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Category: 1 Peter

Have hope and be holy

HopeAfter spending the previous few verses in the book of 1 Peter chapter 1 outlining some of the privileges and benefits of the Christian life, Peter says:

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13–16

1 Peter is written to a group of believers who were scattered across many different geographic areas and were suffering trials of many kinds. In light of that persecution and in light of the fact that they have been born again into a living hope, Peter encourages his readers to maintain an eternal perspective and not lose sight of their present reality in Christ and the future reality of an inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade. Here in verses 13–16 Peter exhorts his readers to:

Be Hopeful – Peter says to “set your hope”. But on what were his readers to set their hope? On the grace that will be brought at the revelation (the return or the second coming) of Jesus Christ. Peter is saying that the exiles are to have an attitude and outlook that anticipates or expects it.

But how are they to do this? Especially when they are exiled and facing trials, persecution, and uncertainty? Peter says by preparing their minds for action and being sober-minded and self-controlled. By not allowing external circumstances to guide and direct their attitudes, responses and decisions but rather being directed by the Holy Spirit who resides within.

Be Holy – Peter also exorts his readers to be holy in all their conduct. They are to be holy because God is holy and He has called His people to be holy as well. They are to be in the world but not of the world. They are to be ambassadors for Christ who represent His truth and His love to a lost, sinful world. They are to offer their bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. But again, the question is how to do this?

Peter says they are to not conform to the passions of their former ignorance. Being holy isn’t necessarily about being perfect or blameless as much as it is about being set apart, as obedient children, in humble service to God. An obedience that is motivated by love. An obedience that is empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Regardless of your situation – whether you are an elect exile of the dispersion in Asia Minor or whether you are a suburban home-schooling mother in the 21st century – Peter encourages us to be hopeful and to be holy. Although we may feel like aliens and strangers in a foreign land and although we may be suffering from persecution and trials of many kinds, we have a future hope that will not disappoint. Let not our present circumstances distract us from our future reality. Let us eagerly anticipate and expect Christ’s return. Let us prepare our minds for action and make conscious decisions of the will to be holy and hopeful. For God’s glory and our joy.

Because He Cares for You

I’m diverging a bit from my normal practice of journaling my thoughts from the ESV Study Bible Reading Plan. Instead, I’m going to share some thoughts I had while reading through the fifth chapter of 1st Peter. In particular, the following verses:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:6-7

The context here is that Peter has written this letter to the “exiles of the dispersion”. These are believers in Christ that have been scattered to a place that is not their home and is not necessarily of their choosing. Additionally, they are being persecuted both culturally and religiously. In the midst of all this, Peter is encouraging them to be firm in their salvation, be holy and submit. He’s encouraging them to submit to leaders that they didn’t elect and a government with which they do not agree. He’s encouraging slaves to submit to their masters. He’s encouraging wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to live with their wives in understanding. And he’s encouraging believers in Christ to submit to one another. So, in the context of all this suffering and persecution, how can the readers of Peter’s letter possibly submit themselves in the way in which he is encouraging?

The answer is that they must first submit themselves to God. And they submit themselves to God through, and in, humility. The humility that acknowledges that without the grace and mercy of Christ, it is (humanly) impossible to submit given the circumstances. Humility that is aware that the very same spirit that was powerful enough to raise Christ from the dead is at work within the life of the believer and provides the strength to bear the current burdens and offer comfort.  Humility that realizes that God is sovereign and works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purposes. Humility that is willing to endure the current and temporary pain for eternal glory and exaltation that shall be provided at the (God-determined) appropriate time.

One practical way the believer can humble himself is to do what verse 7 says– “casting all your anxieties on him”. I have finally come to the conclusion that trying to bear that burden of anxiety in my own strength and in my own way is essentially pride. It’s failing to acknowledge God’s sovereign role in allowing the circumstances to come about and it’s failing to acknowledge a dependency on God’s mercy and grace to persevere through the circumstances. By holding on to anxieties as opposed to casting them on God, it also fails to acknowledge the fact that, “he cares for you”.

God is a loving and compassionate Heavenly father that deeply cares for his children. He desires nothing but his best for his children. I think about this in the context of myself as a father to three children. There have been times where my children are anxious about doing something but I ask them to do it anyway because even though it may be unpleasant for a little while, I know it is in their best interests. I know that it will yield good things for them and the temporary discomfort is nothing compared to the good things that will come on the other side of the pain. I also know how much I love them and how I would never do anything to harm them.

Do you believe that God is your Heavenly father and that he cares for you? Do you believe that he knows what is best for you and desires to not hurt you but rather to give you a hope and a future? If you do, cast all your cares and anxieties on him. Walk in the freedom that comes in knowing that whatever “burdens” the Lord has allowed to come in to your life right now do not come close to comparing to what he has in store for your eternity. Take joy in humbling yourself now because in due time, God will exalt you and once he does, it will be for all eternity. Amen.

Suffering for our benefit and His glory

In 1 Peter 4:12-19, Peter is instructing the church (the exiles of the dispersion) in the discipline of suffering and providing them with the perspective to see how God uses it to purify His church.  The realities are that most people (myself included) like to focus on the blessings that go along with being in Christ. We like to thank God for his patience and how long suffering He is.  We like to remind ourselves how much God loves us and how He is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. It’s really easy to focus on God’s promises that deal with our blessing and well being. It’s an entirely different story when we are confronted with promises of suffering. Here’s what Peter tells the church in 1 Peter 4:12-19:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.  But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Peter is telling the readers of this letter to not be surprised when trials come upon them. He reminds them that it’s not “if” trials come upon them but rather “when”. In other words, you can count on it. It’s planned. God isn’t surprised when it happens so we shouldn’t be surprised either. Trials have a purpose. They are to test. They are to prove a believer’s faith and to strengthen it.

And, when believers are counted worthy enough to suffer in Christ’s name, it becomes something that identifies us with Him. The suffering becomes something that provides evidence of a life lived in faith and submission to the son of God.  As we learn to rejoice in our present sufferings it allows us to gain a perspective necessary to fully partake and experience the joy that will come when God’s glory is finally revealed.

Peter also provides the assurance that God will not allow us to experience suffering or trials that God has not first equipped us to endure. Notice verse 14 when it says, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you”. There is heavenly provision in the face of suffering for Christ’s namesake. The very Spirit of glory and of God will rest upon you. This is the same spirit that rested upon Jesus as described in Isaiah 11:2-

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

So, according to this cross-reference, when believers experience a trail or are insulted because of the name of Jesus, we will have a Spirit rest on us that will give us the wisdom and understanding to know what’s going on and what we should do in response to the trial. It will be a Spirit that will provide us with counsel on what to do and the courage to follow through in obedience. And it will be a Spirit that will fill us with a fear of the Lord as opposed to a fear of the trial or the potential outcome of the trial.

I don’t know about you but that is pretty reassuring to me. To know that God has a plan to bless me and sometime that blessing comes in the form of trials and troubles of all kinds. But when those situations come, they are for my good and for His glory. They are to prepare me to rejoice and enjoy the glory that will be revealed. They are to test and strengthen my faith. They are to purify and refine me. And, in the midst of trials, the Spirit of God will rest upon me and enable me to persevere in a way that will bring honor to the name above all names.

Are you prepared for the trials that are sure to come? Are you ready to rejoice when they do? Do you believe that God is sovereign and that suffering is not outside the will of God?

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