“Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.” (2 Peter 3: 11-14)
What is the foundation for our lifestyle? The passage above tells us to base how we live on the promise of Christ’s return, and the new Heaven and a new Earth that his return will bring. Gods righteousness is a gift of his grace which we receive by faith: no man or woman alive can be righteous in the sight of God without being cleansed, frequently, by the blood of Christ. As John says: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.…” (1 John 1:8) At the same time this does not absolve us from making every effort (what Peter calls being diligent) to live godly lives, to always seek holiness in our lifestyle; to walk in the peace of knowing that we are free of the spots and blemishes of sin.
We don’t live like this because of rules or doctrine that tell us to; we live like this in preparation for what awaits us. We live godly lives because our focus is on his promise of new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness reigns. This, our eternal destiny, is our hope, and “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” (Heb 6:19) Life in the world is built on what has been established in the past. Life in the Spirit, like the lives of the “heroes of faith” listed in Hebrews 11, springs from a vision of what is promised for the future.
Psalm 119 verse 123 says “My eyes strain to see your deliverance, to see the truth of your promise fulfilled.” The promise of perfection, of deliverance from every “blemish” of our mortality, is not given to us so that we can “hang on in there” in the knowledge that it will all be better one day, but as a focus and foundation for godliness in our daily lives as we allow Him to purify our hearts. We ‘strain our eyes’ to see where we are headed, as, to use Peter’s terms, we ‘look for and hasten the coming of the day of God.’ Like a grappling hook that we have anchored in a far-off rock, we pull ourselves along the rope that holds us, towards the destiny that it promises.
Jesus is in the business of sanctifying His bride, so that “He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph 5:27) The previous verse says he does this “with the washing of water by the word.” Paul refers to the Galatians as “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.” The purpose of the Ministry gifts listed in Ephesians 4 is that “we all come …to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4:16) Leonardo Da Vinci said that his famous statue of David was always there inside the granite; he just chiselled away the superfluous rock until it appeared. So it is with the Word of God when we allow it to align our lives with God’s template of holiness: it cleanses us of our imperfections until the “perfect man” emerges in the image of Christ.
This age is going to end; Jesus will be returning for His spotless bride, and she will live with Him on a new earth, where righteousness reigns under a new heaven; and before that there will be a great and final harvest of souls. Jesus says to the Church today, whether it is in Wildwood, Wigan or Wichitaw: “Be holy as I am holy. Let me prepare you, because I am coming soon. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
If we live now according to the hope that is in us, we will be ready for Him when He comes; and because we will be walking in step with His Spirit will have a great harvest to bring with us as His wedding gift.