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“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4, NIV).
Everything we need for a godly life comes from His divine power through the agency of knowing Him. Verse four restates or expands on this—participating in the divine nature IS everything we need for a godly life. We participate in the divine nature through His promises (His word), which is knowing Him. In other words, verses three and four parallel each other.
The proliferation of character traits listed in verses five through eight (faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, affection, love) is what it looks like when we are participating in the divine nature. Peter says if the qualities of the divine nature are increasing in us, they will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in the knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 1:8). The flip-side is that knowing Jesus can be and is ineffective and unproductive if the qualities of the divine nature aren’t increasing within.
We don’t need massive quantities (so to speak) of the divine nature to be kept from being “ineffective and unproductive;” we only need the qualities of the divine nature to be increasing. In the parable of the talents, the Master asks the servant why he hid his one talent rather than depositing it in the bank to earn interest (Matt. 25:27). The Master wasn’t requiring him to double his talent like the other two servants had (Matt. 25:20, 22). Even a fractional increase, a small return on his investment, would’ve pleased him and saved the servant from being thrown “outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:30). We have escaped the corruption of the world (2 Peter 1:4). We have been cleansed of our past sins (2 Peter 1:9). Will the reality of this increase in us? Or will we forget what Christ’s death and resurrection achieved and live as if it never happened?