Partaking of the Divine Nature, Life-Study of 2 Peter, Message Three, pp. 26-28
PARTAKING OF THE DIVINE NATURE
God has given us these promises so that through them we may become partakers of the divine nature. He has called us to His glory and virtue and He has given us the promises for the purpose that we may enjoy the divine nature. To have eternal life is a matter once for all, but to partake of the divine nature is a continual matter. Although we have the divine life once for all, we cannot enjoy the divine nature once for all. During the entire course of our Christian life on earth and even in eternity, we shall still be partaking of the divine nature. We have seen that the divine nature denotes all that God is. We may use eating food as an illustration of partaking of the divine nature. When you eat chicken, you partake of the chicken nature. What the chicken is becomes your nourishment. When you eat chicken, you are actually eating the chicken nature, which includes various nourishing elements. These elements or ingredients are the constituents of the nature. The principle is the same with the divine nature. Through God's promises, we are partaking of God's nature with all the divine ingredients. Just as we do not eat food once for all, so we do not partake of the divine nature once for all. We eat food daily, and for eternity we shall be partaking of the divine nature. This is portrayed by the tree of life and the river of water of life in Revelation 22. To eat the fruit of the tree of life is to partake of God's nature. God's nature is holy, loving, righteous, kind, and pure. Actually God's nature is all inclusive. The more we partake of the divine nature, the more we have holiness, love, righteousness, kindness, and all manner of divine attributes. These attributes then become our virtues, which eventually will consummate in God's glory.
OUR COOPERATION WITH GOD'S OPERATION
Becoming a partaker of the divine nature has a condition, and this condition is that we escape the corruption which is in the world by lust. Lust is a barrier that keeps us from enjoying the divine nature. Christ died to redeem us from the vain manner of life (1 Pet. 1:18-19), and now we should abstain from fleshly lusts (1 Pet. 2:11) and no longer live in the flesh in the lusts of men (1 Pet. 4:2). As redeemed ones, we should abstain from lusts. This is to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.
God has given us promises that He will work out the virtue and glory so that we may partake of the divine nature. This is God's operation. But God's operation requires our cooperation, and our cooperation is to abstain from a lustful life and thereby escape the corruption which is in the world by lust. Then having escaped this corruption, we are ready to become partakers of the divine nature. By this we see that escaping the corruption in the world qualifies us to partake of the divine nature. God has allotted to us a portion that includes the divine life and all things pertaining to life and godliness. Based upon the fact that God has called us to His own glory and virtue, He has given us promises. He has promised to operate within us in order to carry out His virtue and glory. But God's operation needs our cooperation. We cooperate with God's operation by abstaining from fleshly lusts. For example, in the matter of shopping we need to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. When we need a particular thing, we should go to the store and buy it. But there is no need for us to spend time in the store looking around at other things. That would be to live according to our lusts. If we live according to the lusts of the flesh, we cannot become those who enjoy the divine nature. We cannot enjoy the divine nature if we indulge in certain worldly entertainments. In order to become partakers, enjoyers, of the divine nature we need to fulfill the condition of escaping the corruption that is in the world by lust.