by Paul Benson
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature… -Peter an apostle of Christ
As a teacher to the Body of Christ one of the deepest burdens upon my heart is the fact many believers today do not possess an understanding of God’s grace that actually brings them victory over the power of sin. Instead of preaching grace as an inner strength (which empowers us to conquer the lusts of the flesh and the temptations of this life), most are presenting powerless and unbiblical notions about God’s grace which make excuses for sinful behavior rather than putting it to death. We truly have a great need to get back to a Biblical concept of grace!
But we need more than just a proper definition of the true grace of God. We need an understanding of how the vital keys of victory true grace brings are obtained by the believer, and then how to actually put them to work. Only then can we avail ourselves of the full benefit God’s grace offers. Let’s look at that.
Defining True Grace
…exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. 1Peter 5:12
In this age of ‘modern’ Christianity error and ungodly behavior are allowed to run rampant for fear of offending anyone who chooses not to embrace the Word of God as absolute truth. Most preach grace as a white-wash which makes us all clean and spiffy in God’s sight no matter how clean (or filthy) we may live. But excuse me if I call that mindset a bunch of hogwash! Here is a quote from a previous article where I speak of a more accurate definition of God’s grace.
QUOTE: But, brother Paul, aren’t we all just sinners saved by grace? Yes, we are all sinners, but the problem comes when you say we are just a sinner. To say that is to deny the power of God’s grace! As Christians we are more than just sinners; in fact the Word of God declares we are: more than conquerors! (Romans 8:37)
I need to hear something more helpful than I am just a filthy sinner saved by grace! We need to hear a message on the power of God’s Spirit that will give us victory over sin; not one that will just leave us wallowing in it!
Brothers and Sisters we need to toss out that old anemic phony-baloney definition of grace we have been fed all these years by those who deny the power God’s Spirit. They tell us that grace is merely God looking upon us favorably and overlooking our sin. But is that it; or is there more? What is the true definition of God’s grace which we receive through our faith in his Son?
The word translated as grace in the New Testament:
Greek – charis kahr’ -ese [from the same root as charisma (miraculous faculty) ]
Strong’s Definitions lists ‘charis’ (grace) as follows:
“The Divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life.”
Daniel Webster defined Christian grace as:
In a theological sense: a. the free and unmerited favor and love of God. b. the Divine influence or the influence of the Spirit in renewing the heart and restraining from sin. END QUOTE
A divine influence renewing the heart and restraining from sin? That sure doesn’t sound like they are talking about a white-wash to me. How about you?
A Reprobate Mind – What Is THAT?
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end. Hebrews 3:12-14
The forbearance and mercy of God are certainly crucial parts of the process of salvation; and I am in no way out to diminish their importance. But when they are presented as the complete picture of grace (God completely overlooking our sin) it fosters a mistaken mindset. One that leaves many who are professing a relationship with Christ feeling quite comfortable and secure in a state of rebellion to the will of God!
The danger this presents is that many don’t discern habitual sin has a very damaging effect upon a Christian heart. It produces a hardness of heart – a callous if you will. A perverted understanding of the grace of God very much encourages a process which can eventually lead to a reprobate condition.
While in times past many great preachers warned of the danger of a continuance in sin leading to one possibly being given over to a reprobate mind; in these days very few even broach the subject. And consequently, to much of the Body of Christ this grave danger is a totally foreign concept, with many boldly stating there is no such thing as a habitually sinning believer being given over to this state of perdition. But what exactly is a reprobate mind?
Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them. Jeremiah 6:30
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. Titus 1:16
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Romans 1:28
Some silver is not very submissive to the process of refinement. Its impurities are tightly bound to the metal. The biblical usage of the term ‘reprobate silver’ is that which is rejected due to a failure in the refinement process. It is not pure although it may have somewhat of an appearance of such. But because of the impurities it is considered worthless and therefor rejected.
So now when we embrace the biblical usage of the word ‘reprobate’ the concept becomes quite alarming to us (or at least should be).The danger of apostasy is quite real; do not doubt it!
SIDE NOTE: Without going into lengthy discussion of the correctness or incorrectness of the doctrine of eternal security let me give you just one thought to consider. In his rebuke of the apostate false teachers among the Church of his day Jude referred to them as ‘twice dead plucked up by the roots’. In order to be twice dead you would have to have been first dead (unsaved), then made alive (regenerated by grace), then returned to being dead again (apostate). A quite chilling thought! And I don’t think a tree plucked up by the roots will be bearing any future fruit. (Actually Jude said their fate was to be burned!)
Seeing the vital need then to be involved in a successful process of refinement it becomes likewise vital to recognize the avenue through which we can receive the assistance God offers us in this process. That avenue is the power of grace!
True Grace Is Partaking Of The Divine Nature!
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2Peter 1:1-4
Partakers of the divine nature! What an amazing concept presented here. To me this is one of the most thrilling passages of Scripture in the entire Word of God! It brings us a promise of victory (something I lacked for many years as a professing follower of Christ). A victory based not on our own merit, strength, or stamina; but upon that of Christ dwelling in us!
His divine nature exerting a transforming influence upon us! Sounds like victory to me! How about you?
Please allow me to point out what I see as key to receiving this strength and victory so freely offered by our Creator. Any serious student of the Bible soon grasps that God utilizes a practice of repetition to emphasize important truths. In this passage from 2Peter I clearly see that pattern of repetition. We are given here three promises of the wonderful supply of grace and provision from God; all obtained through the same source:
- Grace and peace. How do we receive this grace and peace? It is multiplied to us through the knowledge of God! (v.2)
- All things that pertain unto life and godliness. How do we receive all these things? Through the knowledge of him! (v.3)
- Partakers of the divine nature. How do we become partakers of the divine nature? Through his exceeding great and precious promises! (v.4)
Can you see that all this flow of divine assistance has one source? The source of our knowledge of God, and likewise the promise of God, is none other than the Word of God! There is a remarkable tie between our receiving of life and grace from God, and our receiving / embracing his Word of Truth! This is the avenue God has chosen to use: Faith in the Word of God. We need to not only understand that, but also to put that understanding to work on our behalf!
FOOD 4 THOUGHT: What was the Good Seed that brought you salvation in the first place? Was it not words of truth about the redemptive work of Christ upon that Cross that were planted in your heart bringing to you a promise of life everlasting? And when you chose to believe those words from a heart of faith that promise produced a flow of grace and life! Our covenant with God is a covenant of promise. We receive ALL manner of grace from the LORD through a confidence in the promise of his Word; and that includes victory over sin! Sanctification is also a work of grace through faith! Seeking it through any other means (self-righteous works for example) will only lead to disappointment and disaster.
Sanctification – Is It Optional?
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. -Jesus Christ
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see being defeated by sin as synonymous with the salvation spoken of in the Scriptures. Paul said: For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14 If true biblical grace takes us out from under the dominion of sin, do we retain any legitimate excuse for allowing sin to linger in our lives and in our hearts? Let’s look at Peter’s words again.
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2Peter 1:4
He seems to be expressing the thought that partaking of the divine nature would free us to escape the corruption of this world our flesh lusts for. Not a mere white-wash which delivers us from the consequence of sin; but an inward victory that delivers us from the very power of sin.
The grace to overcome sin can be ours! Praise God!
The call to sanctification, and the means to walk in a sanctified manner, used to be a mainstay of Gospel preaching. It was a very common topic in the preaching of great men of God like Finney, Wesley, Edwards, Moody, Tozar, Ravenhill, and the like. I am not talking about folks who preached an empty legalistic holiness message that left people stewing in condemnation. They were men of God who knew the Spirit of Christ in a deep way; and walked in the footsteps of Jesus. They were men empowered by the true sanctifying manifestation of grace produced by wholeheartedly believing the promises of God’s Word. And they preached it as not only a possibility, but as a standard of righteous Christian living!
We should now clearly see the many faceted grace of God comes our way through God’s promises, and our exercising faith in those promises. And those promises need to be preached! But we must also realize that the majority of ministers in this day and age of apostasy have left off preaching on repentance, holiness, and sanctification (or the source of grace to attain them). They have instead greedily turned their focus to a man-pleasing gospel that builds the kingdoms of man rather than building up the kingdom of God in the hearts of his people. So sad, but so true!
But just because today’s ministers have left off preaching biblical standards of a true and proper Christian walk does NOT mean God has lowered those standards!
His Word clearly lifts those same standards today, and also promises the same supply of grace to conform to those standards. It is up to us to not only seek his will, but also the grace to walk in his will. God expects no less! The question is: Are we willing to make the radical effort necessary to transcend the lukewarmness and apostasy that has American Christianity asleep at the wheel? Do we really have a heart to walk in victory? To be an overcomer? Do YOU need more grace?
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. James 4:6-8
THE ONLY true means of victory over sin, the flesh, and the temptations of this world is the divine nature of Christ at work in our hearts. Seek it! Hunger after it! Pray for it with a confidence God has promised in his Word we can walk free of the grip of sin by the sanctifying power of his Spirit.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
May the truth of God’s Word, and the power of his Spirit, bring to us a full measure of the grace the Father paid such a high price to purchase on our behalf. May we rise up in the strength of that grace and become the overcomers he has called us to be!
In Christ’s love;
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. Revelation 2:11
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. Revelation 2:17
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: Revelation 2:26
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. Revelation 3:5
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. Revelation 3:12
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. Revelation 3:21
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelation 21:7
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