Second Peter 1:3–4 says, “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” (ESV). The verse plainly says that believers are made “partakers of the divine nature” through God’s promises, but what does that mean, exactly? To what extent can we partake of God’s nature?
There are several notable points in 2 Peter 1:3–4. First, God’s power has granted us the “very great promises” concerning our salvation. Second, it is through those promises that we are made “partakers of the divine nature.” Third, being partakers of the divine nature involves escaping the world’s decay and rising above sinful desires. Simply put, when we are saved, we receive a new nature, by which we do not perish with the world.
Human “nature” in the Bible is what makes us “us.” A man’s nature is the sum total of qualities that make him who he is. It is a person’s inherent character and that which constitutes his or her individuality. According to the Bible, every human being is born with Adam’s nature, which is sinful; we have a natural bent toward pleasing self (Romans 5:12; 7:14). Our natural selves cannot please God (Romans 8:8). Our sin nature keeps us from fellowship with God, keeps us in bondage to sin, and leads eventually to spiritual death (Romans 6:16, 23; 7:14; 2 Peter 2:19). We cannot free ourselves from sin because we cannot change our natures, just as a tiger cannot change its stripes.
When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we are saved (Acts 16:31), and we undergo a radical spiritual transformation. This is what Peter means when he says we are made partakers of the divine nature. We are made new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are born again (John 3:3). We died, and now our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). We are “in Christ” (Romans 8:1).
As partakers of the divine nature, believers do not have to follow the sin nature any more. At salvation, our old nature is defeated, and we receive a new, divine nature that desires the things of God (2 Corinthians 5:17). We love what He loves and hate what He hates (Galatians 5:22; 1 John 4:4).
As partakers of the divine nature, believers are no longer enslaved to the passions and sins of the flesh (Romans 6:6, 14). We have power from on high to conquer every temptation that comes against us (1 Corinthians 10:13).
As partakers of the divine nature, believers are made part of the family of God (John 1:12), and this results in a changed life. First John 3:9 says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” By giving us His nature, God makes us His sons and daughters and conforms us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 6:18).
As partakers of the divine nature, believers have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. God declares that we are “more than conquerors” because of the power of the Holy Spirit within our hearts (Romans 8:37). Our Comforter/Advocate/counselor is with us wherever we go (John 14:16). We will never be forsaken (Hebrews 13:5).
God is faithful to keep His “great and precious promises,” and we praise Him for our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ; for the gift of the Holy Spirit; and for the everlasting life we enjoy as partakers of His divine nature.