Escaping the corruption of the world

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. – 2 Peter 1:3-4

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Foxgloves | Juneau, Alaska | August 2016

I met with the elders of St. John tonight as well as some new men who have been invited to be part of the elder team. As part of that meeting we went over a list of 20 characteristics that “properly apply to all Christian men, and therefore especially to those who have roles of responsibility in the church:

  • Spiritual maturity
  • Above reproach
  • The husband of but one wife
  • Temperate
  • Prudent
  • Respectable
  • Hospitable
  • Able to teach
  • Not addicted to wine
  • Not self-willed
  • Not quick-tempered
  • Not pugnacious
  • Gentle
  • Peaceable
  • Free from the love of money
  • Manages his own household well
  • Loving what is good
  • Just
  • Devout
  • Self-controlled

As we read through these characteristics all us us at one time or another had to take a little or big breath. Does this character trait show up strongly in my life? We all had to admit that there are moments when we fail to live up to that list and need God’s mercy, forgiveness, and grace. We are thankful that we have been saved by grace through faith!

Peter speaks here of Jesus’ followers as “having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” I must wonder how this is true even though we still sin and daily need God’s forgiveness and grace. 

The answer is at once obvious and obscure. Obvious because we who follow Jesus – albeit imperfectly – do not embrace a lifestyle of sinful and rebellious behavior. We do not embezzle. We do not engage in orgies or drunken debauchery. We avoid those things that dishonor Jesus and seek to honor him in all we do, think, and say.

At the same time, we all lose our tempers from time to time. We are not as self-controlled as we know we ought to be. We make sometimes foolish and intemperate decisions. These do not define us, however, because they are not the end of the story. Followers of Jesus turn regularly to him in repentance, contrition, and faith. We pray the Lord’s prayer earnestly as we say, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

To escape the corruption that is in the world is to live a life of daily repentance and faith. It is to honor God by returning to him, denying the sinful desires of our flesh and leaning on his precious and very great promises. The world does not do this, and will pass away in corruption and decay.

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