After 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.