Good morning! Thanks for joining me again today as we continue through 1 Peter. This morning we’re hearing from 1 Peter 1:13-25. Let’s read it together now.
Verse 13 begins with “Therefore”. Whenever you come across that word ‘therefore’ in the Bible – or really in any piece of literature that you’re trying to understand, but it’s especially important in the Bible – let that word stand out to you. Don’t just breeze past it. Don’t skim it. Take notice of it. What is that word doing? It’s taking the things that have already been said and showing us the consequences
So, what has already been said? Remember when we started this letter. We looked at just the opening two verses and those two verses said something huge. Peter showed these Christians who they are. He reminded them that they are have been chosen by the Father, they have been made holy – set apart – by the work of God the Holy Spirit and atoned for by the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s who they are. Their neighbours might abuse them, slander them, ridicule them, but this is the truth of their identity. They might be feeling like failures and misfits and like they don’t really matter, but this is who they truly are. Chosen by the Father, sanctified by the Spirit, cleansed by the Son. That’s the truth of who they are, and us too. You need to know who you are.
So that’s how Peter opens this letter: by telling them who they are. Not what they should do, or what they should be, but who and what they are already. Then Peter tells them about the hope that they have. He’s not talking about the hope that they should have, or the hope that they should aspire to, but the hope that they have. Last week’s sermon covered this. Verses 3 to 12. Peter tells them that they have a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A living hope because Jesus is alive. They have an inheritance, Peter says, that can never perish. No matter what this world throws at them they have this hope because of what God has done.
None of this relies on them being good enough or having the right attitudes. Christians are what they are because of what God has done. Christians have the hope that they have because of what God has already done.
Therefore, because of this God-given identity that they have, because of this God-given hope that they have, here is how they should respond:
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.
(1 Peter 1:13, NIV)
What Peter’s talking about here is the mental discipline of not dwelling in your present hardships in but looking forward to the grace of God that is surely coming. Yes, be aware of your hardships, don’t ignore them or dismiss them. Pray about them, grieve over them, lament, but don’t dwell in them. Remember that these things are not the end of your story. You’ve already been shown the end of your story. It is grace and glory. It’s the glorious completion of God’s work in us. We can’t forget how this story ends.
Peter tells them in the following verses to put away their old, evil ways and live out their new life, being holy like God their Father is holy. They are to live in “reverent fear”, it says in verse 17, not terrified, but having a deep respect and awe for the holy God who they call Father, knowing that he judges fairly and has set them free at a great price – the blood of Christ.
Peter emphasises that the faith and hope these people have for their salvation isn’t in anything fallible but in God Himself, it was God who raised Christ from the dead and it is God who has redeemed them through his suffering. The hope they have is rock solid and cannot be done away with no matter what they may suffer.
Then Peter encourages them to love one another. Christians must love one another. Christians are born again to a new life through faith in Christ, having heard the gospel, the imperishable word of God. We are united by the word of God and the saving blood of Christ into one family with God Almighty as our Father. This family is united by something stronger and more permanent than anything on earth. People say blood is thicker than water, but when you’re united by God then that is an even stronger bond. The church is a family, one that works together to love each other and help each other to grow in their walk with God.
Do you feel that way about your church? If not, then why not? We are a family, if something is wrong maybe you can help fix it, get involved, love, share, grow and help others to grow.
You have been given new life, the thing with life is that you have to live it. Embrace your new identity in Christ – ‘you’ singular, as a child of God; and ‘you’ plural, as a family brought together by Christ’s blood shed for you.
Maybe you’re wondering something. The opening of this letter is all about what a wonderful thing God has done. We have this new identity because of what God has done. We have this living hope because of what God has done. And now Peter is telling us the things that we must do. He’s telling us to set our hope and to be holy. Why tell people who have been made holy, to be holy? Why tell those who have a living hope to be hopeful?
I want you to imagine a prison. Someone walks into this prison, a visitor. He speaks to the prisoners about how they should get out more, enjoy the fresh air. He talks to them about travelling and how they should see the world and broaden their minds. He challenges them to spend more time with their families.
That would be cruel wouldn’t it? He’s telling them to do something that they cannot do. They’re either going to react with hatred for him for his cruelty, or they’re going to feel guilty about not being able to do these good things that he’s telling them they should do, or they’ll spend their lives trying and failing again and again at living up to this impossible standard.
People think that the Bible is like that. They think it’s a book of rules, Do this. Don’t do that. Impossibly high standards that provoke guilt or hatred. And they would be right if the Bible was just instructions, but it’s not.
The Bible gives us the indicatives before it gives us the imperatives. It tells us who and what we are before it tells us how we ought to live.
What Peter is doing here is encouraging his reader to be who they are. Be who you are. Be who God has already made you to be.
Imagine a prison again. Only it’s no longer a working prison. There’s no guards, no gates, no locks, no doors, no bars. It’s completely open and you can just walk out. But people are still there acting as if they’re locked up, sitting in their cells with the doors wide open. What Peter is doing here is like someone going into that prison and telling those people, “You are free! So, be free!”
“You are holy! So, be holy!”
“You have a living hope! So be hopeful!”
You have been set free from futile and evil ways that only lead to death. You’ve been freed by the blood of Jesus Christ shed for you. So be free! Free from the chains of sin! Free from futile ways. So be free!
That’s what this is about: be who you are. Be who God has made you to be.
Lord God, we thank you that we can worship you today, whether that’s at home or in a meeting house. We pray that you would keep us safe as we continue to weather the storm of this virus.
We pray today for those who mourn the loss of loved ones. We pray for those who are sick We pray for those who are taking care of others. Lord, bring your peace, your comfort, and your healing.
We pray for those who are stressed out and filled with anxiety. We pray for those who are depressed and feeling isolated. Lord God would you lift them up and hold them. Give them strength to push on towards better days.
We pray for those trying to keep their businesses afloat during these difficult times and those who fear losing their jobs. Help them. Help us to keep going.
We pray also for help and strength for those for whom life was already hard before any of this began and now find it unbearable.
We pray that things would improve soon. We pray for the death of this virus. We pray for vaccines and treatments and new ways of doing things that will stamp this disease out in our community.
We pray all this in Jesus’ name.