Obedient Children - 1 Peter 1:13-16

In 1 Peter 1:13-16, Peter moves from reminding you what God has done to giving you instruction in how you should respond to what God has done. God has given you a deeper identity than “exile”; He has caused you to be born again to a living hope, to become God’s children by faith. And so in these verses, Peter presents two applications flowing from the new birth: first, set your hope on future grace (v. 13), and second, be holy in all your conduct (v.15).

In giving his first application, Peter begins with a two-fold precondition. “Set your hope fully on grace” is how you bake the cake, but in order to preheat the oven, your mind must be prepared for action, and you must be sober-minded. You can’t set your hope on grace if your mind keeps tripping over misunderstandings about exile, the new birth, trials, or the coming salvation. You need a self-controlled mind that doesn’t react to trials in faithless or fearful ways.

So, having been prepared for action by the sober-minded gospel truths of verses 3-12, therefore set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This is helpful, because in the present, the exiles are undergoing various trials, and there’s nothing like the troubles of exile to make you put on rose-colored glasses towards the past, or attach your hopes to anything that promises relief here and now.

But what if the real problem isn’t the trials of being an exile, but rather misplacing your hope? If your hope is to get back to the way it was before, that’s a dead hope. The past isn’t coming back. And if your hope is for a comfortable life in the present, that’s still a dead hope, because it won’t last. You’re going to die, and whatever you’re hoping in now will perish with you.

So what’s a living hope, a hope that’s beyond the reach of death? Here’s what Peter proclaims: “My hope is that when Jesus Christ appears in glory, I will be raised up in a new glorified body to inherit imperishable, undefiled, and unfading life with Him forever in the new heavens and the new earth.” So set your hope fully on that, the grace that Jesus will bring in the future.

As Peter leads into his second instruction (be holy in all your conduct) he has preconditions for this one, too: first, be holy as obedient children. Your relationship to your Father both demands your holiness and shapes your holiness. You must be holy in obedience to your Father’s commands, and the way holiness is lived out is in imitation of your Father: be holy as He is holy. As obedient children, obey Him and look like Him.

The second precondition of holiness is this: as obedient children, do not being conformed to the passions of your former ignorance. Everyone worships, and everyone keeps some god’s holiness code. By converting to Christ, you’ve changed the object of your worship, but you also need to change the manner of your worship. Formerly, your worship was shaped by your ignorant passions. Now, you need to honor God according to His standards of holiness.

Since you were formerly ignorant, your instincts tempt you to try to set yourselves apart from the world in worldly ways. All too often Christians angrily, violently, manipulatively, hypocritically denounce the world’s sins or try to correct our own sins “for Jesus”. But using worldly tactics doesn’t set you apart from the world! Ignorant passions cannot help you obey Jesus. They need to be replaced with the sober-minded obedience of faith. And so in verse 16, Peter quotes from Leviticus 19, where God gave Israel instructions on how to live holy lives in an unholy world, making the point that you must conduct yourself according to the Word of God.

When God’s Word guides your conduct, what sets you apart is laying down your life for others. Caring for the weak and helpless. Loving one another when you have nothing in common except the gospel. Fighting tooth and nail against injustice when it’s done to others, and cheerfully enduring injustice when it’s done to you. What sets you apart is having a hope that reaches beyond the grave, and a joy that trials cannot touch.

Such hope-filled holiness seems strange now, since Jesus hasn’t made all things new yet. It makes you stand out like a sore thumb now. But when Jesus Christ is revealed, God’s obedient children will receive everything that they hoped for, and their holiness will set them apart for praise, glory, and honor.

Posted on Thursday, June 30, 2016 by CJ Bowen