1 Peter 1:13-25, Mission Impossible—Be Holy
In 1 Peter 1:1-12, we are told of all the blessings that are ours in Christ. Of course no gift is greater than God’s grace. Just think of it—total forgiveness, peace with God, certain hope in the promise of the second coming of Christ and our resurrection, and eternal life in glory. Therefore, nothing should demand a greater response. Because of God’s grace we should be willing to respond now by living for the Lord right now. We should be living lives worthy of the Savior who has blessed us, as Paul wrote, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father” (Col.3:17).
“Gird Your Minds”, 1 Peter 1:13-16
At this point, Peter shifts us from explaining God’s grace to commanding those who have received it to respond appropriately. Peter covers three big issues that have to do with right thinking—hope, holiness, and reverence for God. “Therefore” moves us from the statements of verses 1-12, to the application of our salvation in verses 13-25. Peter used an expression well known in the first century “gird”, which was literally gird up your loins. The ancient soldiers wore long tunics, but before battle they got prepared by tying the tunic up between their legs and tucking it into their belt, thus freeing their legs for movement and protecting their groin area. Peter was using an extreme metaphor to say “prepare yourself for action”. I think he did this to get their attention because of the difficulty and importance of the application of living holy lives. Also, he says to “keep sober” meaning to stay under control and stay focused. When you “fix your hope” you are living with great anticipation and expectation of that great event of the appearing of Christ. In this sense hope is the equivalent of faith. Faith trusts God in the present, and our hope for the future is so certain because it is based on God’s promises. In a fallen upside down world where we often feel like aliens, hope and faith is all important in order to persevere. I read a story that Viktor Frankl wrote in MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING about his experience in a German POW camp during WW II. His friend had a dream in 1945 they would be liberated on March 30. On March 30 the allies had not appeared, and he got very sick. On March 31st he died. They were liberated about a week later, but when his mind gave up hope, so did his body. Therefore Peter was writing to his audience to let the hope of 1 Peter 1:1-12 fill their minds. By God’s mercy we have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. We have a glorious inheritance awaiting us in heaven because by faith we have received the salvation of our souls. Now that is the highest hope imaginable, and it will sustain us and enable us to persevere the distress of various trials.
If we are to be obedient to our Father in heaven, then we must stop being like the old us who obeyed the desires and passions of our body. We grew up in a fallen world that put tremendous peer pressure on us to be selfish and look out for #1. We also had carnal desires like self-indulgence, greed, sexual impulses, and ambitions. That was the old person before Christ, but now we are to be obedient like the holy one who saved us. Mission Impossible is “You shall be holy for I (God) am holy”. We are to have the same character as the God we serve! The fallen unsaved world does its best to be good, but why? The world is trying to be civilized, to keep good order, safety, peace, prosperity, reputation, popularity, etc. But Christians are to be holy because we are to live in a manner worthy of the Lord, and to be good witnesses for the Lord. Is it really possible for us to be perfectly holy? That is certainly our standard and our goal, but it will not be fully realized until the resurrection. Yet now we are participating with the Holy Spirit in the process of spiritual growth or sanctification. It’s clear from the commands here in 1 Peter that we have a RESPONSIBILITY to “gird your minds for action”, and to “keep sober”, and to be obedient, and not to be conformed to our former lusts. Nevertheless, we could do nothing without the Holy Spirit’s work on our heart changing us from the inside out. One theologian said, “We must cooperate with Him so He can operate on us!” That says it all. If you have children then you know they sometimes need to be motivated. Maybe they have bad habits they need to break, or good habits they need to acquire. If appreciation for the grace of God is not enough to complete the believer’s sanctification, then Peter will add the fear of God, the coming judgment, and the incredible value of the blood of Christ that was paid for us.
The Fear of God
In 1 Peter 1:17, he reminds the church that all believers will be judged by God without partiality. Christians will stand before God at the Bema Seat judgment and have their works assessed by Christ. We must not presume upon God that we are getting away with sin or are free to lead worthless lives. Of course our sins have been forgiven, but our life since we accepted Christ as our Savior will be judged. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, tells us that each believer’s works will be judged as if by fire. If their works were like wood, hay, or stubble they will be burned up, but if their works are like gold, silver or precious stones they will survive and be rewarded. All believers’ sins are forgiven, and they will be saved, but their lives lived for Christ will be assessed and rewarded. 2 Cor. 5:10-11, is the passage that uses the term “Bema Seat”, “For we (the church) must all appear before the judgment seat (Bema) of Christ…” We must not think of God as our good buddy, Santa Claus, or our kindly old grandfather. He is our loving Father/Creator, but also our disciplining judge. Hebrews 12:6, says “The Lord disciplines those whom He loves”. Therefore, there is good reason to fear God because you can fool all the people and you can even deceive yourself, but you cannot fool God. Solomon said it well in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge”, and again in Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.
The Cost, Value, and Power of the Redemption
In the first century Roman Empire in which the churches grew up in, they understood the image of redemption and paying ransom. The population of the Roman Empire was almost one half slaves. Those who were captives in the many wars became slaves, and if you owed debts you could not pay you became a bond slave. Redemption deals with the cost of freeing people. Over 700 years before, the prophet of Isaiah 53 gave the prophecy that the Messiah would make a vicarious payment for our sin, to free us from the bondage of sin and the penalty of sin, which is death. Roman slaves could be redeemed or bought back with silver and gold, but in God’s economy something infinitely more valuable was needed to pay the price God required for forgiveness and salvation. The only commodity valuable enough to be acceptable to God was the blood of Christ. As you plan your life, CONSIDER THE COST Jesus paid for you! It cost more to redeem you than to make you. Just think about the awesome wonder and complexity of the human body. The human brain has about 86 billion brain cells all communicating to enable all the activity that we do—wow! The human foot is an incredible machine that has 26 bones, 33 joints, tendons, muscles, ligaments and over 100 moving parts! Nevertheless, God made us by the speaking of His Word, but to redeem us cost the shedding of God’s own blood—who can put a value on that? Thus it has infinite value! We were lost, separated from God by sin, and a price had to be paid to atone for sin. Jesus Christ paid the cost by the shedding of His own “precious blood”.
In 1 Peter 1:18, the author wrote that they were not redeemed by silver or gold “from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” Remember that Peter was Jewish and part of his audience in the first century churches were Jewish, so Peter was referring to the typical religious laws and traditions handed down to succeeding generations that were nothing more than futile doctrines of man-made religion, as if you could buy your way out or work your way out. All worldly temporal achievements apart from God are futility.
The Value and Power of the Blood of Jesus
The most valuable and powerful substance that ever was found on planet earth is the blood of Christ. After battles, nations historically paid a ton of gold and silver as ransom to buy back their leaders, but the blood of Christ alone bought back millions from every tribe, tongue, and nation to be reconciled to the Lord God. You could say we belonged to God twice—when He created us and then again when He bought us back. God Himself intervened to pay the price with the only commodity valuable enough—the precious blood of Christ. The price Jesus paid was enough to reconcile us to God and bring peace as Paul wrote in Colossians 1:20, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure…through Him (Jesus) to reconcile all things to Himself having made peace through the blood of His cross”. The sacrifice of Jesus had the power to justify or declare righteous all who would believe so that our position before God would be as if we had never sinned. Believers are also sanctified, meaning to be set apart from the fallen world, we are cleansed and made holy. The power of Christ’s sacrifice also changes our hearts after salvation so that our desires, lifestyles, and way of thinking are even transformed.
Peter ends this chapter and line of thought with v.23-25 saying that our new spiritual life in Christ is “imperishable” as opposed to all the perishable things of this world that are “withering” away. Comparing this current aging body to the hoped for resurrection body reminds me of the story of the older woman who took a package to the post office. They told her it would cost $2.00 for regular delivery or $35 for overnight delivery. She told the post office guy “No hurry as long as it’s delivered in my lifetime.” He looked her over carefully and said, “That will be $35 please”. If your faith and hope is in this world and this earthly body you will be sadly disappointed, but Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31) and again John wrote “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever”. (1 Jn.2:17)
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