September 16, 2011

I am NOT God

A few years ago, a well-known actress twirled about on a beach chanting the exciting discovery, “I am God” — not even a small “g” — as she decided that in essence she is the creator of all things.

This actress and others who have come to her same conclusion, would have a field day with a phrase from these verses in the New Testament. Unfortunate for them, the phrase does not stand alone. It must be read in its context.  

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:2–4)
The phrase is: “you may become partakers of the divine nature.” This looks something like “I am God” but then the other phrases in this passage clarify that being a partaker of the divine nature is not the same thing as becoming God.

Peter writes that grace and peace are multiplied to his readers “in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord.” The word used here for “knowledge” means “full discernment.” It isn’t about awareness of their existence, but a much deeper knowing, even a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ. He also says “our Lord” which implies a shared submission. If everyone is God, how can you submit to all of them?

Next, Peter says that God’s divine power grants to His people everything they need for life and godliness. Even those who think they are God have no rational basis to assume they created their own life. No one can plan their own conception and birth.

As for making godliness of their own doing, they must change the meaning of the word. This is not about being godlike (even if they get that definition correct), but is about being holy. Holiness is “other than” — totally pure and utterly far above all other things. To have this bestowed by God results in a contrite and humble heart. To boast that “I am godly” immediately makes it not so. Godliness never includes pride.

God calls His people to His glory and excellence. He is not in the business of making me all that I can be, but is transforming me into the image of His Son. This cannot happen unless He deals with my sinful desires. One of those is to “be like God” as suggested to Eve in Eden. She was already made in His image, but that was not enough. This desire led her to temptation and sin. Since God is sinless, her and Adam’s disobedience ruined the image. It is being in this image of God that faith in Christ restores.

That means the essence of Deity is never mine, as Satan suggested to Eve. However, as the first humans were initially created in the image of God, by the renewal of the Holy Spirit I am also recreated in the image of the Most High. It is in this sense that Christians are partakers of the divine nature.

For instance, “God is love” and by the filling of the Holy Spirit, we become able to love like He does. “He that loves is born of God.

God is truth. Those who believe in Him become true and lovers of whatever is true. He is good, and He makes us good by His Spirit and grace. Apart from Him, “There is no one who is good.

He also makes us members of the body of Christ and puts the life of Christ in us. In that way, Christians become partakers of the divine nature in a higher sense than merely by how we think and act. Because of His power, the same life that makes Jesus alive also is our life. 

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — (Ephesians 2:4–5)
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Our union with Christ is the only reason for any godliness or Godlikeness that we possess. It is this life that ought to make us stand out in our sinful and dark world. All that we say and do should flow from the One who lives in our hearts and gives us life. To say that any goodness I have is my own is arrogance. To say that I am God is sheer blasphemy.
Lord, as Your Word says, godliness is a mystery. Yet this mystery has been revealed by Your Spirit. You say it is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” So many times I’ve patted myself on the back instead of giving You the glory for all that You have done in me. Forgive me. As for those who think they are good, or that their “goodness” is their own, or who think they have become deity, have mercy. Forgive them, give them light and draw them from this deception into truth.

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