Tag Archives: 1 Peter

Brace for Suffering: Purify

So far, we’ve dealt with bracing for suffering by preparing the mind and performing the truth of God’s Word in our lives. But how is it that we continue on in the conduct of a child of God?  It goes back to the mind.  If our salvation is not on the forefront of our mind we will fall.  When temptation comes, which brings its own suffering, and when other sufferings come, within us or from without us, we will fall if we do not keep in mind the merciful salvation that comes from the hands of God through the death and resurrection of the Son to an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.

Peter wrote,

Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.  He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you, 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, (1 Pet 1.17b-21, ESV).

Here is the reminder: God ransomed you from living a worthless, wasted, failure of a life by the precious blood of Christ.  In other words, you have it within you now that you have Christ.  You are freed from hopelessness.  You are released from trying with all your might and yet getting nowhere.  Your hope is in God if you’re love is with Christ.  Your faith is in God if you love Jesus.  The very God who had the power to raise Jesus from the dead after three days is the same God who is living in you!  That’s something to hope in.  That’s something to believe in!  Conduct yourself in a worthy and holy manner knowing that the holy God is empowering you to do it.  But it all rests in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

So often we say things like, “if I only had more faith.”  No! Don’t say that.  Don’t put faith in faith.  Put faith in God.  Keep your mind on Jesus.

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God,” (1 Pet 22-23, ESV).  So many Christians think that their souls are purified at conversion.  Are you kidding?  Have you seen how I act at times?  Have you seen how you act at times?  How we think? How we speak?  Our souls aren’t purified at conversion.  It takes work to purify us.  Hence we are going through trials that refine our faith and our souls.

Our souls are purified by our obedience to the truth.  Will we trust God enough to follow after His word.  When circumstances seem to dictate that we do what is right in our own eyes will we put that aside and follow after the Word of God?  Will we obey God when everything inside of us is telling us to go the other way?  When we are stuck in traffic and everything in us wants to honk the horn, give the finger, yell and cuss, and throw a tantrum, will we remind ourselves to be angry and sin not?  When we are worried over our finances and about paying the bills will we remind ourselves that Jesus told us not worry and to not be anxious but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness?  When we are facing a long-term illness and everything in us crashes down into hopelessness and despair will we remind ourselves that we can go on and take heart because Jesus has overcome the world?

As the trials come, we have within us the ability to face them and make the right decisions.  And when we do follow after God’s Word rather than give in to our own human, fallen nature, our souls become that much more purified.  You see, we have only a little while on this earth—only a little while to go through the purification process.  And the only way to come out on the other side clean and spotless and without blemish is by trusting in the Word of God.

For all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever. (1 Pet 1.24, ESV).

We want comfort; we want a pain-free, suffer-free existence.  We want to indulge in the glory that is us.  We want the luxuries and eases that can come with life.  But this life is but a flower that blooms today and withers tomorrow.  There is no lasting glory in the flower or in our lives.  The lasting glory is in the Word of God.  If you want a part of that glory, then you must abide in the Word, for it is a living and abiding Word.  Because it is the gospel.  “And this word is the good news that was preached to you,” (1 Pet 1.25, ESV).

This gospel lives in you; it takes residency in you, so that it can change the way you think, the way you hope, the way you conduct yourself.  This gospel reminds you of who God is and what He expects of you.  It drives you, encourages you, comforts you, convicts you—and ultimately—completely changes you.

Are you constantly reminding yourself of the mercy of God in his saving of your soul?  We cannot lose focus on it.

Brace for Suffering: Perform

Last week, we dealt with bracing for suffering as it is inevitable.  One way we brace for it is to prepare.  But let us move on to performance.  We have talked about preparing our inner-selves (thoughts and hopes/emotions), now let us move to our outer-selves.  And I want you to notice that Peter began with the inner-man, before he went to the outer-man.  If the inside changes the outside cannot help but change.  But one can change behavior on the outside in any real and lasting way without actually changing the heart and mind on the inside.

So we have prepared our minds: this is Who God is and this is what God expects.  This is what I am about—living as God expects.  So Peter wrote,

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am 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, (1 Peter 1.14-17, ESV).

We have prepared our minds to be obedient children.  Therefore we must not conform to the passions of our former ignorance. Peter calls us obedient children because of our receiving and loving Christ, thus receiving an inheritance, as Paul said, joint-heirs with Jesus.  We are children, and we are to be obedient, and thus we put away that which was disobedient.  We put away the old passions.

How do I know what was a former passion and what was a new passion?  As pragmatic and as subjective as it is, an easy way of doing it is ask yourself an easy question: “Can I, with all honesty, say that I could see Jesus doing this or loving this?”  Can’t get enough of those steamy novellas?  Can you see Jesus reading those?  Can’t stop watching such and such television show?  Can you honestly see Jesus watching alongside you?  Can’t stop eating this; can’t stop drinking that; can’t stop taking the other?  Would Jesus do those things?  Can’t get out of bed?  Would Jesus be so lazy?  As trite as it sounds, the question does come to “What would Jesus Do?”  And be honest about it.

So often we want God to stop these things for us, but in reality, God has given us the ability to stop, but will we tap into that ability?  Jerry Bridges wrote in his book, The Pursuit of Holiness,

I once discussed a particular sin problem with a person who said, “I’ve been praying that God would motivate me to stop.”  Motivate him to stop?  What this person was saying in effect was that God had not done enough.  It is so easy to ask God to do something more because that postpones facing up to our own responsibility.

We have probably all done the same thing at one point in life, or something like it.  I asked God to remove this desire.  I’ve asked God to give me strength to have victory.  I’ve asked God to do this and that.  God hasn’t done it.  It doesn’t work that way.  God, by the death and resurrection and making us alive together with Christ has already put the ability within, but too often we are unwilling to work for it or to work hard enough for it.  We aren’t working for salvation.  We could never work hard enough for that.  We are working for that which we were saved for: holiness.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them, (Eph 2.8-10, ESV).

God has every right to demand holiness from every person.  He Himself is holy and since He created us, He can demand that we be holy.  And that is doubly true, so to speak, about those whom He has recreated, created anew.  Peter tells us that if we dare call Him Father then we had better act like His children.  That’s what Peter is getting at in verse 17.  This verse is an if/then statement.  “And if you call on him as Father…” and in the ESV there is no then, but it is an understood then, “Then conduct yourselves with fear and trembling.” It is not that we are trying to receive God’s love through our actions, but it is that we are seeking to regard God’s love with our actions.  I loved my dad greatly, and he loved me too.  Most of the time that I abstained from doing wrong is because of the mutual love that we had for one another.  There was a loving fear that came in the relationship.  I knew he loved me and I knew I loved him.  And so I acted as if I loved him, but I also knew that at any moment I could receive his discipline in my life precisely because he was such a loving father.

Performing well when things are going well will help us to perform well when things are going poorly.  Vince Lombardi once said that it is not practice that makes perfect, but perfect practice that makes perfect.  The story of Tony Dungee is an amazing one.  He had a new strategy about building a winning football team.  He wanted his players to practice differently and to think differently.  The problem was that the players, coaches, and big wigs didn’t trust this new-fangled strategy.  When the games were on the line, Dungee continuously told his players to stick to the plan and perform as they practiced.  But when games (especially big games) were on the line they would always ignore him and play as they had before he was coach.  They would constantly lose.  However, when Dungee’s son committed suicide, things changed.  The players needed to support their coach no matter what.  They bought into the plan and performance out of necessity, and the team went on to be virtually unstoppable.

Stick to the plan.  Perform well now in order to perform well in troubled times.  Brace yourself for the suffering now in your action.