1 Peter 1:13-25
A quick recap of what we have seen so far in Peter:
1. We are chosen and sanctified by the grace of God
2. Grace means salvation. (A living hope, a precious faith, and a firm foundation)
As the songwriter says:
Wonderful Grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free;
O the Wonderful Grace of Jesus reaches me!
Peter 1:12 ends with the words, “...things which angels desire to look into.” These are the things our salvation is made of. Peter also describes our faith as “more precious than gold.”
Think about it! Without Jesus, we are condemned to suffer in burning, conscious torment forever and ever and ever. However, because of God's grace, every person on this planet is offered a home in paradise forever and ever and ever.
That’s it in a nutshell.
However, the world is not simple. Creation is a complex, mysterious thing. Some parts of creation are beyond the understanding of supernatural beings, whose existence we are told about but whose realm we cannot fully comprehend (i.e., angels). And because of this, Peter says:
1 Peter 1:13 (NKJV) Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Please pay attention to the “Therefore” in this passage. It refers back to what Peter has just been saying. Peter has just explained that the prophets revealed mysterious things about the gospel that they did not fully understand and that angels long to look into. THEREFORE we are to “gird up the loins of our minds.”
HOLY COW!!! How on earth am I supposed to do that? What does that even mean?
It is a saying from Peter’s time and culture. He is trying to say, be prepared to do some hard work with your head.
The New Testament uses some fascinating pictures of the Christian life.
We are seen as soldiers, farmers, runners, and wrestlers. In your mind, picture each of these. Notice they all wear different clothing. Soldiers dress for battle. Farmers dress for hard physical labor; runners dress for speed, and wrestlers dress to give no hand-holds to the opponent.
Christian, the idea is that we need to get serious and be sober in our heads because we will be challenged, attacked, and involved in a battle. This battle is for our hearts and minds, and we must start by “fixing our hope fully on the grace of God."
Fixing our hope on the grace of God is essential for our lives as Christians.
Our world is full of things that take our eyes off the grace of God. Financial pressures, final exams, grades, health challenges, family strife, and a thousand other little details occupy our minds.
In all the things that occupy our daily lives, we have an undercurrent of desires. I want, I want, I want. I want to be safe. I want to feel loved. I want to be significant. I want to be noticed. I want to be heard. I want pleasure. I want rest. These are all desires, and they are not bad by themselves. Actually, I would say that all of them are needs. But how do we meet these needs? In what ways do we seek pleasure? At what cost do we find safety and security? These desires must come under the control of the Holy Spirit. God has promised to meet all our needs.
Before we knew Christ, we were children of the world. And the world offers all the wrong ways to meet our needs.
As part of fixing our hope on the grace of God, Peter points to an essential component of being sober and ready for action. He says:
1 Peter 1:14 (NKJV) as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance...
In our ignorance, we were disobedient. We did not know God, His grace, or Jesus Christ. We were slaves to our desires. We sought to satisfy ourselves through whatever means we found worked best for us. However, when we were born again to a living hope, we put on a new self. This new self is a child of obedience to God and His word. Now, we have a choice. We either conform to our old way of doing things - driven by our desires. Or, we let ourselves be transformed by the living and abiding Word of God.
Peter says we were ignorant and, not knowing anything else, we were controlled by lusts. But as obedient children, we are not to conform to these former things. The Apostle Paul said the same thing in Romans 12:2.
Romans 12:2 (NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Our transformation makes us the opposite of what we were before we knew Jesus Christ. Peter describes our change as:
1 Peter 1:15–16 (NKJV) 15but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
WOW! How am I supposed to be holy?
I have seen some crazy stuff classified as "people trying to be holy." Hair cut in specific ways (or not cut), dresses worn in specified colors - not too long and not too short, beards trimmed just so (without a mustache!) Hats - hats of a particular color and shape, women properly subjected to men, NO PHOTOGRAPHS, no radios, no chrome, no cards, no dancing, no beer, no smoke, no buttons, no zippers, no shoelaces. Seriously! I am not making this stuff up!
Holy means set apart. We are "set apart" as God’s own people, His children. WE DO NOT HAVE TO DO ANYTHING! We just need to behave like God’s children. We must imitate Him. (Ephesians 5) He shows justice, mercy, love, forgiveness, goodness, and kindness. He teaches humility, thankfulness, and self-control. He is joyful, compassionate, and loving. He does not condemn those who come to Him seeking forgiveness. Holiness is not something we do - it is something we ARE.
REALLY! You mean I don’t have to wear the proper clothes to be holy?
Clothing has very little to do with holiness. (If you think you are not influenced by clothing, consider how a priest or a judge is dressed.) Holiness is living by the Spirit, not conforming to the lusts that were ours in our ignorance. And holiness is a gift of God’s grace. It makes life better. Living as imitators of God and beloved children prepares us to live with Him forever, and ever, and ever.
This leads us into the next subject that Peter brings up. Grace means godliness, and holiness is definitely part of godliness. Another gift of God’s grace is fear.
Yep - I said fear.
Look at what Peter says:
1 Peter 1:17–21 (NKJV) 17And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Long passage - I know. But pay close attention to what Peter is saying. He says God is the judge of each one. “Each one” includes everybody. Yes, God is going to judge each person, individually, down to the tiniest detail. Unless, of course, you are a child of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) This forgiveness is a result of our being redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.
The Judge, God, judged our sins and then paid the penalty for them with the blood of His only Son.
What kind of gratitude should we show?
How much are we indebted to God’s grace?
Oh, we can still pay for our own sins if we want to. We can refuse God’s gift by saying no to Jesus. The penalty is suffering in burning, conscious torment for forever and ever and ever. And anybody who wants to can go there. However, God does not want anyone to go there. He actually pleads with us to accept His gift of forgiveness and salvation.
But, how do we treat God’s gift?
I am referring to those of us who believe and know the forgiveness and love of God. How do we treat God’s gift?
Some of us treat God’s gift with contempt.
Others of us treat God as if He is inconvenient.
Why should I give 10 percent of everything I get to the Church?
REALLY? God gave you everything you have. God gave His Son for you, and you object to giving a portion! Because, what, you have better things to do with it besides honoring God?
Why should I read my Bible?
REALLY? You claim to know God or at least believe in Him, but don’t read what He says about Himself? Who are you trying to fool? Because, I assure you, God is not fooled. Same for going to church. What is more important than worshipping God at least once a week?
This is what is meant by fear. Aretha Franklin called it R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
The fear of God is a gift of His grace - part of not conforming. Without this gift of fear, our lives are meaningless and empty. Knowing who it is that we live for and who it is that we serve gives more meaning and purpose than any other single thing. Peter describes Our lives without God as “aimless” (meaning empty or meaningless) conduct. If we do not fear God, we waste our lives. I am not saying we won’t be saved, but our lives will be wasted. (1 Corinthians 3:15)
In addition to holiness and fear, Peter tells us that God’s gift of godliness also includes love (also part of not conforming).
Look at what Peter says:
1 Peter 1:22–25 (NKJV) 22Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24because
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
In Peter's writing, there is no break between verses 21 and 22, and the word “since” was added to try and make the meaning clear. This means that our faith and hope in God are directly connected to our souls being purified by obedience to the truth. Actually, putting our faith and hope in God by trusting in the precious blood of His Son is obedience to the truth.
Did you get that? Trusting in Christ for salvation is obedience to the truth. Somehow, this leads to love of the brethren. Peter says, “Love on another fervently with a pure heart.”
As humans, how significant are we? Verse 24 compares us to grass.
At my house, we mow the grass almost every week. We have no pity or mercy for the individual blades of grass. We just do not value the individual blades of grass.
With approximately 7,900,000,000 people on earth (as of April 23, 2021), we are as common as grass (and not any more robust). However, God does not treat us like grass.
He has caused us to be born again by an incorruptible seed, the precious blood of Christ. This seed will never go bad, will never produce bad fruit. In the original language, Peter describes this seed as “the living and abiding word of God.” The text does not actually have the word "forever." It doesn’t need to. It says, “The living and abiding “logos,” which directly references Jesus Christ.
Not only is Jesus Christ not corruptible, but there is another word mentioned in this passage. That word is the written word of God. Verse 25 uses a different word for “word.” It uses the word “rhema,” which means “a spoken word.” And, this time also, it does not say “forever.” It says, “until the age.” There will come a time when the Bible is no longer necessary. But until that time, we have the written word of God.
The Son of God, the Word, showed us how much God values people, each person. He gave His life. He also spoke and said, “Love each other.” The written word of God also puts loving each other second only to loving God.
So, God values each person immeasurably, hugely, humongously - well - I can’t find a word to say how much, because, - well, - like - He gave His only Son! (God’s love is ineffable- too great or extreme to be expressed in words.) And He also commands, not suggests, that we love each other.
But, how do we treat each other?
Let’s see. We have bitterness, anger, rage, fights, selfishness, backbiting, and gossip. And I am talking about in the Church and in our homes.
We treat those for whom Christ died as if they are of no more value than grass! Wow, I wonder who got it wrong - God or us?
If we walk by the Spirit, if we let go of all bitterness, wrath, and malice, we will be loving each other. Only two things will never change, God and His Word, and both of these tell us to love one another.
God’s grace means godliness, not conforming to our former lusts. As grace works in our lives it will produce holiness, fear and love. We must examine ourselves and see if we are partakers in the grace of God. We will know by our fruit - holiness, fear and love.