Sometimes, like the old Calgon commerical said, we just want to get away.
Something in human nature longs for "otherness" -- something beyond what we see. Even when we are passionate about our work, serve people we love dearly, and have deep relationships, we're susceptible to a longing for "otherness" when we see the reality of evil in the world. At times the evil seems far away. Other times we learn it was closer than we ever imagined - around the corner, in a hidden part of our neighborhood, in an otherwise nondescript office. Worst of all are the times we see glimpses of the evil in our own heart; these glimpses will either drive us to despair or bring us to our knees.
How wonderful, then, that God gives a means of escape. Certainly eternal escape - He offers us the hope of heaven and the gift of salvation when we embrace all that He is for us in Christ as a result of His sacrifice. But He also gives us what we need to escape that worst of all evil, the evil within our own hearts.
Writing to Christians about the Second Coming, Peter actually starts by focusing on a more immediate opportunity for escape: how to escape the corruption in the world. This corruption, caused by evil desires, can overwhelm us at times. Peter refuses to allow his readers to focus entirely on the perfect world that will come when Jesus returns. Instead, he exhorts them toward kingdom living NOW.
All desires aren't evil. Peter's focus is on evil desires and their fruit, corruption in the world. Corruption seen in our own hearts and in broken relationships with other people, with creation, within society, and of course with God. Peter teaches that we can escape this corruption and instead participate in the divine nature - not becoming divine, but becoming a new creature. In 1 Peter 1:23 we learn that we are reborn of "imperishable seed" - we are born of God, as John 1:13 emphasizes. And we are being conformed to the image of Christ.
How does this happen? Through the "very great and precious promises" which God has given to us because of His glory and goodness. What promises? In Peter's context, certainly the Second Coming: "But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells." (2 Peter 3:13). In light of His coming, we can live differently today. Why? Because nothing of "the world" that could be attractive to us will last. It's all temporary. John Piper, in his book Future Grace, defines sin as a desire for something that is stronger than our desire for God. When we realize that our "evil desires" are for things that are fading away, and that He has promised something better to come, we find the power to say no to sin and yes to God.
Certainly there are other promises as well. Promises like "I will never leave you or forsake you". Like "with every temptation He will provide a way out". The New Testament is filled with promises and we are wise to equip ourselves to draw from those promises when we are fighting a spiritual battle. And yet Peter's focus on the promise of the Second Coming is especially significant when we desire to live above the fray of this world. When we long for escape, we need to embrace that He has promised us that and much, much more.
How do we begin to draw on this promise? Peter starts this passage by telling us everything we need for life and godliness is already ours through our knowledge of God. Not through a general knowledge, but our knowledge. It has to be personal. We have everything we need. But we only begin to know that to the degree that we know Him. "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent," Jesus said to the Father (John 17:3).
Whatever corruption your corner of the world faces tonight, whatever realities near or far you wish to escape, whatever is hanging over your head that you wish weren't there ... you have everything you need to live a godly life in the face of it. There is a hope that goes beyond this temporal world. He is risen. He is coming. We will rise with Him one day. Because of this very great and precious promise, we can overcome through Him today.