Accept a Challenging Standard

Explore the Bible Series

March 11, 2007

 

Background Passage: I Peter 1:13-25

Lesson Passage: I Peter 1:13-25

 

Introduction: If I had the authority to title this lesson I would chose, “Living In the Meantime.”  In our study of the first two paragraphs of I Peter we discovered the apostle’s emphasis on the return of the Lord.  According to the text believers have been begotten again to a living hope and they anticipate receiving an incorruptible inheritance at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Moreover, not only does God preserve the Christian’s inheritance, but the Lord keeps and sustains his people for the glorious inheritance.  Both the inheritance and the heirs are preserved by the power and grace of God.  Contemporary readers may accuse Peter of a “pie-in-the-sky” theology that ignores the genuine struggles of exiles in the world, but the text reveals a very different outlook.

 

First, Peter dealt honestly with the severe hardships experienced by believers (Review vv. 6-9).  As we discovered last week, these various trials can prove very difficult. Troubles come in dizzying variety, and they bring profound grief to the suffering believer.  As a sidelight, the context seems to indicate that the particular kind of trials mentioned here relate to the persecutions that arise as a result of discipleship (See 4:12-19).  The apostle, we note, did not soft-peddle his treatment of this critical issue; instead, he discusses these hardships with disarming candor.  No reader could study this text and remain naïve about the consequences of following Christ: persecution will attend the life of anyone who becomes a disciple of the Lord Jesus.  If the text left the discussion at this point, suffering believers might proceed through life without direction.  Thankfully, I Peter gives specific directions about living “in the meantime.”

 

Our present study leads us to an understanding of how should conduct our lives, in the midst of this life’s sufferings, while we await the revelation of Jesus Christ and the full enjoyment of our inheritance.  The Scriptures do not leave us to grope our way through this world, unaware of our appropriate course of action and merely holding on until the Lord returns.  Verse Thirteen begins with the very important word “therefore.”  When I took Greek classes in college, a wise old professor old us, “When you see a ‘therefore’, stop and see what it’s there for.”  This important word serves as a transition term to help readers understand the relation of one thought to another.  The first portion of this chapter reveals the believer’s glorious inheritance and the inevitable persecutions that attend the Christian life.  This lesson material recenters our attention on the responsibilities that accompany “living in the meantime.” Peter built his argument around four imperatives for Christian living.

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson Outline:

 

I.                   First Imperative: “rest your hope fully…” (vv. 13-14): The only imperative verb in this verse refers to the believer’s hope in the revelation of Christ.  The other main verbal forms occur as participles and describe the main verb, to rest in hope. Please forgive the grammatical references here, but the proper analysis of the text demands precision.  The participles have the force of commands, but they modify the central idea of the verse. In other words, this verse affirms how Christians rest their hope in Christ?  Well, this confident expectation (hope) makes certain demands on the believer.

A.    “gird up the loins of your mind”: The New King James retains the literal force of this expression.  In the ancient Middle East workmen wore long, flowing garments that proved cumbersome during periods of intense physical exertion.  The old fisherman drew an image from the strenuous labors of the fishing boats.  Workers would reach through their legs, pull up the hinder seam of their garments, and tuck it into the front of their belts.  This practice freed the man’s legs from the encumbrance of the flowing garment.  Peter called upon his readers to prepare their minds for arduous thought.  Proper Christian living demands thinking straight about the great issues of the faith.  This directive flies in the face of the anti-intellectualism that characterizes much of contemporary evangelicalism.

B.     “be sober”: Again, this word is a participle (and it has an imperatival element to it), and it modifies the main verb of the verse.  This word means more than that the believer should avoid drunkenness: rather, it calls for clear, coherent thought. It has the idea of clarity of thought and self-control.

C.     not conforming yourselves to your former lusts”: “Lusts” translates the Greek word for human desires.  The word is morally neutral, but in this context clearly depicts unholy passions.

 

II.                The Second Inperative: “be holy…” (vv . 15-16)

A.    “be holy for I am holy” (v. 16): Peter quoted from Leviticus 11:44 to buttress his second directive.  God’s people must increasingly take on the family characteristics; thus, as the F+ather is holy, so the child must bear the mark of holiness.  The latter part of verse fifteen makes clear that this growth in holiness must manifest itself in the practical conduct of Christians.

B.     “but as he who has called you is holy…” (v. 15): Not only should Christians grow in holiness because of the familial relationship to the Father, but their calling demands practical progress in their sanctification.

 

III.             The Third Imperative: “conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear…” (vv. 17-21): This fear should be understood as the reverence and honor that must characterize the believer’s attitude toward God. Contrast this kind of fear, for instance, with the cringing fear of the unbeliever.  Satan, no doubt, fears God, but his fear is not characterized by reference and worship.  His attitude toward God’s majesty renders him envious, rebellious, and repulsed by the glory of the Godhead.  The believer’s fear has just the opposite effect.  He delights in God’s transcendence, and finds himself wonderfully drawn to the majestic presence and power of the Lord. 

A.    “… who without partiality judges according to each man’s work… (v. 17): Every child of God recognizes their accountability to God.  They have a single concern in life, to please their Father.  Evangelicals may question Peter’s emphasis on works in this verse.  First, we should note that the Scriptures repeatedly refer to God’s judgment of the works of men.  Does this emphasis imply salvation by good works?  Please note the context of this reference.  Peter has already affirmed the gracious nature of salvation: election, regeneration, faith and hope. At this juncture in his argument, the apostle turned his attention to the practical holiness that inevitably follows these inward realities.

B.     “…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things… but with the precious blood of Christ” (v. 18). The text tells us several important facts about the redemptive work of Christ.

1.      The Mosaic sacrificial system foreshadowed the sacrificial death of Christ; that is, he was a lamb without blemish or spot (v. 19).  

2.      Christ was ordained and approved for this unique task before the foundation of the world and manifested in time and space (v. 20).

3.      Christ’s atonement was authenticated by his glorious resurrection from the dead and glorification (v. 21).

4.      Faith and hope are grounded in Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection (v. 21b).

 

IV.             The Fourth Imperative: “Love one another with a fervent heart…”

A.    “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit” (v. 22): Peter assumed that his readers, as regenerate people, evidence fervent love for fellow Christians.  This love grows from the purifying work of the Holy Spirit and the believer’s practical obedience to God.

B.     “…having been born again… through the word of God.”  This phrase “the word of God” probably does not refer the New Testament.  If Peter wrote this epistle, as we have affirmed, most of the New Testament had not yet been written.  This term, therefore, probably reflects a reverence for the Old Testament and the significant oral tradition that grew from the life of the Savior.  Of course, in time, the Holy Spirit moved men to record this oral tradition in the pages of the New Testament. The point is that the original readers of Peter’s letter did not yet understand the “word” as a corpus of written materials.  Verses twenty-four and twenty-five affirm this view.  Peter emphasized the oral communication (notice the word “preached”) that these believers had heard (v. 25)