True believers are sinners who were predestined by God in order that they might be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). To accomplish this, Christ came to replace Adam, thus becoming the federal head of a redeemed new race (Rom. 5:10-21; I Cor. 15:44-49). The Holy Spirit regenerates His chosen ones into believers and children of God, transferring them from Adam’s condemned race into Christ’s new family (1 John 3:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:17). Thus, the entire world is either in Adam (bearing his image and being condemned) or in Christ (bearing His image and being redeemed).
Although believers are immediately made children of God, they do not at once fully reflect Christ’s image. Yet Christlikeness is to be the believer’s main pursuit. It is to be a life-long work that will not be finished until Jesus returns in glory (2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 3:21, 22; 1 John 3:2). Progress in this process is non-negotiable. We are to “pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). The great blessing is that God has provided for His own “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (1 Pet. 1:3). Therefore, there is no excuse, for each is commanded to “make every effort” to avail himself of God’s provision (v. 5).
These things are given as a gift (granted) “through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and virtue.” They are packaged in “his precious and very great promises” that may be claimed in order that one may “become a partaker of the divine nature.” Just as humans bore the nature of Adam, they must now evidence the new nature of Christ (1 Cor. 15:49. For one to continue life based on sinful lust (Adam’s nature) would probably mean that no spiritual transformation took place. On the other hand, the new birth provides “escape from the corruption that is in the world.”
In His infinite wisdom, the Lord knows just the right conditions to motivate His people to this work of developing Christlikeness, which is affliction, persecution, and suffering. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet. 4:12, 13). There are three reasons why suffering is God’s incubator in producing Christ’s image in us.
1. Suffering drives us to what is real and true and away from the tawdry, counterfeit, and corrupting influence of the world. 2. Suffering allows us to share in Christ’s sufferings, which end in victory and triumph (1 Cor. 15:57). 3. Suffering drives the believer to the sympathetic Savior for protection and comfort (John 17:10, 11).
When believers make every effort to nourish their faith with the seven virtues listed in 2 Peter 1:3-11, they will be fruitful in the correct and precise knowledge of Jesus (v. 8). However, when a believer fails to procure God’s grace in this process, he will be blind and forgetful (v. 9).