Prepared For Action

First Peter  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:07:32
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How do you know if someone is a “good” person? How do you know whether you are good person? By what do we measure our goodness? How does our culture define “good”? By what standard does our culture have to measure “goodness”? We live in a world and in a culture that tells us that if we do good things, if we’re basically “nice” to others that we’re good.
The church to which Peter was writing in this letter was struggling to survive in a culture very different than itself. It too was a multi-religious world. It too had its definition of “good”. No doubt there were those at the time that would try and see the similarities between this “new faith” and the religions of the day.
Was there something different about these followers who identified themselves by this prophet named Jesus who had walked the earth some 30 or so years ago? How is their view different from the culture around them? These are important questions.
In our text this morning, Peter calls us to prepare:
1 Peter 1:13 ESV
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
We are to prepare our minds for action, not inaction. It’s not passivity in our faith that we are called to, but to action. What is that action? The action is given in four exhortations:

First Exhortation: HOPE (v.13)

First is Hope, as we see here in vs. 13. Set your hope fully on the grace that is brought to us in Christ. It’s not in ourselves, it is fully and totally in the person of Jesus and what he did on the cross.
1 Peter 1:13 ESV
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The second Exhortation is to Holiness

Second Exhortation: HOLINESS (v.14-16)

1 Peter 1:16 ESV
since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Holy - something that is holy is without blemish, it has no fault, it is pure, it is absolutely without anything that defiles it. There are two things that come to mind when a Christian considers holiness:
That I am not holy, I am a sinner in need of redemption. I have fallen short of God’s glory. That if I’ve broken one small part of the law that I”ve broken all of it. That I have no redeeming value in myself.
That I have been saved through re-birth, a rebirth that was given to us as a great mercy through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead leading us to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
It’s about grace - God’s gift to us. Not by works so that no one can boast but by the gift of faith given to us in grace.
This exhortation begins with an assumption that you’ve been saved that comes from the opening to Peter’s letter that we discussed last week. Do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. No, you’ve been changed, that person no longer exists. You are born again, you are a new person.

Third Exhortation: FEAR OF GOD (v.17-21)

For the Christian this is the foundation of ethical behavior. It’s not about being good to be judged good by others, but in relationship to our Creator God.
1 Peter Third Exhortation: Fear of God (1:17–21)

Peter says that if believers call as Father the one who judges indiscriminately, penetratingly, and absolutely honestly, then they had better live in fear of this God, for he is altogether holy and will judge justly

The idea of God as judge is central throughout the Bible and it’s exhortations for us to obey. Peter reminds us of the idea that if there is a God, and if this God and Jesus are one, and if this God is holy, that this God is must judge before allowing anyone into His presence. That is a challenge to all of us, and again it points us back to the grace and mercy extended to us through Jesus.
We must be warned though not to allow that familiarity with God through Jesus degrade his holiness, for God remains just and his judgment will be just.
This reminds us of the second motive for our obedience, we’ve been redeemed.
1 Peter 1:18–19 ESV
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.
Let me pause here for a moment and remind you that the readers of these letters held to what we call as the Old Testament as their Scriptures, but were believers and followers of the teaching of Jesus. So they would have been very familiar with the sacrificial system that is laid out in the OT Scriptures. Now they recognize that Jesus Himself became that sacrificial lamb paying the price for their sins.
So then, we come to the fourth exhortation

Fourth Exhortation: Love One Another (v.22-25)

Once again Peter grounds his words in the “before and after” of our being born again as he begins with the phrase “Since you have been purified…since you have been born again…” That is the basis for our action to love one another.
1 Peter 1:22 ESV
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
The ideal of loving one another “earnestly” as it is translated here, or “deeply” in other translations speaks of the effort that is necessary for this kind of love. It’s not a love that flows naturally from us out of a thought that the other person reciprocates in any way shape or form. It is a love that flows from another source, not out of reward from others, not from the idea that if I’m nice to them they will be nice to them…no. It comes from something much deeper and more consistent than the whims of those with whom we interact.
It comes and is founded in our relationship with our Creator God in the first place. It comes from our rebirth through our salvation in the One Lord Jesus Christ.
We asked the question at the beginning how do you know if someone is a good person? The question is no doubt answered in our culture based upon their actions. They were nice, so they must be a good person.
Yet, we know a person can be deceptive in their actions. In which case we would not say that person is good. For the Christian then, what was it that set them apart in their goodness?
You may have seen posters such as this that profess the similarities in all the religions:
The challenge of posters such as these is they point out the pluralism of our culture and then to a concept that “all religions lead to the same God and to heaven,” which is antithetical to what the Scriptures tell us. This image compares a quote from Jesus Sermon on the mount from Matthew 7:12
Matthew 7:12 ESV
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
It assumes that this is a summary of the Law and the prophets, but that is not at all what it is. In fact this is not the primary teaching of Christianity - which would lead me to then doubt the primary teaching of any of the other religions as well. Don’t be fooled.
Jesus when asked what was the Greatest Command (or you could rephrase that as) What is the primary teaching of the Law? Jesus answered with something from a central prayer of the Jews known as the Shema.
Matthew 22:37–38 ESV
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.
This is the “first commandment”, one could say the primary commandment. He continued:
Matthew 22:39–40 ESV
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
This then is the primary focus of Christianity. It’s not about being nice to others, it’s about God.
From the Sermon on the Mount we glean:
Matthew 6:33 ESV
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 5:16 ESV
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
This immediately follows Jesus reminding us to of our humility in the beatitudes, not seeking glory to ourselves.
What separates Christianity from these other world religions is it’s ethic, but the ethic is not merely a do, but a be. We are called to believe, having a faith in the One who calls us, a hope in what is promised, a call to holiness, a reverence toward the Creator of all and our ultimate judge, and out of this flows our love for others.
A love that takes effort. A love for those that hate us.
The challenge is huge. How do you love that neighbor that does nothing but have contempt for you? How do you love the person that is rude to you?
Do we respond in likeness? NO! We’re call to something much more. We’re call to love them, and even to serve them with our kindness. Jesus washed the feet of the one who would betray him. That’s goodness. That’s kindness. That’s God’s love.
Ultimately it is all about the glory of God, it’s not about us glorifying ourselves and our goodness, the reality is even the good things we do are not for our glory but for God’s. That is very different than the religions of the world.
It’s not about drawing attention to ourselves. It’s not about drawing attention to our good works. It is about pointing to God and God’s love and grace and mercy that has renewed us, changed us, and made us an entirely new person.
Our ethic flows from our being reborn. This is very countercultural.
This week let us take the time to be very intentional about loving, serving and doing acts of kindness towards those that we really don’t want to. That neighbor that is nothing but obnoxious towards us. The person we think is being rude. The family member that is pushing our buttons. Let’s give glory to God that we are a new person and bring honor to God.
To the glory of God. AMEN.
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