|LIVING IN HOLINESS
1 PETER 1:13-21
Series: Living For Heaven In A Hell Bound World - Part Two
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
September 2, 2012
This morning we’re going on with our study of 1 Peter. In your bulletin there are Message Notes that will be helpful for you. You’ll notice that there is no “Taking It Home” part of the notes. That’s because we’re providing a Sermon Based Study that we’re making available for our Life Groups and others who are interested. You’ll find those Study Notes on the table in the entrance or on our website.
Coming to 1 Peter - the title of our study is “Living for Heaven in a Hell bound world.” Which describes the struggle that we go through in life.
As Christians one of the realities that we struggle with - that we’re often painfully aware of - is that we live in two worlds. Our home is in Heaven - we long to be there - and yet we live here on earth - in a world that is in serious serious trouble.
(Cartoon) “Sweetie? ...You have to come out. It’s the first day of school.” “No! I refuse to go. They can get someone else to teach my classes.”
Do you ever feel like that? Just let me text it in and go back to bed. Let someone else deal with reality today.
Here in 1 Peter - Peter is writing about that struggle - where the rubber the meets the asphalt of life. How do we live for Heaven in a Hell bound world?
Please join me at 1 Peter 1 - starting down at verse 13. Verses 13 to 21 - the section of Peter’s letter that we’re looking at today - Peter’s How to live is about living in holiness. If we’re going to live for Heaven in a Hell bound world then - Peter writes - we need to live in holiness. Verses 13 to 21 are how we do that.
1 Peter 1 - starting at verse 13: Therefore - meaning because of God’s grace - which what Peter has written about in verses 1 to 12 - what we looked at last Sunday. The undeserved favor of God.
Therefore - because of God’s grace. Because when we were undeserving - unworthy - rebelling and disobedient to God - worthy of God’s condemnation and punishment - eternity in Hell - God, knowing every ugly thing we’ve ever done - are doing - and ever will do - knowing that we could never measure up - never earn or achieve salvation or anything even coming close to what we needed to be right before God - God because He is grace - Jesus goes to the cross - dies in our place taking our penalty for our sin - as we confess our sin, trust God with our lives, and claim Jesus as our Savior - God puts on Him all of the sin, condemnation, and wrath that should have been ours and gives to us the righteousness of Jesus.
Jesus gets our death. We get life with God. Because God is gracious. God’s grace changes everything. Changes our trajectory in life. Changes our relationship with Him. The life we get to live. Forgiven of our sins. Free of the penalty of sin. Forever with God - living out His great purposes for our lives.
That reality is a truth that we need to embrace at the core of who we are every day and every second that God gives us breath to live. To let that truth - that we are receivers of God’s grace - that God is gracious to me - to embrace that truth so that God’s grace really does change everything about how we do life - everything about how we live for Heaven in a Hell bound world.
Peter writes, “Therefore - because God is gracious - 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.
Let’s pause and grab Peter’s point.
Picture someone wearing a toga - a long robe - very middle eastern of the first century. Picture that?
Around town - doing business - hanging out - a person would wear that robe with the folds hanging down around their ankles. But before someone would head off on a journey or go off to work they would bind up this long robe - gather it up - tie it up around their waist. Picture that?
Reason being they’re preparing for action. Stuff is going to happen here that we need to be ready for and not tripping over our toga.
In the original Greek that describes what the word “preparing” means. Gird up the toga of your mind. Be prepared for what’s coming.
Peter goes on: “and being sober minded.” Meaning - think clearly - keep your thoughts under control. When stuff happens a sober minded person isn’t going to come apart mentally. They’re going to think through the situation - work the problem. Do the WWJD thing.
Peter goes on: Set your hope fully - meaning don’t let circumstances distract you from what you need to stay focused on - set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. - keep focused on all that God has promised you - that’s coming to you when Jesus comes back.
What Peter is getting at is that even though we’re living in a world with serious anti-God issues - trials and temptations - and distractions and things to trip us up - our focus needs to rise above all that - to God Who is higher - to God Who is sovereign - to God Who gracious.
Let’s grab the big picture here. Not just the temporal today stuff that we let mess us up.
When we go out of here and get nailed with a this side of hell moment - are we going to get up on our own little pedestal of self-worth and wallow in how we’ve been wronged or put together our clever little solutions of how to deal with things?
Or are we going embrace the truth that God is gracious - still in control of things - that life is about Who? God and all that He has for us. And so will we trust Him? Set our minds and thoughts and focus on Him?
Peter writes, “Be prepared for what’s going to happen to you out there. Get your minds off of this world that’s bound for hell and focus on what God by His grace has for you in Jesus Christ.”
Peter’s first “Live in Holiness” how to is for us to Elevate Our Focus. Let’s say that together. “Elevate our focus.”
Going on - verse 14: 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.”
Peter’s second “How to live in holiness” is for us to Live Separate. Let’s say that together: “Live separate.”
He pleases God even in his sleep.
He chooses to reconcile his free will with God’s sovereignty.
He is humble even when he’s proud.
He is repentant even though he has never sinned.
When God seeks wisdom God seeks him.
He is... the most holy man alive.
Verse 16 is brutal. “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” How are we suppose to process that? Speaking just for myself - just last year I sinned. I think. At least once - maybe twice.
What does it mean for a Christian to be holy? Does that mean not smoking or drinking or playing cards or swearing - walking around with a grim look like we just drank concentrated lemon juice - taking with “thees” and “thous” - trying to sound all pious?
Peter’s “You shall be holy, for I am holy” is a quote from Leviticus - God speaking to His people through Moses. The quote - in context - reads like this: “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy… For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”
Leviticus 20:26 takes that same command “Be holy” and connects it with the role of Israel as God’s special people. “You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.”
What we understand of God’s holiness is that God is “other than” His creation. God is completely separate.
We have holy matrimony because two people commit themselves to a unique intimate relationship - separating themselves from others and uniquely to each other in a marital relationship. We have the Holy Scriptures because God the Holy Spirit inspired authors to write what is totally unique - separate - from anything else that’s been written.
God separates His people from all the other people’s of the world because God chooses to do so. God chooses Abraham. Chooses to make his descendants into a great nation. Chooses to preserve His people in Egypt. Chooses to deliver them out of Egypt. Chooses to give them the Promised Land.
God’s people are to be uniquely separate as God’s people because the holy God has chosen them - separated them out - to be holy - His holy people.
What Peter is writing of here is God’s calling of His people to live separate.
Simon Kistenmaker - in His commentary on this passage in 1 Peter - Kistenmaker says this, “God calls His people to be holy because He is holy. Among God’s characteristics....none is more significant than His holiness....the descriptive adjective “holy” reveals God’s absolute purity....The state and action of God’s being. God is sinless, cannot be influenced by sin, and in His holiness destroys sin.”
As believers in Jesus Christ - those upon whom God has chosen to lavish His grace - we are God’s people. We are called to live holy - separate from the world around us.
Notice that Peter does not write that we’re to sell everything and head off to Montana and live in some kind of utopian commune waiting for Jesus to return. Peter doesn’t say that. Peter writes that we are to live right here - right now - in the life meets the asphalt reality of today - verse 14 - obedient to God. That means that today we no longer conform our lives to the passions that we conformed to before we came to faith in God.
Now that you know those things are wrong now you need to choose to not go there. And that is hard. Yes?
Remember Moses and the 10 plagues? God’s people were where? Egypt. Living as slaves. Building cities for the Pharaohs. Crying out to God. God sends Moses with the message for His people, “I hear your pain.” Ten plagues - God taking out Pharaoh and his army - humbling the most powerful nation on earth - and the parting of the Red Sea later - God’s people are headed out across the desert for the Promised Land.
Along the way God’s people live in complete holiness - purity before God. Right? Not exactly. Even knowing what they knew about God and what God had delivered them from - there was the whole golden calf thing. The whole we don’t have water and food thing. We like Egypt better. Moses and Aaron are a couple of shlameals. Basically God’s people turned out to be a bunch of whiners.
And yet time and time again God comes through for His people. Proving that He - their God - is trustworthy and totally beyond able to do whatever is necessary to take care of His people and fulfill His promises to them.
Finally this bunch of whiners gets across the desert to where they can see the Promised Land. They’re right there on the border of Edom. And God’s people - several million strong - a huge irresistible force - knowing all that God has done for them and all that God has promised them - God’s people send a message to the king of Edom - not demanding his surrender - “Go fall on your sword before we wipe you out” - but God’s people plead with the king of Edom to let them pass through his land - promising to stay on the main highway - not to touch or take anything - or be offensive in any way. They even promise to pay for damages or to pay for anything they might need.
When king of Edom shows up with an army God’s people stick their tails between their legs and head off back into the wilderness - dejected and defeated. (Numbers 20:14-21)
Why? Why didn’t they just trust God and go in a slaughter their enemies - enemies that for generations to come were going to be a huge problem for them? One of the last Edomites was Herod who attempts to kill Jesus. Why? Why not move forward into all that God had promised them instead of whining about giants in the land and retreating?
Grab this: You can take slave out of Egypt but its way harder to take Egypt out of the slave. They’re still thinking like slaves. Not the conquering people God has separated them out to be.
And that’s why we struggle to live holy. Because even though God has separated us - redeemed us - set us free from our former passions - we still live thinking that we’re bound by all that crud that’s heading for Hell.
Jesus said, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” Sin becomes our master - we end up serving sin - mind, soul, and body. Hard to let go of that. Jesus goes on, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34,36)
Are we together? If God sets us free - think from slavery in Egypt - if God chooses to lavish His grace on us - setting us apart as His people - freeing us through the blood of Jesus - our Passover lamb - then we are - present tense - done deal - are free indeed.
What we need to let go of is the mentality of a slave and to embrace the mentality of one set free by God.
To live holy means that we need to embrace the truth of God’s grace - to get our hearts and minds - the core of who we are - wrapped around the reality that God has freed us - separated us out from all of that.
Because as Peter says, God has chosen us to be holy. Which means that holiness isn’t dependent on our efforts. Living holy is about our waking up to the reality that - in Christ by God’s grace - we already are a holy man or women of God.
How does that mind change happen? Peter writes, “Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.”
Being conformed means allowing those former passions to shape our lives - to mold us - to squeeze us into their image - to bind our hearts and minds in an unholy alliance to this world. To not be conformed means choosing to break free of whatever binds us - enslaves us - to our former passions.
Physically we may not be there. But mentally we’re very much tied to the past.
Rejecting sin means rejecting the lies of
lies we accumulate and hang on to as we go through
life. “You’re stupid - worthless - human
never amount to anything. You’re a
damaged goods. Look
how you’ve messed up.”
Or maybe more of mind bender, “You’re better than those people. We expect great things from you. Don’t let us down.”
Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31,32)
As God’s people - Christ’s disciples - grab onto what God says about you. You are the one that God has lavished His grace upon - who He makes holy through the blood of Jesus Christ. Who God forgives and restores to live out His great purposes through you - now and forever.
Maybe tradition binds you. Traditions in our culture. Traditions in our families. Our world is focused on self and self-gratification - sexual immorality - drunkeness - drugs - gluttony - greed - and we could go on. In some of the places we’ve come from those are part of the way things are - traditions - customary expectations of how people live. Former ignorance that needs to be turned from.
Jesus speaking to the great tradition keepers of God’s people - Jesus asked the Pharisees, “Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of tradition?” (Matthew 15:3).
When it comes to sin - even generational
sin - lifestyles and attitudes and examples of sinful
behavior that we’ve picked up from our upbringing and
we’re passing on to our children - when it comes to
sin true repentance is essential.
True repentance meaning not that we want God to free us from the guilt feelings we have over our sin so that we can go on living however we want to keep on living. But true repentance meaning that our desire is to turn from that sin - to renounce it - to reject it - and to never go back. To place our lives in God’s hands to do with whatever He needs to do to free us from bondage to that sin.
Let’s be clear. Repentance isn’t about our being clever about dealing with our sin. That’s how we got into this mess in the first place. Repentance means choosing to turn from - to renounce - to reject our sin - and grab hold of God’s hand and letting Him lead us out of the crud of our sin whatever that takes. Do you hear the mind changing in that?
Dealing with what binds us to our sin means repenting of whatever needs repenting of - confessing whatever needs confessing - seeking restitution and forgiveness and resolution of whatever needs restituting - forgiving - and resolving. Cut off relationships and behavior and opportunities for sin. Don’t hide it. Deal with. Do whatever God leads you to do. Bottom line: Turn to God. Follow God. Do it.
If we do not honestly deal with our sin and the lies and traditions of sin then that sin will bind us - keep us enslaved. Our Adversary will use it and keep on using it to tear us down and keeping us living for Hell when we should be living separated as God’s holy people.
Embrace this - “If the Son has set you free” - what are you? Free indeed. In Christ - you are holy. So live separate for Him. Let go of Egypt.
Peter’s third “How to live in holiness” is to Revere God. Let’s repeat that together: “Revere God.”
It seems like most people today like to talk about God being a God of love and mercy and grace - about the blessings of God. But talking about fearing God and God as judge makes a whole lot of people - even some Christians - fearing God and God as our judge makes people really uncomfortable. They just don’t want to go there.
But Peter doesn’t mince words - writing about the impartial justice of the God Who demands holiness.
Hebrews 12:21 tells us that when Moses - in front of Mount Sinai - Moses saw the fire - the cloud - heard the thunderous voice of God - Moses was so frightened that Moses exclaimed, “I’m terrified and trembling.”
Scripture tells us that our response to God is to be like that: “Worshiping God with holy fear and awe. Our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28,29)
Philippians 2:12 says that we are to live out our salvation “with fear and trembling.”
Peter writes that if we’re going to call God our Father - like Jesus taught His disciples to pray - “Our Father” - very intimate - if we’re going to call God our Father then we must speak and act - verse 14 - as “obedient children.” We need to reverence our Father knowing that one day we’re going to give to Him an accounting for how we’ve lived our lives here on earth. He’s going to hold us accountable for our obedience or lack of.
Paul writes - Romans 14:12 - “Each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Believer and non-believer - doesn’t matter. God is going to hold all of us individually and impartially accountable for how we’ve lived here on earth.
2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
One day - maybe not too far down the line of future history - one day we’re all going to stand before God as our judge. As believers - God is going to reward us plus or minus according to how we lived.
Corinthians 3:10-15 tells us that when everything
comes out in the open God is going to be the one to
say, “This deserves reward and this doesn’t.”
judgment will separate what is rewardable from what is
not rewardable - commendable from not commendable.
Some of us will make it into heaven with tons of accolades here on earth and very few rewards from God - if any. Some of us will make it into heaven being hardly noticed here but hugely rewarded by God. God knows the motivation behind why we do what we do. Is it for Him or ourselves.
Are we together? God will judge our works and expose our motives with impartiality. How’s that for motivation - a gut check - for how you’re living your life?
Peter writes - it doesn’t matter what our circumstances are - we need to live in reverence of God - our Father. Respecting Him. Honoring Him. Living separate for Him. In holiness as His people.
Verse 18 - Elevate your thinking - live separate - revere God - knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Verse 20: He - Jesus - was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest - revealed - in the last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Peter’s fourth “How to live in holiness” is to Focus On Jesus. Let’s repeat that together. “Focus on Jesus.”
This is what? The Great Wall of China. Took hundreds of years to build. With all its branches - it measures around 13,000 miles in length. A gigantic structure which cost an immense amount of money and labor to build. When it was finished, it seemed impregnable.
But the enemy breached it. Not by breaking it down or going around it. They did it by bribing the gatekeepers.
“A fence is only as strong as its’... weakest link.” Satan looks for our weakest links. The place we are most vulnerable to attack. And then he’s very subtle.
We must remain focused on Jesus because our primary battlefield is our mind. Our Adversary sets his sights on our minds. If Satan can get us focused someplace else - what’s coming at us - wounds - how others let us down - what we’ve failed at - past sins - if he can get us focused anyplace else rather than the hope we have in Jesus we’re toast.
Peter writes that we conduct ourselves with holy lives - verse 18 - by “knowing that we were ransomed - purchased out of slavery - not by perishable things - the cheap and temporal stuff of this world - but with the precious - priceless - blood of Christ.”
If Jesus isn’t your Savior you’re still a slave to sin - a slave bound in this world heading for Hell. Realize it or not. Admit it or not. Without Jesus you’re in bondage to your desires, impulses, and ignorance - spiritually blind - shackled by sin - tossed around and abused by the world and demons. Life is futile and frustrating. There is no point and no purpose to your life.
And there is no way you can help yourself. Your only help must come from outside.
Jesus provided that help - provided the only solution - the only payment valuable enough - not silver and gold - but His priceless blood. Paid that ransom on the cross to buy your freedom - to break your chains - to give you the life you were created to live.
The only thing keeping any of us back from that life - that freedom - is our own pride - our own selfish reluctance - to accept God’s gracious offer of eternal life - to step by faith out of our futility and darkness into the light of the life God has purchased for us through the blood of Jesus.
Peter writes - verse 20 - that God foreknew. God has been working His plan down through the ages of human history. That plan meant that His Son - Jesus - would set aside the privileges of heaven - the prerogatives of His divinity - to take on everything it means to be human - voluntarily take on Himself the cross on our behalf - so that - verse 21 - our faith and hope can be in what God has graciously done for us.
There is no other solid basis for faith and hope in a hell bound world than the reality that Jesus took it all on Himself and rose triumphant - ready to lead us in His victory.
Like Peter who when he stepped out of the boat - focused on Jesus - he was walking on water. When he focused on the storm - he sank. When we focus on ourselves living in this world we’re toast. When we focus on Jesus and His victory we’re triumphant in Him. Toast or triumph?
Peter warns us: Don’t let our Adversary mess with your mind. To live holy means we must stay focused on Jesus.
Thinking about what Peter writes and living out there - four steps for us to take...
First: Be very careful about what you let into your mind. Peter tells us to bind up the toga of our mind. Prepare. Be sober. Elevate our thinking. The eyes are the gateway to the mind. There’s a very close connection between the two. Be careful what you allow your eyes to focus on. Keep them away from the things of Hell. Keep them focused on the things of God.
Second: Separate yourself from sin. The world is constantly putting out a culture of sin without mentioning the disastrous consequences of that sin. Grab on to the consequences. Think through the reality of what it will mean if you don’t deal with your sin. So deal with what needs to be dealt with. Repent of what needs to be repented of. Separate yourself from sin.
Third: Renew your reverence for God. Respecting God doesn’t just happen on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. while we’re singing worship songs here at Creekside. Right? Reverence for God should be the 24/7/365 - God my life is totally yours - messed up - broken - wounded and wanting - my life is all yours to lead me today and do with as you will. Take time every day to renew your Father-child relationship with God. To seek Him in prayer and the exploration of His word and in worship.
Fourth: Every day refocus on Jesus. As our Adversary nails you with “just this side of Hell” type people and events and temptations - it is so easy to start to drift. Whatever happens work at staying focused. A verse of Scripture on the bathroom mirror. Listening to Christian music in the car. Reading a devotional or Scripture at lunch. Whatever works. Keep refocusing on Jesus.
Additional reference: Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on James, 1 and 2 Peter - Zondervan, 2010
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.