If there was one phrase the comedian Flip Wilson was known for it was, “The devil made me do it!” His way of evading personal responsibility may have been good for laughs, but not much of a model for Christian discipleship! I wish to pick up from yesterday’s text wherein Peter speaks of God’s “precious and very great promises” (from 2 Peter 1:3,4). He goes on to say that through these promises we become partakers of God’s nature and escape this world’s corruption and sinful desire. I believe there are varied means that God uses to bring us to his glorious end, but I wish to focus our attention on the importance of God’s promises, as Peter does in this text.
How Christians are to interpret and make use of the Old Testament is a frequent question of many who desire to take the bible seriously. The New Testament, through its authors (and its main character!), quotes liberally from the OT. It is one of the key ways we understand our obligation toward the OT, even as Christians. One striking way OT promises get applied is to encourage moral character. For example, in Romans 12:19a, Paul commands: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God”. To back up this moral command Paul argues, “for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” He quotes from Deuteronomy 32:35 which asserts that it is God who shall always vindicate his people. In other words, one way we escape the sinful tendency of exacting revenge upon others and, instead, gain the power to love our enemies, is to trust that God will rightly judge all in the future. Therefore, Paul can go on to say in Romans 13:8 that, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Likewise, the writer of Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have”. That is easier said than done, unless you have a heart anchored by the very promises of God. And so the writer continues, “for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” The NT author quotes promises from Joshua 1:5 and Psalm 118:6, confident that Christians may rest in Godward trust just as the original hearers were to.
God has given us all that we need for “life and godliness”; chief amongst his gifts are his great and precious promises, promises through which we learn about him and receive the power to walk with him!