Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the ReNewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2
+ + +
An elderly man was on his deathbed. As the nurse walked into the room, the man turned to his wife and children and said …
- “Tom, you get the houses in Beverly Hills.
- “Sarah, you get all the offices in the Center.
- “Eve, you get the apartments over the Plaza.
- “And to my dear wife, the residential buildings near downtown are yours.”
“Wow, what a life,” said the nurse, “to be able to leave so much property to you all.”
The wife responded, “What property? He has a large paper route!”
+ + +
What would you like your last words to be?
Well, some of the Apostle Peter’s last words are found in 2 Peter. The persecution is intensifying. He knows his time is short. What did Peter want to tell them?
We don’t have to guess. From the first, Peter says he’ll be “ReMinding” them of a few key things. He says, “I intend to keep on ReMinding you of these things, though you know them already.” Too often people approach Bible reading and study looking for something fresh and new. But how often do we mainly need to be ReMinded of the deepest Truths.
He says, “I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to ReFresh your memory, since I know that my death will come soon, as … our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.”1:12-14
What are the things that Peter is ReMinding his “spiritual children” about? The first “deathbed” urging from Peter – verse 3 – is for us to “liv[e] a godly life.” Now, what is “godly life”? In verse 5-7, Peter lists seven characteristics:
- moral excellence
- patient endurance
- brotherly affection
- love for everyone.
Out of curiousity, on a scale of 1-10, rank yourself on your “effectiveness” in these standards.
+ + +
Wait! Before you get discouraged with your trying to “accomplish” what is on this list, listen to what Peter is really ReMinding us about here.
Instead of just calling us to “liv[e] a godly life,” Peter prefers to talk about “everything we need for living a godly life.” 1:3
What you see above is not a to-do list. Rather, Peter wants to ReMind you of how to be equipped with “everything [you] need for living a godly life.” How? “By his divine power”! Peter says, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.” 1:3
Do you see that? To-do list are what can be done in our own power. Peter’s inviting us to look for what is supplied by God!
+ + +
Thus, through faith, Peter tells us that it is imperative for us to open a channel for God to work in our hearts.
Here’s my most effective way of saying this – it’s a little crass, but evocative. I tell people that “God is a gentleman. He doesn’t force us to do anything. We have to give him permission.” I say, “We have a word for men who force themselves on women. If God forced himself on us, what would he be? Spiritual ________.
No! God is a gentleman.”
It’s our choice! There’s tons of divine invitation, but God lets us open a channel for Him to work in our hearts. And when we open ourselves through faith, obedience, trust, and discipline – “God give[s] us everything we need for living a godly life … by his divine power.” 1:3
(Aren’t you glad the Gospel isn’t a to-do list?!)
+ + +
“Through faith, obedience, trust, and discipline …” That’s how I described opening a channel for God to work in our hearts.
Peter describes the discipline of growing in faith like this: “Make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” 1:5-7
They build on each other! Do you see it?
+ + +
“The more you grow like this,” says Peter, “the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1:8
“Knowledge” is our next key word. And in this section of Peter’s writing, knowledge is two powerful things.
First, it is “head knowledge.” Throughout other parts of this letter, Peter will be urgently warning his friends against “false teachers.” And what’s our armor against false teaching? First, it’s head knowledge. It’s knowing Truth. Peter is saying – “God’s power … [is] received … by coming to know him.” 1:3
But there’s surely another form of knowledge that Peter is speaking of when he talks about “coming to know [God].” And that’s heart knowledge.
This type of “heart knowing” is faith!
+ + +
Sometimes the longest distance in the world is the twelve inches between head and heart. We can know things about God. (That’s head knowledge.) But our call is to know God personally. (That’s heart knowledge.)
And that’s what Peter says in verse 4: “Because of his glory and excellence, [God] has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature.”
“Shar[ing] in his divine nature” is heart knowledge. It’s a personal relationship.
That’s what this study of ReNewal is all about.
Head knowledge is good! I pray that you’ll be ReMinded of a good bit of that through this study. I pray you learn some practical things.
I pray more deeply that you look at each of these lessons as a path to deeper heart knowledge. That you yield yourself. That you “make every effort to respond to God’s promises.” 1:8 That you may be ReNewed and ReFreshed.
And for my part, I’ll strive to be like Peter: “I will always ReMind you about these things.” 1:12
On a scale of 1-10, how much head knowledge do you think you have about the faith? Explain.
On a scale of 1-10, how much heart knowledge do you think you have …
- in your trust in the Lord?
- in your obedience to the Lord?
- in your relationship with the Lord? Explain.
In 2 Peter 1:5-7, Peter talks about faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love for everyone. It’s tempting to ask how you’re doing with each of these. It’s more important to remind you to be thankful to God for any fruit in these areas, because “by his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.” 1:3 Thank God for this.
Reading: As you’re able, read today 2 Peter 2.