“The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins” (2 Peter 1:9).
We have been cleansed from our sins by the cross and resurrection of Christ. Our cleansing is twofold: 1) we are forgiven, absolved of any fault, relieved of any guilt; 2) sin ceases to be the motivational principle in our lives. This is why Peter says we have forgotten our cleansing from sin if we lack the character traits listed in verses five through seven. Through the cross, God severed our relationship with who we were when sin was our motivational principle. Through the resurrection, Jesus Himself became our life, our new motivational principle. Put in theological terms, Jesus is our justification; Jesus is our sanctification. This message—of Christ’s death and resurrection—is the gospel, God’s greatest, most precious promise, our knowledge of Him (2 Peter 1:3-4). For if we wish to see the Father, if we wish to have knowledge of the divine nature and participate in it, we must look at Jesus. To see Him is to see the Father (John 14:9).
Petrification is analogous to the process of transformation that is Christianity. Through a unique process, every particle of wood in a branch or log is replaced by minerals. What was once fibrous plant material becomes stone. It retains the appearance of the branch or log it was but it has been constitutionally altered. Wood rots and breaks down over time but stone is much more permanent. Wood is corruptible. Stone, by comparison, is not. Participating in the divine nature is like petrification. We are weak and subject to corruption. As we participate in the divine nature, every last bit of us is slowly replaced by Christ, who is not subject to corruption. We still retain our individuality, just as individual branches or logs can be identified after being petrified. But we are different in our very substance. This change is salvation. A piece of wood that petrifies will escape corruption while a piece of wood that remains as it is will not. We escape the corruption of this world because we change, not because we go to church, not because we read the Bible, not because we recite the Roman road or say the sinner’s prayer. We can do all of these things, and yet, the elements of the world will weaken and break us down unless we are made of stuff that is immune to decay. Peter’s name (which has the same root as petrify) signifies this very thing: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it” (Matt. 16:18). By giving him the name Peter, Jesus was changing him to rock. This is Christ’s intention for His whole church—that we change to rock, to that which is impervious to the grave (Hades).