Set free by the sacrifice of Christ. 1:13-2:3
In our passage for study, Peter calls on his readers: to live holy lives, v13-16; to fear God, v17-21; to love one another, v22-25; and crave the pure milk of the gospel.
v13. Peter has just outlined the gospel of God's grace to his readers and now he encourages them to be what they are. His exhortations are very practical. "Prepare your minds for action", ie., work to understand the truth of God's revelation. Also, "set your hope fully on the grace to be given you", ie., rely on the glory that is to come.
v14. Don't be shaped by the transient nature of this age. The phrase, "As obedient children" is probably best rendered "children of obedience." We are not necessarily obedient, but we do, through the indwelling Spirit, possess a pervasive inclination toward obedience, and this because of the obedience we possess in Christ.
v15-16. So, be holy, be what we are, and this because God is holy, cf. Ex.6:6, 19:3f.
v17. Peter goes on to challenge his readers to live as if strangers in this world, to live with reverent fear, v17-21. He supports his exhortation with a number of profound truths. First, although God is our "Father", Peter reminds us that he is also the one who "judges each man's work."
v18-20. Second, Peter goes on to support his exhortation that his readers spend their time on this earth in reverent-living by reminding them that they have been redeemed from the slavery of sin and death, and this at great cost. The redemption-price paid by God is the life of the Messiah, the suffering servant. This price is "without blemish or defect." It is a perfect "blood" offering. The Messiah who redeems God's people out of bondage was "chosen" to fulfill this task even before the creation of the world. All this took place in "these last times" (these last days), the age when the history of humanity finds its consummation.
v21. It is through Jesus the Messiah, that we can believe "in God." The "in" here means "toward" - Jesus enables us to approach God. This God has raised Jesus and glorified him. Through Jesus he will do the same for us, so our trust and eternal hope are in him.
v22. Given that Peter's readers have committed themselves to the gospel and are even now being renewed by the indwelling Spirit of Christ, Peter goes on to encourage them to stretch themselves in the business of brotherly love, v22-25.
v23. Peter's exhortation to love rests on his readers having obeyed the truth. This obviously refers to their having believed the gospel. Thus "purified" and "born again" (forgiven and quickened) they can now love. This gospel, "the living and enduring word of God", is an "imperishable seed" which gives life to those who believe in it.
v24-25. Remember, the things of this world fade; they are transitory, but "the word of the Lord stands forever".
2:1-3. Peter knows that his readers do strive to love one another, putting away malicious and twisted conduct, two-faced envious behavior, and slanderous gossiping, so he goes on to encourage them to support their Christian life by "craving pure spiritual milk." We are not quite sure what Peter means by this phrase, but we are best to go with the old King James version: "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word." We grow in the Christian life when we infuse ourselves with the gospel of God's grace.
Christianity is counter-culture. The way of Christ is apart from, and often opposed to, the culture of the secular city. So, as the apostle Peter puts it, we should "live as strangers here." Yet, we often find ourselves drifting toward the profane and so we do need to be encouraged in our Christian walk, encouraged in the business of holy living in an unholy environment:
1. A call to holy living, v13-16. "Be holy in all you do." God is a holy God, a moral, kind and loving God who desires his people to be as he is. In Christ we are that way, possessing the righteousness of Christ, and yet, at the time, we must strive to be what we are. Therefore, we must cooperate with the renewing work of the indwelling Spirit of Christ as he shapes us into the image of our holy God. Peter gives us some practical steps to this end. For example, think Christianly, "be self-controlled", focus on God's sovereign grace. Remember, substance is found in eternity; life here is transitory.
2. A call to fear God, v17-21. Peter gets us to visualize the God of Israel's wilderness journey - the mighty, powerful, redeeming God. He is the one we serve and if we are to live a life honouring to him, rather than be conformed to this age, we need to keep his awesomeness before us. We don't need to be afraid of him, just awe-struck by him.
3. A call to love, v22-25. Peter encourages us to "love one another deeply, from the heart." Interestingly, he makes the point that his readers already "have sincere love" for the brotherhood, and this as a consequence of their response to the gospel. Still, he calls on them to realize that love. We must do it practically, setting aside "deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander."
4. A call to study God's Word, 2:1-3. As the old King James version of the Bible puts it "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word." It is by the spiritual nourishment of the scriptures that we can grow together in our Christian walk.
1. Given that we are called to holiness, consider the ways we are conformed to this age. Discuss the implications.
2. For what purpose do we struggle on in the Christian life?
3. What is the basis for a call to live the life of a disciple?
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