The First Letter of Peter: Chapter 1:13-16

Study No.4: (1 Peter 1: 13-16)

Persecution was about to break out against the Body of Messiah. It would be an imperial persecution that would spread throughout the entire Roman Empire. Local persecutions tended to be varied in their intensity depending on the ruling provincial Governors discretion as to how far they should go with the persecution and in some provinces it was less intense than in other provinces throughout the Roman Empire. An imperial persecution was one sanctioned by the Roman Emperor personally and it was mandatory for all Provincial governors and authorities as they were bound by loyalty to Caesar to enforce Roman law to its fullest extent when it came to persecuting the Body of Messiah, the faithful Church.

Peter writes to prepare the wider Body of Messiah for the persecution that was to come to its fullest measure to encourage them to recognise what God had prepared and provide for them through the Messiah our Lord Jesus. They were about to pass through a fiery trial where their faith was to be tested and purified (1:7) (4:12-17).  Their hope would lie in the resurrection and in that eternal inheritance God had prepared for them in the world to come. Many faithful brothers and sisters in Messiah would be facing eternity and would need their faith and certain hope firmly rooted in and grounded in God and in His Word alone (1:23-24). The devil’s battleground is our mind. It has been said that believers “are walking battle grounds” in their minds, not only in times of peace, but especially in times of afflictions, trials, tests of one sort or another and temptations to sin.

Our minds need to be constantly renewed on the Word of God. Our faith grows and develops when we stand by faith on God’s promises and allow the Holy Spirit to sow it into the soil of our affections (heart). This is our helmet of salvation which is part of God’s spiritual armour as it garrisons the thoughts to remain fixed on the Word of God which is the spiritual weapon by which we fight spiritual battles and which is also part and parcel of God’s spiritual weapons and armour (Ephesians 6:17). Filling our minds with the Word of God will enable us to be prepared for whatever we will face in the future especially in these last of the last days in which we are now living as we see the increase of persecution growing and intensifying in many nations of the world. He tells us how we are to prepare ourselves. Let’s now look at this.

Exposition: (1 Peter 1:13-16)

(Vs.13) “Therefore, prepare your minds for action;”

Now “to prepare” is the word used to describe someone in ancient times who would pull up their robe and tuck the lower part of it into the belt around their waist so that when they walked or ran their steps would not be impeded by the lower part of their garment hanging down and which could easily trip them up. In the same way as New Covenant believers in the Messiah our Lord Jesus we need to fill our thoughts constantly with the Word of God so that when doubts, fears, anxieties, persecution or opposition confronts us we have a sure foundation upon which to build our thought life, as it is written; “as a man thinks in his heart so is he in his actions” (Proverbs 23:7). The thoughts we entertain the most will ultimately control our words and actions. As for God’s Word it is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

No matter how we feel or what circumstances we face in life, and no matter how much Satan afflicts us with temptations to doubt God, we know that His Word will say the same thing tomorrow as it does today. Like Him His Word never changes. His Word forever is settled in heaven (Isaiah 40:8) (Psalm 119:89). Saturating our thought life with the Word of God and bringing them into line with God’s Word and in submission to the Messiah our Lord Jesus; will prepare us for action when the time comes to act by faith in the time of testing and persecution. Our minds include our thoughts, our feelings and especially our will which together need to be governed by the Word of God and not by how we might be feeling.

As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). To take off a coat is an action of our will. If our thoughts are being governed by the Word of God then the blessed Holy Spirit will enable us, and indeed make us willing, to divest ourselves of anything that would impede walking by faith and in step with Him.

With severe persecution looming on the horizon like an approaching storm many believers would be fighting fears within and fears without which even Paul was subject to at times (2 Corinthians 7:5). Satan would try to unsettle their thoughts and impregnate their imaginations with all kinds of fearful images of how they might die and get them to focus on the impending circumstances they would soon face. They would need to have their eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus the author and finisher of their faith, and that the good work He had begun in them would come to its fullest fruition when He returns and He will!

They were to fix their eyes, not on what is seen in this world because it is all temporal and subject to change, but to fix their eyes on the eternal spiritual realities in the unseen spiritual realm which last forever (2 Corinthians 4:18) (Hebrews 12:2). Only in this way would they be empowered by the Holy Spirit to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus and to persevere under pressure (4:12-14). For many New Covenant believers in our world today these matters are a stark reality and what we see happening in Islamic countries will happen in the western democracies historically associated with Judeo-Christianity but are now neo-pagan. And then Peter continues;

“…be self-controlled;”

With the impending persecution the New Covenant believers were to be self-controlled or sober in their inner spirit man where the Spirit of God was residing. This phrase “to be sober” or self-controlled has the idea of being “calm and collected in spirit” to be “temperate, dispassionate and circumspect” in every situation because God has not given us as New Covenant believers a spirit of fear but one of love, power and of self-control, or of a sound mind or a sound way of thinking (2 Timothy 1:7).

In a time of looming persecution there is no room for frivolity and hilarity and carelessness in spiritual matters, or in worship meetings for that matter. Peter was saying that we must have the desires of our fallen fleshly nature with its desires and passions under harness and be living in moderation and free from the lures of luxury, self-indulgence and having things good in this world, a trend that has infiltrated the thinking and actions in the rank and file of the wider Body of Messiah today in the western democracies.

Persecution is coming to the western Church as we see governments seeking to introduce legislation that goes contrary to the teaching of God’s Word and which eventually will impinge on the rights of faithful New Covenant believers to worship and to serve the Lord freely. We need to strive by faith, and with an increasing reliance upon the Spirit of God and the Blood of the Messiah, to have every thought, every temper, every word and every action brought into line with the Word of God which is the mind of the Messiah the Living and abiding Word of God Himself. And then we read…

“…set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Messiah is revealed.”

We are to set our hope fully on the unmerited undeserved favour of God towards us as His blood redeemed, blood justified, blood sanctified and blood cleansed children. Our hope is not “a hope so” coined by the world, but a deep inward certainty that no matter what occurs around us that we are safe in arms of the good shepherd who has bled, who has died in our place and was resurrected for us as His sheep, and that no man or demon in Hades will be able to pluck us out of His hand because His Father has given us to the Messiah as His bride. As the Lord Jesus said; “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29). God’s abundant grace at work in us recognizes that He will not allow us to be tempted or tested beyond what we can bear but with that test provide a way of escape that we might be able to bear under it.

As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “No temptation (test) has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted (tested) beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, (tested) He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). We may have to face persecution in this life but through the perseverance given to us by the grace of God we will be amply rewarded beyond our imagination when we see the Lord Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven with His powerful angels! His second Coming is the hope of every born again, blood redeemed child of the Living God! If we have God’s lavish grace to enable us to live a life that pleases Him in this world, then we most certainly will have His great enabling grace to enable us to suffer and die for Him. May God give us all His grace in that day! God’s inexhaustible power to endure will be fully rewarded when the Messiah our Lord Jesus returns (4:13) (Romans 8:18) (Hebrews 2:10) (Revelation 2:10). God’s unfathomable grace will be fully displayed to the whole universe through our resurrection to immortality (Ephesians 2:7).

(Vs.14) “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.”

If we really belong to the Lord, and we have been spiritually reborn from above through the work of the Holy Spirit, there will be within us a willingness to become an obedient child to God and to become increasingly like Him in thought, word and in deed. Just as children imitate their parents so we are to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1). We can do this because the Holy Spirit, who is Himself God the Spirit and equal to God, has infused into our spiritually reborn spirit the thoughts, the feelings and the will of the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:16). When we seek to obey God’s Word we are imitating Him because He and His Word are one. What the Word of God is and says is what God Himself is like and what He says. God Himself has predestined us from all of eternity to be conformed to the image or likeness of His Son.

As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30).

The only way for our desires not to be conformed to or squeezed into the world’s mould and the evil desires of this wicked, crooked and perverse generation is to be constantly presenting our bodies with their appetites and desires as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1-2). If He has our bodies then He has the contents and these include not only our bodily and fleshly appetites and desires, but also our intellect, our emotions and especially our will. A living sacrifice is one that remains on the altar but that can also crawl off of the altar as well. Staying on The altar of God spiritually is a life-long pursuit for the New Covenant believer in Messiah. It is a daily sacrifice only possible through the help of the Holy Spirit. When we were in our spiritually un-regenerated state we lived in ignorance concerning God and His laws. We were “spiritually dead in sins” but when we were spiritually reborn from above we came to see the truth for what it really is in Jesus and in His Word (John 14:6). Once we come to understand God’s commands for us as revealed in His Word we cannot confess ignorance. Now that we have received the truth we must act upon it by faith with a willingness to be obedient to the truth we have received from Him and not allow the world to squeeze us into its mould. Now let’s continue…

(Vs.15) “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;”

God is a holy God, that is to say one who is completely separate and apart in every way from all sin and wickedness (James 1:17) (1 John 1:5) and so is His Son our resurrected Lord Jesus who is able to save to the uttermost those who come to Him with saving faith. As the author of Hebrews writes; “Therefore He (the Lord Jesus) is able to save completely (to the uttermost) those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly befits us, one who is holy, innocent, undefiled, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer daily sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people; He sacrificed for sin once for all when He offered up Himself” (Hebrews 7:25-27). Every motive, every thought, every desire and every action that God has is pure and perfect in every way. He cannot look upon sin and wickedness in any form neither can He permit it to dwell in His presence (Revelation 21: 27) (Revelation 22:14-15).

Without His holiness fused into our spirit man and dwelling on the seat of our affections we will never see the Lord or spend eternity in the pure and untainted light of His eternal presence. Holiness consists of loving God with all that we have and are and expressing that love to others in this world (Luke 10:27). It is to have God’s love shed abroad in our heart by the Holy Spirit sitting on the seat of our affections (Romans 5:5). It is a love released through our faith (Galatians 5:6). If we love God in this way and seek to imitate the way the Lord Jesus loved people then we will desire that the Holy Spirit continues to separate us to God  in all of our thought, desires, words and actions and to keep seeking with God’s strength to forsake all and every sin that can so easily beset us. Every part of our daily life is to be holy, pure and set apart to God for his exclusive use.

This attitude will determine what we say and do every day and what sorts of pastimes we are engaged in. It will govern the food we eat, the company we keep, the places we visit, what we wear, how we conduct ourselves before others, how we relate to our families and fellow believers, what we watch on the internet or any other activity we might engage in that is dubious and troubling to our conscience. This is another reason we need the blood of Messiah to purge our conscience from dead works to serve the Living God (Hebrews 9:14).

The Lord Jesus put it this way; “If you love Me keep my Commandments” (John 14:15). In other words He was saying “If you love Me do what I say, not what you feel.” It is an action of the will. Agape love does involve the emotions but the lynch pin is to have a willing and obedient heart to please Him. This is the very heart of holiness out of which flow the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). Every part of our life is to be holy, pure and set apart to the Lord for His exclusive use (Isaiah 35:8-10) (2 Corinthians 7:1) (Ephesians 4:24) (1 Thessalonians 3:13) (Titus 2:11-14) (Hebrews 12:4).

 (Vs16) for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

God expects us as His children to be holy, to be separated to Him exclusively, and this will regulate what we say, what we do and what we think and especially what we will to do in our day to day activities. Holiness is the conspicuous mark of every child of God (Psalm 93:5). Corporately as the Body of messiah we are God’s House, God’s building, a spiritual temple which is to be holy as God is holy. This is His will and His command (1 Corinthians 3: 16-17) (1 Corinthians 6:19) (2 Corinthians 6:16) (Ephesians 2:21). While we live in this world we do not belong to this world. In times of persecution those who love this world and the things it offers will either go to ‘Babylon’ of  false religion or to the ‘Egypt’ of this world with its lures, its lusts, its unbridled passions and desires for self-gratification in all things. Persecution always sorts out false believers from true believers. If we are seeking to be holy now in this wicked and perverse generation then we will not be judged along with the rest of the unbelieving rebellious world.

Holiness is not easy to cultivate. It is a supernatural work that only the Holy Spirit can produce in us. When we start on this path of holiness Satan pulls out all the stops to derail our faith and spiritually cripple us. We become intensely aware of those dark spiritual powers of wickedness in  the unseen spiritual atmosphere just above the earth’s surface that are arrayed against us and that can only be routed when we are clothed with the spiritual armour and weapons accompanied by praying unceasingly in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18). Even though we are painfully aware of our own tendency to sin and self-gratification, if we seek to persist in and to pursue all that God has for us and desire His will in every area of our life, then we will not only be preserved by God in this world, but enter into the world to come filled with inexpressible and glorious joy receiving as the goal of our faith the salvation of our souls for all of eternity!

Go to Study No. 5