Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:13-16 NIV
Therefore. The instruction that Peter is preparing to give is applicable because of something he has previously said. There is a logical connection between what comes before and what follows. His most recent words had been about the Old Testament prophets searching for understanding. But that would not seem to be what he is referring to here, especially since it seemed to be almost a side note.
Prior to that he had referred to the joy we can have during our purifying trials. And while that it possible, it seems likely to me that verses 6-9 are offering some explanation for the previous verses rather than being the main thought.
It is when you get back to the thought of verses 3-5 that you likely come to what Peter is probably referring to with his ‘therefore’. We have been given new birth into a living hope and an inheritance kept in heaven for us. And because of that, Peter now tells us something about how we should react.
Alert and Sober
Before he gets to his main thought, Peter tells us to have minds that are alert and fully sober. The word ‘alert’ comes from a Greek word meaning to gird up, as in gird up the loins. And that is how it is translated in the KJV. In that time men generally wore robes that reached down below the knees. And that was OK for relaxation or most simple activities. But the robes would get in the way of more strenuous activity. And so men would pull up the bottom of their robes and tuck them into the waist belt of their robe. And that was called ‘girding up the loins’. So, as Peter uses the term here it means prepare your mind for action. Don’t be mentally lazy. Be fully engaged mentally in the Christian life.
The word ‘sober’ means to be self-controlled. We need to be fully self-controlled. Our natural desires easily draw us into satisfying self. Not all of those desires are bad, but they should never be in control of me. I need to stay in control of them.
Both of these expressions are active ones. Girding the loins of my mind and being fully self-controlled. They define a life that is not accidental, or that ‘goes with the flow’. Instead it is one that is intentional. A mind that is fully engaged in living for Christ.
Set Your Hope
Hope can be defined as “an attitude of confidently looking forward to what is good and beneficial (Strong’s)”. Hope, at least as used in the Bible, is more than just a desire for some wanted outcome. It is an earnest expectation of something that one is looking forward to. There is a confidence in the expected outcome. While it is not in hand yet, there is certainty that it will be eventually.
What is our hope as believers? Peter has earlier said that we have hope through the resurrection of Jesus (v. 3). Here he says that it is the grace that will be brought to us at Jesus’ return. I believe that both of there are referring to the same thing. My hope is in my own resurrection from the dead, and into an incorruptible life. A life lived for eternity in the presence of God. That hope is made possible by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead; his victory over death. And that hope will be realized when Christ returns.
My coming resurrection is not because of any value in and of myself. It will be an act of God’s grace. As my initial experience of salvation was due to his grace; so the end of my salvation, my resurrection, will also be by his grace.
As Obedient Children
Peter references two states of being that I have found myself in. The first is living in ignorance. This is not meant to say that at one time I didn’t know anything. Rather it is referring to the time I lived without knowledge of God and his will for me. This is another way of describing walking in darkness, separated from the light of Christ. When I lived in ignorance, I did what I wanted, in part because I didn’t know any other way to live.
But I am no longer living in ignorance. I have been born again. Born as a child of God. The light of God’s Spirit lives within me, helping me to understand what I was once ignorant about. And here Peter calls on me to not just be a child of God, but to be an obedient child. It is not enough to have knowledge of God and his will. It is also important that I walk worthy of the calling he has given to me as his child.
In regards to living as obedient children Peter has two directives, the first negative and the second positive. As an obedient child, I should not live like I did when I was in ignorance. Don’t let those desires rule over me. Instead exercise self-control, deny self, and live for Christ.
The positive aspect of living as God’s children is to live holy lives. And the reason I should strive for holiness is because God is holy. Holy is a word that means separate from the common, consecrated, or dedicated. It is used throughout the Bible in relation to things and people as well as to God.
In the Old Testament, especially in Leviticus, holy is frequently used in relation to the tabernacle and its furnishings, the priests and their garments, and to the sacrifices. These were all dedicated to God, set apart for his use. In Exodus 19:6 God promises that Israel would be a holy nation, a people belonging to him, dedicated to his purposes. All of these are specifically set apart and purified for God’s service.
But what does it mean to say that God is holy? In all the earthly examples we see in the Bible it is something that was common that became holy. But that cannot be true of God. He did not become holy. Instead, holiness is an inherent part of who he is. God is wholly unlike anything in the creation; he is altogether different. There is none like him. And in that sense he is holy.
And as holy God, he calls on his children to also be holy. We cannot be holy in ourselves; only God is inherently holy. But we can, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, lead lives that are dedicated to his use. Instead of living to satisfy my own desires, I am called to live separated from the world, to be set apart for God’s use. To be one who is not like the rest of the world. But one who belongs to God and submits to him.
A Call to Action
We have been given new birth into a living hope and into a heavenly inheritance. And, because of that we are called to be different than we were before that new birth. We are to fix our hope on the future God has prepared for us. And we are to turn away from satisfying our own desires. Instead, we are as obedient children to live holy lives. To be holy because God is holy. Our new birth is not just something that impacts our future. It should be our present reality as well.
- What should our mental state be in our service to God? How do you prepare your mind for action?
- Peter tells us to set our hope on the grace to be given us. What is that grace?
- What is the problem with our desires?
- How can I live a holy life?
- Be Holy – 1 Peter 1:13-16 – Being holy in the midst of a world that has little interest in the things of God can be challenging. Being holy instead of following my own desires can be challenging as well. But if my hope is set on the grace to be brought to me when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming then I will be choosing to keep an alert and sober mind, will not conform to the desires I had in the past, and will set myself apart to serve my master as he sees fit. (October 22, 2012)
- A Call to Holiness – 1 Peter 1:15 – When we are called to be holy, it is a call to be set apart for God’s use; not to be like everyone else around us. Being holy doesn’t mean we are perfect, it means we are dedicated for God’s use; for him to use as he sees fit. And that is the challenge for us. We want to fit in with the world, we don’t generally like being different. But we are different. So don’t be afraid to act that way. (August 31, 2017)
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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