Let Christ Be Formed In You
The epistemological importance of knowledge of the physical world is undeniable. Without it we would not be able to live on the earth. But the knowledge of Christ is what every soul needs the most. One needs it in order to live a godly life with the possibility of spending eternity with God. Thus, the apostle Peter encourages Christians to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Peter 3:18).
The term “knowledge” is a key word in the book of 2 Peter. It appears seven times in the three chapters that make up the book, four of which refer to the knowledge of Christ (1:2, 3, 5, 6, 8; 2:20; 3:18). It is the translation of two Greek terms: “epignosis,” which suggests the ability to discern and “gnosis” which is a reference to the understanding one has about something. In the context of the book, which speaks of false teachers in the 1st century who preached “another gospel” (Galatians 1:7), the apostle seemed to urge Christians in that era to distinguish the true Christ from the pseudo-Christ of the false teachers. A number of them denied the fact that Christ came into the world in the flesh while asserting that He remained entirely a Spirit. But the New Testament makes it clear that Christ is the embodiment or incarnation of God who is a Spirit (John 1:14; 4:24).
In our time, many people have a rather materialistic view of Jesus and of His reign with the same consequence, that is falsehood. Jesus is often portrayed on calendars, post cards and other media as a handsome man with effeminate features. But the Bible says, “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2, KJV). The word “comeliness” means “elegance of figure” and suggests beauty. The prophet Isaiah explained that Jesus was not physically attractive. He rather was beautiful at heart. He pulled people to Himself like a magnet through the power of the goodness of His heart and character (Matthew 4:25). His beauty resided in His kindness, compassion, and love which He demonstrated when He suffered and died to save men and women (Isaiah 53:4-10).
Jesus is also misrepresented as a “goody-goody” Person who would tolerate disobedience to His teaching provided those who view Him that way make any kind of claim to show faithfulness to Him (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10). As to His reign, there are those who believe that when He returns He will establish His kingdom and rule over it for hundreds of years. This simply is not true! If we recognize and accept Jesus Christ as “our Lord and Saviour,” then we would not dispute His authority and that of His Word. He had the apostle Paul write in His Testament that at His return, “the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, NKJV). Does this sound like the Lord will stay on the earth at His second coming? That passage does not even get close to saying that He will land on the earth. Furthermore, 2 Peter 3:10 teaches us that the earth will be destroyed. There will be no earth then. It follows that “we shall always be with the Lord” anywhere in the universe but on the earth.
What about Christian living? There were in the 1st century some among the teachers who seemed to argue that the way the Christian lived did not matter. They held that no matter how long one lived in sins, or how great their sins were, the grace of God covered the sinner. At the core of this fallacy was a belief that made knowledge superior to practice. All that mattered to them was the intellectual understanding of the body of information contained in the gospel (Jude 3) as well as the One from whom it originated, namely Christ. They couldn’t care less about putting the doctrine of Christ into practice neither were they interested in imitating Him. Such a doctrine could only result in lewdness against which Peter warned (2:20; cf. Romans 6:1).
The best way to guard against such erroneous teachings and many others concerning Christ is by reading for ourselves the story of Jesus from the Bible. The application of the truth Christ taught and lived by in our lives therefore becomes the proof of our knowledge of the Master. And the more we get to know the Son of God, the more our experience of Him grows and He thus gets to be “formed in you” (Galatians 4:19, KJV). It is only then we can become like Him (Romans 8:29).