by Roger McCay
19 January 2020
Sermon Passage: 1 Peter 1:13-21
Link to Audio Version
The mutual fund model of security, in investments, makes a lot of sense when we plan towards our future hope of retirement utilizing IRAs. Yet, the mutual fund is a disastrous model for security when it comes to our future hope of eternity. Our hope in Christ is not just one hope among many, with the idea that if it turns out a less secure bet than we thought it might be, then the hope invested in other securities will keep the entire hope afloat, ensuring our eternal future. Salvation does not come from hedging our bets.
Yet, history is fraught with people who sought to do just this. The OT provides the perfect example with Israel, who consistently devolved from worship of God alone towards a syncretic form of religion, lumping worship of the Lord in with the worship of Asherah and/or other gods.
An old but contemporary form of this divided hope is the lumping of hope in the Lord with hope in our own works. Works plus faith is nothing but putting your hope in Christ while also hedging your hope in yourself. It’s hedging your bets.
Such divided hope is no hope at all. Rather, it is evidence of a lack of faith in Christ. Whenever we put our hope for our salvation on anything other than Christ, while saying we also hope in Christ, we fool ourselves. Hope in the Lord is an all or nothing equation. Faith plus anything equals no faith at all. In the Lord, we find the only living hope that leads to eternal life. Hope in the Lord is the only rational, sober-minded course of action. For, when hope is divided, confusion in mind and action logically results.
Peter, after his beautiful doxology proclaiming the glorious work of God’s mercy in Jesus Christ in vv. 3-12, follows up with a “therefore” in v. 13. Because of the truths of what God had done for God’s people, Peter explains to us what we are now to do for God. Through vv. 13-21, Peter follows a pattern, weaving together the motivations and resulting conduct of a true disciple of Christ.
The primary motivation Peter gives for Christian living is God’s Grace—v. 13: “the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” This grace is the salvation that will come when Christ returns bringing the consummation of his Kingdom. It is a forward-looking hope based on God’s holiness, work, and our identity as his children. Like the redemption that the Israelites experienced, when God redeemed his people from slavery in Egypt, taking them to the promised land (Ex. 12:51), so also our salvation will take us from the various trials of this life to eternal life in paradise when he comes.
This living hope in Christ is not without grounds. Our motivation is grounded in God’s holiness (vv. 15-16), God’s work (vv. 18-19, 21), and our identity as his children (vv. 14, 17).
As a holy God (v. 16) the Lord is unique. He is perfectly loving. He always keeps his promises; and his character, his holiness, is perfectly reflected in his commandments. He is utterly reliable. There is no fault found in him. When he says we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ in Eph. 2:8, it is as sure a statement as his word of creation with its immediate results in Gen. 1.
God’s work is consistent with his holy character. It is perfect. It is complete. It is good. It is utterly reliable in its results. Hence, when the Lord, through his apostle Peter in vv. 18-19, says that we are ransomed with the precious blood of Christ, it means we are ransomed with the precious blood of Christ. Like the Israelites relied on the blood of the Passover lamb that was without blemish (Ex. 12:5), so we rely on the blood of the ultimate Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, who, having kept the Law perfectly, was “without blemish or spot.” There is no need for any other payment. No other payment could obtain what Jesus’ blood purchased—our redemption, the salvation of our souls. This is the result of God’s plan from before the beginning. Before anything was created, we were foreknown, predestined, and elected as God’s people for eternal life (1 Pet. 1:1-2). His plan that the Son of God would come and save us was foreknown and in place before God ever said, “Let there be.”
20 He (Jesus) was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 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.
Our hope is grounded in an eternal, all-powerful God who executed his eternal plan throughout history! He had you in mind, and brought it all about so that your faith and your hope are in God.
This living hope in Christ, for the rational Christian, is also based on our identity as children of God. We are called “children of obedience,” (v. 14)—meaning we are children of God who have their status due to the obedience of Christ. As adopted children we call God “Father” (v. 17). We are God’s family. We have an eternal inheritance worthy of God the Father, and it is kept in heaven by him, protected by his power, which we will receive upon Christ’s return.
So it is that God’s grace, holiness, work, and our identity as his children, provide rational Christians with the grounds for our conduct.
As God is holy, he calls his people to be holy: “Be holy, because I am holy” (vv. 15-16). This command is repeated four times in Leviticus. The people of Israel, as God’s people, were called to live lives obedient to the Lord, which separated them from all the other nations. Likewise, we, who are true Israel, Abraham’s seed according to the promise (Gal. 3:29), are called to also live holy lives, which separate us from the world. Hence, Peter calls us exiles, sojourners; this world is not our home. Our lives in the Lord are distinct from the world.
Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). Disciples of Christ show their love for him in their obedience. Our obedience is not what saves us, but it demonstrates the reality of our faith. We cannot keep the law and be perfectly holy in our own actions, but we are made holy before God due to Christ’s righteousness imputed to us (1 Cor. 1:30).
Hence, not only are we called to be holy; we are actually holy. Is it not logical that we act consistently with that reality? God’s Spirit enables us (Phil. 2:13).
Brethren, the Lord loves us so much that he worked his plan for our salvation from before creation.
In our love for the Lord, let us be holy, living lives set apart and distinct from the world around us. The Lord says, “You are mine.” Let us live consistently with that reality.
Do an honest assessment of your life. Are you living a life set apart from the world? Are you living a life distinctly different from those who have no hope? Or, does your life reflect the true hope of Christ in your holy living?
As rational Christians, we are to have a proper mindset towards that holiness. Due to the utter secure nature of the hope of God’s grace, it follows that the only sober-minded, rational thing to do is to act accordingly. This starts with setting our hope fully and completely upon God’s grace and nothing else. Then we are to be prepared to launch.
The term, in v. 13, “preparing your minds for action,” in the ESV, is an idiom literally translated, “gird up your minds.” This idea of “girding up” is repeated through the scriptures. We see this language, for example, in the command of the people of Israel, as they waited for the angel of death to pass them by. They were to wait “with their loins girded,” ready for the order to leave Egypt for the promised land (Ex.12:11). Hence, our posture is to have minds that are ready and rational, not confused by a divided hope, but grounded completely in the singular hope of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Our proper mindset, then, is a state of readiness (v. 13). It is as Jesus told us, “you must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:44). Our mind is to be girded up, ready in hopeful anticipation of the “grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
In this state of preparedness, the sinful passions of our former ignorance no longer guide us (v.14). Our minds are freed of the fog of false hopes and the idols of the world by the Spirit through his Word and power. Our knowledge of the truth of the gospel guides us (vv. 18-21). We are ready for action, focused on Christ. Our hope is fully and completely grounded upon the Lord.
And we stay in this mode of readiness. It’s an everyday thing. It is daily denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus (Mark 8:34). It is keeping our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith. It is running the race so to win. It is casting off everything that would entangle us, trip us up, as we run. It is running the race with endurance (1 Cor. 9; Heb. 12). And, it is running with a sure hope that in the power of God’s Spirit, as God works in us, we will finish the race, to greet our Lord in person on the day he returns in Judgement (2 Cor. 5; 1 Thess. 4).
My friends, let us live in a state of prepared readiness, with our hope grounded in God’s grace.
In addition to a proper mindset, as rational Christians, we also have a proper fear towards the holiness to which we are called. Verses 17-18:
17 … conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers,
Fear of the Lord is a constant theme through the Scriptures. It is part of the command of Deut. 13:4: “You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.” Living in such a way is to pass the test as to whether one loves the Lord with all one’s heart and soul. The whole duty of man is to “Fear God and keep his commandments” (Eccl. 12:13). Both the Psalms and Proverbs proclaim: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Fear of the Lord is a loving respect, a worshipful reverence for God that we maintain as we go about our day. It is keeping in mind that he is not only our loving Father, but also the judge of all the earth.
A divided hope in God’s grace skews this proper fear of the Lord. Jen Wilkin observes:
Both the ideas of obedience and fear of God have fallen out of favor in many Christian circles. He is often celebrated as loving Father, but rarely as just judge. The God of our modern invention does not require obedience, nor does he require our reverence. He wants only our acceptance of his gracious invitation to relationship and our enjoyment of his love. He is a God who is near and approachable, but he has lost all traces of the transcendence ascribed to him in the Scriptures.
Fear of the Lord keeps our hope completely in his grace with an undivided hope. It serves as a motivator for right action, as he is the impartial judge. It is like the Israelites hiding in their houses when the angel of death came near (Ex. 12:28). They were afraid, but their fear led them to trust in the Lord and obey his command. Thus, having sprinkled the blood of the lamb on the lintel and their doorposts, death passed them by.
Fear of the Lord leads to our no longer conducting ourselves according to “the futile ways of our forefathers” who did not know the Lord. Vessels of false hope such as empty traditions and empty philosophy are discarded. Idols of the culture are brought to light and cast down. In fear and loving respect of our Father, we conduct ourselves according to his right ways.
Christians are citizens of the kingdom of God, so while we are exiles in the world, we are also the light of the world. We have a mission like the exiles in Babylon (Jer. 29:5-7):
5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
When our day to day lives are characterized by holiness and a reverent fear of the Lord, our light shines forth in the darkness as a witness to the nations. What is more, in the Lord, we find peace.
My friends, let us live in a state of proper fear towards our holy Lord, with our hope grounded in God’s grace.
Chuck Swindoll once said:
Holiness sounds scary. It need not be, but to the average American it is. Our tendency is to say that holiness is something for the cloistered halls of a monastery. It needs organ music, long prayers, and religious-sounding chants. It hardly seems appropriate for those in the real world of our time. Author John White seems to agree with that as he wrote in The Fight the images that came to his mind when he thought about holiness:
frequent cold baths
hours of prayer
wild rocky deserts
getting up at 4 A.M.
Is that the mental picture you have when you think of holiness? Most do. It’s almost as though holiness is the private preserve of an austere group of monks, missionaries, mystics, and martyrs. But nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s like Chuck Colson wrote in his book Loving God:
“Holiness is the everyday business of every Christian. It evidences itself in the decisions we make and things we do, hour by hour, day by day.”
My friends, grounded in the love and hope of God’s grace, let us live consistently with the reality that we are God’s holy people; let us live in a state of prepared readiness; let us live in a state of proper fear of our holy Lord; and let us, by the power of the Spirit of God, be holy. Because God gives us a singular hope in Christ, Christians must live according to his holy ways.
 Jen Wilkin, “Living Resurrection Life (1 Peter 1:13–2:3),” in Resurrection Life in a World of Suffering: 1 Peter, ed. D. A. Carson and Kathleen B. Nielson (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018), 65.
 Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 268-269.
 Ibid., 269.