Our Response to Salvation

Text: I Peter 1:13-2:3

Study Questions:

  1. What three things are we to do in response to being saved according to I Peter 1:13?
  2. What is our relationship with God? What does this mean in terms of our behavior?
  3. Why should we be holy?
  4. What should motivate us in our behavior?
  5. How important is our salvation to God?
  6. What has Jesus’ life and death done for us?
  7. Since we have been purified, what should we do for other Christians?
  8. Will God’s Word wear out and no longer be relevant?
  9. What will prevent us from growing as Christians?
  10. What will help us to grow as Christians?

Preparing to be holy - I Peter 1:13-16

“Therefore” indicates a conclusion. Peter has been discussing the obtaining of salvation, but this creates an obligation on our part now that salvation has been obtained. We must:

  • Prepare our minds for action: The phrase in Greek is literally “having girded up the loins of your mind.” Back in the day when tunics and robes were worn, they interfered with quick movements, so the tunic or robe was pulled between the legs and tied at the waist to create shorts. Girded loins meant you were prepared for action (Luke 12:35-40). The point is that we have work to do and we must be ready to do it.
  • Keep sober: The Greek word nephontes literally means “drink no wine.” It came to have a broader meaning to have self-control and mental clarity (I Thessalonians 5:4-9). Dealing with temptation and the hardships in life is difficult enough. We don’t want to lower our guard.
  • Fix our hope completely on grace: We must also keep our goal constantly in mind (Hebrews 3:6; 12:1-2). It is far too easy to get off-track or even quit when we stop thinking about the reward awaiting us at the end.

Notice the succession of preparing, doing, and continuing. God’s gift of salvation is not fully ours until Jesus reveals himself at his second coming (II Thessalonians 1:7).

Using the imagery of a child in a home, Peter urges us to be obedient to God, the Father. In our past, we allowed the lusts of the world to shape us into what we were becoming(Ephesians 4:22). The Greek word epithumia refers to strong desires or cravings, particularly for things that are not lawful (I John 2:15-17). The world used to be our parent but no longer (Ephesians 2:1-5; Colossians 3:6). Knowingly or not, children seek to imitate their parents (Acts 17:30). Now that God is our Father, we must imitate His holiness (Romans 12:2). There must be a family likeness between the Father and His children in all aspects of our lives (Ephesians 5:1). Thus, we must remove lusts from our lives and take on holiness (I Thessalonians 4:3-7). Without holiness, we will not be able to reach heaven (Hebrews 12:14) and this world will not last as heaven will (II Peter 3:11).

God calls us, not by selecting individuals who will be His children, but by sending out an invitation by which all men are called and some respond. Jesus' parable of the wedding feast illustrates this (Matthew 22:1-14). Because the invitation is conditional on its acceptance, the subjunctive mood was used for "call" in Acts 2:39. God did not promise to save regardless of how all of mankind behaved. But as many as God called to Himself -- that is, as many as those who responded to God's invitation and came to Him -- God gives salvation.

Peter takes the command to be holy that is frequently stated in Leviticus (Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:26) and applies it to all Christians. Christians have replaced the Israelites as God’s children (Romans 2:28-29).

Conduct yourselves in fear - I Peter 1:17-21

God called us to be His children and if we have responded by addressing God as our Father, then we should be acting in such a manner. Just as earthly fathers discipline their children, our Father judges our actions and corrects us when necessary (Hebrews 12:4-14). Therefore, we ought to have a healthy fear of going against the desires of our Father (Psalms 103:13, 17-18).

Whether we enter heaven or not will be based on our deeds (Romans 2:5-6). It isn’t just a few things, but all of what we have done while on earth (II Corinthians 5:10). Once again, Peter emphasizes that our time on earth is temporary (Hebrews 11:13-16). Apathy will not get a person into heaven, just as apathy never impressed earthly fathers. God isn’t going to ignore the Christian’s misbehavior just because he claims God as his Father (Romans 2:11; Job 34:19).

Fear, however, is balanced out by knowing how much our Father loved us. We were redeemed by the precious blood of God’s own Son. Back in these days, a person might enter into slavery by being captured during a war or by having to pay off a debt. It was usually up to a near relative to buy back (redeem) the person in slavery. “No man can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him – for the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever – that he should live on eternally, that he should not undergo decay” (Psalms 49:7-9). Yet, God did that very thing in order to offer us eternal life.

Our former life in the world of sin was useless for the purpose of buying us out of that very life. It could never save us even though it was the same life our ancestors lived.

This plan to save you and me was prepared before we lived, before anyone lived, and before the universe was created. Jesus knew at that time that he would offer his life to buy us back and for our sakes, he carried out that plan.

Jesus’s sacrifice is compared to the Passover Lamb that freed Israel from slavery in Egypt (John 1:29) and in freewill offerings. Only a perfect lamb would do (Exodus 12:5; Leviticus 22:19-21). Where a Passover lamb was selected on the 10th day of the Passover month (Exodus 13:3), Jesus was selected long before. Jesus was revealed at the proper time (Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:10). It is called “in these last times” because there is no further age beyond this one (Hebrews 1:2). When Jesus returns, that will be the end (II Peter 3:10-12).

Because of Jesus, we are believers in God and believers that God raised Jesus from the dead to live eternally once again in the heavens. Thus, our faith is not in ourselves or any man but in God who is able to accomplish such great feats (I Peter 1:3).

Purified for a sincere love of the brethren - I Peter 1:22-25

Even though our salvation comes as a result of the working of God (I Peter 1:3), this does not rule out our involvement in accepting the gift God has freely offered. You don’t become pure and holy without effort (I Peter 1:14-15). “Purify your souls” is an indirect reference to baptism (Acts 22:16), which takes place because believers obey the truth they have been taught (Acts 15:9). It results in our rebirth (I Peter 1:23; Romans 6:4). The consequence of our salvation spills over to our treatment of our brethren. We must sincerely and fervently love our brethren (I Thessalonians 4:9-10; I John 3:17-18). It springs forth from a pure heart (I Timothy 1:5).

The reason for our common love for each other is that we are all born again to be children of the Father. We did not become God’s children through physical lineage (“corruptible seed”) as the Israelites, and Peter is not talking about loving our physical brethren. Rather, this rebirth was accomplished through the living and enduring Word (James 1:18; John 1:13) and it is our spiritual brethren whom we should love.

Peter proves his point by quoting Isaiah 40:6-8. The world flowers and decays, people come and go, but the Scriptures remain and continue to give life (John 6:63; Hebrews 4:12). In this context, the implication is that Israel, which had physical descendants, is likened to the grass. It would not remain, just as no other physical lineage remains pure. However, Christians spring from the Word of God. It becomes a kingdom that will not end (Daniel 7:13-14).

Desire the Word so you may grow - I Peter 2:1-3

We cannot be holy if we retain sin in our lives. We cannot love the brethren if sin exists within us. Therefore, Peter urges us to all remove all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. We are to lay these sins aside like a person taking off clothes (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 4:22,25; Colossians 3:8-9; James 1:21). In other words, sin is not truly a part of who we are. Sins are things we pick up and put on. But those very sins also prevent others from truly seeing us.

  • Malice (kakian) refers to holding ill will for others and causing trouble.
  • Deceit (dolon) refers to guile, subtlety, and lying of all sorts.
  • Hypocrisies (hupokriseis) refer to acting or pretense.
  • Envy (phthonous) refers to wanting what others have or holding grudges.
  • Evil speaking (katalalias) refers to backbiting and slander.

For discussion:

  1. Why do you suppose these particular sins were listed?

But being a Christian is more than just removing sin. We have to replace the deeds of the flesh with deeds of righteousness. Thus, we need to desire God’s teachings just as an infant desires milk. Only then will we grow. The word pure (adolon) refers to something that lacks falsehood or guile, it is honest, true, and unadulterated. Notice that God’s teachings lack the evils that we are to put off. Learning from the Bible lacks the corruption that is mixed into false teachings.

For discussion:

  1. Does “newborn babies” refer only to new Christians?

A number of ancient texts have “that by it you may grow unto salvation” indicating that this growth is to continue until salvation is reached (I Peter 1:9; Ephesians 4:13).

The “if” in I Peter 2:3 is not an indication of doubt but, like I Peter 1:17, is a supposition that is known to be true. Peter is alluding to Psalms 34:8. We have partaken of God’s goodness, so the putting off of sin and the desire for God’s truth should be a natural consequence. We have a taste of what we could become, so we should desire it fully.

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