“…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 1:4)
“The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17)
I noticed something striking as I read the passage from 2 Peter above. In it, Peter actually tells us the source of the corruption in the world and how one can escape it! I’m not claiming to fully understand or explain everything contained in that verse, I just want to show you some things that became clearer as I looked at this passage closer, some things I think will be quite helpful. Understanding, I believe, is a prerequisite of manifestation.
The corruption in the world has come, we are told, by means of “lust,” which is translated from the underlying Greek word epithumia. Today we often associate lust with sex, but epithumia is more broad, essentially meaning “craving or passionate desire.” It usually, but not always, refers to a craving for something forbidden or self-serving.
“Corruption” in scripture broadly refers to everything outside of God’s kingdom, because ultimately, everything outside of God’s kingdom will be destroyed.1 (I think that in a very real sense, even now God only “sees” those things that are part of His kingdom, but that’s another issue). Everything of this physical world, as well as everything that has it’s origin in the heart and mind of man, apart from the spirit of God, is corruption. It is all passing away.
In 2 Peter 1, I believe corruption is referring specifically to the nature of man, which has been fearful and self-preserving since Adam’s disobedience, and which violates Christ’s law of love. This corrupt nature gives rise to all variety of self-serving desires (lusts) within man, and these desires lead to all sorts of wickedness, oppression, deceit, inequality, fraud, callousness, and abuse.
The opposite of this corrupt nature is the divine nature of love, which is entirely unselfish.2 Love is the antidote for the corruption that manifests in our lusts. If one is walking in love, one won’t be craving things that are outside God’s kingdom. The good, useful, and pleasant things of this earth which the world lusts after are seen by those with God’s love as tools to be used or gifts to be enjoyed with thankfulness. Walking in the love of God leads to one’s awareness set on God and the spiritual realm, one’s desire to further His kingdom, and one’s heart to delight in the beauty and worth of spiritual things of God Himself such as love, mercy, faith, hope, peace, glory, kindness, and truth. True love brings contentment in serving God in spirit, no matter what one’s situation is on earth.
So, if love is so important, the question is: how does one get love? There’s never a “do this” answer to spiritual questions, and spiritual things are never owned or possessed like some commodity. Genuine love is always produced naturally, meaning without effort (though not without suffering). Love is produced within you only as the one who is love manifests in you. As your selfish, corrupt “Adamic” source of life diminishes (you die), by grace (God’s influence upon you), through faith (revealed truth), you are able to possess and express more of the new source of life, which is Christ himself and full of love (you are saved). Love becomes your nature when Christ is revealed in you, and it grows progressively as his life is progressively revealed in you.
This process happens as in our spirits (not our minds) we come to truly know, see, and apprehend what God has done in Christ and how God now sees us – having died and risen with Christ. I believe God grants this “knowing” and “seeing” to those who are humble and desperate. Scripture refers to the power that makes spiritual reality known as “light.” This light, scripture says, is to dawn and shine in our hearts,3 making the promises of God real in our experience. Peter rephrases this same idea in 2 Peter 1, stating we are to become “partakers of the divine nature,” i.e. the nature of love! To partake of the divine nature actually means to have the same nature as God, to share in His life, to be one of His very kind, in the same vein as Jesus Christ himself. Being separated (“having escaped,” 2 Peter 1 puts it) from the lust and corruption found in the lusts of our Adamic nature is simply a byproduct of this process. In this season, this is what it’s all about.
1. 1 Corinthians 15:50-54, Hebrews 12:26-27
2. 1 Corinthians 13:5
3. 2 Peter 1:19, 1 John 2:8