Be Holy! (1 Peter 1:13-16)

INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXT:

 

If you’re a believer, Peter just spent a lot of time reminding you of several things believers ought to be thankful for. If you’re a Christian, you have a lot to be happy about. So smile! You ought to smile. I’ll re-state it all for you in case you forgot:

  1. God has given you a home!
  2. God chose to save you – individually and personally!
  3. Your salvation is eternal and secure because it’s based on God’s grace, not your own merit
  4. Because you have the New Testament and understand the finished work of Christ, you can know more about God than David, Moses or any Old Testament saint ever could!
  5. All this means you can keep struggling while you wait for Christ to return for you!

But, now that Peter has reminded us of all the things God has done for us, it’s time to look at our obligations in light of all this. What does it mean to be holy, because God is holy? What does Peter mean? Let’s take a look!

TEXT:

 

13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

 

Because all these things are true – we’re commanded to live our lives and act a certain way. Peter writes, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind . . .” That means to get ready, to steel yourselves, to prepare yourselves. It means to get your mind ready for action. Have you ever known something terrible is coming, and you had to psych yourself up and prepare for it?

I was in the U.S. Navy Security Forces for 10 years. I started as a military policeman and did standard patrol work, and ended my time in the service as a Criminal Investigator. When I was on patrol, I had to carry what is usually called “pepper spray.” In order to carry this, you had to be sprayed by it first and demonstrate you can still function while your face felt like it was melting! I wasn’t looking forward to being pepper sprayed – nobody was! I had to mentally prepare myself for this awful event, and I was very glad when it was over!

In Peter’s day, when a man “girded up” his robe, everybody knew that meant he was getting ready for some kind of physical activity. If I’m wearing a suit and a tie, and I take oof my suit jacket and loosen my tie, you immediately know that I’m about to do something physical and I don’t want my suitcoat and tie to get in the way. Peter is saying that we have to get our minds ready for battle in the Christian life – we have to gird up our minds.

Peter says we ought to be pretty serious about our Christian life, how we live our lives, what we think, what we watch, what we do. This isn’t a picture of somebody casually drifting through life in a lackadaisical, uncommitted way – this is serious! He says we have to “be sober.”

To be sober means to be serious. It also means to not be drunk, but Peter doesn’t mean that here. We’re commanded to be serious about our walk with God. That means we take His word seriously and let Him rule our lives. That doesn’t mean we become a bunch of stiffs who look down our noses every time somebody laughs or smiles, and who seem to hate life! It just means we’re serious about our faith, and we allow it to shape our entire outlook. We don’t get lazy[1]

“And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful,” (Mark 4:18-19).

There’s a reason why the Holy Spirit moved the authors of the sacred Scripture to warn Christians so much about persevering, about struggling forward, looking to Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith – because God doesn’t want us to get distracted and lose focus! Let’s be serious and sober about the Christian life, and not let the cares of this world distract us

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God,” (Colossians 3:1-3).

Does Christ take a backseat in our lives to our own ambitions, dreams and hobbies? If it wasn’t a possibility that we needed to watch out for, then Paul wouldn’t have warned us about it!

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever,” (1 John 2:15-17).

These are harsh words! We’re strangers and pilgrims in this world, and while we enjoy the blessings, family and stuff God has given us – we ought to be looking for that heavenly country that we’re actual citizens of, where Christ has prepared a place for us!

Peter goes on, and writes that Cristians are to “hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” There it is again – the idea of perseverance. Because of everything Christ has done for us (vv.1-12), we can keep on keepin’ on in the here and now. Peter has told us that we ought to get ready for battle and be serious about our Christian life, but what does that actually mean!?

 

14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

 

It means to not act like we used to before we were saved. Peter tells us to be like “obedient children.” God is our Heavenly Father. We are the children who are under training and discipline. When we’re in glory and our life is over, that training is over, we’re free from sin, temptation and everything evil or wrong. Until then, we’re in training, and we need to be obedient children of God. A real Christian life is characterized by action and determination, and by the power of the Holy Spirit we can resists sin and temptation and not be the way we used to be today, tomorrow or the day after.

If Peter had wanted to give an exhaustive list of what “un-Christian behavior” is, then he’d still be writing today. Instead, he repeats a very simple and profound truth from Leviticus . . .

 

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.

 

Holiness is the complete opposite of evil:

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy,” (Leviticus 19:1-2).

God commands us that we do our very best to purge evil and sin out of every aspect of our lives:

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

The idea of “cleansing ourselves” means we’re dirty and filthy, somehow:

“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight,” (Colossians 1:22-23).

We were alienated from God and His enemies before we were saved because of what was in our minds, which expressed itself by our actions. We were saved from darkness, now we’re commanded to walk worthy of God – so that, as much as we’re able, we’re ready to meet Christ at a moment’s notice without regret or sorrow.

When my wife goes out shopping and leaves me alone to watch the children, I know that it’s my responsibility to make sure the house is clean when she comes back. I have to make sure the kids clean up the mess they’ve made before Mommy gets home. I can’t lose track of time, or else I’ll be in trouble when she comes home. Usually, I do a decent job at this. Sometimes, however, I completely lose track of time. I hear my wife’s key in the door upstairs, and my heart sinks. I know the house is a disaster. I know the kids are running wild. I know I’m going to be in trouble. Grimacing, I head upstairs to face the music! In an infinitely more important way, we should not be caught unprepared when our Savor comes back for us!

I want you to think about the Old Testament Priest and the Temple.

  1. Priests were sinful people
  2. God dwelt in the temple
  3. If priests just blundered on into the temple to offer a sacrifice to God, they would die
  4. They had to atone for their own sins before they brought any offering for another Israelite. Just read Leviticus 8-10 if you want to get a sense of the preparations priests had to go through to actually approach God

Now, let’s make the New Covenant contrast. There isn’t a literal temple anymore where God dwells on earth – He lives in our hearts because all believers have the Holy Spirit. That means our bodies are temples of God: 

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are,” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

When you think about the extremely detailed, meticulous preparation OT priests had to go through to even approach God in the temple . . . what should that mean for us, if our bodies are temples of God today? 

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s,” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

God commands us to be holy people. It’s up to each and every one of us to examine our own lives and consider whether our lives could be called “holy.” Because God:

  1. Saved us,
  2. Prepared a home for us in eternity
  3. Will never let us lose our salvation, and
  4. Has given us more info about Him than Moses, David or Abraham ever had

. . . then is it really so much to ask that we should honor Him and try our very best to live holy lives for Him, because He’s holy? We’re commanded, not asked, to be obedient children for our Heavenly Father – to be holy in everything we do. Let’s make a decision to obey that command today, tomorrow and every day.

———————————————————-

Footnotes:

[1] “He knows how easily Christians can lose their spiritual concentration through ‘mental intoxication’ with the things of this world (cf. Mark 4:19; Col. 3:2–3; 1 John 2:15–17). We today might well consider the dangers presented by such inherently ‘good’ things as career, possessions, recreation, reputation, friendships, scholarship, or authority,” (Wayne A. Grudem, 1 Peter, vol. 17, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988], 81).

“There is a way of living that becomes dull to the reality of God, that is anesthetized by the attractions of this world. When people are lulled into such drowsiness, they lose sight of Christ’s future revelation of himself and concentrate only on fulfilling their earthly desires,” (Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary [Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003], 79).

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