Gird Your Minds—1 Peter 1:13-25
1 Peter 1:3-12, gave assurance to believers of their favor with God as cause for rejoicing. God has caused them to be born again with the benefits of hope (guaranteed by Christ’s resurrection), an imperishable inheritance in heaven, and future glorification. Now in verse 13, Peter shifts from these declarations to exhorting them to godly behavior. He gives them behavioral consequences to their new position in Christ. Because of this relationship, there should necessarily be changes in lifestyle and attitudes. Peter will continue to emphasize the importance of their hope as their faith in the promises of God being fulfilled in the future. Altogether, verses 13-21 begin an exposition of the moral implications of being born spiritually in Christ.
In v.13, “Therefore” introduces a new section that is joined to the previous line of thought, but Peter begins a series of short commands that should be obeyed because of all the blessings in Christ that have been bestowed on them. “Gird your minds for action” brings the image of the Old Testament practice of girding your loins in preparation for action. This involved the long robes that they wore being pulled up and wrapped around their groin so as to be out of the way when they needed to move quickly, and also protecting the groin area. Peter’s point is to prepare your minds for action. To “keep sober in spirit” was to be alert and under control. They were to “fix their hope” not on the world, but on the future reality of the return of Christ which is their motivation for living.
In v.14, as children of God, we should not be just like the rest of the world that is controlled by its lusts like compulsive ambition, self indulgence, greed, vanity, jealousy, and sexual desire. Paul also said it well in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Through their calling and rebirth, they have been liberated from the necessary control of negative desires which characterize the world.
Instead of conforming to the world that Jesus redeemed them out of, they should now conform to the example of the “Holy One”. We should be distinct from the world just as Jesus is. In verses 15-16, Peter quotes from the holiness code of Leviticus 17-26, where the people were told to be holy because God is holy. This is the standard God requires in us. We are to have the same character as the God we serve. Most people expect to be judged by a relative standard in comparison to other people as if God judges on “the curve”. The Scriptures say that we are judged by God’s perfect holy standard that is absolute. You may say then as Jesus’ disciples did, “How then can anyone be saved?”, but that is just the point of why we need a Savior. Nevertheless, in our post-salvation life we should strive to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord who saved us.
The Healthy Fear of God
In 1 Peter1:17, Peter says that since we are children of God who address Him as our Father, Who will judge our work for Him impartially, we should act reverently with all the respect due the Creator of the universe. This continues the rebirth idea begun in verse 3, that we are now born into the family of God, and should obey our Father. That paternal authority includes the right of judging and disciplining the behavior of children. Since we are fully forgiven through the atoning work of Christ on the cross, God will discipline us in this temporal life alone as the author of Hebrews says in ch.12, “God disciplines those whom He loves.”
What are the reasons to “conduct yourselves in fear”? Peter uses the imagery of buying captives in war their freedom by paying a price, or freeing slaves by buying their freedom. Christians on the other hand are “redeemed” by the price that Jesus paid for our debt of sin. In verse 18-20, Peter reminds them that the price Jesus paid for them was much greater than silver or gold which are just perishable commodities, but the price Jesus paid to redeem them was the precious and perfect blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Being redeemed from “your futile way of life” is a harsh but true condemnation of their previous life of self righteousness that everyone leads who is without Christ. The values, norms, and systems of the world are in fact futile in God’s eyes. Paul said it just as harshly in Ephesians 4:17-19, “you should live no longer just as the Gentiles (outsiders) also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them.” Our liberation was accomplished by the blood of Jesus Christ as if He was a perfect unblemished lamb who died as our substitute in payment for sin. 1 Peter 1:20 tells us that Jesus pre-existed the creation, and this plan to redeem all who would believe was foreknown by God before creation. Therefore, our way of salvation is older and superior to all human religions, customs, and traditions. You could say we have a more ancient pedigree.
In v.20-21, Jesus, who has always existed as God, “has appeared” (the incarnation) in these times of the New Covenant of grace for our sake. John wrote in Jn.3:16 that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”. We are the beneficiaries of the plan of God, and who are we that He appeared for? We are those “who through Him are believers in God, who raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him glory, so that our faith and hope are in God.” We believe in, and have committed our lives to the eternal plan of God to send His Son as a ransom payment for our debt of sin. Through His blood shed on the cross for us, our sins are forgiven, and our resurrection unto eternal life is guaranteed by God.
The conclusion to this line of thought is stated in v.22-25. This separation from the former futility of the worldly life, and obedience to the truth should have prepared us to have and display “a sincere love of our brothers and sisters in Christ.” If we are all born spiritually into the family of God, and all look forward to eternal life together, then we should love one another here and now also. All the things of the world are perishable and passing away, but the Word of God is alive, abides in us, and it is eternal. This reminds me of the apostles at the Last Supper. They had been arguing with each other like rivals, yet Jesus said, “A new command I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you”. Based on the insurmountable love that Jesus has poured out on us, we should in turn love those whom Jesus loves.