Traits of a Godly Person: Moral Excellence - Part 2

In our world today, it is hard to talk about morality. As soon as the word shows up in a conversation or on social media, accusations fly of a judgmental attitude or intolerance. While it is true, that some people who try to be moral, can be harsh and unloving, that does not define what morality is, or who authored the idea. As I said last week, moral excellence is merely the desire to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. The question then must be pondered as to who determines what is right and what is wrong.

Image by  Johannes Plenio  from  Pixabay

Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay

If we believe we evolved from a primordial soup, then the determination of what is right and what is wrong can get a little slippery. The mentality of most animals is survival of the fittest. If we did, evolve from animals like monkeys or, as my husband likes to ponder, bears (since we really should be hibernating in the winter), then we would only be concerned about our own survival and our own well being. If I feel I am being threatened, don’t I have a right to eliminate the threat? If I feel hungry, don’t I have a right to eat whatever I want, wherever I want without any repercussions? If I believe I need a new car, shouldn’t I just be able to go to the car lot, pick out a car I like and then go demand the keys? Maybe I feel a little blue, shouldn’t I be able to drink, smoke pot and take opioids without any long term effects?

My examples are a little extreme, but I am trying to make a point. Our society and our world as a whole does have a moral standard. We have laws in place that are meant to protect. Where did those laws and standards come from? Did some monkey come up with them? Did a being, somewhere along the evolutionary line decide, “Hey, I want to be a good person and I want everyone else to be a good person, so I am going to come up with a set of standards. I’ll call it a moral code. It’ll include things like: we shouldn’t kill each other; we shouldn’t go over to our neighbor’s cave and steal his wife, no matter how pretty she is; we probably shouldn’t steal his food either….”

If we have truly evolved, then why are we still so blasted ugly? We hate, we kill, we covet, we have affairs, we promote twisted sexuality by making porn available, we steal, we do drugs, we even kill ourselves. How is this moral excellence? How is this morality at all? It’s not.

By placing ourselves under the authority and wisdom of a loving and just creator, we can easily buy into the moral code that He provided. The ten commandments were taken as truth ever since God’s finger wrote them down for Moses on Mt. Sinai. In recent years, however, attacks have been made on these commandments in a real and visceral way, from cars crashing into stone fixtures on which the commandments were inscribed, to Satanic groups protesting them, to lawsuits filed by the ACLU, this early list of moral codes has been focused upon as a religious issue, but in reality aren’t the ten commandments a moral standard that everyone, should ascribe too? From the religious right, to the liberal left, the Satan worshippers and the members of the ASLU, shouldn’t all of us live by these ideals: to not murder, to not covet, to not steal and so on.

Image by  Jondolar Schnurr  from  Pixabay

It is hard to talk about moral excellence without broaching these ideas. That being said, let me remind my readers, I am writing to an audience made up mostly of people who believe similarly to myself. I am not trying to convert you to my belief system, though I would be thrilled to talk to you about it. I am just trying to get you to think about the whole picture. Why is the world so against the idea of a moral compass? What is wrong with wanting to have standards of right and wrong? But hey, if I take on the mentality of those who would prefer to not have a moral code, then by all means, do whatever you want, as long as it isn’t hurting anyone. But then who is going to decide what hurt really is and who is really feeling it?

Okay, I’ll step off my soap box now. Ha, ha.

Image by  jussiak  from  Pixabay

Image by jussiak from Pixabay

So how do we, as Christ followers attain and maintain moral excellence? I have several ideas and if you have more, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

1 - Know To Whom You Belong

Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
— Psalm 100:3 (NASB)

If you have made a decision to believe in the work, death and resurrection of Jesus you are part of His family now. Knowing where you belong, can make a big difference in where you place your trust. The one you trust determines where you are going to place your faith and how you are going to live your life.

2 - Grow in that Knowledge

6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
— Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB)
Image by  O12  from  Pixabay

Image by O12 from Pixabay

A relationship with Jesus is not static. When you determine to follow Jesus, you don’t suddenly arrive and become that morally excellent person you should be. You have to learn more and learning takes place by studying His word, being around others who will encourage your growth and reading authors who studied the Bible and lived life.

3 - View it as a Relationship

I think we learn more and are more motivated if we are invested in the relationship. Being a Christian isn’t just a contract between, you, Jesus, the Father and the Spirit. It is a living, thriving, growing, loving relationship.

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
— John 14:23 (ESV)

I have always loved that verse, because it sounds so familial. God is going to come and make a home with us. it doesn’t say, He’ll meet us at the office or in the garage, but in our homes. That is so relational.

4 - Choose morally good things

It is easy to let our guard down and start watching shows and reading books or going to movies that may not be what is best for us. We all have a different standard factor, meaning some people can watch horror films and not have nightmares afterwards. When I was younger I used to love to watch scary movies. I still occasionally get fearful when I am home alone, thinking the boogie man is lurking in the shadows. I don’t watch scary movies any more. Now I am noticing that other things seen in shows are starting to bother me as well. That is only one example. You know what your standard triggers are. Just like an alcoholic has to stay completely away from alcohol and those situations, we need to make choices to head to the moral high ground, so that God’s work in us is not for naught.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
— Philippians 4:4-9 (NASB)

I love this passage and I often quote it when I am feeling anxious, but verse 8 really can up our moral excellence factor, if we allow God to bring those things to mind.

Image by  Pexels  from  Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I hope this study of the traits of a Godly person is challenging your thinking and causing you to dig deeper into God’s word and into your relationship with Him. Thanks for reading.

Mulling it Over - Part 3

Here we are again, ready to mull a few ideas over. I like the word, ruminate. If you have been following me for a while you know I have used this word before, when discussing the idea of Bible study. God tells us through the Psalmist that we are to meditate on His word day and night.

Pixabay

Pixabay

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success
— Joshua 1:8 (NASB)

Webster’s online dictionary gives several definitions for the word meditate. These two describe what it means to ruminate on God’s word.

1 - to engage in contemplation or reflection

2 - to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one's breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness

Meditation is basically giving deep thought to God’s word and allowing His Holy Spirit to give us His understanding of it. To ruminate, literally means - to chew repeatedly for an extended period. Whether you want to call it meditating or ruminating, getting into God’s word should be more that a passing fancy. It should be something we dive into with the intent of moving into the deeper layers.

Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay

Let’s look at our verse for this week:

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
— 2 Peter 1:4 (NASB)

…For by these…

This refers back to the end of verse 3, “…Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” It is His glory and excellence to which the these refers. God is reliable. His glory and excellence cannot be undermined by any trouble or power on this earth. Remember in last week’s post we saw that His glory and excellence was personified in the person of Jesus Christ. It is His glory and excellence that lead us to the next part of the verse.

Image by klimkin on Pixabay

Image by klimkin on Pixabay

…He has granted to us…

Once again we see God granting to us. This all mighty being wants to give us things. As we looked at verse 3 (see that post here) of the 2 Peter 1 passage we saw that God granted to us. He not only granted to us by His divine power, but now He grants to us by His glory and excellence.

Let’s just take a moment to think this over. Here is an all powerful being. His words brought this planet and all it contains into existence. His breath gave life to dust in the form of humanity. This humanity chose to rebel against Him. Yet…

…He loves us. He holds all that power and glory and excellence and yet, He desires to give to us.

Just what did He give to us?

…His precious and magnificent promises…

Look at the descriptors. Precious and magnificent. Let’s go back to Websters.

Precious - of great value or high price; highly esteemed or cherished.

Image by amyelizabethquinn on Pixabay

Image by amyelizabethquinn on Pixabay

Magnificent - marked by stately grandeur or lavishness; impressive to the mind or spirit; great in deed; exceptionally fine.

Image by 12019 on Pixabay

Image by 12019 on Pixabay

These words describe the promises of God. These aren’t cheesy, second rate promises. What God says, He will do. Who He says He is, He is. Who He says you are, you are.

All of us have been the recipients of broken promises. We’ve all experienced the disappointment of a parent, partner, friend or lover, making a promise and not proving good on that promise. We even break promises to ourselves. That is because we make our promises starting from a position of brokenness. God makes His promises starting from a position of divine power, glory and excellence. He can’t go wrong. He doesn’t forget, and He most certainly will not fall out of love with you. God always keeps His precious and magnificent promises.

Here are a few of those promises:

He will fight for you - Isaiah 14:14

He will give you strength - Isaiah 40:31 and Philippians 4:13

He will hold our hand - Isaiah 41:13

He will be with us - Isaiah 43:2 and Matthew 28:20

He will give us wisdom - James 1:5

He will forgive us - 1 John 1:9 and 2 Chronicles 7:14

He will give us eternal life - John 3:16

He will meet our needs - Philippians 4:19

He works things for our good - Romans 8:28

The list goes on. These are just a few of His precious and magnificent promises.

….so that by them, you may become partakers of the divine nature…

Whoa! Did that just say that I could receive some of that divine nature? Is that the same divine nature that granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness? In other words that divine nature becomes a part of me when I partake. I partake by taking the precious and magnificent promises.

This flow of thought and action just blows my mind. He gives, we take. He gives, we partake. He gives, and we become. So what exactly does it mean to become a partaker of the divine nature? Let’s take a look at the word partake:

Image by Pezibear on Pixabay

Image by Pezibear on Pixabay

1 - to take part in or experience something along with others

2 - to have a portion (as of food or drink)

3 - to possess or share a certain nature or attribute

I think all three of these definitions make sense when it comes to partaking of the divine nature. We take part in it. We have a portion of it. We share it with the Almighty. Doesn’t that make you feel rather special? Everything that He does for us, that He gives to us, is to enable us to be a part of Him, to share in His very nature.

This leads to the question, how do the precious and magnificent promises enable us to partake in His divine nature? This is my theory. When we become a Christ follower, by belief, we are then able to claim those precious and magnificent promises. When I claim a promise that God has made, I take it back to Him and I say,

“You have said this in Your word. This is a promise that You have made. I am claiming that promise as my own, believing that You will do it, because You have said it.”

Now, let me clarify, this is not a Santa Clause wish list. We need to understand that all of what God does is to make us partakers of His divine nature. He is not out to grant our every desire. He is not going to make life free of difficulty, but He is going to honor the promises He has made when we claim them, and as He does that He grants us a portion of His divine nature.

If you are uncertain what I mean when I talk about the divine nature, think about the characteristics of God; His holiness, righteousness, love, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and so on. As we live life, claiming His promises and walking in His spirit, those characteristics will become a part of us in a more deeply rooted way.

Let’s look at the last piece of this verse.

…having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Image by Kasman on Pixabay

Image by Kasman on Pixabay

Partaking of His divine nature enables us to escape the corruption that is in the world. Why do you think Peter was inspired to add the phase, by lust? Aren’t there other things in the world that cause corruption? If the idea of lust is an intense longing for something or someone, that pretty much covers most of what causes the corruption in our world. Think about things like stealing, murder, adultery, jealousy, anger, gluttony, pride, the list goes on. Doesn’t everything begin with the idea, “I want?” Didn’t the first rebellion against God start with the thought, “I want?” When we partake of the divine nature, our “I wants” turn into “He wants.” We become more interested in what God wants and what we can do to love and serve Him and others. How different would the world be if we all journeyed through life with the divine nature flowing through us, rather than the weight of “I want” holding us down.

I hope you are enjoying this study of 2 Peter 1:1-11. Be sure to check back next week for Part 4 as we look at verse 5.

I love hearing your thoughts, so if you have the time let me know what you are thinking. Have you every claimed one of God’s precious and magnificent promises? How did God come through for you? Do you feel like you are partaking of His divine nature on a regular basis? What does that look like for you. I’d love to hear from you.

Have a great day.