Live your lives as foreigners here in reverent fear.
Peter is writing to God’s chosen people who are scattered across the globe but who have come to know and believe in the gospel. He describes that Christianity is not to do with land or geography or on material possessions but to do with our relationship with God the Father which goes back before our knowledge of him. What was seriously sort after by the Old Testament prophets and even the angels in heaven, is now here for us. Although we have not seen Jesus, we know him, we believe in him and we love him because what is at work in us is holiness through the Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ. We live in an age where Christ has been revealed and those God has chosen are growing in their joy, love and trust in him.
The structure of this section may remind us of the message of God to Israel once they had been rescued from Egypt and made a people of God. They were to set their minds on worshiping God in the promised land; they were to learn how to be holy; they were commanded to love God and love their neighbour; and all this because they had tasted that the Lord is good.
- 13 With sober minds – set your hope
- 14-16 As obedient children – be holy
- 17-21 As children of an impartial judge – revere God
- 22-25 With purified minds – love one another
- 2:1-3 As those who have tasted what is good.
13 With sober minds – set your hope
“Therefore” The therefore is there for all the reasons spelled out in verses 1-12. See the context above or the previous verses.
“With minds that are alert and fully sober” Peter calls us to wake up and see reality clearly. Like the person who interrupts jokes and laughter with “now, on a serious note” – Peter challenges his hearers to be clear headed about where their life is headed. This is not simply saying to stay away from alcohol (sober) but is the idea of being clear headed with regards to grace and hope. 1 Thess 5:4-8.
“Set your hope on the grace to be brought to you.” Like the previous section, Peter declares that there is a future inheritance and reality that we are living for now by faith. The whole point in putting our trust in Jesus is for the future reality that will supercede what we think we know right now.
“Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” The only thing left in the plans of God are for Jesus to return. Acts 1:9-11; 2 Thess 2; 1 Thess 4:16-18.
So, think clearly about life. We are not random beings floating through time and space but we are the people of God. Like people keen to reach a destination, set your minds on where we are going because we know that is where true life is at.
14-16 As obedient children – be holy
“As obedient children” Peter had already mentioned obedience in verse 2 as something that goes hand in hand with being sprinkled with the blood of Christ. He mentions it again in verse 22. We are saved and will therefore choose obedience. Put it another way, even the act of repentance is a declaration that you wish to turn around from rebellion to obedience. There is no works righteousness here. This is the standard teaching of what naturally (or spiritually) follows repentance and forgiveness.
“The evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.” Ignorance is not to be confused with stupidity. God revealed himself to us and prior to that we were ignorant of what we truly needed to know. We must not get too frustrated with how the world acts and thinks since we would be just like that too if it weren’t for the grace of God to reveal truth to us. But there are actions that coincide with ignorance. A baby will throw themselves off a high couch or into a deep pool without a thought of breaking something or drowning. That is ignorance. Deceit, envy and slander flow from an evil heart. Blasphemy and immoral behaviour or joking do not feel out of place to those ignorant of true holiness, righteousness and grace.
“Be holy because I am holy.” This comes from the book of Leviticus (11:44,45; 19:2; 20:7). The end of salvation is for us to be in God’s presence, to be welcome into his house, to dwell with him and he with us, and that we would be like him. Humans were created in His image, and although twisted and distorted by sin, the blood of Christ and the work of the Spirit means that we are being made like him once again. Why should we behave ourselves as Christians? Because God will love us? No, because that is what we were made for – because God is holy.
So, in the context of our relationship with God rather than our relationship with evil, we ought to be holy. This is our aim and agenda. The presence of sin and the battle within our hearts will continue in this life (Romans 7 and 1 John 1:8-9) so that we will fail to be holy in this life – but we pursue it nonetheless because God our Father is holy.
17-21 As children of an impartial judge – revere God
“Since you call on a Father who judges…live…in reverent fear.” It is true that God is merciful and gracious. It is also true that he does not show favouritism (Romans 2:11). Our salvation has not come cheaply to God and to live our lives carelessly would be to dishonour our Father who saved us. We have been told not to conform to the ways of this evil age any more and now are reminded why we ought to think soberly about our salvation too.
“As foreigners here.” Remember being described as sojourners or exiles in Peter’s greeting? This world is not our home, we are just a passin’ through. It is hard to live as a foreigner. The locals find us odd and we do not understand entirely why they don’t follow Jesus too. It will always be like this until Christ returns and is revealed.
“…not with perishable things….but the precious blood of Christ…” This is the second time that Peter has referred to precious things like silver and gold as perishable (1:7) – these are things that the locals who live in this world chase after. But these will all pass away. The precious thing to us is the life and blood of Jesus Christ – our perfect sacrifice without defect.
“…and so your faith and hope are in God.” Peter compares and contrasts the empty teachings and ways of this world with the eternal things of God. Which are you going to put your hope in? Peter’s theology goes back before the creation of the world! And his theology foretells the everlasting future. It begins and continues with God. He prepared the sacrifice from before the creation of the world! Did God know that Adam would sin? He foreknew that you needed to be redeemed! We believe in God and his salvation because he raised Christ from the dead. This verse which ends our present sub-section (verse 21) outlines really what our whole faith and life and hope is based on. Jesus is the reason and evidence for believing in God! Why? Because Jesus was raised from the dead and glorified God, so we put our faith/trust and our hope in God. Want to break Christianity? Disprove the resurrection. Faith that is based on wishful thinking or superstition or just what your grandmother told you to do is weak and foolish. Our faith is grounded on the historic power of God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
22-25 With purified minds – love one another
“…purified yourselves…” The doctrine of grace teaches us that God has chosen us, saved us, and is at work in us to sanctify us. Here, however, we hear Peter say that we purify ourselves. The two thoughts sit hand in hand because it is through the message of the gospel, the word of God, that we understand and learn of the truth and we transform our minds through hearing, retaining and persevering in our understanding of the truth. So, it truly feels like it is our work to listen and understand God for the purpose of obedience. Peter says that we purify ourselves by obeying the truth. We cannot summarise what ‘the truth’ is in a sentence. It is all that God has revealed of himself from Genesis to Revelation. Love God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourselves is the summary of the commandments. Love flows from our own experience of God’s love first to us. This is how we know what love is: Christ died for sinners.
“…love one another deeply, from the heart.” If you want a real practical application from grace it is to love the brothers and sisters in Christ deeply and sincerely. Those of us (yes me especially) who are task oriented, need to learn and practice loving people sincerely. We have been told to be holy because God is holy. Now we are told to love one another deeply because this is what we know God is like. And we know that through his eternal and imperishable word.
“…through the living and enduring word of God.” Now, I don’t want to rave on about this but I want us all to stop and think about it. The word of God is described as living. It is described as enduring. And it is described as from God! We ought to include all of the following in our minds when we hear the phrase “word of God” – it is the bible because all of it is God-breathed like words are – it is Jesus of course (John 1:1) – and it is any and every message you have heard that carries the very message of the bible, of the gospel and of the kingdom of God. See the end of verse 25: this is the word that was preached to you! Every God-Spirited sermon which proclaims that Jesus is Lord and Saviour is the word of God (not equal to the scriptures since the scriptures are the source and rule for the truth that we preach!).
“For ‘All people are like grass…” See Isaiah 40:6-8. Slight differences in the text of 1 Peter with Isaiah is due to the difference between the Hebrew Old Testament documents and the Greek translated version known as the LXX. It’s easy to see that the meaning has been retained but Isaiah not only declares people to have a fleeting glory or faith but that God simply breaths and they are blown away.
So, our strength is in the word of God. The truth of the gospel is our purification. Our immortality is grounded and preserved in the faith of God through his word which outlasts this world.
2:1-3 As those who have tasted what is good.
The final section here lists what we are to be driven away from and what we are to crave and the reason is that we have already experienced the goodness of God. Grace comes before obedience!
“Therefore rid yourselves…” The response to the word of truth which we put our hope and faith in is to begin to live like citizens of the kingdom of God rather than as citizens of this world. We are aliens and strangers (1:1; 2:11) in this world and need to be sober minded (1:13) and no longer conform to the ways of our ignorant past (1:14). Paul tells us in Colossians 3:5 to put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature. In Romans 13:13, he instructs us to behave like those living in daylight and not darkness. See Mark 7:20-23.
“…malice…” wickedness or evil. This is a general word but the opposite of virtue. The list moves from this general word to some specifics. All the words can be taken to impact community negatively and so be the opposite of “love one another deeply from the heart” (1:22).
“…deceit…” cunning, treachery, error or lies.
“…hypocrisy…” play acting, not authentic – even godless.
“…envy…” a grudging regard for the advantages seen to be enjoyed by others. An inconsiderate zeal. James 3:14, 16
“…slander of every kind.” evil report, secrecy, the wrong use of the tongue, defaming or speaking against.
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk…” This is a command from Peter. Notice how Peter has been talking about Christians as children of the Father (1:14, 17) and “born again (1:23). Now he continues a newborn child metaphore and commands us to crave pure spiritual milk just like a baby instinctively craves and devours milk when they receive it. What is “pure Spiritual milk?” We know it is something that will grow the Christian up. It is to do with salvation. And it is something that we have already tasted? These clues point us to what Peter has already described for us: the living and enduring word of God (1:23). This is what gave us new birth, and is the truth which we obey. While Hebrews 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 3:1 use the metaphore of milk negatively, it is not used negatively here. We are not to push an identicle use of the metaphore onto all three passages. The context of Peter’s use is that our source of growth has been and always will be the word of God which lasts forever. He is not talking about shallow learning or elementary truths but the entire word of God that is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3).
“…so that…you may grow up in your salvation…” See the point above and the reference to 2 Timothy 3.
“…now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” This phrase helps us to build upon what that “spiritual milk” is that Peter talks about. It is something that we have already tasted.
There are six commands given in this section which all relate to our new life as children of our Heavenly Father: 1. Set your hope God’s promises (Combine 1:13 with 1:3-5); 2. Do not conform to your ignorant past (1:14); 3. Live your life as foreigners here in reverent fear (1:17); 4. Love one another deeply (1:22); 5. Rid yourselves of evil (2:1); 6. Crave the living and enduring word of God (combine 2:2 with 1:23).
- Topic A – Set your hope on the promises of God. How can you train your mind to be set on the future which God has prepared for us and avoid being fixated on the things of this temporary world? Do memory verses help? What about deliberate times to meditate and talk about the future? Is it sad that we don’t talk about it more often in our community? How can you change your habits or habits among your Christian friends to be setting your eyes and attention on the things to come?
- Topic B – Living as foreigners in this world. What ways do you think Christians can or ought to appear as foreigners in this world? How does being a born again Christian change the way we do life here? Would you say you are living your life as a foreigner or would you say you are blending in quite well with this world?
- Topic C – Craving the living and enduring word of God. It is a vivid image to think of a baby guzzling down milk like it cannot wait! What an amazing image to think of us reading, learning, retaining and devouring the word of God like we cannot get enough! Here are 3 suggestions to help you get back to loving the scriptures like this: 1. Write notes during Growth Group and during sermons – it will help engage your brain; 2. Invite a friend to read the bible with you, once a week for 7-8 weeks – speak to your Growth Group leader or one of the ministry team if you want to do this but not sure how; 3. Signup to a bible or theological class and learn something new about the bible and God this year – God’s Big Picture Plus is an excellent course or try on online course through Moore College Distance Learning.
Prayer of the Week
Lord God, we thank you for the new life that we share through Jesus. We thank you for the hope of grace that you have placed in our hearts. Make us a blessing in our community by loving one another deeply and set our hearts truly on the eternal treasures of life with you. May we live as foreigners here in reverent fear and crave your word as life giving food. Amen.