Lesson 2 - 1 Peter 1:13-25 - A HOLY LIFE
INTRODUCTION: Last week, in 1 peter 1:1-9, we were introduced to the first epistle of Peter. The theme of the lesson was "a living hope," which he used as to encourage Christian believers to endure and stand firm in their faith even in the midst of the widespread persecution they were experiencing. After reminding them that they had been saved by God's undeserved grace, he urged them to leave their old life behind and begin living in a completely new way with Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior. He reiterated the fact that as God's children, their spiritual destination was a completed transaction which is protected by the almighty power of God. He explained to them that all the trials they were undergoing was actually a "quality control" process that God was using to turn them into even stronger, more effective witnesses for the gospel, and was intended to build them up, not to hurt them. Finally, he reminded them of the outcome of their faith-salvation of their souls (their whole being) and the assurance of eternal life in heaven.
This week, in 1 peter 1:13-25, we'll hear Peter move to a new topic: Since their salvation was assured, they now needed to prepare their minds to live a holy lives. Verse 14 indicates that Peter's primary audience was Gentile believers who had been recently saved. Unlike the converted Jews who had received previous instruction in God's moral Law, the Torah, these new gentile believers were coming to faith from entirely pagan human and were spiritually ignorant. In America today, churches are faced with a similar situation-generations of lost people with little or no knowledge of God and the Bible.
Read 1 Peter 1:13-16 - A LIFE OF HOLINESS
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
v. 13a: "Therefore, prepare your minds for action" - Peter is saying, in effect, since you don't need to worry about your eternal security, it's time for you to roll up you sleeves-mentally, get your act together, and adopt new attitudes about the way you live and function in this world. It like you've been saved and accepted believer's baptism, now what do you do? This is why discipleship is so important in today's church: we need to be prepared to tell new believers how to think and live.
v. 13b: "fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." - The verb "fix" contemplates a permanent and complete overhaul of how we think and act. The living "hope" in Christ we obtained by "grace" sets our life on entirely new moral compass.
v. 14: "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, - Being "conformed" to something refers to our worldview, which motivates and controls our thinking, attitudes, and behavior. For Christians, it means saying 'no' to the sinful passions and lusts that influenced our former lives. The word "ignorance" implies that Peter is directing this message mainly to Gentiles who, unlike Jews, have had no moral instruction in the Scriptures.
v. 15: "but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;" - The model upon which all Christian "behavior" should be based is "the Holy One," and the command "be holy," is very broad. At the same time, God has given us a detailed template to follow-a 'how to' manual-to which we can conform our own behavior: the Word of God. The Bible, our template, clearly tells us how we are to think and act in every conceivable situation. Then and now, there is absolutely no substitute for teaching and preaching the Word of God. It is our first priority as individual Christians and our first priority as a body of believers. We must understand, apply and live this principle every single day of our lives.
v. 16: "because it is written, 'YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.'" - Quoting Lev. 19:2, Peter is simply stating that we can't expect to enjoy anything close to having a truly intimate relationship with God unless we are holy, too. Since the Bible reveals God's mind, we should learn it, love it, and live it. As Warren Wiersbe said, "We don't study the Bible just to get to know the Bible; we study it so we might get to know God better."
APPLICATION 1: Because God is holy, He expects all Christians to live holy lives. Very simply, we can't expect to enjoy anything close to having a truly intimate relationship with God unless we are holy, too. Since the Bible reveals God's mind--our template for being holy-we must learn it, love it, and live it.
Read 1 Peter 1:17-21 - A LIFE OF REVERANCE
17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
v. 17a: "If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work," - As Christians, we do call on God as our "Father" because He's our creator and heavenly Father, and while it suggests familiarity, it also evokes His infinite power and authority over us: God is the judge of everything we say and do, and He will judge us, not on appearances but on the basis of reality.
v. 17b: "conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;" - And because nothing is hidden from God and we are certain to stand before Him and be judged on the basis of our works, we must "fear" His power and authority over us, and a healthy fear of God combines sincere feelings of reverence, respect, awe, and love for Him. And fear combined with faith will lead to obedience. Fear is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). and the person who fears God will be open to His instruction. The reference to our "stay on earth" should remind us that we're only temporary residents of this planet compared to the eternity we'll spend with God.
v. 18: "knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers," - Redemption involves bringing liberty to a captive, usually through the payment of a price. OT Law required Israelites to buy back-redeem-a family member who had been forced to sell himself into slavery (Lev. 25:25). The NT reveals Jesus' death on the cross as the all-inclusive redemptive act for all of humankind. While we were condemned to death for our sins, Jesus paid the ransom price for our redemption by His sacrifice on the cross. The phrase "futile way of life" is another allusion to the lost condition of Gentiles. In our case, there was no amount of "gold or silver" that could have redeemed us from the bondage of sin and spiritual death. But Jesus Christ's life, represented by His shed blood, was infinitely more valuable than mere metal.
v. 19: "but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." - Just as the death of the Passover lamb redeemed the Israelites from physical bondage in Egypt, the death of Jesus Christ frees us from the spiritual bondage of sin (Ex. 12:5). When Peter mentions redemption, he is placing emphasis on being liberated from the bondage of our previous lifestyle, not just in the future, but in terms of our present ability to live a changed life right now. Because Christ has completed His work for us, it's incumbent upon us to complete His work in us.
v. 20: "For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you" - The Fall did not take God by surprise. He already knew-i.e., "was foreknown"-what He would do about it and WHO would do it; therefore, we have two good reasons for coming to God: (1) What Christ did for us and (2) what God did for Christ because of what Christ did for us. Do you see that vital correlation? Because of these two things, our attitude toward God should be both reverent (= wholehearted thankfulness and devotion) and confident (= faithful and obedient living). So, even before time began, God had decided He "...so loved the world, that He [would sacrifice] His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Did you fully understand what God did for us because of Jesus?
APPLICATION 2: The Fall of man did not take God by surprise. No, it was "foreknown" (v. 20) to Him. God already knew what He would do about it and WHO would it. Because of this, we have two good reasons to approach God: (1) What Christ did for us and (2) what God did for Christ because of what Christ did for us. Do you see this connection? Does it humble and awe you? It should.
v. 21a: "who through Him are believers in God," - "Him" in this verse refers back to Christ in v. 19. It is through Christ that Gentiles (who represent the world as a whole) have become believers in the One True God (YHWH). While Jews had the advantage of their heritage with YHWH, we Gentiles only had the "futile way of life" (v. 18) we inherited for our forebears, who were pagans and idolaters.
v. 21b: "who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory," - Glory is characteristic of God, and God's glory is manifested in His awesome majesty, holiness, and sovereign authority. God shared His glory with Jesus, and Jesus' glory was revealed at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36) and in His death and resurrection (Luke 24:26); and it will be seen again at the parousia (Second Coming), when Jesus will return "in a cloud with great glory" (Luke 21:27). When this occurs, "at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:10-11).
v. 21c: "so that your faith and hope are in God." - In the same way that God will vindicate Jesus at the end, God will also vindicate the faith of all believers in Christ at the end. So, even if our present lives are stressful and demanding (like Peter's audience), we can still look forward to this time of vindication, which is absolutely certain to happen. Just as God was faithful to Jesus, He will also be faithful to all who have put their faith in Christ. And as believers, we can be confident that Jesus' resurrection was the "first fruits," i.e., only the beginning (1 Cor. 15:20ff) and directly points to the great profusion of resurrections yet to come for all who believe (that includes you and me!).
APPLICATION 3: Because God was faithful to Jesus, we can be totally confident that God will be faithful to ALL who have put their faith in Christ Jesus. Just as God was faithful to Jesus-raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand (Eph. 1:20-22), He will likewise be faithful to all who have put their faith in Christ. And as believers, we can be confident that Jesus' resurrection was the "first fruits," i.e., only the beginning (1 Cor. 15:20ff) and directly points to the great profusion of resurrections yet to come for all who believe (that includes you and me!).
Read 1 Peter 1:22-25 - A LIFE OF LOVE
22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, "ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. TEH GRASS WITHERS, AND TEH FLOEWR FALLS OFF, 25 BUT TEH WORD OF TEH LORD ENDURES FOREVER." And this is the word which was preached to you.
NOTE: Peter now turns his attention from a believer's duty to God to our duty to "the brethern" (v.22)-a terms that encompasses all Christian brothers and sisters everywhere. He did this to emphasize the fundamental importance striving to live joyfully and strengthen one another in faith and obedience, even in the midst of personal trials and opposition to our faith.
v. 22: "Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart," - The purification to which Peter refers happens to a believer at the moment of conversion as a result of believing the gospel; that is, the curse of sin has been removed from our souls because we have been justified by faith. But it is only the beginning of our faith walk. Next, the spiritual cleansing we obtained at our conversion makes it possible for us to love our fellow Christians not just at that moment but on a continuous, day-to-day basis in good times and bad. It means we don't just love one another as if we were brothers and sisters but decide to love one another because we are brothers and sisters bonded in the love of Christ. Peter uses two words to describe this "love": (1) philadephia which is brotherly love and (2) agapē, which is unconditional, self-sacrificial love. It means that we take action to purposely love our Christian brothers and sisters, not because they're especially likable, easy-going, or deserving, but because we've decided to love them from the heart for the simple reason that they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. This type of love is tremendously powerful and makes Christianity unique from any other organization among human beings.
v. 23: "for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God." - The creative agent that God uses to produce our new birth is His "enduring word." Unlike the perishable human "seed" which only can produce a brief life-span, the Word of God is imperishable and creates everlasting life.
v. 24: "For, "ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWERS OR GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND TEH FLOWERS FALL OFF."- Peter uses this quotation from Isa. 40:6-7 to illustrate that everything in this earthly realm is perishing-civilizations, buildings, businesses, organizations, and people. It's a fact that most of us (unless we're raptured sooner) will die and quickly be forgotten, along with the work to which we devoted a substantial portion of our lives. Every natural thing eventually dies and disappears, which is the opposite of God's living and enduring Word.
v. 25: "'BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.' And this is the word which was preached to you." - Peter now raises Isa. 40:8 as a counterpoint: God's Word endures forever and the new life offered by it-salvation in Jesus Christ-will likewise endure forever. So, when our Christian witness brings someone to a saving knowledge of Christ, we are participating in a work that is eternal and everlasting. All of the people to whom Peter addressed this epistle were saved by "the word which was preached to" them. And this message hasn't changed one bit changed since Peter's time. The late J. Vernon McGee said, "My Friend, we need preaching and teaching of the Word of God above everything else. I do not mean to minimize the place of music, methods, and organization, but there is absolutely no substitute for the Word of God today."
APPLICATION 4: Our new birth as Christians came from the Word of God. We were saved because the Word of God was preached to us by someone. Amen? And this message hasn't changed one bit since Peter wrote these words over 1,950 years age! Since God's Word "ENDURES FOREVER" (v. 25), so does the salvation offered by faith in Jesus Christ. It's a fact that we inhabit a world where everything around us is perishing, but when our Christian witness brings someone to a saving knowledge of Christ, we are participating in a work that is eternal and everlasting. Therefore, as Christians, we need to be sharing, teaching, and preaching the Word of God above everything else.