippians 3:12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”

The Son of God has grabbed hold of you and me—not out of desperation but by design—so that we may grab hold of faith that is not by accident but design. This isn’t merely having faith towards Him, but it’s so you and I exercise the identical faith of Christ in how we grab hold of—lock onto—the divine nature of Him and our Heavenly Father.

Once again, as in the previous issue’s column titled “The Spirit-Led Sacrificial Life,” let’s understand how we can tighten our hold on the embedded preciousness of God’s Spirit—the divine nature—leading us to exercise His outflowing attributes.

As we saw before, the apostle Peter presents vital elements of the divine nature to lay hold of in his words found in 2 Peter 1:5-8 2 Peter 1:5-8 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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. My previous column focused on the first three elements, and I said there were more to follow. We came to understand our response to God’s grace—that is, to His favor and the gift of salvation that starts with and proceeds from Him—this requiring unconditional surrender on our part and continued devoted response based on the daily sacrifice of self.

The apostle Peter spoke in verse 5 of zealous diligence and believing faith that establishes the courageous virtue of moral excellence that bears witness to other people that they are encountering something different here—something exceptional—the life of Jesus Christ dwelling in a person here on earth.

But again, there’s more—so let’s go further in how we can knowingly tighten our grip on what God desires.

Hallmarks of expressing the divine nature

Again in verse 5, Peter describes how we are to utilize God’s Spirit-nature that imparts knowledge to His followers.

This knowledge, divine in origin, is practical for daily living. It’s a knowledge that allows us to understand first causes, as well as the end results of our decision-making.

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would convict us of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8-9 John 16:8-9 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
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). It’s a knowledge that comforts us with the assurances of the Psalms—that “the Lord is My Shepherd; I shall not want”—but likewise teaches the wisdom of the Proverbs and of James in how to walk daily in a world with the minefields of Satan’s traps and the snares of corrupt human nature. It’s the mind of Christ living in us (Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
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) that enables us “to refuse the evil and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15 Isaiah 7:15Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
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).

When we apply revealed knowledge to real-life situations, we are next asked in 2 Peter 1:6 2 Peter 1:6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
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to take hold of ourselves and exercise self-control. That means each of us personally. The Greek here, from the root word egkrateia, suggests we “get a grip” on ourselves. We hear that expression today as an admonition to think clearly. But God means it in the broader sense of taking control of how we think and live.

We can never handle the facts until we handle our feelings. How often have we done something because it just felt good rather than do the good for God? Feeling good and doing good are two different creatures with two different outcomes.

Maintaining self-control in turn demands that we draw upon what’s mentioned next in 2 Peter 1:6 2 Peter 1:6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
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, the perseverance or steadfastness (standing fast in resolve) engendered by God’s Spirit that grants us a patient knowing eye to the future. It speaks of being able to see beyond the obstacle-ridden mountains of events before us and with spiritual grit hold on—as much as when it speaks of how Christ “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 Hebrews 12:2Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
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).

Walking towards humanity and not away

Have you ever considered how much easier life might be if there was no dealing with other people? Of course God didn’t grant us to partake of the divine nature to become a hermit, but to walk through this life while focused upward toward Him and also before us on earth to address the needs of others who cross our path.

Christianity is not developed by inculcated theory but by practice. And God has granted us a target-rich environment of people to deal with who are sometimes unlovable—perhaps starting with ourselves if we are honest and allowing God’s Spirit to convict us.

The next adorning attribute in 2 Peter 1:6 2 Peter 1:6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
American King James Version×
of godliness does not cut us off from man. To the contrary, Jesus said that how we treat others is how we treat Him (Matthew 25:40 Matthew 25:40And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.
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; Matthew 25:45 Matthew 25:45Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.
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). The apostle John asked a probing question: “For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20 1 John 4:20If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
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).

This guides us toward how to offer the next quality Peter lists, special brotherly kindness with fellow spiritual family members (2 Peter 1:7 2 Peter 1:7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
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). At times the closer the relationships, the more we can take one another for granted or conversely allow sparks to fly.

Paul reminds us, “Let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10 Galatians 6:10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith.
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). Peter elsewhere likewise combined these two qualities of godliness and brotherly kindness in imploring us: “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood …” (1 Peter 2:17 1 Peter 2:17Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
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).

All of the incredible qualities listed in 2 Peter 1 are predicated on and point toward the ultimate attribute of the divine nature, which firmly knits together expressions of diligence, faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness and brotherly kindness. It’s the exclamation mark that comes at the end— love (2 Peter 1:7 2 Peter 1:7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
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).

God is defined by this quality, as we’re told that “God is love” (1 John 4:8 1 John 4:8He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.
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; 1 John 4:16 1 John 4:16And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.
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). It’s not a self-love, but an outflowing, outgoing concern that moves away from self with no strings attached. In fact, it’s devoid of selfishness.

That love knocked on the doors of our life when we were spiritually asleep. Scripture tells us, “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 1 John 4:19We love him, because he first loved us.
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). Who went first? God did! Who is to follow wherever He leads us through the seasons of life? We are!

The promise with a premise

So where do we go from here? Christ promised He would come to us, and He has for now by Spirit, and will come to us in the fullest sense at His second coming.

By His mercy and love, our Heavenly Father gave His Son to us that He might not merely return to us, but based on the premise that we would heed His call of “Follow Me” and partake as full shareholders of the embedded essence of the Holy Spirit—the divine nature.

These valuable keys to your life need not remain a mystery or lost. Our Heavenly Father has not called us to be so near yet so far. His promises have not walked away from us, but He asks us to walk towards them!