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!

More Precious Than Gold

 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith —more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:6-7).

What is the result of God ordained tests? The answer is that the tested genuineness of one’s faith (trust, commitment; dependence; worship) in and of Christ would result in praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

In the midst of this revelation, Peter inserts a dependent clause illustrating the importance and value of an individual believer’s faith in Christ. God views our trust, commitment, dependence and worship of Him through Jesus Christ as being “more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire.”

Peter distinguished the believer’s purified faith with purified gold. Faith is more precious, or of greater value, than gold. Even purified gold, though it lasts quite a long time, eventually deteriorates and loses its value (cf. 1 Peter 1:18; cf. James 5:3). It will be without value in eternity. But faith in Christ is an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (I Peter 1:4).

Even believers in Christ can often evaluate worth by something as temporary as gold. How often do we see commercials touting the value of this precious metal and how important it is to possess it? In God’s eyes, your faith in Christ is far more valuable and eternal. Regard your faith in Christ today as something precious. It truly is! Today read Matthew 6.

Soli deo Gloria!

Praise, Glory, & Honor

 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith —more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:6-7).

While God never tempts us to sin (James 1:13-15) He does allow, or even sends, trials into our lives when He perceives them to be indispensable. Such was the case with Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 50:20). Why would God do such a thing? Why would the Bible teach such a doctrine? Why are trials necessary?

The answer is given in vs. 7. “So that the tested genuineness of your faith may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The phrase “so that” indicates a purpose for the reality of trials in our lives. They are to test us in order to prove the authenticity of an individual’s faith in Christ. Anyone can say they believe in Christ as Savior and Lord. It is quite another thing to be tested by the fires of persecution to see if you really are a child of God. This is why God sovereignly permits trials.

What is the result of this God ordained tests? The answer is that the tested genuineness of one’s faith (trust, commitment; dependence; worship) in and of Christ would result in praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Praise (ἔπαινος; epainos) means the excellence of a person. Glory (δόξα; doxa) means splendor and greatness. Honor (τιμή; time’) means respect and high status or value. The ultimate result of our trials and sufferings is that Christ would eternally be praised, glorified and honored as the One of whom we faithfully served, even when the going got tough.

Believers often restrict the praise, glory and honor of Jesus Christ to only to a worship service during the week. Peter instructs us that our praise, glory and honoring of Christ our Lord is about a lifetime of tested faith which will magnify Christ when He returns.

May we live today with this eternal perspective.

Soli deo Gloria!

Tested Genuineness of Your Faith.

 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith —more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:6-7).

The blessings we have from God, which Peter spoke of in 1:3-5, are eternal. This is in contrast to the problems believers face here on earth. These problems, or various trials, are only for a little while. That is to say they last for only a short or brief time.

While God never tempts us to sin (James 1:13-15) He does allow, or even sends, trials into our lives when He perceives them to be indispensable. Such was the case with Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 50:20).

There are some believers who recoil at the idea that God would ever be directly, or even indirectly, involved in sending His children trials. Yet Peter, and James (1:2-4), teach this important truth. Why would God do such a thing? Why would the Bible teach such a doctrine? Why are trials necessary?

The answer is given in vs. 7. “So that the tested genuineness of your faith may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The phrase “so that” indicates a purpose for the reality of trials in our lives. They are to test us.

The phrase “tested genuineness” is from the Greek word δοκίμιον; dokimion meaning to prove the authenticity of an individual’s faith in Christ. Anyone can say they believe in Christ as Savior and Lord. It is quite another thing to be tested by the fires of persecution to see if you really are a child of God. This is why God sovereignly permits trials.

What is the result of this God ordained test? We will examine this in our next time together. Until then, take the opportunity to thank God for the tests He brings into your life. Some of the hardest tests I have ever experienced proved to provide the greatest benefits. What about you?

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Various Trials (Part 3).

 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith —more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:6-7).

The blessings we have from God, which Peter spoke of in 1:3-5, are eternal. This is in contrast to the problems believers face here on earth. These problems, or various trials, are only for a little while. That is to say they last for only a short or brief time.

Today, I want us to examine the two word phrase found in I Peter 1:6. It is the expression “if necessary.” What does Peter mean by this statement?

The verb “if necessary” is one word in the Greek (δεῖ; dei). It means that which must take place or that which is essential, needed, required, crucial or indispensable. The context in which Peter uses this word means that God sees that the various trials which grieve us are absolutely necessary for us as believers to experience.

While God never tempts us to sin (James 1:13-15) He does purpose, or sends, trials into our lives when He perceives them to be indispensable. Such was the case with Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 50:20). This refers to the providence of God.

There are some believers who recoil at the idea that God would ever be directly, or even indirectly, involved in sending His children trials. Yet Peter, and James (1:2-4), teach this important truth. Why would God do such a thing? Why would the Bible teach such a doctrine? We will answer that question when next we meet. Read today Genesis 50, James 1 and Romans 5.

Soli deo Gloria!