Daily Bible Reading Reflections

Corruption Without, Corruption Within, and the Way of Escape

There is awful, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking corruption in this world. Two thousand years ago, the Holy Spirit led Peter–a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ–to reveal the root of the problem.

…the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Pet 1:4)

All the perversion, depravity, immorality, and evil we see “out there” is because of sinful desire “in here,” within our own God-given hearts. Listen…

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. (James 4:1-2)

The problems “among” us spawn from problems “within” us. Passions at war within produce rotten corruption without, and it can all be traced back to “partaking.” To partake is to receive, take, have a share or portion of something. Think of “partaking” of a meal. Just as we feed our bodies, we also feed our hearts. And when we choose to feed on the wrong things…

Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (James 1:14)

Desires of the flesh. Desires of the eyes. Pride of life. Well-worn trails as old as Eden. Lures and enticements as relevant as today’s headlines.

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:15)

What causes the corruption we see in this world? Sinful desire, partaken of. It’s costing us everything. Killing us.

But the 2,000-year-old devastating diagnosis is accompanied by good news. The best news. News of a better portion. The “partaking,” in fact, we were created for.

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

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. (2 Pet 1:2-4)

Do you hear that? Corruption without, corruption within, but also the way of escape–not from the world, but from “the corruption that is in the world.” As long as we are “in” this sin-sick world, we will be witnesses–sometimes, with front-row seats–to the corrupt, corrosive devastation of the wrong partaking. But that doesn’t have to be who we are. All things that pertain to life and godliness have been granted to us by divine power. We are being called to glory and excellence, invited through precious and very great promises, that we might become “partakers of the divine nature.” How is this even possible?

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Pet 1:5-7)

The answer to the awful, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking corruption all around us is a better “partaking”–a hunger for righteousness that drives us to the table of the King, sharing along the way news of a feast with people who don’t even know they are starving. Our only hope is the fountain of living water that continues to abundantly flow, even in the harshest desert of sorrow and sin.

Faith. Virtue. Knowledge. Self-control. Steadfastness. Godliness. Brotherly affection. Love. These are the qualities our world needs today. Glorious and excellent qualities. The qualities that can keep us from falling. Qualities we must practice, day by day.

For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 1:11)

Corruption without, corruption within, but also the way of escape.