In Leviticus 11:45 (and several other passages), the Lord says, “ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Peter reiterates this command in 1 Peter 1:
15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
This call to be like the Lord prepares us for Peter’s subsequent discussion of the divine potential of human beings in 2 Peter 1:
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.
The implications of such teachings are raised in several passages from C.S. Lewis, such as this one:
The command Be ye perfect [Matt. 5:48] is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and he is going to make good His words. If we let Him — for we can prevent Him, if we choose — He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what he said.”
— From Mere Christianity, New York: Collier Books, MacMillan Publ. Co., 1943; paperback edition, 1960; p. 160 (the last paragraph of Chapter 9, “Counting the Cost,” in Book IV).
In my view, it is our status as children of God that gives us the potential to become heirs and the potential to mature and become more like the Father. Paul expresses such a concept in Romans 8:14-18:
14 For as many as are lead by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God….
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God;
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together;
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
We can be joint-heirs with Christ. There is divine glory to be revealed within us, for we have a divine inheritance as children of God. Just as earthly parents want their children to grow and become more like the parents, so our Father in Heaven wants us to grow and partake of his glorious gift of eternal life. It is not an instant process, but one that requires that we follow Christ and rely on His Atonement and grace, allowing Him to truly save us.
The relationship between God and man is further affirmed in Hebrews 12:9,10:
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live?
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He [God] for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
God is the Father of our spirits. Indeed, Paul in Acts 17:28 says “we are also his offspring.” Our spirits existed before we were born into mortality. As sons and daughters of God, we witnessed the creation of the world and shouted for joy, according to Job 38:7. As spirit sons and daughters, we have inherited something divine within us. We have been placed on earth to grow, to learn, to understand good and evil, to learn to choose on our own, and to be tried, for now we have a veil of forgetfulness over our memories of the premortal existence with God. We are also sent here to obtain a physical body which can be resurrected and glorified like the glorious and powerful body of Christ (Phil. 3:21). There is glory waiting to be revealed in us, as Paul wrote in Romans 8:14-18 and as John wrote in 1 John 3: 2:
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him…
Growing to become more like Christ and more like our Father in Heaven should be our goal, as Christ has commanded us (Matt. 5:48). How do we grow in that way? By following Christ with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. Our Father in Heaven wants us to accept Christ and to follow and obey Him, that we might return to His presence and become partakers of His holiness and fullness (Heb. 12:10; Eph. 3:19), or, as Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:3-10, “partakers of the divine nature.”
As impossible as it seems for us fallen mortals to become holy and become like Christ, through the magnificent grace of Jesus Christ and the power of His Atonement, sin can be rooted out and God can transform our lives, if we’ll let him, to ultimately reveal the glory that is in each one of us as a son or daughter of the Living God. We are not accidental creations of chance, but children carefully created by the Father of our spirits. It’s breathtaking – but also the only thing that makes sense of this mortal journey.