2 Peter 3:11-13: Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
As believers we are waiting upon the promised return of Christ, the final judgment which he will execute upon the wicked, and the new heavens and new earth, which will be the home of righteousness. So, Peter says to his original readers and to us: because you are waiting for God to bring history to its conclusion in Christ, you must strive to grow in godliness so that you will be ready for that day. Our future must determine how we live in the present!
All meaningful human activity is goal-directed. Good parents have goals for the kind of people they want their children to become and they intentionally work toward those goals by doing things everyday – teaching, disciplining, encouraging, guiding – which they believe will produce the results they desire. People go to college in order to earn a degree and begin a career which will provide both personal fulfillment and financial resources. We go to work both to provide for our families and to accomplish things which will benefit ourselves and society. Athletes train for competition and armies train for war. The examples could continue, but the point is that in almost all our activity we begin with the end in mind and then we work toward our goals. Growing in godliness is like that, for our future is to be like God and with God, to be conformed to and to participate in the divine nature (2 Pt. 1:4), and to enjoy eternal fellowship with God.
In the Pulpit Commentary on 2 Peter H.D.M. Spence beautifully portrays the eternal life in God for which we are waiting:
[referring to the new heavens and earth]: “It shall come down from heaven, having the glory of God; the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; there his servants shall serve him. Heaven will come down to earth; and so the new earth will become a part of heaven, very closely joined with heaven. God will dwell there with men, and they shall see him face to face, and live in that new earth the life of heaven; for it is the unveiled presence of God which makes heaven what it is, the abode of joy, and love, and holiness, and entranced contemplation of the Divine beauty. Into that city entereth nothing that defileth; righteousness dwelleth there.”
If our future consists in eternally delighting in the presence of God in the new heavens and earth, then how can we not strive to be godly now, knowing that only the righteous will inherit the kingdom of God? This is the goal of our existence, and because it is, we must be diligent (2 Peter 3:14), as Peter says, to order our lives toward that goal, to pursue godliness with even greater vigor and commitment than we pursue parenting, education, work, money, or pleasure.
Among other things, growing in godliness requires: 1) that we abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11), 2) set our hopes fully on Jesus Christ and strive to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:13-16), and 3) intentionally develop Christian virtue through diligent effort which is empowered by trust in God’s precious promises (2 Peter 1:3-11).
Take time now to seek God. This brief prayer can help you get started. “Heavenly Father, thank you for the promise of eternal life with you in the new heavens and earth. Help us to allow your promise for our future to determine how we live in the present. Help us to pursue the goal of godliness with all diligence because we know that in eternity we will be with you, the only living God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”