Welcome to Becomning Closer! 

First Peter


{13} Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self‑controlled; set your  hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. {14} As  obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived  in ignorance. {15} But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all  you do; {16} for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." {17} Since you  call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as  strangers here in reverent fear. {18} For you know that it was not with  perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty  way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, {19} but with the  precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. {20} He was chosen  before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for  your sake. {21} Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead  and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. {22} Now that you  have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love  for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. {23} For you have  been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the  living and enduring word of God. {24} For, "All men are like grass, and all  their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the  flowers fall, {25} but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the  word that was preached to you. {2:1} Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice  and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. {2} Like newborn  babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your  salvation, {3} now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.  ‑‑ 1 Peter 1:13‑2:3 (NIV)


What is Holiness?

  Holiness is the concept that divides the average Christian from the deep Christian.

  We see this here in the use of the phrase (v23) "born again."  This is a common phrase of Christians in the twentieth century.  We forget that it is seldom used in the New Testament.  Indeed, except for this passage, it is used only one other time in the New Testament - in John, chapter 3.  The story is familiar;  it is Nicodemus, the devout Pharisee, seeking out Jesus by night.  To all other applicants he says, "Repent," or "What does the Law say?"  To Nicodemus, he says "You must be born again."  The phrase applies not so much to the sinner finding the Lord, but the devout man serving him.

  The word "holy" has its roots in a Greek word which means "different" or "set apart."  It does not mean "pious" or "sanctimonious."  We are holy because we are set apart;  we are set apart in the imitation of God. (See verse 16).  As Thomas a Kempis put it,

  "...many people, although they often hear the Gospel, feel little desire to follow it, because they lack the spirit of Christ.  Whoever desires to understand and take delight in the words of Christ must strive to conform his whole life to Him. 

Of what use is it to discourse learnedly on the Trinity, if you lack humility and therefore displease the Trinity?  Lofty words do not make a man just or holy; but a good life makes him dear to God."

  If we are to be holy, we must accept what Peter says in verse 17:  we are strangers here.  This world is not my home, I'm just passing through.

How do we practice Holiness?

  Peter speaks immediately about self control (verse 17).  He puts it in practical terms for us.  There is a reason for this.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer nailed it this way:

  (Picturing a conversation between a pastor and a churchman)

  "I have lost the faith I once had."

            "You must listen to the Word as it is spoken to you in the sermon."

"I do, but I cannot get anything out of it, it just falls on deaf ears as far as I'm concerned."

            "The trouble is, you don't really want to listen."

"On the contrary, I do."

  And here they generally break off, because the pastor is at a loss what to say next.  He only remembers the first half of the proposition:  "Only those who believe obey."  But this does not help, for faith is just what this particular man finds impossible.  The pastor feels himself confronted with the ultimate riddle of predestination.  God grants faith to some and withholds it from others.  So the pastor throws up the sponge and leaves the poor man to his fate.  And yet this ought to be the turning point of the interview.  It is the complete turning point.  ....  It is now time to take the bull by the horns and say, "Only those who obey believe."  Thus the flow of the conversation is interrupted, and the pastor can continue, "You are disobedient, you are trying to keep some part of your life under your own control.  That is what is preventing you from listening to Christ and believing in his grace.  ..."

  Only those who believe obey.  Only those who obey believe.  This is the root of self control.


There is another aspect:  the fear of the Lord.  We are much taken with the idea that God is a gentle giant of whom we need have no fear.  This comes of not studying the Old Testament;  the Jesus of the New Testament, meek and humble, is none other than the Jehovah of the Old Testament - in the flesh.  Our ancestors knew better:  "Fear God - and Dread Naught."

  I once pounded the daylights out of a kid twice my size.  He started the fight - and if it had been up to me, it would have quickly become a foot race!  But my father had issued me stern instructions:  "Never start a fight - and always finish one."  I didn't know what that kid would have done to me - but I had a very clear idea of what Dad could. 

  Lastly, Peter commends to us the art of mental practice.  It is good for us to exercise our minds over the Scripture - reading it, reading what others have thought about it, in all ways becoming prepared to defend it.  "Girding up the loins of our minds.." as he has it here, means mental exercise - in preparation for combat.


What is the result of Holiness?

The first and greatest result of holiness is the love of our brothers.  Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to love someone when you don't suspect them of anything?  Paul told Titus, "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled."  (Titus 1:15)  When we see our fellow Christians as they can become - holy children of God, to be raised as Christ was raised - they become much more precious.   Our purity, our holiness, flows out of us as love for our fellow Christians.

There is more to it.  We also rid ourselves of those things which hinder our fellowship in the church.  Peter is about to begin a magnificent word picture of the church.  Before he does, however, he begins by detailing particular sins which wreck a church.  They’re worth our attention in some detail.


            It is no great curiosity that deceit comes from those who appear beautiful.  “O that deceit should dwell in such a gorgeous palace,” laments Juliet.  We naturally distrust those whose appearance is foul - and make the mistake of trusting those whose appearance is fair.  And when do people appear more fair than in their “Sunday best?”

            Deceit destroys trust.  It’s a characteristic of deceit that the deceiver doesn’t always lie, and doesn’t always lie outright.  Sometimes it’s the whole truth, often just a shade off the truth, and only occasionally the outright lie.  But it destroys trust.  And trust is the virtue which the Christian must have in his church home, for the Christian is “saved by hope” (Romans 8:24).  If you cannot trust the Christian you can see, how can you trust the Christ you cannot?


            “Envy,” says Dorothy Sayers, “is the sin of the Have-Nots against the Haves.”  The world having a surplus of Have-Nots, and a shortage of Haves (at least by definition of the Have-Nots), we seem to have a surplus of envy. 

            Envy hits hardest in a democracy.  In the cherished words of the Declaration of Independence, “all men are created equal,” and we seem determined therefore to make sure that none rises above any other.

              !         Envy is a multipurpose sin - we can envy wealth, faith, talent, opportunity - you name it.  Whatever someone else has, and I don’t, I can envy. 

              !         Envy is essentially destructive.  Instead of saying either “Isn’t God gracious to grant such (talent, wealth, etc.) to so-and-so”, we say, “If I don’t have it, he can’t have it (or use it) either.”


            It is an interesting thought, as Paul has it to Timothy, that slander has its roots in idleness.  (I Tim 5:13).  Slander is the sin of the cockroach - sneaking around, hiding from the light, denying in public what is spoken in private.  The slanderer, confronted, denies.  Is it not because slander is something we wander into, in idleness, rather than something we plan?  The thoughts of the idle are impure;  they therefore cannot conceive of purity in others.

            In these four areas we see the destruction of a church.  In deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander we see the sins which are directed against the collected members of the church.  They are subtle attacks;  since the time of Adam, Satan has been known to be subtle.  These are the things that a church must lay aside if it is to be the church which will be the bride of Christ.


            We most commonly think of the hypocrite as the “Sunday Christian” - but the word means anyone who is play acting;  living the lie.  In Nave’s Topical Bible, this passage by Solomon is classified under hypocrisy:

            At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice.  I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment.  He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in.

            Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.  (She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.)  She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said: 

              “I have fellowship offerings at home; today I have fulfilled my vows.  So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you!  I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt.  I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.  Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love!  My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey.  He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon.”

              With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk.  All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.

              Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say.  Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.  Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.  Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.  (Proverbs 7:6-27)


            The Living Bible paraphrases the last verse thus:  “If you want to find the road to hell, look for her house.”  This is hypocrisy - the constant life of pretending, and hoping that one victim doesn’t find the next.  A church of living stones needs no plastic rocks.

Home     Submission