Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
– 2 Peter 1:2-4 NAS
Character is the source of credibility. I am not referring to being a character but having character. Our character is an inherent complex of attributes that determines a person’s moral and ethical actions and reactions (English Dictionary). While this might be a bit simple it is sufficient for our discussion. Our character is part of the DNA of our new self and personhood. Character is the seat of our moral and ethical choices and the source of our values and behaviors. The evidence of that new self is our attitude and actions. The fruit of a new creation is the outworking of that nature (character) in real life and relationships.
Character is part of the real change that God makes in our life when we trust Christ. When we place our faith in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins the one critical area that is affected is what the Bible talks about as our new nature. Notice the statement in 2 Peter 1:2-4 – “… in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature…” Wow! Now that sounds pretty spectacular.
Character is sourced in the new self – It will be hard to capture a full appreciate for the image of God; this new nature in us. But other passages talk about this as the “new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…” (Col. 3:10). This new self (which truly captures our character) has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Eph. 4:24). Think about the scope of this. We have become partakers of this (new) divine nature. This does not mean we become God but that God creates a new nature that is substantively that which reflects the true nature of His original image created in us. God creates, renews and rejuvenates this image that gives us everything that we need to draw on the presence and power of God for life and godliness. Finally 2 Corinthians 5:17 explains this salient point:
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
-2 Corinthians 5:17 NAS
As I remind myself as much as I remind others – God has given to us everything we need for life and godliness. When we come to Christ and we experience His forgiveness it includes giving us a new heart, a new spirit and His Holy Spirit indwells us to nurture and teach this new way of life in Christ (Ezekiel 36:25-27; John 3:4-6). We now have the full capacity and opportunity to live godly lives the way God has called us because He has changed the essence of our nature to respond and welcome the resources of God for that life. His Spirit, His Word, His promises, this new nature all give us what we need to live powerful, genuine and authentic lives as children of God.
Character reflects our new identity – This new creation is how we become children of God and our identity is to be built on this new nature. Righteousness, holiness and godliness is part of our character and nature. We ought to act in accordance with that nature which means we ought to act in the same way God would. We are like Him, we now share the capacity and inherent nature to understand, welcome and value the same things God does. The problem for most of us at this point is ourselves. We often do not think that we are a new creation, that our new self in Christ is created in righteousness, holiness and truth. We are different, we are a new creation and have a new identity as Children of God. We need to learn to live that way.