Limits of the Old Covenant Promises
Long before I started thinking along the lines recounted in this essay, the intended purpose of this website was quite different. I had intended for this website to contain my guidance and experience in claiming the promises of God (logos) by applying engineering and scientific methodologies to get consistent results (technology). To be blunt, I've gotten very consistent results when it comes to praying for material things such as money, scholarships, assistantships, and legal advice. This is not due to any special virtue or righteousness in me, but is due to treating the Scriptures with as much respect as that putative Atheist Engineer and his CRC handbook to whom I referred earlier. Treating the text literally unless the context and text indicates a metaphorical vision or a literary device has gotten me far.
However, I had a problem: when I tell you that my success is not due to any special virtue or righteousness in me, I really mean it, because I was miserably failing when it came to using prayer to improve my thought life. By every measure that I used to measure success and failure, I'm succeeding about 85 percent of the time when it comes to praying for material things and wisdom, while consistently striking out (97+ percent) when it came to anger, impatience, gluttony, and lust.
This is a real problem for a Christian, because by the measure of the Mosaic Law, I have no reason to fail, while by the measure of the Law of Love, which Jesus instituted as the greatest commandment of all, I am a miserable failure. If I have enough money, I have no reason to steal. If I exercise some wisdom by taking "time-outs" and retreating from certain situations, I can avoid killing and committing adultery. A wise man can reason himself out of covetousness. Keep the Mosaic Law? A challenge, but doable, since it confined itself to judging that which a man does. The Law of Love? That's much harder, since it permits itself to judge how a man feels and thinks.
In retrospect, my failure should have been obvious: When God commanded the keeping of the Mosaic Law, He also gave promises that men could claim that would enable them to keep them. For instance, tithing is not commanded in the New Testament, but a promise of blessing is given in the Old Testament if it is given. The blessings would help keep men from covetousness, thievery, and murder by removing the financial pressure that forces men to do those things. To handle adultery, fornication, and covetousness, God gave the promise of wisdom: by promising long life, riches, and honor, Wisdom was made enticing enough for men to seek, and in that seeking, the counsel of wisdom would be kept, which is to avoid adultery, fornication, and covetousness. The Old Covenant Promises were given so that men could use them to keep the Old Covenant (Mosaic) Law.
But we now are under the Law of the New Testament, that of the Law of Love, which judges the hearts and thoughts of men. The new law is more demanding, requiring better promises to enable men to keep them. The new wine is much stronger than the old , and the old wineskins cannot handle the new. New wineskins are required. Here is 2 Peter 1:3-4:
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
For years, I thought that the promises Peter was talking about were the Old Covenant promises and the promises given by Jesus that were like them. Fool that I was, I didn't catch the limitations of the Old Covenant promises: they promised that you could be partakers of Divine bounty, Divine protection, and Divine Wisdom, but NOT the Divine Nature. That would be blasphemy! The promises were the promises of the New Covenant, capable of handling weaknesses of the spirit that were susceptible to lust, and so avoid the corruption of the mind that comes with lust.
The promises of the New Covenant, which Peter speaks of, are the promises made by Jesus Christ, who promised to pray that the Comforter would be sent into our hearts. If the phrase "partakers of the divine nature" does not refer to members of Homo who have symbiotically united with Deus, then what does?
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