Revive Our Hearts Podcast

New Power for a New Year

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What do you need to live the Christian life? to worship God well? to live as a true worshiper of Jesus Christ? What do you need this year to do that? Well, one thing you need is the desire, and then you need power.

God says, “I’ll give you the desire. I’ll give you the motivation, and I’ll give you the power. I’ll give you the enabling to live this life.”

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, January 12.

Almost everyone tries to develop new habits and make improvements at the beginning of the new year. But by the time March rolls around, most of the diets have crashed and the gym memberships have gone unused.

Well Nancy’s going to describe the true power you need for lasting change. She’s continuing the series, Adding to Your Faith. She’s in 2 Peter chapter 1.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We talked yesterday about verse 1:

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

And then Peter goes on to say in verse 2,

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

I want to focus today on one word in that verse, and it’s the word knowledge. That’s an important word in 2 Peter. It’s a key word. It’s used in various forms, I think, 16 times. You can count them. I did, and that’s what I found. Let me read to you just some of those verses where that word appears.

Verse 3 of chapter 1:

His divine power has [given] to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.

And then verses 5-6:

Supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge, with self-control.

Verse 8:

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And then go to chapter 2, verse 20:

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And then the last verse of 2 Peter, chapter 3, verse 18:

“But grow [this is the summation of the whole book] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I want to suggest at the outset here that a failure to know God—not just a failure to know about God, but a failure to know God—is at the heart of every problem we have. It's at the heart of every problem we have in our lives and every problem, I believe, that we have in our culture. And conversely, knowing God is the key to every blessing of God in our lives.

The Old Testament prophet Hosea makes both those points. What happens when we don’t have the knowledge of God, and what happens when we do? Listen to these few verses from Hosea 4 and 6. He said,

The Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land. . . . My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:1, 6).

The implication there is it’s a lack of the knowledge of God. We have knowledge about lots of other things. Aren’t these verses really relevant and applicable to the day in which we live? We have an explosion of knowledge. I mean, just go to Google if you want to see how much there is to know.

Endless knowledge, but we don’t know God. And Hosea said, “God has an issue with even His people. They don’t know God.”

Then God goes on to say in Hosea 6:6:

I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

I don’t know what your burnt offerings are, the things that you try to offer God to please Him, to serve Him. But God says, "I don’t care about your offerings. What I want is for you to know Me. I want to know you, and I want you to know Me."

Now what does it mean to “know God,” the knowledge of God? Well, I think it’s clear in the book of 2 Peter and elsewhere in the Scripture that it’s more than an intellectual knowledge. It’s not just knowing facts about God.

There are people who have PhDs in theology. There are people teaching at some of our nation’s top seminaries and divinity schools who have a lot of knowledge about God, but they don’t know God.

Conversely, there are illiterate, poorly educated, poverty-stricken people who’ve never had any education who know God. They may not have a lot of intellectual knowledge, but they know God.

What does it mean to know God? Well, the word in the Greek language, and even as you take it back to the Old Testament Hebrew, has to do with an intimate, experiential knowledge. It’s firsthand knowledge. It’s to know something by personal experience. It’s not just to know about something or someone, but to know that person personally.

The word knowledge, the knowledge of God, suggests a relationship between the person who’s doing the knowing and the person who’s being known. There’s a relationship involved. The knowledge of God refers to a relationship with God.

It’s not a casual or surface relationship. This is not just an acquaintance. I’ve met some famous people. I could name their names and you’d be impressed. You know, I knew Ronald Reagan. Well, I didn’t know Ronald Reagan. I met Ronald Reagan one time. It was a great privilege. I knew a lot about him; I respected him; I had read a lot about him. But I couldn’t say I knew Ronald Reagan.

The word know or knowledge here isn’t talking about just a casual acquaintance or a distant knowledge. It’s a thorough participation with the object of your knowledge. There’s a oneness, a union, an intimacy with the person that you’re knowing.

In fact, in the Scripture, particularly in the Old but also in the New Testament, the word know is sometimes used to refer to sexual intercourse, the most intimate possible physical relationship between a man and a woman. “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived” (Genesis 4:1). It’s a way of saying they were physically united sexually. He knew her. That’s an intimate knowledge.

And to know God, to know Christ, is to be one with Him, to have an intimate union with Him, to be united with Him. And this knowledge, this intimate relationship is one that exerts a powerful influence on your life. It changes your life.

There are so many millions of people in our country today—read the Gallup polls—who say, “I know God.” But this knowledge of God that they profess to have makes absolutely no difference in the way that they live.

  • It makes no difference in how they spend their money.
  • It makes no difference in how they use their time.
  • It makes no difference in how they talk.
  • It makes no difference in their morals.
  • It makes no difference in their family or their marriage or how they raise their children.
  • They don’t know God.

You can’t say, “I know God,” and have it make no difference in your life. The word knowledge, the knowledge of God, is a relationship that exerts a powerful influence on your life. Now, biblically, knowing God is the essence of life.

“This is eternal life,” Jesus said in John 17:3, “that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” If you don’t know God, if you don’t know Christ, you don’t have life, because that is life.

As we look at 2 Peter 1:2 here, we see that knowing God, the knowledge of God, the intimate, experiential relationship with God, is the key to getting the grace and the peace that we need in our lives.

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” How? “In the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” So the greater and the deeper your knowledge of God, the more grace you will have. The ability to conquer sin, the ability to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord, and the more peace you will have in the midst of stressful circumstances.

It comes back to not changing your circumstances, but getting to know God. In fact, as we’ll see in the next verse, everything that you and I need for living a vital, godly Christian life comes from the knowledge of God, through knowing God. That intimate knowledge of God is the source for all spiritual life and power.

As you go through the book of 2 Peter, you’ll see that knowing God is the key to combating doctrinal error in the church. It’s the key to living a pure life. It’s the key to avoiding immorality.

In Philippians 3 the apostle Paul talks about the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. That was Paul’s supreme passion “that I may know Him.” I think of that song:

Knowing you, Jesus.
There is no greater thing.
You’re my all. You’re the best.
You’re my joy, my righteousness,
And I love you Lord.

That’s knowing God. We’ve talked on this program before about George Mueller who was a great man of faith in the 1800s. He through faith and prayer housed and clothed and fed up to 2,000 orphans in Bristol, England for a period of decades. George Mueller understood that knowing God is the key to true happiness.

George Mueller wrote in his journal, “The more we know of God, the happier we are. . . . When we became a little acquainted with God . . . our true happiness . . . [began]; and the more we become acquainted with him, the more truly happy we become.”

Now, how do you get that knowledge of God that leads to happiness in God? Well, George Mueller tells us how he found out, and it’s the same way that you will get to know God. He says, “This happiness is to be obtained through the study of the Holy Scriptures.”

And you’ll see that if you read the whole book of 2 Peter, even the rest of chapter 1, it’s paying attention to the Word of God that will help you to know God.

George Mueller said,

God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ.

We find Christ; we find the revelation of God in the Word of God. He says,

For the first four years after my conversion I made no progress, because I neglected the Bible. But when I regularly read on through the whole with reference to my own heart and soul, I [immediately] made progress. Then my peace and joy continued more and more. Now I have been doing this for 47 years. I have read through the whole Bible about 100 times and I always find it fresh when I begin again. Thus my peace and joy have increased more and more.

If you want peace and joy, you need to know God. You want to know God? You need to get into God’s Word. You may have never had that habit before. This new year, January, is a good time to start in that habit.

So I ask you, do you know God? I mean really know Him? And are you increasing in the knowledge of God? are you pursuing Him? Are you making the knowledge of God the number one priority, the supreme objective of your life?

Knowing God is:

  • the key to grace
  • the key to peace
  • the key to life
  • the key to godliness
  • the key to happiness
  • It’s the key to everything.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has a lot more to offer from 2 Peter for this new year. But I’m going to step in and explain how to get a copy of that message. It’s one you’ll find very helpful throughout 2010. The series is called, Adding to Your Faith. The CD can be yours when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. We’ll also include a booklet called Making the Most of Your Time.

2010 truly could be different not because of increased willpower but because of God’s power working through you. These resources will show you how. Just ask for Adding to Your Faith and Making the Most of Your Time when you call 1-800-569-5959 or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Now let’s get back to Nancy.

Nancy: Do you ever find yourself listening to your pastor preach, or listening to Christian radio, maybe listening to Revive Our Hearts, maybe reading one of my books and thinking, “This is so hard.” You know, just feeling overwhelmed by all there is to do and be in the Christian life. Maybe thinking, “I will never be able to live this life. There is just too much to remember, too much to take care of.”

I know at this time of year we tend to make New Year’s resolutions, not making an actual list but mentally saying, “Okay, this year’s going to be different. I’m going to be a loving wife and mom. I’m not going to yell at my kids. I’m going to have my quiet time. I’m going to be generous and patient.” And then two hours pass, and you find you’re being a shrew, and you say, “I cannot do this. I don’t have the power. I just can’t be godly.”

Well, we’ve all been there, and I can tell from the looks in your eyes that you know exactly what I’m talking about. We’re looking this year, at the beginning of this year, at a passage in 2 Peter 1 that I think is really going to help us in this area. Peter is going to exhort us about some responsibilities we have regarding the Christian life. He’s going to give us a list of qualities, of graces, that we need to be diligent to put into our lives.

But if he started there, we would get discouraged before we even started. We say, “I knew there was one more thing I had to do, and I just don’t have the power to do it.” So Peter doesn’t start with the list. He doesn’t start with the things we’re supposed to do. He starts by encouraging us with the news of what God has already done for us and the resources that God has given to every believer to enable us to actually live the Christian life.

He talks in 2 Peter 1:3-4 about something God has given us. That’s good news; that’s encouraging. You’ll notice in these two verses the word granted appears twice, if you’re using the same translation that I am. Some of your translations may say, “He has given to us.” Let’s read those two verses, and then we’ll talk about them.

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.

When I hear that word grant, I think of maybe somebody who gets a scholarship that helps pay for their college education. It’s a grant. You don’t have to pay it back. Maybe you didn’t do anything to earn or deserve it, but it was given to you. Somebody gave you the resources.

I think of some foundations that operate to give resources to non-profit organizations. You’ll fill out a grant request. You make a proposal. You say, “I’d like a grant for this work we’re doing at this hospital or to feed these hungry children” or whatever.

The foundation considers the request, and sometimes they write back a letter and say, “Yes, we have granted your request." It’s a charitable grant.

Peter says, “God has made a grant to us that is greater than any grant you could get at any foundation or any check anyone could ever write to you.” It’s a gift from God. And what has He granted us?

Verse 3: He has granted us by “his divine power.” So He has the power to do this. No one else would have the power to do this. He “has granted to us all things.” That’s one of the wonderful “alls” in the Scripture—“all things that pertain to life and godliness.” Everything you need to live the Christian life God has (past tense) granted you if you are in Christ.

Then verse 4 says, “He has granted to us his precious and very great promises.”

Through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, God has provided all that you need in the year ahead to live the Christian life, to be godly; all you need for salvation and all you need for sanctification and all you need every step of your journey, no matter what your season of life, no matter what your struggle, no matter what your challenges, no matter what it’s like in your home or your workplace or your church or your physical condition or your financial stresses or pressures.

No matter what your story, God has provided, through His power and His promises, all that you need to make it successfully from here to heaven. And it’s all through the knowledge of Christ.

He says, “God has given us all that we need pertaining to life and godliness.” That word godliness means “to worship well,” worship that’s well-directed. It’s worship that’s directed toward God.

What do you need to live the Christian life? to worship God well? to live as a true worshiper of Jesus Christ? What do you need this year to do that?

Well, one thing you need is the desire. You need the motivation. Do you find some days that you just don’t have the motivation to do what you need to do to be pleasing to the Lord?

You need desire, and then you need power. You need enabling. You need the resources. You can’t do it on your own. God says, “I’ll give you the desire, I’ll give you the motivation, and I’ll give you the power. I’ll give you the enabling to live this life.” That’s all been granted to us.

And because of those promises, those precious and very great promises from God’s Word, two things are true according to verse 4. Number one, we’ve become a partaker of the divine nature.

That means as a child of God, you have a new nature. Your old nature does not have dominion over you anymore. You have a new nature. It’s God’s nature, the life of Christ within you by the power of the Holy Spirit that inclines your heart toward God and that makes you want to do the things that please Him. You have a new nature. You have become a partaker of God’s nature.

Then it says, “You have escaped from the corruption that is in the world.” That word escaped means "to escape by flight.” The believer has run away from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. That has to do with lust or desire or craving or sinful, passionate desires. Those things used to control you, but you’ve escaped from those by the knowledge of God, by the righteousness of Jesus Christ, by the promises of God.

As I was meditating on this verse, I thought about that passage in Pilgrim’s Progress (by John Bunyan) where, chapter 1, “Christian flees from the City of Destruction.” Here’s a man who has become convicted and burdened over the weight of his sin. He learns that he is condemned to die and that there is going to be a final judgment.

He meets a man who gives him a parchment scroll, on which are written these words: “Fly from the wrath to come.” And this man, whose name becomes Christian, says, “Which way must I go to escape?” Evangelist points him to the gate of salvation and says, “Go that way. Fly. Fly from the wrath to come. Go toward salvation.”

This passage in Pilgrim’s Progress says,

The man began to run. . . . His wife and children, perceiving his departure, began to cry out to him so that he might return. But the man put his fingers in his ears and ran on crying, "Life, life, eternal life!" So he did not look behind him, but rather fled toward the middle of the plain.

He was heading toward salvation, heading toward the Celestial City, fleeing from the City of Destruction.

That’s a picture of what has happened to you if you are a child of God. God pulled you out; God rescued you out of this world that is set to burn, this world that is set up to experience destruction. God rescued you out of this world and said, “Fly from the wrath to come. Flee from the city of destruction.” You’ve escaped from it.

Now, if you’ve escaped from a burning house, why would you want to run back into it? So why do we, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world, so often want to run back into it? It makes no sense, does it? You’ve escaped from the corruption that is in the world.

It means you don’t have an appetite for sin, for the world. You don’t have a heart for it. You’ll encounter obstacles; they’ll be times when you’re tempted to turn back. But your course is set. You are heading toward godliness. You are heading toward Christ-likeness.

So in this passage, before we’re told to do anything, we’re reminded of what God has done for us. So as we just review these first few verses we read already what are the things God has given to us? What are the resources He’s given? He’s multiplied grace and peace to us. We saw that in verse 2.

He’s given us His divine power. Do you feel like your flesh is sometimes so strong and you can’t say no to it? God’s put His power, His divine power in you. God has granted to you all things that pertain to life and godliness. You have been called by His glory and His excellence. God has set you apart for Himself.

Great and precious promises have been given to you that enable you to become a partaker of the divine nature. You’ve escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. Those are the resources that God has given to you.

Leslie Basham: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss offering something far better than a New Year’s resolution. She’s been describing God’s power in you offering real change. When you follow the principles in our current series Adding to Your Faith, you’ll see exciting things happen in 2010.

We’re gearing up expecting big things from God in 2010 as well, and you can be a part of it. Make plans now to attend True Woman 2010. This conference created by Revive Our Hearts will be in Dallas and Indianapolis later this fall. And we’ll be in Chattanooga before you know it, March 25-27.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be there introducing pastors Voddie Baucham and James MacDonald. You’ll also hear from Kay Arthur, Mary Kassian, Fern Nichols, and Jennifer Rothschild, and you’ll worship with Keith and Kristyn Getty. If you register early you can get a discount, but that early registration ends January 31.

Get more information at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also call 1-800-569-5959.

Tomorrow find out why discipline is a beautiful word. Nancy will continue in the series Adding to Your Faith. Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.