THE EXILES RESPONSE TO THE GOSPEL CALL
1 Peter 1:13-25
In the parable of the faithful servant, Jesus said, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” Luke 12:48. This is equally true in what is before us this morning as it pertains to our response to a gospel confession. Peter’s hope was a “Living hope” and it was living because it was grounded in the finish work of the gospel of Christ. Peter spoke of nothing less than the hope of a real Heaven. And for the exiles in Christ this message could not have come at a better time. Peter has elevated our salvation to the very top of the list of what produces the most joy in our lives as we endure hardships and trials. And as we wait for that glorious day we daily respond as confessional people of the Lord Jesus Christ, by pursuing what pleases God.
Our hope and holiness is what brings the most glory to God in our lives. It is relationship with God, a covenant relationship fleshed out by grace in faith and practice throughout every sphere of life.” Pursuing our eternal hope in holiness is a proper biblical response to our confession. This is the prime way of honoring God as we endure suffering and trials of this life. Why? First, it’s our position in the finished work of Christ…it’s only by His blood that we are declared holy and blameless. (v19) Second, it’s our practical position that needs to be daily molding and reshaping because we are sinners saved by grace. (v15-v17) This hope in holiness is something God has called the believer too. “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” 1 Thess 4:7. Peter knows that the readers need to be spiritually refreshed so he sets out to make them ready to live out obedient lives for Christ. Peter having established a theologically rich basis for our faith and hope, he is now ready to bring his next sentence with “Therefore”.
“Therefore” exhorts the readers on how they are to conduct themselves to what’s been previously said. Elected by God, rejected by the world. Our heavenly citizenship and our responsibility of our earthy citizenship. The confessional life produces this as we see in the opening part of this letter (v3-v5) and also reminded again in (v22a) “purified” We have been purified, saved, to have the capacity to love like this through the gospel confession. To love one another, pursue holiness, gives us the capacity to meet the needs of others, which gives God the most glory in our lives. This should be the Christian’s aim, or guide in life, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” 2 Cor 7:1. We are to stop living sinfully as we did prior to regeneration. For the Christian, we must endeavour to pursue this hope, in holiness, for His glory and for the sake of the gospel in all our circumstances. The Christian life takes on a visible shape of mentally prepared, self-controlled, anchored in divine grace, obedient and not conforming to the desires associated with our former life.
Therefore The Exiles Response Is To Prepare Our Minds For Healthy Action. (v13)
The response is hidden right in the middle of this verse, “set your hope fully on the grace.” We are to prepare our minds on this truth by being “Sober-minded” this includes…a steadfastness, self-control, clarity of mind and moral decisiveness. This means we have to always be ready to run and not be enticed by the things that once held us captive. We are to “gird our loins” the ability to move quickly in times of trouble or temptation; and also in our suffering and trials. This phrase would seem unfamiliar with our generation but for the early believers this would have made perfect sense. The ancient custom would be gathering up one’s long robe by pulling them between the legs, then wrapping and tying them around the waist. In order to prepare ourselves to run we need to gird yourself, as the ancient believers did so they don’t trip, if they had to move fast. This means to pull in all loose ends of one’s thinking, Peter is speaking metaphorically to one’s thinking, as Paul said, “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth...” Eph 6:14. As one theologian wrote, “Christians are called in Scripture not to leave their minds in the parking lot when they enter into the church but to awaken their minds so that they may think clearly and deeply about the things of God.”
Peter says we are to set our minds on what the gospel has done and produces in our lives (v13) What has the gospel produced in our lives? That despite hardships… we have a freedom, a hope, a joy and an eternal promise. We are to set our mind on pure godly thoughts. We need to guard our heart as the wellspring of life, guarding carefully the things we put into it. Filthy thoughts will produce a filthy life. And Godly thoughts will produce a godly life. High thoughts of God lead to a high life of godly living. If you have low thoughts of God, it will leads to low living, which ultimately lead to gutter living. In other words, “Do not be intoxicated with mind-numbing drugs. We are to function in the Christian life soberly when approaching the Scriptures and the hope we have.” We live in a world system that promotes evil and laughs and shuns at righteousness and godly living. We live in a culture that is desperately trying to get your attention and fill your mind with worldly pleasures. The battle of the mind is serious! Jesus said “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Mark 14:38. Here Peter tells us to “Prepare or Think” this is your inner disposition, the compass that points the believer north and to home. Our compass should always be pointed heavenward, because heavenly thoughts can only come by focusing on heavenly realities.
This is what a healthy mind prepares for! To have this hope Peter expresses here we need to disentangle ourselves from this world, and gird our minds with a healthy mind of heaven. Our hope is not uncertainty but a certainty, “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf…” Heb 6:19-20. We are to be a people, who wake up every morning and say, “What will bring God the most glory in my life today? This is the believer’s primary response to holiness as we live the exile life through the gospel confession in the hope of eternal life. Let God’s word… be your compass as you face the next struggle or trial in your life. Let God’s word… teach your heart to fully rest in His grace as you fight this world’s temptation. Let God’s word… shape and sanctify your thoughts by the Spirit as you face each day.
Don’t allow the world to mold you to seek other things in the midst of trials and sufferings. Don’t allow the world to steal your joy in your suffering with worldly trinkets, and catch phrases. Peter says “completely” or it could be rendered “fully.” (v13) The Christian life isn’t half-hearted sentiments, but a gospel saturated life that has no doubt concerning the promises of God. The believer owes their hope exclusively to God’s graciousness and faithfulness through the gospel….. completely. This also means that we do not to become faint or weary in our trials. We are not to abandon the hopes of the gospel, but we are to cherish those hopes to the end of life, no matter what opposition we might be meet with.
Therefore the Exiles Response Is To Regard Yourself As Dead To Your Flesh And Alive To God In Christ. (v13b-v14)
Not only do we think vertically because of this great salvation but we are to
“set” our hope on the future that is yet to come. “Set” or in other translations “fix” this is a singular focus, it’s a command that is “a binding act of will, not merely an emotional feeling.” It’s an imperative, not when you feel like it. Why? This world is not to allure us into our former selves. Seek to cultivate the same hatred toward sin as God does towards sin. Recognize the God is worthy of obedience not only as Judge but especially as a loving Father. Peter says “Do not be conformed” means “to shaped after, or fashioned by it” “Lusts” characterizes our former unregenerate selves, our sinful desires being pursued and meet on a daily basis.
Other example of not conforming would be…..
I love the covenant institution of marriage; therefore I hate unbiblical divorce.
I love the gift of life; therefore I hate the killing of life.
I love my wife; therefore I hate adultery, fornication and sexual immorality.
I love the Scriptures; therefore I hate every false teaching.
I love God for saving me from the penalty of sin; therefore I hate my sin and the sins of man.
We are to flee from former lusts, as Peter says, “Do not be conformed” (v14) This is as an outward expression that does not reflect what is really inside. We are not to masquerade or put on an act; by following the patterns of out former ignorance. Ignorance is referring to who you were before you were saved; meaning you did not know any better as Paul said, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world...” Eph 2:1-2. Ignorance is one of the root causes of our sin, “….that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility ignorance of their minds.” Eph 4:17. Don’t be ignorant to your formal lusts that characterized our former life including… Sinful desires and thoughts, evil longings, uncontrolled appetites, sensual impulses and anything else that scripture deems sinful.
John MacArthur wrote, “It is not uncommon for unbelievers to mask themselves as Christians. Unfortunately it also is not uncommon for Christians to wear the world’s mask.” What has become so common in the church must not become common in you and me. We must not pattern our lives after the spirit of this age. We are not to chase after this present sinful age and allow them to squeeze you into its mold or ideologies. Peter is reminding us of our former ignorance as Paul did with Titus? “We ourselves were once foolish disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice, envy, hated by others and hating one another.” Titus 3:3. The beauty of the gospel, and the mercy of God, overlooks our previous ignorant state and that is what we fully rest in. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent.” Acts 17:30. See! God would have been just to send Adam and Eve to destruction, but God in His mercy has withheld His wrath unto appointed time. This is important because God has fixed a day when He will judge the world in the righteousness by a man whom He has appointed. (v20-v21) The gospel is the means to which we are saved from those former lusts that kept us in bondage, and separation from His grace. And we are to be sober-minded because disobedience disrupts the pattern of our obedience, and will always rob us of our joy.
This is the beauty of the gospel as Peter
Therefore The Exiles Response Is Walking In Holiness On The Grounds Of The Gospel. (v15-v21)
Holiness essentially defines the believer’s new nature and our new conduct. Holiness essentially defines the Christian’s new nature in contrast with our previously unconverted lifestyle. We consequently glorify God best by being like Him. John Calvin wrote, God sets us apart as a particular people for Himself; then we ought to be free from all pollutions.” Jesus said, “You therefore be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matt 5:48. Jesus has set an unattainable standard, though it’s impossible to meet by you and me, Christ has met this standard on our behalf. (v19) This removes any pressure from you and me, but it also gives a point of direction and desire to pursue holiness for the glory of God. This why when we read, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Eph 5:1-2. We have no greater calling, or purpose, than that of imitating our Great God and King. This is the very purpose of our sanctification as we grow in the likeness of His Son, by pursuing holiness.
We glorify Him by being like Him. We walk in holiness, because Peter says we have been “ransomed”. This means to buy back someone from bondage, by the payment of a price. An amazing demonstration of being ransomed in the Old Testament is found when Hosea redeems his harlot wife. “And the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins." So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley. And I said to her, "You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you." Hosea 3:1-3. The silence in the slave market was broken by the voice of Hosea, the last person anyone would have expected to have interest in Gomer. This man bought back his unfaithful wife and took her home; this is a demonstration of true redeeming and forgiving love. The Scriptures call this a picture of redemption. This is what Jesus has done for us in what God told Hosea to do for Gomer. “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:17-18
We would use worldly goods that perish like silver or gold, but God uses the imperishable, His Son. “But with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (v19) As John the Baptist said when he saw Jesus coming towards him, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. “ John 1:29. It’s His blood that purifies our conscience to serve Him, to love Him, and to pursue holiness. “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Hebrews 9:14. This is the marvel of redemption that God would send His Son to pay a penalty for my bondage that is caused by sin. Peter does this by appealing to God the Father, who is an impartial judge as a motivation for his readers. (v17) This is the appropriate response of the Christian in a fallen world; all because of God’s holiness and righteous judgement. This is a proper response because there is no tension between God and the child of God anymore, through the saving blood of Christ. We know having received God’s mercy and grace to a living hope.
If we could summarize this portion of Peter’s letter… We are to be a people who are “nonconformists” meaning to the patterns and customs of this fallen humanity. We are to be a people who practice in the ethics of God rather than the world. We are to say, do, and act with a biblical worldview and not one of the cultures. Satan, may, and will win many of the little battles you struggle with, but understand the war has been one…the victory is ours through Jesus Christ my Lord. Therefore, this is why we fix our hope fully in Christ, and pursue holiness in every circumstances. This is what brings God the most glory in your life as you rest fully in His grace. Our response to this calling is motivated by God’s character. (v15-v16) Our response to this calling is motivated by God’s judgement. (v17) Our response to this calling is motivated by Christ’s sacrifice. (v18-v19)
May you and I emulate that beauty as we pursue and live
the Christian life today and tomorrow. We are to practice what we preach to ourselves and to others. We demonstrate to others there is hope even is our sufferings and trials. We recognize and understand that this battle is real and this culture wants my mind. What we feed on daily will affect our heart, and our affections, as we live out the exile life. Not one of us is exempt from hardships and the testing’s of this world. We are to dwell on the things of righteousness, on healthy and holy living. These Biblical truths should define our lives and they should saturate our thinking. We are to aim or focus on what God says we are to do and stop listening to the world. Preparing our minds for Him is what gives God the greatest glory in our lives as exile believers. We are to prepare our minds by…Mediating, dwelling on, as we set our hope fully on His grace through the gospel.