The Sanctifying Power of the Promises
2 Peter 1:4
Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature…

The text is a continuation of the two previous verses; indeed, from the second verse to the eleventh is one paragraph. God has given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, whereby grace and peace may be multiplied to us, and we may be made partakers of the Divine nature, and have an abundant entrance ministered unto us into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

I. THE GREATNESS AND PRECIOUSNESS OF THE WORD OF PROMISE. Three facts determine the worth of promises - the value of the thing promised; the character of the promiser; and the conditions attached to it. And when we apply these to Scripture, and find that its assurances are of wonderful blessing, given by One who cannot fail, and that they require on our part only what the feeblest can fulfill, we understand well why the apostle calls them "exceeding great and precious promises."

1. The gift promised. Scripture does not so much contain promises; it is rather one great promise, God's Word of promise, Christ being the Gift promised. We shall never understand the promises by taking a text here and a text there, but only by pondering the whole volume as the revelation of Jesus; only thus can we have a true idea of the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of what God assures us of in his beloved Son. Look at him in any aspect, and, like the glittering facets of a precious stone, promises gleam on us from him at every point.

(1) Think, for instance, of the glory of his Person. The goodness, the grace, the majesty, the tenderness, the truth, embodied in him; and if he is ours (as he is), this alone is full of promise.

(2) The revelation of God which he is. He shows us God, so holy that he cannot pass by sin without atonement, though that atonement involved the sacrifice of himself. He shows us too the heart of God, telling us, when we pray, to say, "Our Father." Why, that one sentence involves the promise of all we need, all that God can give.

(3) The greatness of his work. He undertakes to be our Saviour in the threefold capacity of Prophet, Priest, and King; and his undertaking these functions is the assurance that he will fulfill them.

(4) The declaration of his will. Every purpose of Christ is a promise; it is Christ saying, "I will." And so also every command carries a promise of all grace needed for obedience to it.

(5) The. closeness of his relationship with his people. He, their Life and Head, and so having nothing which they shall not share.

2. The character of the Promiser. Each of God's promises is the expression of his loving-kindness to sinful men, and if his mercy could not rest till he had given them, it cannot rest till he has fulfilled them; going on giving, and giving, and giving, till his beloved can receive no more.

(1) He is unchanging. "I, the Lord, change not."

(2) He is able to fulfill his will. Omnipotence is behind each promise. "What he hath promised he is able also to perform."

(3) In every promise his honour is pledged. "It is impossible for God to lie." "He is faithful that hath promised." Read the promises, then, and scatter doubt by asking, "Hath he spoken, and shall he not do it?"

3. The conditions attached to the promise. The only conditions are - conscious need of the thing promised, and trust that for the Promiser's own sake it will be given. Need and trust are our capacity for receiving.

II. THE SANCTIFYING POWER OF THE PROMISES. The promises deliver us from the world's corruption, and work in us the image of God. Sanctification is something "put off" and something "put on." The "old man" is "put off," and the "new man" is "put on;" and this is said here to be effected by the promises, or by the Word of promise.

1. The Word of promise conveys the knowledge of what we may have. From the heights Of this sacred book all things lie beneath us, stretching away like a vast landscape into the dim horizon beyond which human sight cannot follow; and as we hear a voice saying, "All things are yours," surely nothing can deliver us from the bondage of the world as that can. One affection is only destroyed by another. Let the soul consciously possess better, and, depend upon it, it will turn away from the best that this world can give.

2. The Word of promise imparts the faith by which we receive from God. "Partakers of the Divine nature." Of how much of it? Of so much as exhausts the promise. "That ye might be filled unto all the fullness of God." Why, then, do we not receive it in that measure? Because God can only give according to the measure of our faith. Now, faith depends on the promises, it feeds on them, and thereby the soul's capacity to receive increases.

3. The Word of promise inspires the strength by which we conquer Satan. His effort is to make us doubt; that was his aim with Christ. He would take us back to the old bondage, and weaken the faith which holds us to God. Have we not often felt how doubt closes the heart to the incoming of the Divine nature? we can fight no more, but are led easy captives. Satan can deprive us of all, if he can only get us to doubt. Now, against that assault the promises are our refuge. God is in them; they are the utterances of his lips, the purpose of his heart; his resources and perfections are pledged to their fulfillment; there is perfect safety in trusting them; by them we can defy Satan and the powers of darkness. Between the bondage of corruption and the liberty of participation in the Divine nature is the Divine promise. Trust it, tread it without a fear; it will not give way beneath you, the adversary cannot follow you there, and on the other side is the beginning of heaven. - C.N.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: by which he has granted to us his precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Partakers of a Divine Nature
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