“By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
the divine nature [Part 2]
Remember that the word “divine” from the previous verse means that which is God’s, that which ensues from Him. In two verses running, we have “divine power” and “divine nature.” Peter uses the word “divine” both of God’s power (2 Pe 1:3) and God’s nature (here). In both places, nature is something that proceeds from God Himself.
People often teach that we have an old nature and a new nature. That is not entirely correct. The “divine nature” is not the same as the “new man” (Co 3:10). Our “old man” was our unregenerate disposition. The divine nature then is a new orientation to God.
A massive change toward God occurred in us when we became Christians. We do not get the divine nature through the reformation of the old nature. It is not something that grows or develops by a process. Rather, God imparts this new nature instantaneously and supernaturally to us the moment we become Christians. Therefore, only regenerate people possess this nature. It is God’s orientation planted within us. It is far more than inherent morality.
There also remains an old capacity in every believer after we accept Christ. That old nature is what produces sins in our lives. It is a disposition toward sin, and it also has an area of strength that produces human good apart from God.
The Christian cannot partake of God’s nature in the sense of sharing His deity. That would be heresy. Man can never become God or even deity. Man cannot share infinite attributes. Possessing infinite attributes would annihilate finite man. People who hold that we share God’s attributes as over against His disposition are Pantheistic in their thinking (everything is god and we are gods). This confounds the creature with the Creator and is blasphemy.
Partaking of God’s disposition is different than partaking of His essence. We can partake of His holiness in the sense of having the same disposition He has.
He 12:10, “For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.”
As we lay hold of the promises, we manifest the divine nature.
According to Romans six, the sinful disposition loses its mastery over Christians permanently by our identity with the death of Christ. We are no longer sin’s slaves. The sinful nature no longer has legal authority over us anymore. Although it no longer holds legal authority over us, it continues with us till we die. It will try to exercise an illegal control over us if we do not claim our legal rights. We can claim our legal ownership of Christ’s death for any sin we might commit as a Christian. If we try to operate in our own strength, the sin nature will defeat us.
The “divine nature” is not the “new man” of Colossians 3:9-10. The new man is the born again man (the regenerate person). God gives the new man freedom from the slavery of the sin nature by the newness of life. The divine nature is in the new man, but it is not the new man.
We received human nature when we were born physically. We received God’s nature when we were born spiritually. We cannot reverse that. Once born a human, we cannot revert to a horse. Once born spiritually, we cannot revert to a non-Christian. We cannot lose our sin capacity in time, nor can we lose our divine capacity. The same people who talk about losing their old capacity think that they can lose their new capacity. They are wrong on both accounts. We can lose neither except when we enter glory and then we lose the old capacity.
Everyone born again received a divine capacity at the point of salvation. So every Christian has two capacities, a human and a divine capacity. The human capacity can do nothing but sin, and the divine capacity cannot sin. Because we Christians still possess human nature, we still have the potential for any sin.
1 Jn 3:9, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”