No law gives what the Spirit gives, says Paul. The Spirit yields a harvest, says Paul. The law does not, and can not. The law is capable only of pointing out sin. This is the law’s value – that it convicts us of wrongdoings.
But the Spirit, says Paul, yields a better harvest – its fruits are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, forbearance, gentleness, faith, courtesy, temperateness, purity.”
These qualities emerge not from awareness of sin, but from the power of our God, indwelling as the Holy Spirit.
Whereas the spirit yields a harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, forbearance, gentleness, faith, courtesy, temperateness, purity. No law can touch lives such as these;
The author of your hope – if you are a Christian – is God. He fills you with joy and peace “in your believing.” He desires for you to “hope in abundance.” You must recognize your hope comes “through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Perhaps you try to generate this joy and peace and hope through sheer will-power. Stop trying so hard. Jesus says, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He says, “I have come that you may have life, and that abundantly.” He promises, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again. If it were not so, I would have told you.”
Therefore, Paul prays:
May God, the author of our hope, fill you with all joy and peace in your believing; so that you may have hope in abundance, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
What does it mean to “share the divine nature?” How is that possible? The author of Hebrews writes of Jesus calling us brothers. Paul writes of us becoming sons of God – and if sons, then heirs of all God possesses, including the divine nature. (No wonder Jesus warns against spiritual pride! No wonder Paul tells us not to be “puffed up!”)
Through him God has bestowed on us high and treasured promises; you are to share the divine nature, with the world’s corruption, the world’s passions, left behind.
The part that throws us is the truth that somehow – while we remain locked in these shells we call bodies – we are to leave behind “the world’s corruption, the world’s passions.” Just as having the divine nature seems wild to our imaginations, so does leaving behind “the world’s passions.”
For what is the world passionate? Money? Power? Fame? Sex?
Hard to deny that to some extent those are normal passions –
Maybe it’s really the world’s corruption of those normal desires that we are to leave behind. After all, everyone wants to have enough money on which to live; most people want power over their own lives; many desire to be recognized for their good efforts; and everyone needs some form of sexual fulfillment.
Each of these normal desires has been and is being corrupted by the world.
Peter writes we leave this corruption behind us when “through Him” – that is, through Jesus Christ – we become partakers of the divine nature. We are radically changed from the inside out, not from the outside in. No amount of soap and water is going to cleanse us from the world’s corruption. No amount of self-flagellation will accomplish this cleansing either. Rather, the indwelling Holy Spirit – God Himself – through His great promises will bring us out of the world and into His Kingdom.
In case you wonder why we don’t understand God, He tells us the reason. He says as far as the heaven is from the earth is similar to how far above us are His ways and His thoughts. God is beyond us, above us, raised up from us.
For why my thoughts be not your thoughts, and my ways be not your ways, saith the Lord. For as (the) heavens be raised (up) from (the) earth, so my ways be raised (up) from your ways, and my thoughts from your thoughts.
Makes understanding the reason behind Christ’s entrance into the world a bit easier, however. If God is so far removed from us, then His coming as an infant – actually on the earth – makes perfect sense. How else are we to grasp who He really is? So much better is Jesus than Moses. So much better is the new covenant than the old – hearts not of stone, but of flesh and blood where God’s love is written directly by His Holy Spirit.
That Jesus comes to earth is because God is raised up from us. Jesus descended to us so that we might live again.
I love the juxtaposition in Isaiah of the Son given to us; the Son who is also the Father of the world to come [or to coming!].
“Forsooth a little child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and princehood is made on his shoulder (But a little child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and princehood is placed upon his shoulders); and his name shall be called Wonderful, A counsellor, God, Strong, Father of the world to coming, A prince of peace [and his name shall be called Marvellous, Counsellor, God, Strong, Father of the world to come, Prince of peace].”
Jesus’ birth is long anticipated. Isaiah knows He is coming and yet speaks of Him in the present tense: “But a little child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and princehood is placed upon His shoulders.” Jesus is here and now, but He is also in the future where He is “Father of the world to coming [or to come!]”
God is human and divine, simultaneously. Isaiah barely grasps this, yet here it is in his words – words the Holy Spirit writes through him: “A little child is born to us.” “And His name shall be called God, Strong, Father of the world to come, Prince of peace.”
On this third anniversary of GRACE PARTAKERS – well, not the actual day but you get the idea! – I stop to recognize that somewhat like David ( no I am not a “David” ) I choose to follow an urging ( I hope not to presume ) of the Holy Spirit to write a short note on a single verse of scripture each day. I’ve fallen off “each day” but I strive to meet this expectation. My prayer is like David’s:
“And the speeches of my mouth shall be such, that they please; and the thinking of mine heart is ever[more] in thy sight. Lord, mine helper; and mine again-buyer. (May the words out of my mouth be such, that they please thee; and may the thinking of my heart be acceptable before thee forevermore, O Lord; my helper, and my redeemer.)”
I’d like that “the thinking of my heart be acceptable” to God. I’d like that “the speeches of my mouth” please Him. Only God knows my heart; only He can judge my motivations. Even I not dare to say that what I write makes any difference in His Kingdom. I can only hope.
And so my theme at GRACE PARTAKERS is to glorify the Lord, my God and “mine again-buyer!”