Stand firm in holiness [1 Peter 1: 13-21]
Our holy God has called us to himself, to be his people. So we are called to a holy lifestyle and a holy relationship with Him.
Have you heard about the Amish people? I remember first reading about them a few years ago. They are group of people who have chosen to live a life different to most of our modern word. They stick to simple dressing, they don’t use electricity, the don’t use modern transport, only horses and carts and they don’t like taking photos.
The striking thing about the Amish people is how they live so differently to everyone else. That is the heart of our passage; but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct ( 1 Peter 1: 15). Peter is saying, your God is holy, you also should be holy. What does it mean that God is holy? How are we to attain the same holiness?
The word holy (ἅγιος hagios). Means something or someone is different from the rest, set apart or dedicated to some special role or function. So, to say God is holy, means he is different from all other gods in terms of who he is and what he does. We see this throughout the bible, here is a good example from Psalm 96;
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens. (Psalm 96: 4-5)
You see, the point is that no other God is like our God. Our God is holy, he is different from Allah, Buddha, from Musikavanhu or any other god. And because this holy God has called us to himself, to be his people, we will be different to all other people. This was the case for Israel, when God chose them from among all the nations. And it is true for the new Israel, the church. But how are we going to be holy or different. Our passage gives us two ways. We are called to a holy lifestyle on earth. We are called to a holy relationship with God . Let us begin with the holy lifestyle.
A holy lifestyle
Peter makes it clear that the holy lifestyle starts with the mind.
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 ( 1 Peter 1: 13).
Our thinking will change when we live with the end in mind. We do not put our hope on the things of this earth (be it our money, our jobs, our property, careers, – but we put our hope on the grace to be revealed when Jesus comes. How often do you think about the coming of Jesus and fullness of our salvation to be revealed when he comes?
Peter is saying set your hope fully on that. I have been really challenged by this. I don’t think it means resigning our jobs or selling our houses or dropping out of school. But the call is for us not to put your trust or place our hope in those things. They are temporary. You have something better in Jesus.
So, he is inviting us to change the perspective of our minds. So that we can see, not just what is round us, – but the salvation which is ours now and will be fully revealed when Jesus comes back. But our holiness is more than a change of mindset. We are to be set apart, in our whole manner of life. And we are to do this “as obedient children.” What a good reason for living a holy life!
59alm person I have ever known. He was a gentleman. I don’t have many memories of my dad spanking me or any of my sisters, but we always tried to please him. One of my greatest fears was to disappoint him, not because he would beat me but because he was just too good to me. I think this is the idea of obedience Peter is calling for. You see God is holy, he is set apart there is no other God like him (Psalm 96). He is a good Father.How do we obey our heavenly Father, who has called us to himself? Who has given us forgiveness and who has given us a new and secure hope? Well there are two ways;
We Are to Crucify Our Old Lusts
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance ( 1 Peter 1:14). In our time of ignorance, we followed the lure of the world, the lusts of the flesh, and the lies of the Devil. But the grace of God has appeared, we now know our new identity, we cannot continue to live in the same way. There could be certain passions we need to leave behind, not so that we can saved, but because we have been saved. What is that for you! And as we leave our old way of living, we begin to cultivate our new way of life
We Are to Cultivate Our New Life
That new way life is the way of holiness. Where we may make choices that make us look very different or even weird. When everyone else is living for money, we as God’s people should be giving our money. When everyone is chasing after fame and position, we should be content with our position in Jesus. And it may feel like we are missing out. But we are being called to be holy in all our conduct, in your work, parenting, in your life choices.
We are not to try to live our best life now, because we know our best life is coming. Friends this is not easy, and it can be uncomfortable. I don’t speak as one who has mastered this. But that is who we are now, and the Word of God is exhorting us to live that way. And remember from verse 2 of the same chapter that God’s Spirit is at work, sanctifying us. We are not left to do it by ourselves. But Peter goes on to call for holiness in our relationship with God.
A call to holy fear
And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile( 1 Peter 1: 17. Peter urges his readers to conduct themselves with fear. But hang on, are we not told 365 times in the bible to “FEAR NOT “. Well, there is unhealthy fear that we need to avoid. On the other hand there is a kind of fear we actually need to have before God.
God is not only a loving Father, he is an impartial Judge. He will judge each one according to their deeds. And the Psalmist in Psalm 139 – says we cannot hide from God. He knows the most intricate details of our lives. He knows our thoughts and intensions. To have such a judge should be a scary thing. We need not to take God lightly
For us who believe this is not a paralysing fear. Remember the story of the disciples at the end of Mark 4. They were in the boat, a great storm arose. Meanwhile Jesus was asleep in the stern. When they woke him up, terrified, he rebuked them of their fear of the storm. “Why are you afraid, do you still have no faith?” Then he spoke and calmed the storm. We are told that then the disciples were filled with great fear. Now this was not fear of the storm, but fear of Jesus. Who is this man? It was like awe or reverence?
They were afraid but they kept following him. It was a healthy fear.
Yes, Jesus is coming back as a judge. Ready to destroy his enemy, the devil and all who follow him. We should fear him. If you have not believed in Jesus you should be absolutely terrified about his coming judgment. But for those who believe, the good news is that the judge is also our saviour.
So Peter turns to this assuring truth, " knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot "( 1Peter 1:18). We were ransomed, we were redeemed. Jesus has paid the price and it is a costly price . He wants us to know the value and the virtue of Jesus blood which was shed for our sins. It was not like silver or gold. Our world thinks if you have enough gold reserves you are sorted. But Peter says these are perishables, he is thinking eternity here. No matter how much wealth you may have, it cannot buy your salvation.
Yet the blood of Jesus is sufficient, as we saw in verse 19. It is precious blood of a lamb without blemish or spot. In the OT, when you wanted to sacrifice for your sins, you would not just take any sheep. Only a perfect lamb with no blemishes was acceptable for sacrifice. I am sure they were not easy to find. Yet all that was just a shadow, pointing to the reality of the one true and perfect sacrifice.
With the Israel’s sacrificial system, the priest would do it over and over again, year after year. But with the new Israel (the church), the perfect son of God dying on the cross, satisfied the requirements once and for all times. No need for more sacrifices. Hear how the writer of Hebrews puts it across;
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, (Hebrews 10:11)
That places us in a special relationship with God. A holy (different) relationship than most people. I read a story about some passengers on board a ship, an Atlantic liner. They were huddled in the ship’s lounge terrified by a storm. The wind was screaming. The pounding waves were mountain high in size. The vessel was reeling as if it was about to sink. The door opened, and one of the passengers came in. “It’s all right,” he announced. “I’ve seen the face of the captain. He does not look disturbed at all by the storm. Everything is under control!”
Our world can feel like that ship at times. Even if things are relatively good, judgement is awaiting and at times we can be scared. And yes, we are to fear God the one who will judge impartially. Yet when we look at the face of Jesus as revealed in the pages of the bible, everything changes because we know he has got things under control
Our fear is replaced by a solid faith and hope for the future. And as we wait, we can confidently live differently to most people. Because our relationship to him is different.