Week 6: Sunday 11/6/16
1 Peter 1:17-21
Don’t Waste Your Exile
Over the next two Sundays at College Park Church we’ll finish out 1 Peter 1 before breaking from the book until January 8th. Last time we gathered (1:14-16 on 10/16), we honed in on the beauty and importance of holiness.
Pastor Mark Vroegop held up why holiness is to be desired and how it is to be pursued without ever slipping into the dangerous territories of self-righteousness, moralism, self-effort, or even a complacent Christianity refusing to acknowledge our need to act and be diligent. His basic premise was that Christian exiles are saved from unholiness and saved to holiness. Peter reminded his audience of their new spiritual status as God’s children and he called them not to be conformed to their old lifestyle. Not only that but the means by which we become holy is knowing our holy God, by knowing what the Bible says about God’s (set apart) people, and obeying the command to “be holy in all your conduct” or in every sphere of life.
This week’s text (1:17-21) continues the theme with a strong encouragement to live in light who we belong to (a holy God) and who we should then be as his (holy) people. The passage begins with an encouragement that an awareness of God’s holiness creates a healthy “fear” of God, where his greatness and glory strikes us with awe, respect, and a humility knowing the great gulf between a perfectly Holy God and really imperfect sinners—even redeemed ones.
Not only that, but we’re again reminded that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for sinners, we are ransomed from our sin and to God (1:18). This ransom and redemption in and through Jesus Christ empowers us to be holy because we know that we’re both freed from the reign of sin over us and the power of sin in us. We no longer have to sin since we have a new master and are given a new heart. Our unholiness can therefore no longer be blamed on the very things Jesus has redeemed us from (futile ways we inherit, family sins, personality problems, being a product of our environment, etc.).
The gospel not only empowers us by setting us free from sin and giving us a new lord (Jesus) who calls the shots in our life, but it compels us as we consider the sacrificial death of Jesus for us (1:19). When we consider the value of Jesus’ life—and therefore his death—and the extent to which God went to redeem us from our sin and to holiness, that motivates a life of submission, obedience, and gratitude to the one who saves us at the cost of his very life. Furthermore, this gives great hope to exiles in this temporary life as we set our faith and hope on the one whose death and resurrection secured an eternal life for us where we will live with and reign with our God (1:21).
So Peter grounds the earlier commands to “be holy” not only in who our God is (1:15-17) but also in how the gospel frees us so we can be holy and then motivates us to live in light of the cross. This, at least for me, is a game changer when it comes to how I think about holiness. Holiness isn’t so much a list of spiritual do’s and don’ts I must rigidly live by to “look the part,” but holiness is the beautiful and joy-producing life of a person living in light of the cross that saved them and the God it saved them to.
For further study:
- Since we’ve had a break from 1 Peter, now is a great time to read through chapter 1 again.
- Atonement: Lev. 16:16; Isaiah 53; John 1:29; Rom. 5:11; 1 Peter 2:24; Heb. 9:11-10:25.
- The holiness of God’s people: Jn. 17:1-26; Heb. 2:11; 9:13; 10:10, 14, 29; 12:10, 14; 13:12; I Cor. 1:30; 6:11.