In this sermon, Pastor Babij teaches from 1 Peter that Christians should contemplate what Christ accomplished for them. Pastor also explains how Christians are to have a fixed, future hope and to live holy lives. Pastor concludes by reminding Christians that they are to live holy lives because they are now in God’s family and are to imitate God.
Considering the three major areas of 1 Peter, the first area is salvation, and having God’s people established in their understanding of what God’s salvation truly is and in their own salvation. Before we can do anything, we must understand salvation, which leads into submission and understanding suffering. Because of the great salvation that has been freely bestowed upon us by God, we have become privileged citizens of another kingdom. As aliens and strangers on earth, we are now given responsibilities concerning how we are to conduct our lives, while living for the Lord on this earth.
In other words, conversion to Christ makes a difference in the way we ought to live. 1 Peter is a rich theological book, which has, in its purpose, a deliberate intention to encourage every listening, following, and learning believer to press-on in this Christian race we have been called to during suffering and trials. Meaning, a growing knowledge of God should increase. Once our knowledge increases, our faith will increase, which causes us to hear and see what God is doing. Ultimately, to understand where God’s grace brings us.
If we start looking back and take our eyes off the goal, we will not finish the race. The Bible tells us that those who put their hands to the plow and look back are not worthy for the kingdom of God, but if we keep our eyes on the finish line and continue to grow in our understanding of what awaits us at the finish line, then there is nothing better that can be sufficiently offered to us to replace what God has given us in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, this is where the problem lies. We don’t think enough about the heavenly realities, and how privileged and blessed we are in Christ Jesus. We are often distracted by the temporal, and we are overloaded in our day by the information dump. We have more information thrown at us in a day than what several generations back didn’t have in a year. This is something we must deal with, but this information does affect us.
If we let it consume our time, fill our minds with worthless things, raise our anxiety level to things we cannot do anything about anyway, or crowds out any free time to think about eternal things, spiritual things, and blessings and privileges we have in Christ, we must do something about it and make sure we handle the information correctly. We must limit ourselves to the amount of information we consume.
As far as information goes, it’s like putting your mouth on a firehose. It is out there everywhere and all the time. Therefore, I would like for you to ponder what a difference Christ makes in our lives. What God offers us, in Christ Jesus, and what Jesus has accomplished is immeasurably superior to anything else that this world could possibly offer us. In our passage, we see our needed response to our blessed relationship with God through Christ Jesus.
We are God’s children, and we are given, in our text, four exhortations on how to live, after conversion, in this society with the remaining time we have left. No matter what generation or time we are born into, this passage of Scripture is applicable to us. In dealing with the first two exhortations, the first exhortation is the holiness of salvation. Meaning, Christians are first exhorted to have a fixed hope. 1 Peter 1:13:
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In this passage, we are given several images that helps us understand the actual exhortation. The first image is the image of a girdle, a belt. The image is wrapped around the saying, “prepare your minds for action.” In other translations, the word prepare means to gird your mind. In other words, in Bible times, people wore flowing garments down to their ankles, which is still worn in the Middle East today, and when they traveled or worked, they would gather up their flowing robes into their girdle, or belt. If they had to work, run, or move fast, they did this so that they could not be hindered or slowed down by tripping over the extra flowing material. Exodus 12:11:
‘Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the LORD’S Passover.
In other words, they had to move quickly. Therefore, they rolled up the extra material of their garment and put it in their belts, so that they could get out. In that passage, the language is about moving out quickly, and that’s what they did when they moved out of Egypt, the land of bondage.
To gird the mind or, as said in our passage, to prepare your minds, means you don’t move through life with loose thoughts, which are easily moved by impulses and passions that drift as occasions dictate. Instead, a Christian mind has a girded mind, which means the mind is made up, decisive, not wavering in decisions, has a direction about life, ready to work, and move through this world with a goal and purpose. The Lord doesn’t bypass the mind, but transforms the mind. Therefore, that mind must be ready.
In our passage, there is another image, which is the image of a drunken person. In 1 Peter 13, it says keep sober in spirit. Now, a drunken person is not a person who is in control of themselves. They are not in control of their bodies or their minds. Instead, they are giving over to an outside, intoxicating influence that controls them. It is clouding and distracting their minds, so that they are unable to maintain clear thinking.
When a person is under the influence of an intoxicating substance, their manner will be unnatural and erratic. They have allowed themselves to be controlled by something other than a sober and sound mind. In other words, the intoxication takes over the person, and changes their character, behavior, and demeanor in many ways. Being under the influence, a person has removed his words and actions from his own power.
For a believer, they are to be sober. A believer is to keep sober in spirit, which means to be self-controlled, clear minded, and able to see things in perspective. Including, not being infatuated with this world, or not being intoxicated with the forms and structures of this world. According to 1 Peter, it will come in handy when we begin to grow in the Lord, and spiritual sobriety will become important for two specific purposes. 1 Peter 4:7:
The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.
To pray properly, we must have a clear mind, the mind that is being transformed by God and filled with Scripture. If we don’t have that, then we usually pray for things that are selfish, self-centered, and have to do with our passions and desires, not God’s desires.
Therefore, God is transforming our mind, so that we will be able to be sober in our prayer. We will know what we are praying for, what we’re involved with in our prayers, and we will engage in prayer knowing that it is very important to be praying about things in our life. Also, there is a second purpose, 1 Peter 5:8:
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Christians are not only aliens on this earth, but they’re also invading the enemy’s territory. Remember, God has moved us from the kingdom of darkness, which is Satan’s kingdom, to the Kingdom of Light. Therefore, Satan is not happy about that, so we must be sober to resist the enemy. This is very important, especially since we are not called as believers to cast out demons or to exercise demons. Instead, we are called to resist demons. We cannot win over demonic powers.
Where we win is in our strategy, and we can defeat his strategy. The worse thing that an enemy could ever allow his opponent to know is how he is going to get where he is going, and if we know what that is, which the Bible tells us, then God has given us the upper-hand. Not only do we have the Spirit of God guiding us, the Word of God showing us who we are and what God has done, but also it tells us the character of the enemy. The Word of God tells us who he is and what he is up to, which is to prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, and that someone is us, who are in Christ.
Therefore, God commands us to have a sober mind and a balanced spirit that has sound judgement so that you cannot only pray, but you can stand up against the enemy’s traps, deceptions, and lies. He is a deceiver, and a good one. He will and can deceive you, but if you know the truth, it will be very hard for him to deceive a believer, who is maturing in Christ. If you resist him, he will flee from you, but he will be back.
In 1 Peter 13, he concludes the passage of Scripture by saying we are to have a fixed hope. Remember, this is not a wavering hope, but a hope that is fixed. In addition, it is a future, fixed hope. In other words, our hope is not a hope that is limited to the present, but a hope that is fixed on the coming of Christ while we are maturing and working for the Lord on this earth. We must have this future hope, especially since God lets us know that Christ is coming back again. Therefore, our eyes must be fixed upon Him, and the completion of His plan. Now, the believer has access to knowledge they didn’t have access to before, to understanding they didn’t have before, to wisdom found in God’s Word they didn’t have access to before, and they have all of that to fix their minds on the future, with unwavering hope.
The reason Christian’s can be sober with decisive minds is because they have a hope in Christ. A hope fixed on what Christ has done, what He is doing now through His spirit, which is sanctifying us, and then what He will ultimately complete, which is our salvation. Remember, we were saved, we are being saved, and ultimately, we will be saved. Those are the three things the Bible uses to give us an understanding of the process God is bringing us through. He started the process, we’re in that process right now of maturing in Christ, and He will bring us to the end of the race. We will finish the race, and we will make it to the finish line.
Ultimately, making it to the finish line is not all on you. It is God who is going to do it, but we don’t sit on the sidelines and just watch everything happen, which is the point of sanctification. We agree with God and enter what He is doing. These exhortations are things we ought to do. It is your job to make sure that your mind is being sober, and it’s your job to make sure you are no longer being intoxicated by the things from before. Not just drugs or alcohol, but a mindset that’s intoxicated by the worldly thoughts and goals. All those things are temporary, and many times they are sinful. Therefore, we cannot live there anymore.
This leads to the second exhortation, which is for Christians to live a holy life. You have heard the term “holy life” before. However, when I talk to a Christian, I don’t think they understand what is a holy life, or what they are to do to make sure they’re holy. Scripture explains that to us, 1 Peter 1:14-15:
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.
In 1 Peter 1:14, it starts of saying, “as obedient children.” In other words, the back drop of a holy life is the attitude of obedience. In Scripture, childhood and obedience go together. The parents are the authority, and children are to learn to obey that authority. Therefore, it’s always the picture of a child learning how to listen and obey the voice of their parents. When a child listens, things go pleasantly. When a child doesn’t listen, things don’t go so well. Either the parents lose it and allows the child who doesn’t want to listen to control everything, or the parent uses their power to control their child in a proper way.
In the book of Proverbs, corporal discipline is taught, and a child’s stubborn, rebellious will is brought under control by the parent. It is the parents job to not let things pass or say, “it’s just a phase.” Rebellion and disobedience is not a phase. If you let your child go on in that attitude, it will become bigger and stronger as time goes on, and it will manifest itself in different ways.
We must not forget that one reason Jesus became a Man, which is to be our representative in obedience. Also, we are saved by His obedient life, not just by the Cross. Jesus obeyed for us. When Adam and Eve were tempted to disobey the Word of God, they did disobey and failed the test. When Jesus, the Man, was tempted to disobey the word of His Father, He obeyed completely. In fact, He obeyed all the time and every time, and Scripture assumes that all who become believers are obedient. 1 Peter 1:2:
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
In other words, one of the things that came with real salvation is a desire to obey God. Adam, the first man, failed, and the whole human race was plunged into sin and rebellion. Christ, the last Adam, passed the test. Romans 5:19:
For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
Therefore, Jesus sets the example for us when it comes to obedience. When Jesus was thirteen and His parents were in Jerusalem for the high-holy days, they left assuming Jesus was with another group of the family in the caravan heading back to where they lived, which was North of Jerusalem. However, when they got halfway there, they realized He wasn’t with anybody, so they went back to Jerusalem. They found Jesus in the temple teaching and talking with the elders in the temple, and his parents wondered what He was doing. Jesus’ response was, “don’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house,” but that day forth, Jesus submitted to His parents, which gives us a picture of obedience.
Jesus is our example in obeying the Father, and on this earth, Jesus’ primary concern was obedience. John 4:34:
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.
1 Peter 2:21:
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.
Even in suffering, our example is Christ, so obedience is the first thing that comes with sanctification. Remember, obedience is more than following a set of rules. Obedience is the expected response of a Christian to his Lord. 1 John 2:3-5
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.
To know that we are in Him, we obey Him. He is our Lord and Master, so we obey Him. In Scripture, obedience is not merely following a bunch of DO’S and DON’TS. In fact, tear up your list of DO’s and DON’TS. It will hinder you and not profit you. Truly, obedience involves following and loving Jesus Christ, and seeking after the things above and the heart of God.
As obedient children, this is our content and character of God’s alien children. Our character is so different now because Christ saved us by giving us His spirit, and because of where He is taking us. We are no longer children of disobedience. Ephesians 2:2:
in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
We are no longer under the wrath of God. Ephesians 2:3:
Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
We are no longer children of darkness. 1 Peter 2:9:
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Therefore, the lights have been turned on spiritually. Also, we are no longer children of the curse. 2 Peter 2:14:
having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children.
We’re no longer cursed children, but blessed children. Being obedient to Christ, assumes certain givens. You must listen, and receive the Word of Truth given in the Gospel of salvation. Secondly, you must understand what the Lord requires of you from the Word of God. If you don’t know what it is, you can’t obey something. Then, you are willingly to do what the Lord says to live a holy life. Meaning, you need to know what it is and what it means to live a holy life.
First, in 1 Peter 1:14, obedience leads to a responsibility. The term used here for conformed means to mold after and to be guided by. In other words, don’t let your former lusts and passions continue to fashion you. No longer adopt the old, former design of your life to guide you anymore. Towards the end of 1 Peter 1:14, it says that you were ignorant before, which is like saying, “I didn’t know what I was doing, and did what I thought and what the world told me.” This doesn’t lead us toward God, but away from God and to a selfish lifestyle.
We used to be ignorant of who God is, of what He has done, and of what He requires. However, you can no longer claim ignorance as an excuse when you are a believer. Even in secular life, ignorance is not accepted as an excuse for bad behavior. No longer are Christians to be ignorant of what is worldly, sinful, or carnal behavior. If somebody is not informed by the Word of God, I believe the Spirit of God is going to get them informed by opening their Bibles, and listening to preaching that explains the bible so they no longer remain in ignorance. Similarly, the author of Hebrews taught the people when he penned these words. Hebrews 12:1:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Hebrews 12 mentions two things: weights that impede performance and sins that easily entangle us from running the race, having a sober mind, or being ready to move quickly to do the work of God. There are things that can hinder us that are not necessarily sin, and there are two general areas in this passage of Scripture that we must pay close attention to and be deliberate at being responsible to lay those things aside.
First, they are hinderances and encumbrances, which means a weight, bulk, mass, or a burden. It is put in the context of a runner, and a runner, who is running a race to win, doesn’t put ankle weights on or a flap jacket with metal plates. Rather, an athlete strips for action by the removal of extra body weight, as much clothing as possible, and through rigorous training. Therefore, we must strip off everything that impedes performance as a believer.
Before you were a Christian, things that you did were not a hinderance, but now you are in a race, the Christian race, so they must be discarded. A hinderance is something that could be good, but it is holding you back spiritually, so it must go. Therefore, things must be discarded such as habits, living for leisurely fun, and spending too much time on Facebook, blogging, or social media, which takes up a large amount of time. This is not necessarily sinful, but it is holding you back and causing you to waste time. You can spend two hours on the internet and not even cracked open your Bible, read through a passage, or thought about something spiritual.
The Bible is talking about these things, and how we must change the way we live our lives even in the areas that are not sinful. When I was growing up, everyone lived for Friday, which was the party and entertainment night, but a Christian can no longer live for these things. A Christian cannot live for prosperity or gain anymore, nor live to desire worldly ease or the path of least resistance.
Once you become a Christian, you are going to step on paths you didn’t ask for, but you are on these paths anyway, and they are tough paths. You must make tough and strong decisions, and sometimes, as a believer, your no must be no, and your yes must be yes. Even an association, or past friendships, may have to be lightened up a lot, especially if that person is a bad influence on your spiritual forward movement. Therefore, you cannot spend as much time as you used to with that person, which even includes family members and friendships you had. Even other people that every time you get around them, you are going backwards instead of forward spiritually. These past passions and desires must go.
Therefore, these are all weights that keep us back from running this race, and from tucking the extra material under our belts so we don’t trip and fall every couple of sanctifying steps. We must shed them as an athlete has his track suit and takes it off when he gets on that starting mark. When the race starts, he is as light as he can be because he wants to win that race.
Secondly, in Hebrews 12, we must lay aside the sins, which so easily tangles us. If we keep on not recognizing or dealing with the sin that is usually immediately in our lives, it prevents or retards our maturity in Christ. There are one or several sins you must put off because they hamper and entangle you, and this can be any sin to you that easily sets you back. Ask yourself: what is the sin that easily entangles me?
Is your default sin anger because things are not the way you want? Maybe it’s being judgmental, and you must criticize everything you see, and if it’s not your way, its no way. There are sins of covetousness, which is to desire something someone else has that you could never have. It could be envying, which is lusting for things. It could be complaining, grumbling, slander, gossip, or hypocrisy by saying you are going to do something and not living for the Lord. There is the default sin of lying, pride, not being thankful, being greedy in your heart, and not willing to forgive knowing Christ has forgiven you. Also, it could be pornography, the internet, and all its ways you can get to it and it can get to you.
Therefore, these are the kind of things that you cannot allow to be in your life anymore. There are certain sins that have a destructive nature. Just like drugs lead to other things, pornography also leads to other things. There are entrance sins into bigger sins that are more entangling and crippling to us. Now, what about the things that you are not doing, but should be doing?
When you are not being prayerful, you are quenching God’s spirit. Christians are people who need to be thankful twenty-four-hours a day, especially since we don’t deserve salvation or to look forward to the revelation of Jesus Christ, which He promised to us. Therefore, every single day when we sit down for a simple meal, being thankful for it knowing it doesn’t come from Shoprite or from working hard, but from God’s hand. All the Lord must do to not have food is shut off the heavens and not let the sun shine. Today, there are droughts all around the world all the time, and many of the times those droughts are in areas where people are idolaters, who worship their own idols and not the true and living God. Therefore, the Gospel comes in, God comes in, they get the truth, and the heavens open again.
We must put stuff off to then put on things such as righteousness. Whatever it is that needs to be laid aside must be left behind, and you can no longer allow these things to characterize your mindset or lifestyle. When it is left to ourselves, we all tend to suppress the God given knowledge and wisdom that we have learned, and run after our own evil imaginations that conform more to our likely than anything else. However, we can no longer claim ignorance.
In his commentary, Mr. Lenski says, “Don’t think you can remain among the children of obedience while still fashioning your conduct in line with the old habits and lusts that you used to have.” Don’t deceive yourself like that. Part of living a holy life is to not do somethings. We are warned not to be or do these things in our new spiritual natures.
Ultimately, we are to live a holy life because we are in a new family. We are in a family in which our heavenly Father’s character guides how we are to responsibly live. God loves all that is pure and good, and hates all that is evil and sinful. Therefore, He is holy, so He calls His obedient children to be holy. An obedient child concludes that if their Father wants them to be holy, then they will desire to be holy. Sins, passions, and desires must all be left behind, and you have the ability, by God’s spirit, to leave it behind. Therefore, holiness means you don’t live according to your old manner of living. 1 Peter 1:15-16:
but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”
Holiness is going to be manifested in your behavior. In other words, we can see if you are holy by your behavior as you can see a child who is disobedient. If a child looks at you after asking to clean something up and they say, “No,” then that’s clear behavior of disobedience. Therefore, God is looking for obedience that is manifested in your behavior, which is visible. If we are honest with ourselves, and not looking at ourselves through rose-colored glasses, we can see this in ourselves.
If you are in God’s family, and God, the Father, is your God through Christ Jesus, then you will become holy. You’ll want to not buck against that, but cooperate with it and say, “Lord, whatever I need to change in my attitude, thinking, words, or what I’m pursuing secretly in my mind, I want to change those things because I know you see that. Give me the ability to lay them aside as things that are either holding me back in the race that may not be sinful, but is not profitable. Secondly, let me lay aside those sins that entangle me so that I may live for you, and that you can see in my behavior that I am growing in holiness.”
When you are growing in holiness, you will be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, who also is holy. Let’s pray:
Lord, Thank You. Again, the Word of God exposes our heart. It cuts down deep into the thoughts and intentions of our heart. It lays our mind there. Lord, how could we ever think that we can hide something from You. I pray, Lord, as your children, that these passages of Scripture would become a realty in our life every day, so, Lord, we can know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that we are growing in holiness. Frist, Lord, by the way of things that we are not doing that we used to do, but also by the things we now ought to do and be since we are now Your children. I pray, Lord, that our obedience would be obedience that understands what you require. Secondly, Lord, that we are obedient and willing to do whatever it takes to live a holy life. I pray, Lord, that holiness would come out of our behavior. As we live that way, we know it honors You, and we know You are pleased since that is Your plan and Your goal. I pray, Lord, as we live that way, that we’ll know that we’ll enjoy it and love it because we know we please you, but also, we know that there is power that comes in living a holy life. I pray, Lord, that all of us would take these principals and exhortations seriously. I pray, Lord, that we would see the results of them as we give ourselves holy to You, in serving You with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. I pray this, in Christ’s name, Amen.