The book of 1 Peter seems to have a single purpose. In the Old Testament, the book of Job addresses suffering and how to work through it by putting your trust in God. If you turn to the New Testament book of 1 Peter, it is also a book that addresses suffering and how to work through it as a Christian.
Christians are going to suffer. But we can suffer in a way that glorifies God. When our friends, family, or coworkers see us suffering, will they see us handling it just like everyone else, or will they see us handling it as people who have God in their lives?
In the introduction of the book found in the first few verses, you learn that it was written by the apostle Peter. You will also find that it was written to pilgrims of the dispersion. These were people who knew suffering.
In the first twelve verses of chapter 1, the apostle Peter reminds us three things that will help us to endure the hardships in our lives.
In the second half of 1 Peter 1, there is a shift of emphasis. The first half of 1 Peter tells us that we can get through hardship by remembering the hope of heaven. In the second half of 1 Peter, we are told that when we suffer, we are to act in a certain way. Live as a Christian, even when you suffer.
The word “therefore” is a word that tells us that what we are about to read is connected to what we just read. What did we just read in the first half of 1 Peter? We read that we suffer, but we have hope of something better, and that fills us with joy as we look forward to heaven.
1 Peter 1.13 begins by saying that you need to get your mind right. Start thinking about the suffering that you endure and how to deal with it properly. Gird up the loins of your mind.
Are you suffering? You need to think about Jesus and the grace that He is brings.
Have you lost someone close to you? Are you suffering because of a life changing or life threatening illness? Look at what is waiting for you. There is something wonder that will happen in the life to come. It is all made possible because of the grace of God. That helps us get through difficult days.
If you keep reading, you will come upon this concept that you will find very interesting. When I study this concept of grace, I try to wrap my head around it. We often wrestle with grace vs. works, and we try to figure out. Are we saved by grace or by works? What we find in the Bible is that the two are inseparable. You cannot have one without the other. That’s what we find in this text. Not only do I read about the grace that will come to me, but I also read about obedience.
Yes, the Bible actually says that. The Bible tells me that i need to obey the commands of God. That doesn’t mean that I must never commit another sin as long as I live. The Bible teaches us how to live so that we will not do what God doesn’t want us to do and live the way God wants us to live. I’m a child of God, but I still might make a mistake.
The word translated as “obedience” literally means, “to hear under.” It means to place yourself under the authority of God and listen to what He wants you to do. I am an obedient child of God when I listen to God as one under His authority and strive to obey Him.
I don’t always succeed. When there are times when I fail to listen to God and do what He wants me to do, I acknowledge those sins, repent of those sins, and the blood of Jesus cleanses me (1 John 1.7). So I am a child of God, and I am obedient to His will, and as a result there is a grace that is waiting for me.
Too many have this concept that we are saved by the grace of God, but we still have to earn our salvation by works. We work hard. We are obedient. We sacrifice. Because of all that we do, we believe that God owes us a place in heaven. This is a philosophy that is foreign to the Bible.
What the Bible teaches is that I am His child. As His child, I place myself under the authority of my heavenly Father, and I conduct my life the way He wants to live. When I do, His grace comes to me. It doesn’t come to me because I deserve it, but because my heavenly Father is merciful, kind, and loving.
I have this hope of eternal life. This hope brings me joy. This hope and joy that helps me get through the difficult times in life is mine because of the grace of God. This grace comes to me as one who is obedient to Him.
What does this child of God who is obeying God look like? This verse tells me that a child of God keeps himself pure. I am no longer going to lust after those things that I once lusted after before I became a child of God. You are not living like that anymore. Now, you are listening to God, and obeying Him. This thought of purity continues...
The word “holy” literally means “separate.” Just as God is separate from sin, you also be separate from sin. Put that in context. I can endure hardship because of the hope of heaven. I am going to receive God’s grace if I am His child and obedient to Him rather than living the way I used to live. Instead of living the way I used to live, I separate myself from that kind of lifestyle, because that is way God is.
In 1 Peter 1.15,16, I am told four times to be holy. This is within a context of suffering. I am to handle suffering in a different way than the rest of the world. I am to handle suffering and still keep myself separated from sin. I am not to fly off the handle in an outburst of wrath. I am not to use words that are profane or hurtful toward others. I am not to give into impulses of drunkenness or other sinful indulgences as a way to escape my difficulties. I am to be holy as God is holy, even when I suffer.
When you are struggling with the difficulties of life, and others see the way you handle those difficulties, will they see someone who is separate from sin? Do they see you as someone who is still obedient to God as one of His children?
We are saved by grace, but it is only given to those who are obedient to God and refuse to conform to their past lifestyle.
Not only does obedience mean that I am not to conform myself to my past lifestyle, but obedience means that I conduct myself in fear. I have a deep respect for God that moves me to be obedient to God by keeping myself pure.
Summary: I suffer, and what helps me to endure suffering is the hope of eternal life made available by the grace of God. But for me to receive the grace of God, I have to be obedient. What does that mean? That means I must refuse to conform to my old sinful lifestyle and instead be holy as God is holy. It is my deep respect for God that moves me to do so. When I am suffering, others can see me handling it by my respecting God and remaining holy, and that gives glory to God.
If I keep reading to the end of the chapter, I find three concepts: Faith, Baptism, and Love. These are elements involved in my giving glory to God.
I can endure suffering because I have the hope of going to heaven. I have this hope because of the grace of God which I receive by listening to what God wants me to do and obeying Him. But all of this was made possible because of Jesus. My salvation and hope of heaven does not come because I purchased it with material wealth. My salvation comes because of the Jesus whose blood was the purpose price of my home in heaven.
Who has this hope in heaven? Who has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus? We have this hope when we have faith.
This verse says that I purify myself in obeying the truth. Wait a minute. I thought I am purified by the blood of Jesus. Did we not just read that we are redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus? What does this mean when it says that I purify myself?
I purify myself by obedience to the truth. How do I obey the truth that results in my being purified? Specifically, when I am baptized into water, I purify myself because through my obedience to the command of baptism I am put in contact with the cleansing blood of Christ. Is this not what Paul was told to do?
I purify myself when I have a faith that moves me to submit to the commands of God that results in my being made pure by the blood of Jesus. It is not faith alone. It is not baptism alone. It is not even faith and baptism together. It is faith and baptism that puts me in contact with the blood of Jesus.
Here I am as a believer whose faith has moved me to obey the commands of baptism. I have faith in Jesus. I believe that God raised Him from the dead (v. 21). That faith resulted in me purifying my soul by obeying the truth by being baptized (v. 22). The verse continues in a very interesting way.
Notice the word that is in front of “sincere.” It is the word “in.” This is a word that is translated from the Greek word “eis.” It is the same word that is translated as “for” in Acts 2.38. It is a word that always looks forward to obtaining something that you do not yet have. Acts 2.38 says to repent and be baptized in order to obtain remission of sins. That is the word here.
You purified your souls by obeying the gospel putting you in contact with the blood of Jesus. You did that in order to obtain the love of your brethren.
The word “love” is “fileo.” This refers to the kind of love one has for a friend.
Here is the point. It is the friendship that we share as brethren that moves others to be part of the family. The world needs to see Christians as people who love each other. Christians are to be friends. Christians are to love being together. They are to love laughing together. They are to love worshipping together. They are to care for each other to the point that they rejoice together and cry together. The world needs to see this friendship, and they want to be a part of it.
I suffer, and others see me handling my difficulties differently because others see the support that I have from my brethren who are my friends. That moves them to want to be a part of this friendship.
You and I are going to suffer. What do others see in us? Do they see someone who can rejoice even in the midst of difficulties because you can look forward to something better? Do they see someone who keeps himself pure because he has a deep respect for God? Do they see someone whose faith has moved him to obey the gospel, and as a result is surrounded by the support and love of their brethren?
This is what others should be seeing in us when we suffer. If that is what others see in you, then God is glorified. If that is not how you deal with suffering, then what does God mean to you, and what do others see in you? Those are important questions that we all need to answer.
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