The first statement of the Gospel is not an exhortation to action or to conduct and behaviour. Before man is called upon to do anything, he must have received something. Before God calls upon a man to put anything into practice, He has made it possible for man to put it into practice.
– D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, pp. 23-24.
What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the eternal life that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God. “This is life eternal, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment than anything else? Knowledge of God. “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me” (Jeremiah 9:23). What, of all the states God ever sees man in, gives him most pleasure? Knowledge of himself. “I desire … the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings,” says God (Hosea 6:6).… Once you have become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.
– J. I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 29.
“…having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
– 2 Peter 1:4
As a result of sin and the fall, man no longer lives the life that he have been living before; he has become alienated from God and the godly way of life, and the world in which he lives is likewise in a state of corruption. In other words, the world in which we live is a world that is inimical to our best and truest and highest interests; the world is for ever trying to come between us and God. If we listen to the world, as we all do by nature, it makes us not only think less and less of God, but even makes us feel that God is against us. It may even create an enmity against God, and a hatred of God within us. It gives us a positive liking and longing for the things that are hurtful to us, the things that debase us, the things that lower us, the things that drag us further and further away from God. Such is the corruption that is in the world through lust. The characteristic of man’s natural life is that its is a life lived according to desire. Man by nature does not ask, ‘Is it good, is this god-like, is this pure, is this clean, is this elevating, is this spiritual?’ He asks, ‘Do I like it?’ He is governed by his desires, by that which pleases him, and by that which panders to his lower nature. That is what Peter means by corruption – it is the corruption that results from lust or inordinate desire.
– D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, pp. 16-17.
Faith is a Christ-prizing grace, it puts a high valuation on Christ. ‘To you that believe he is precious.’ 1 Peter 2:7. Paul best knew Christ. ‘Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?’ 1 Corinthians 9:1. He saw Christ with his bodily eyes in a vision, when we was caught up into the third heaven; and with the eye of his faith in the Holy Supper; therefore he best knew Christ. And see how he styles all things in comparison of him. ‘I count all things but dung, that I may win Christ.’ Philippians 3:8. Do we set a high estimate upon Christ? Could we be willing to part with the wedge of gold for the pearl of price? Gregory Nazianzen blessed God he had anything to lose for Christ’s sake.
Faith is a refining grace. ‘Mystery of faith in a pure conscience.’ 1 Timothy 3:9. Faith is in the soul as fire among metals; it refines and purifies. Morality may wash the outside, faith washes the inside. ‘Having purified their hearts by faith.’ Acts 15:9. Faith makes the heart a sacristy or holy of holies. Faith is a virgin-grace: though it does not take away the life of sin, yet it takes away the love of sin. Examine if your hearts be an unclean fountain, sending out the mud and dirt of pride and envy. If there be legions of lusts in thy soul, there is no faith. Faith is a heavenly plant, which will not grow in an impure soil.
Faith is an obediential grace. ‘The obedience of faith.’ Romans 16:26. Faith melts our will into God’s. It runs at God’s call. If God commands duty (though cross to flesh and blood) faith obeys. ‘By faith Abraham obeyed.’ Hebrews 11:8. Faith is not an idle grace; as it has an eye to see Christ, so it has a hand to work for him. It not only believes God’s promise, but obeys his command. It is not having knowledge that will evidence you to be believers; the devil has knowledge, but wants obedience, and that makes him a devil. The true obedience of faith is a cheerful obedience. God’s commands do not seem grievous. Have you obedience, and obey cheerfully? Do you look upon God’s command as your burden, or privilege; as an iron fetter about your leg, or as a gold chain about your neck.
Faith is an assimilating grace. It changes the soul into the image of the object; it makes it like Christ. Never did any look upon Christ with a believing eye, but he was made like Christ. A deformed person may look on a beautiful object, and not be made beautiful; but faith looking on Christ transforms a man, and turns him into his similitude. Looking on a bleeding Christ causes a soft bleeding heart; looking on a holy Christ causes sanctity of heart; looking on a humble Christ makes the soul humble. As the chameleon is changed into the color of that which it looks upon, so faith, looking on Christ, changes the Christian into the similitude of Christ.
True faith grows. All living things grow. ‘From faith to faith.’ Romans 1:17.
– Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, pp. 218-219.
Few principles are more important in the Christian life than the practical recognition of the sovereign God, and his gracious determination to draw us near to himself, whatever the cost may be. When his purposes involve afflictions and suffering of any thing that can preserve us from a craven fear or a sense of despair, and bring us a measure of joyful and willing acceptance of our situation. Only when we recognize that God’s aim is to make us like Christ (cf. Rom. 8:29), and that he works all the events of our lives together for this purpose, will we begin to rejoice in the good that is produced out of tribulation (Rom. 5:3-5).
– Sinclair Ferguson, Man Overboard! The Story of Jonah, p. 39.
A people in covenant with God are a willing people; though they cannot serve God perfectly, they serve him willingly. They do not grudge God a little time spent in his worship; they do not hesitate or murmur at sufferings; they will go through a sea and a wilderness, if God call. ‘Thy people shall be a willing people:’ Psalm 110:3: ‘a people of willingness.’ Heb. This spontaneity and willingness is from the attractive power of God’s Spirit: the Spirit does not impellere, force, but trahere, sweetly draws the will; and this willingness in religion makes all our services accepted. God does sometimes accept of willingness without the work, but never the work without willingness.
– Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 157.
But are not works required in the covenant of grace?
Yes. ‘This is a faithful saying, that they which believe in God, be careful to maintain good works.’ Titus 3:8. But the covenant of grace does not require works in the same manner as the covenant of works did. In the first covenant, works were required as the condition of life; in the second, they are required only as the signs of life. In the first covenant, works were required as grounds of salvation; in the new covenant, they are required as evidences of our love to God. In the first, they were required to the justification of our persons; in the new, to the manifestation of our grace.
– Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, pp. 155-156.