Escape Plan

Psalm 1 paints a succinct and beautiful picture of the Christian life. This is how it begins: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scoffers…”

How does the disciple’s journey begin? By “walking not.” In other words, discipleship begins with a refusal. “Two roads diverge in yonder wood…” We have to pick. If we are going to go toward the promises of Jesus, we must go away from the promises of the world. If we are going to honor the warnings of Scripture, we must stuff our ears to the threats of the world. If we are going to obey the commands of God, we must disobey the commands of self.

And this refusal, this disavowal, this disobedience, this repentance, is grace. It’s one of the blessings given to us in the Gospel. It’s so good that we don’t end up sitting in that seat. We have “escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desires.” (2Pet 1:4)

Here’s what this verse teaches us. First, that all the glories of the world are corruption. Second, that they are something we must escape from. The glories of the world are a thin veneer over a gross and grasping corruption.

When we choose to follow Jesus, when we turn toward the Celestial City and walk by the Spirit, we go away from what? Let’s be clear on this point so that we are not tempted to return. I bet the “prodigal son” never wanted to see another pig sty again. But are we tempted to the foolish sin and impulsive meanness and default indulgence of our former ways? Sure.

What are we leaving? Something that is corrupt. What does Peter mean by “corruption”? It’s not a common word—it occurs only nine times in the New Testament—but three of those are in 2 Peter. The other passage is 2 Peter 2:12 and 19, where this corruption is described as the result of irrational, instinctual ignorance leading to enslavement and ruin. It sounds a lot like the way addiction works. A little, just for fun. Then a little more, because what does it hurt? And then, man I could really go for some. And then, I’ve got to get some of that. And then, if I don’t get some of that I’ll die. And then, if I don’t get some of that I’ll kill. And then, I know it’s killing me and I hate it, but I need it and live for it. Ruin.

Don’t imagine bankers, rappers, and movie moguls doing lines of coke—imagine scabbed over fiends in burned out abandoned buildings laying in filth and eager to commit any crime for another trip. Ruin.

That’s the world. It wants you to think it’s an 80’s movie—big hair, shoulder pads, and car phones—but it’s the homeless people robbing dentists’ offices for mouthwash to get drunk. It’s crazy. It’s inhuman. It’s animalistic. It’s debasing.

It’s corruption. Don’t forget.

What are we leaving? Something we want to escape. That means it’s gross, and it’s grasping. It’s gross, so you want to escape. But also, it’s grasping, so you have to escape. What happens if you don’t run from the corruption of the world? Sucked into the vortex. No one is powerful enough.

Is it legally mandated that every commercial break in every major sporting game include an advertisement for at least one of the following: a) alcohol, b) television series in which characters get high, c) another new cell phone, d) another new car, e) scientifically engineered fast food? What is this? Recruitment. “The counsel of the wicked.” First steps on a path to inebriation, emotional deadness, addictions, debt, obesity. “A little, just for fun…”

The world presents itself like it is rational, respectful, tolerant. It’s not. Do you know this? There are literally scientists—really, really smart people—who work in Vegas learning how to overwhelmingly entice and then ensnare people at gambling… who work in Jersey perfecting chemicals to overwhelm our brains so we cannot resist the foods they’re selling… who work in Silicon Valley studying how to capture and keep our eyes clicking around their sites… who work on Wall Street planning how to sell ever less-needed products in higher volume in ways we won’t notice till we’re deep in debt.

If we’re not escaping, we’re ensnared.

What can God offer to counter this? “The divine nature.” Partake of the divine nature. Be honest about the corruption that is in the world and partake of the divine nature. Dumpster dive for supper with strangers behind a burger joint? Or sit down for steak with your dear friends?

Escaping will involve retraining our sinful desires. The world appeals to us; we have to be honest. We will need to retrain our literal paths—avoid those stores, sites, relationships even. But in God we have all we need to satisfy our souls.

Thomas Chalmers (Scottish preacher, 1780-1847) speaks of “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection”: “What cannot be destroyed may be dispossessed... [When] the heart, brought under the mastery of one great and predominate affection, is delivered from the tyranny of its former desires, in the only way that deliverance is possible.” (italics added)

We have escaped this world by the grace of Jesus: we’ve escaped its judgment and we’ve escaped its power. And we haven’t. Not fully. Not yet. We live in it still. It still lives a little in us. But we surely want to escape its corruption. This is what 2 Peter 1 is about. Participating in the fullness of the Divine Nature, as we step-by-step journey along the path of the Spirit.

See, discipleship is not just about our faith and it’s not just about our love. It’s also about our sanity and our safety. Escape from that. Partake of this.

Hike on.

To Consider and Discuss:
What were your former corruptions?
What are your sinful desires, drawing you back?
In what ways could you invest in the New Affection of God's Divine Nature? Building an affection for what is life indeed?

Photo by Linh Nguyen on Unsplash