Sunday, September 22, 2013

2 Peter 1 - Deeper Knowledge of Him in Our Struggle with Sin

LINK: 2 Peter 1 (memorize 1:3-4)

BACKGROUND 


2 Peter


The background about Peter is HERE.


Peter wrote this letter between A.D. 64 and 68. It was some time after the writing of 1 Peter (A.D. 62-63) and before the traditional date for his death in A.D. 67 - early 68 since he states in 2 Peter 1:13-15 that the time of his death was very near. Traditional holds that his death was in Rome. Since 1 Peter was probably written in Rome, it is likely that this was written from Rome also. 


Tradition has it that Peter asked to be crucified upside down because he did not consider himself worthy to be crucified in the same way as the Lord. 


He wrote this letter to "those who received a faith of the same kind as ours" (1:1) and those he had written before (3:1). If 3:1 is referring to 1 Peter, it was written to the mixed Jewish and Gentile churches in the states stretching along the southern shore of the Black Sea in northern Asia Minor. There is a possibility that the letter he refers to in 3:1 is not 1 Peter. If that is the case, we do not have the letter and cannot know who it is addressed to. Regardless, the letter is applicable to believers everywhere!


Peter wrote this letter to exhort the believers to press on to a deeper knowledge of Christ that resulted in practical spiritual values and right living. If they did this they would become steadfast and fruitful and could combat the false teachers and look forward to Christ's return. 


The purpose of the book can be stated in this key verse: 


You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, 
be on your guard so that you are not carried away 
by the error of unprincipled men 
and fall from your own steadfastness.
2 Peter 3:17 

BACKGROUND 


2 Peter 1

He introduces himself as Simon ("waverer") Peter ("the one who stood firm"). That is what this book is about: how to go from wavering to standing firm!


In 1:2-11, Peter exhorts his recipients toward a deeper knowledge of God. The Greek word used in 1:2, 3, and 8 is epignosis. It denotes "exact or full knowledge, discernment, recognition . . . expressing a fuller or a full knowledge, a greater participation by the knower in the object known, thus more powerfully influencing him" (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words: Volume 2, p. 301, Strong's 1922). It is beyond just knowing about God but having a deeper, more profound, heart knowledge that allows His very power to infuse you, causing you to live a deeper, God-driven, spiritual life.  We get to that deeper knowledge through His "precious and magnificent promises" in the Word of God! 


This word for knowledge is used only 20 times and only in the epistles, four of which are in this epistle, and three are in this chapter alone. It is definitely a key word in this book!


In 1:5-9, Peter talks of pursuing the qualities that make us useful and fruitful and are part of this deeper knowledge of God. Monty Mills pictures these qualities as a ladder reaching spiritual maturity:



Mills, M. S. (1997). II Peter: A study guide to the Second Epistle by Peter (2 Pe 1:5).
Faith is not the first rung but the foundation for the ladder (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). We are to "apply all diligence" which means to "exert oneself to the fullest." and "supply" each of the qualities listed to that faith. The Greek word for "supply" is epichoregeo. We get the English words "chorus" and "choreography" from it. 
In ancient Greece the state established a chorus but the director, the chorēgys, paid the expenses for training the chorus. Then the word came to be used of one who provides for or supports others or supplies something for them in abundance. A believer is to “furnish, supply, or support” his life with these virtues. (The same word is trans. “supplies” in 2 Cor. 9:10 and “supported” in Col. 2:19. Peter used it again in 2 Peter 1:11 where the niv renders it “receive.”)
(The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Volume 2, p. 865)
My favorite definition for "supply" is "minister nourishment."  So, we are to "nourish" that faith with moral excellence and redemptive acts. We are to nourish this with an entry level knowledge of God (that will lead to deeper knowledge), have our passions under control, patiently endure, reverence God, fervently give practical care for others, and finally practice unconditional love to all. 

If we are progressing in these things, we will be effective in life and develop that deeper and personal knowledge of God! If this happens, heaven will have abundant rewards! 


Let's "join in the chorus" from faith to love!


If a person is not growing in these qualities and claims to be a believer, they better evaluate their life before God (1:9). He may not be saved! Fruit and works are the FRUIT of salvation (remember our study of James?). 


In the last half of this chapter, Peter, as a witness of the majesty of Christ (Matthew 17:1-8) and about to die, reiterated the importance of knowing and applying God's Word. The false teachers would die, but God's Word would go on forever.  It was important for them to continually review the fundamentals of the faith found in the Word (1:12). He also reiterated that Jesus was the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets had spoken. They had spoken from God (2 Timothy 3:16). If we are to grow spiritually, we must depend on the Word of God! 



REFLECTION 

Back in the late 80s, I was tired of struggling with the same old sin. Sometimes, I felt consumed by it. How could I combat it?


I laid on my futon in my basement room and cried out to God, and He led me to these wonderful verses:

Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything 
pertaining to life and godliness, 
through the true knowledge of Him 
who called us by His own glory and excellence. 
For by these He has granted to us 
His precious and magnificent promises, 
so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, 
having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
2 Peter 1:3-4
He brought such life-changing clarity to me in that moment. If I was totally wrapped up in deeply knowing Him, then that sin was not going to be very appealing to me, and I could escape its corruption of me. In order to treat the sin, I needed to press in (hey that rhymed)! I just needed to seek Him more deeply, and I could do that by total immersion in His Word and the practice of His presence 24/7/365.

So, I pressed in more deeply than I had ever pressed in before. Guess what? The sin went away. There was no room for it because I was so full of Him! It's the WIN-WIN AGAINST SIN! (I am on a rhyming role today!)


I do not think we really press in. We cautiously reach out and touch Him at sporadic times throughout the week, and then we turn away and "minister nourishment" to our souls with empty calories.

Why don't we put all of our effort into truly nutritious (and delicious) spiritual food? 



APPLICATION

Are you pressing in to Him in your struggle against sin? 
Try putting all of your effort into it and see what happens!
Memorize 2 Peter 1:3-4 too!

PRAYER


Oh Lord, I feel like I am inadequate to really articulate this. Please help the reader to understand the true depth of this chapter. Make it life changing for them in spite of me!! I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 
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