Obedience

22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God”(I Peter 1:22-23).

Holy living requires a heart which desires purity. Psalm 119:9 says, ““How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word.” You cannot have one without the other. It is cause and effect. Obedience to God and His Word results in purity and holiness of soul and body. This is to be a daily discipline.

One pastor writes, “As trials refine faith, so obedience to God’s Word refines character. One who has purified himself by living according to God’s Word has discovered the joy of obedience.”

Obedience (ὑπακοή; hypakoe) is paying attention to the truth. God’s Word (John 17:17). Much like guarding your heart (Proverbs 4:23-27), holy living by obedience to God is our responsibility. Thankfully we are assisted by the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:12-13). It is a cooperative effort, but we must not be slack or uncommitted to our responsibility.

Commitment to obedience results in brotherly love (φιλαδελφία; philadephia) or an affection for a fellow believer. Sincere (ἀνυπόκριτος; anypokritos) means that our love is to be genuine. This means a lack of pretense or show. God calls us to love one another sincerely and to not pretend to do so. We are also to love earnestly (ἐκτενῶς; ektenos). This means eagerly and continuously.

Unfortunately, Christians hurt Christians. It happens. Perhaps, it even happens a lot. However, while we may not have any control over other Christians hurting us, we certainly have control of whether or not we hurt other Christians. If we want to be pure, we begin by being obedient to God’s Word which results in holy behavior.

Let’s begin today!

Soli deo Gloria!

Faith & Hope in God

20 “He 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” (I Peter 1:20-21).

In today’s world, all roads lead to God. Religious pluralism says that all religions are equally valid and therefore true. The prevailing worldly wisdom is that it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you have a faith which is sincere. However, the Bible teaches otherwise.

The Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Salvation is exclusively through the person and work of Christ. His person refers to His eternal existence as God (John 1:1-3), and His virgin birth (Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:18-25). His work focuses on His sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21), His substitutionary death on the cross (I John 4:7-11; Romans 5:1-10), and His resurrection from the dead (I Corinthians 15). Jesus is the only mediator between God and man (Acts 4:12; I Timothy 2:5).

It is through Christ that we see the Father (John 1:18; Hebrews 1:1-4; John 6:46; 14:9). It is through Christ alone that we trust, depend, are committed to, and worship God the Father. It is God the Father who Peter says raised Jesus from the dead as did the Holy Spirit (Romans 1:1-6).

As one pastor has written, “It is through Christ, whom the Father resurrected (cf. v. 3) and glorified in His Ascension (John 17:5; Heb. 1:3) that people may come to know and trust in God. As a result of God’s eternal plan and priceless payment for sin, faith and hope can be placed in Him.”

There are but two religions in the world. First is the religion of human achievement and there are many religious systems which are under this category. The second is the religion of divine accomplishment and this solely focuses on the person and work of Jesus Christ who reconciles sinners unto God.

Where is your faith? Is it in what you can accomplish, or rather what Jesus Christ alone has already accomplished?

Soli deo Gloria!

No Plan B

20 “He 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” (I Peter 1:20-21).

We must never presume that the death of Christ on the cross for sinners was an afterthought by God following the fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). The atonement was not a Plan B.

Rather, God tells us through Peter that Jesus Christ’s virgin birth, sinless life, substitutionary and sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection was foreordained or predetermined by God before the world was even created. Christ was chosen as the Redeemer of the elect in eternity past (John 17:24). This is an additional motivation for believers to live their lives for the Lord’s glory.

As one commentator writes, “Redemption was no afterthought, or remedy of an unforeseen evil, devised at the time of its arising. God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4; Romans 8:28-33; 9:6-26; 11:5-28; 16:13; Colossians 3:12; I Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 1:1).

In these last times, which is always referring to the days between the first and second coming of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2), the person and work of Christ is revealed to all. We are to make Him and His work known (Matthew 28:19-20). Why? Because there is eternal life in none other (John 14:1-6; Acts 4:12).

Charles Wesley described the eternal plan of God through Jesus Christ in these words.

He left His Father’s throne above—
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For, O my God, it found out me!                                                                     
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Soli deo Gloria!

The Motivation of Gratitude

“And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (I Peter 1:17-19).

What should be the predominant reason we serve the Lord during our time here on earth? For many, it is because they are convinced that if they don’t, they will lose their salvation. They become entrapped on a performance treadmill that is spiritually and physical exhausting with no hope in sight that one has done enough.

Biblically, our motivation to serve the Lord should be one of gratitude. Our gratefulness originates from the understanding that God purchased, redeemed and set us free from our empty and useless life we inherited from those who lived before us.

How did God do this? Peter reminds us that it was not with what the world considers valuable. The most precious metals in the world, silver and gold, could never hope to buy what God possesses. As valuable as gold and silver is, it ultimately perishes (I Peter 1:7). Our human wealth and sincere works can never enable sinners to acquire the gift of salvation.

Our redemption was accomplished through the costly and highly valuable sacrificial and substitutionary death for us by Jesus Christ on the cross. Peter compares Jesus to the Passover Lamb (I Corinthians 5:7; Exodus 12:3; Isaiah 53:7; John 1:29). As God redeemed Israel from their bondage in Egypt by the blood of the Passover lamb, so too does God redeem sinners by the precious blood, or violent death, of the sinless Lamb who is Jesus Christ.

As hymn writer Twila Paris wrote:

Oh, Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God
I love the holy Lamb of God.
Oh, wash me in His precious blood
My Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.

Let us all live and honor the Lamb of God today. He is truly worthy.

Soli deo Gloria!

God is Holy

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile” (I Peter 1:17).

God is holy (Isaiah 6:1-7; Leviticus 11:44; I Peter 1:16). This means that He is absolutely different or apart from His creation and that He is absolutely pure. As Dr. R.C Sproul comments, “The saints of Scripture were called saints not because they were already pure but because they were people who were set apart and called to purity.”

While it is true that God is our heavenly Father (I John 1:12-13) and that He has adopted us as His children (2 Corinthians 6:18; Psalm 68:5-6; Galatians 4:4-5; Romans 8:14-17), believers will still be judged and rewarded for their good works before God (Romans 14:10-12; I Corinthians 3:12-15). Augustine called this “God crowning His own gifts.”

Therefore, we conduct ourselves while we live on this earth in fear. We must still approach God with humble reverence (Psalm 34:11). We must not approach Him in worship, in prayer, or in service with a flippant or casual attitude of indifference. We serve Him, and not the other way around.

Recalling I Peter 1:1, Peter once again refers to the believer’s time here on earth as one of exile. Our status in this fallen world is that of aliens, strangers and pilgrims. We do not seek to be like the world, but rather to be distinct from it, as befitting our status as belonging to God’s kingdom. To his first century audience, this took on not only a spiritual meaning, but also a physical one. It may also for many today.

Man’s chief end, according to the Westminster Catechism, is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. May we do so today!

Soli deo Gloria!

Holy

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (I Peter 1:13-16).

As we noted in our previous devotional, one of the most basic disciplines in the Christian life is to not be conformed to the world’s desires which stem from a disobedient spirit towards God. The Apostle John described these desires as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (I John 2:15-16). The Apostle Paul also encouraged believers to not be conformed to the world (Romans 12:1-2).

Along with what we are called to not do, God also reveals to us through Peter what we are to do. God commands each believer in Christ to be holy. The holiness of God is His most important attribute (Isaiah 6). It stands to reason that the Christian should be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 20:7).

What does it mean to be holy? Holiness (ἅγιος; agios) means to be separate from sin. It means to have pure, moral qualities. Consequently, we are commanded to be holy in all our behavior or conduct (ἀναστροφή; anastrophe). This refers to how we daily live and conduct ourselves. A holy inner life from God (Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:21) leads to a holy outer walk before God (Ephesians 2:10) and other people.

As one commentator has written, “Though absolute holiness can never be achieved in this life, all areas of life should be in the process of becoming completely conformed to God’s perfect and holy will.”

Our standard of holiness is God. It is His moral perfection which we are to pursue (Matthew 5:48; Ephesians 5:1). As people recreated in His image to be like Him in His holy character, let each of us today reflect His holiness. Read today elated Isaiah 6:1-7; Revelation 4-5.

Soli deo Gloria!

Not Conformed

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,” (I Peter 1:13-14).

What is one of the most basic disciplines God calls Christians to achieve? Peter submits that it is to not be conformed to the passions of the fallen world. Our perspective in not being conformed to the world stems from a previous desire to be obedient to God. To be conformed (συσχηματίζω; syschematizo) means to be modeled after something or to have one’s behavior shaped and molded to a particular pattern of living. God says that our behavior is not to be modeled, shaped or molded to the world.

Peter uses the expression “the passions of your former ignorance.” This means the believer is no longer to be shaped, patterned or molded by the desires or cravings of their former life without Christ.

The Apostle John describes these desires or cravings of our former life without Christ as the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life (I John 2:15-16). The devil tempted Eve in all three areas (Genesis 3) and also Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). He will so tempt us.

Therefore, we are to carefully and biblically evaluate our thinking, our seeing and our attitude of entitlement in every area of life and living. It is often easy to justify a sinful act or thought because of momentary pleasure or to a sense that we deserve what it is that we desire. Many an individual, family and church has been devastated by such a lapse of self-control.

The Apostle Paul echoes Peter’s words in Romans 12:1-2. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I encourage you to guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23-27) today in everything you encounter with an attitude of non-conformity to the fallen world system. Instead, be obedient to Christ by a daily renewal of your mind in God’s Word.

Soli deo Gloria!

For This Reason

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:13).

The word “therefore” (διό; dio) means “for this reason.” It is a conclusion. Peter draws a conclusion or deduction from what he has previously written in 1:1-12, and which indicates what will now be the focus of what is contained in the rest of his epistle.

In light of all of which Peter has stated the believer is and possesses in Christ, while even in the midst of suffering, he calls believers to prepare their minds for action. To prepare (ἀναζώννυμι; anazonnymi) our minds (διάνοια; dianoia) for action (ὀσφῦς; osphys) is our responsibility. Peter uses three words which essentially have the same meaning. Believers are to get their minds ready for action. In other words, we are to get what Peter has said, and will say, through our heads or into our thinking. We are to prepare ourselves for learning.

God wants His children to understand and apply what He has revealed to them in His Word. Following Christ is not about fun, games and frivolity. The Christian life is about living for the glory of God and being holy in everything we do. This is a serious concern for the Apostle Peter and should be for you and me.

God calls us to be sober-minded. This means to be self-controlled and restrained in our behavior. We are called to not have irrational thoughts, but rather minds guided by the Spirit of God through the Word of God. This is so God will help us to progress in the grace relationship He has established with us, which ultimately will be fulfilled and completed when Jesus Christ returns to earth in His power and glory.

Each day we have the opportunity to prepare ourselves for action in progressing in the covenant relationship we have with God in Christ. This means to become more holy today than we were yesterday and to be more holy tomorrow than we are today. We are to take this seriously because holiness is serious business with God. Press on, beloved.

Soli deo Gloria!

For His Good Pleasure

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look” (I Peter 1:10-12).

Sometimes it seems that for some people serving the Lord is about themselves and not about Christ. The emphasis for these individuals often appears to be on the musicians, or pastor or evangelist and their giftedness to the church rather than on the One True God who has gifted them (I Corinthians 12:11). For many, the intoxication of the lighted platform and screaming crowds may outweigh the service of suffering in relative obscurity.

This was not the case for the Old Testament prophets of God. They preached about the grace of God and predicted the sufferings and glory of Christ. God revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but rather the believers in Christ who would follow. They often were persecuted for their service rather than praised (Hebrews 11:32-40).

An old friend of mine, who has gone home to be with the Lord, once told me that when the Lord would begin to use me for His glory, it would be very easy to think that serving the Lord was all about me when it should be all about Him. How accurate my friend was in his counsel. When those moments of self-exaltation occur,  which are more than I care to admit, I remember that it is God working in me and through me for His good pleasure and for His glory (Philippians 2;13; I Corinthians 10:31).

Let us never forget who we are serving and who is truly significant. His name is Jesus Christ.

Soli deo Gloria!

Deep Seated & Soul Centered Joy

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (I Peter 1:8-9).

Peter speaks to his readers in vs. 8-9 of an important distinction between the first century apostles and the remaining followers of Jesus Christ; then and today. The apostles walked with Jesus and witnessed firsthand all which He did (I John 1:1-4). This was one of the qualifications in holding the office of apostle (Acts 1:21-26). Not so for the other followers of Christ. Rather, we walk or live for Christ by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

While Peter makes this important distinction between himself and his audience, he also makes this important point. Even though believers have not seen the Lord Jesus as the apostles did, we still love Him (I John 4:7-11). Even though we do not now see Jesus, we trust, are committed to, depend and worship Him.

This results in a deep seated, soul centered joy, or gladness, which is often inexpressible in words and which is not understood by those who are not in a covenant relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 2:14).

For the believer, this relationship with Christ is wonderfully praiseworthy because God has promised to not only save us from the penalty of sin, and the power of sin, but eventually from the very presence of sin (Romans 8:28-30). This is when our salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone will be compete.

Take time today to express to God, in words if you can, how much He means to you because of who He is and what He has done. Think of a hymn or song which expresses in lyrics and music what the Lord means to you.

Soli deo Gloria!