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2 Peter 1:3 says we can find everything we need to be godly “through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Did you catch that? In other words, it is through your knowledge of God, by means of your knowledge of God, as you grow in your knowledge of God, that you are given everything you need to live a godly life.
Welcome to The Point of Purity Podcast. I’m your host, Steve Etner, Author, National Speaker, and Purity Coach for The Pure Man Ministry. This is episode #57, and in this episode, we will continue our deep dive into the Scriptures to discover not only our purpose in life, but how to successfully and effectively live out that purpose every day of our life.
Now it is important that we pause long enough to make sure we understand the kind of “knowledge” Peter is talking about. You see, he’s referring to more than just head knowledge. Knowing God isn’t just knowing about Him. If all you have is an intellectual knowledge of God, you are not going to gain what you need to live a godly life. You will only have gained knowledge.
That knowledge will tell you that you should be godly and even what you need to do to be godly, but it is not going to give you the reason and incentive for the daily discipline required for living that godly life. Believe me, I know. I tried. I began to pride myself on the depth of my knowledge of Scripture. I sought to know more and more of the Bible. Though I was growing in a head knowledge of God’s Word, I was not growing in my heart relationship with the God of the Word.
Without the proper heart’s motivation to be godly, all our “godly” deeds will become mere actions that carry no meaning or purpose other than to fulfill our perceived obligations as a Christian. When your focus is simply on increasing in your Biblical knowledge, your life will become focused around works instead of a relationship. It will become a burden instead of a blessing.
You see, as we truly get to know God on an intimate level, we will trust Him with more control of our life. As we surrender self and yield control over to God, that is when we become more godly. I am now doing these “things” out of a deep desire rather than a daunting duty.
Some people view godliness as primarily a matter of learning the correct Biblical information. What I mean is this: they believe that if they read enough books, attend enough Christian seminars, study the Bible enough, and accumulate enough data, then godliness will automatically follow. Or at least become more achievable.
Let me be quick to point out that each of these activities has value. There are some great books by some fantastic Christian authors and there are wonderful Christian seminars to be found on growing in your relationship with God. And reading God’s Word is always beneficial. Any time you are pursuing knowledge of the Bible and how to live the Christian life you are choosing well.
Peter says that “grace and peace (is ours) in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2). We are commanded to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). However, we must realize that there are also those who “are always learning but never able to come to acknowledge the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).
The fact is, studying the Bible and accumulating knowledge all by itself can lead to spiritual dryness. If your head knowledge is not accompanied by a change in your life in response to God’s truth, that head knowledge can actually cause you to stop growing. Beware of becoming so dependent on knowing things that you never work on applying to your life the things that you have already learned. James warns: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).
Godliness – living a life that truly glorifies God – is far more than just increasing in knowledge, even if that knowledge is all Biblical. Jesus said, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40). At first glance it may appear that Jesus is complementing these people for being in the Word. But notice carefully what He is saying. They were intent on learning and knowing the Scriptures, yes. But their heart’s motivation was all wrong. Their focus was on gaining knowledge of the Word of God for the sake of knowledge itself. They wanted to appear to others as being very knowledgeable and well-learned in the Scriptures. They placed such great value on their head knowledge that they totally missed the Son of God who was standing right before them. Jesus says, “These are the Scriptures that testify about me!”
They had head knowledge of God’s Word but did not have a heart relationship with the God of The Word. Godliness does not come simply from having an intellectual understanding of the Scriptures. You can know a lot of Biblical truths and principles; you can have a lot of passages memorized and know Bible doctrine. But if you are not living those truths out in your daily life, if you are not living by the doctrine you know to be true, you are not glorifying God – you are not a godly man or woman period.
Peter says that God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). Since God has the ability to help me glorify Him, and my godliness comes only as I gain intimate knowledge of Him, the key then to being godly is to understand what Peter means when he speaks of “knowledge.”
The word Peter uses here is “epignosis,” a word that refers to a thorough participation on the part of the knower (which is you), with the object of knowledge (who is God). So, the real question here is not how well do you know God’s Word, but how well do you know God as He has been revealed to you through His Word. This “knowledge” is a knowledge that has a powerful and lasting influence upon the knower. In other words, the knowledge you have of God is so deep and clear that you are now able to comprehend it. It is no longer just a vague grasp of the subject, rather it is a thorough and exact understanding of its object.
Here’s my point: God has given you everything you need to live a godly life; and it comes only as you grow in your knowledge – a deep and intimate understanding – of Him. The end result of this kind of knowledge is a significant change in the way you think. Because you now begin to truly know God and are gaining a true understanding of Him, you are thinking about Him differently than you used to think. Since your thinking has changed, there is a subsequent change in your behavior. What you think becomes what you do. You will begin living out godliness.
In addition, to have the kind of knowledge Peter is talking about in this verse requires an intimate experience with that which is being known. You cannot have a surface knowledge of God and expect to live godly. Knowing a bunch of facts about God is not the same as knowing him. It goes much, much deeper.
For example, I will never be able to say, “I know Abraham Lincoln.” I may have accumulated a vast amount of information about him and can give you all sorts of interesting tidbits about his life and leadership, but I do not know him. At best I can say I know about him. To truly know him, I would have had to live during his lifetime, spent every day of his life under the same roof observing and conversing with him. That intimate level of experience would give me a precise, clear, and exact knowledge of the man, Abraham Lincoln. Only then could I say that I know him.
I do, however, have a clear and precise knowledge of my wonderful wife, Heather. Because I have lived with her for over 40 years; because I have observed and experienced first-hand the things that interest her, excite her, upset her, motivate her, and inspire her, I can say that I truly know her. And as a result, that knowledge has a direct impact upon every aspect of my life.
What I know to be true about Heather has changed the way I think about her. That, in turn, has changed the way I respond to her. I have grown to love her and long to please her. The knowledge I have accumulated about Heather over the years has had a powerful impact upon me, teaching me how to live my life in such a way as to keep her interest, excite her, keep her being upset, and motivate and inspire her toward a closer walk with God. That kind of knowledge is what Peter is talking about.
Peter is saying that a deep, intimate understanding of God is how we acquire everything we need to live a godly life. But how does that happen? How do I get to know God better? Think about it this way: the more time I invest with God, the more I get to know him. The more I know him, the greater the impact teaching me how to live my life in such a way as to please him. And I am going to want to please him all the more.
However, there is one rather significant problem. In Job 36:26 we read these words: “How great is God – beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.” Scripture declares that God is beyond our ability to know; we cannot be thoroughly acquainted with him. To make things even more interesting, when Job said that God is beyond our understanding, he used the imperfect tense. The imperfect tense expresses that which is incomplete and is not possible to ever complete. This means that, apart from God's divine intervention – apart from God stepping in and intervening – man's knowledge of God is, and always will be, incomplete and thus imperfect.
“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the almighty? They are higher than the heavens- what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave- what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea” (Job 11:7-9). Job 37:23 says, “the Almighty is beyond our reach.” The apostle Paul says that God is “... The blessed and only ruler, the king of kings and Lord of Lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:15-16). The bottom line is that it is impossible to know God on our own. In fact, Romans 3: 11 tells us that there is no one who seeks after God on their own. Add to that the fact that man is a sinner, and we see that it becomes absolutely necessary that if God is to be intimately known, he must be the one to start the process.
Let's pause for a moment and summarize what we've discovered so far. God created you to glorify him. That is your primary purpose in life. 2 Corinthians 5:9 says we are to make it our goal to please Him. In order for that to happen, God has also given you everything you need to fulfill your purpose. In other words, it is genuinely possible to glorify him in every aspect of your life, every moment of every day. Let me repeat what I just said. Listen closely. It is genuinely possible to glorify God in every aspect of your life, every moment of every day. This happens only as you get to know God intimately and personally. And yet, Scripture is clear that God is far beyond our ability to fully know and completely understand. So, in order for me to fulfill the purpose of my creator, he must choose to reveal himself to me.
We can positively conclude that he did just that, otherwise Peter would be lying as he says, “God's divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him” (2 Peter 1:3). God has revealed something of himself to us through the Bible. As a result, we can intimately know our creator and father-because he has given us his spirit to teach us as we read the scripture.
You see, the Bible is the very word of God! Paul writes that “all scripture is God breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). It came from the very mouth of the almighty God himself. And Peter tells us that “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The purpose of this podcast is not to go into a theological discussion on the doctrine of Bibliology, but it is important to our episode that we understand that the Bible IS God's word. It is God's revelation of himself to man. To get to know the God of the Word you must be in the Word of God, for it is there that we discover who he is. And it is there that we find everything we need to live a godly life.
Furthermore, the Bible Tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; and it does so without error. Why is that so important? Consider this; If the Bible were to contain even just a few minor errors, we could never be sure that our understanding of God, Christ, Heaven, Hell, sin, and salvation is correct.
The fact is, we are to live our Christian lives by every word that comes from Scripture. Jesus said, “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). So, if even one word of Scripture is in error, we shouldn't trust any of it! Do not fret, however. God is true. God breathed out the Bible, therefore the Bible is true. All of it!
So, if you are going to be serious about living a life that glorifies God – a life that deeply and intimately understands God – you need to roll up your sleeves, grab your shovel and pickaxe, and begin digging into the word of God. That is where you are going to find your answers. The Bible is the solid foundation upon which we must build godly lives.
Let's look at 2 Peter 1:3 again. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Only God can give you what you need to live a godly life that honors and glorifies him. The exciting thing is that His power has already provided you with all that you need to live that godly life. And he provided it all within his word – the Bible. You will find everything you need as you open God's word, study it, and meditate on it. Then, as you grow in your knowledge of God and in an intimate relationship with him, the Holy Spirit will teach you and help you learn how to live a life that truly glorifies him, a life that is genuinely godly.
Oh, my dear friend, God has given you a new mind, a new nature, and a new heart. You are fully equipped to live a godly Christian life. I submit that for that to become a reality, you need to quit trying to live the Christian life! You cannot do it in your own power. No one has the knowledge or ability to do it on their own. Only as we are yielded to and reliant upon the indwelling Holy Spirit, as he uses the word of God to guide us, will we become godly men and women whose daily lives truly glorify our Lord.
The bottom line is this: being in the word of God is critical to living a life that glorifies God! I encourage you to be sure to come back next week as we continue our study in Scripture on how to fulfill our purpose in life by looking at building upon the right foundation.
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So, until next time this is Author, Speaker, and Purity Coach Steve Etner reminding you that if you are going to glorify God in your everyday living, He must first be glorified in your every moment thinking.