The Way Of Escape (part 2)
In part 1, I mentioned that Scripture memory is a helpful method for a Christian to escape addictive temptation. This is not intended to suggest that Scripture can just be said over and over until temptation leaves, but because Scripture teaches the truth; it teaches the Christian the way reality really is, and that falling to addiction is not a must although in the midst of temptation falling may feel like it is a must. Scripture boldly and truthfully declares that if the Son sets us free, we will be free indeed (John 8:36). Scripture memory is a good devotional method for escaping temptation.
More broadly, I suggest that studying theology is THE main way of escape from temptation. Now, learning “theology” for the sake of academic pursuits will never help a smoker quit smoking, a drinker quit drinking, or a luster to stop lusting. But, theology defined biblically, gaining knowledge and understanding of the One true God, is very helpful. It is on this basis that a relationship with God is established and maintained. For how can they believe if they don’t hear, and how can they hear if someone does not preach (Romans 10:14)? I think 2 Peter 1 is the best way of understanding the importance of real life theology. In 2 Peter 1 beginning at verse two Peter says “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 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 the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (ESV)” Now, I am not a trained exegete of Scripture, but in my own struggles with addiction, these verses immediately became quite important when a pastor showed them to me. Notice some obvious features of what this verse says. His divine power (God’s power) has granted us ALL things that pertain to life and godliness (staying sober does pertain to life and godliness). Therefore, God has granted me everything I need for life and godliness, one aspect of which is staying sober. How? Through the knowledge of Him who called me by His own glory and excellence. My knowledge of Him (real life theology) is how (through which) He has granted me ALL things pertaining to life and godliness. That is my argument for suggesting that theology, rightly understood and applied, is the main way of escape from addiction or any other sin. This is the idea that I was saved (justified and declared innocent) through what Christ has done by dying on the cross and rising again. I am also changed and conformed into the image of Christ through this knowledge of Christ. Christ saved me, and Christ changes me. Possibly the easiest way to fall to sin is to look away from Christ. Our (that is, Christians) knowledge of the resurrected Lord Jesus, His promises, and the truth about human history understood through the books Genesis to Revelation,is the way through which God has granted us all things pertaining to life and godliness. The pastor I spoke of earlier kept teaching me to repent and believe in Christ. To continue looking to Jesus in repentance in faith. My salvation depended on Him and so does my sanctification. But this doesn’t mean I have no responsibility or need not put in any effort in staying sober, this only means that I am dependent on Christ in order to do so.
Because God has granted us all things pertaining to life and godliness, and because of our knowledge of God and His promises, we must make every effort to supplement our faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love (verses 5-7). We must make an effort to be everyday what God has made us in Christ. Again, this is not to suggest that one can just make a decision to not fall to addiction, this is to suggest that we MUST depend on the grace and love of Christ through our knowledge of Him because of the fact that we can’t just make a decision to not fall to sin. There is a big difference between determining to look steadfastly at the risen Christ and trying to determine to give a sin up and never do it again. I determined many times to stop many sins including addictive substances. I have determined many times not to be lazy. I have determined many times not to lust. Through all these determinations, I proudly relied on the strength of my own will. The Christian ought to, in the middle of temptation and quite literally, fall onto his or her knees. Determine to not fight sin with his or her own strength, and immediately recall the gospel. Recall the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ and the freedom afforded, as well as the future glory to come. If I become shortsighted and forget that I have been cleansed from my past sins, I will quit growing. This is why theology, or studying the truth about God, is important. I need to know to make every effort to supplement my faith with virtue, self control, love…etc. I need to know that God has granted me all things pertaining to life and godliness. I need to know that Jesus has been tempted in every way that I have been yet He did not sin; He can empathize with me and will help me. I need to know He voluntarily bore the sins of the world on the cross, died, and rose again offering life to whosoever will. I need to know He is at the right hand of God making intercession for me. I need to know that one day He will wipe away every tear from my eye. I need to know how to suffer, for instance, that I am commanded to rejoice in suffering because it produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope which will not put me to shame. I need to know that my purpose in life is to glorify and enjoy God forever, and to make disciples of nations. I need to know that I was created by and for Christ.
This is how I currently understand the message of 2 Peter 1. It is by no means infallible, so don’t take what I have written for granted; be a Berean and check out the Scriptures to see if I am right, if I am not please correct me. This I am sure of, Christ is sufficient and a healer of the broken hearted.