Staying Clean In A Dirty World

Scripture: 1 Peter 1:13-21

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 
14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lust which were yours in your ignorance, 
15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;
16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 
17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;
18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,
19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you
21 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.

INTRODUCTION

Peter begins this letter telling us to “Walk in Hope,” now he is telling us to “Walk in Holiness.”  Of course, we personally had rather talk about faith, hope and love rather than holiness. Most of us feel rather unholy due to the sins that we constantly battle. The Greek word for holy is hagios [hä’-gē-os] meaning revered, or treated as sacred. In the O.T. it referred to things set aside for special use. Literally, to be holy is to be different. The Sabbath is a holy day, this means we treat if differently from other days. The bible is a holy book so we treat it differently from other books.


Another definition of holiness is to be different but that does not mean we are to be social misfits. A true Christian life will appear strange to the unbelieving world but it will not be strange to other believers. Unfortunately, a lot of folks misunderstand ‘Holiness’.

  • Francis de Sales wrote, “To often in the media ‘holy’ people have been portrayed as stiff, sexually repressed, boring, lifeless, self-righteous, judgmental and deeply hypocritical. The opposite is true: Holy people are happy people.
  • Max Anders [Holman Commentary] said, “Our interpretation of holiness is associated with SEPARATION, ISOLATION and ALIENATION. Holy people become critical, caustic and cold toward others and then we convince ourselves that we are honoring God in doing so. [Pharisees are a perfect example]
  • Holiness is the opposite of conformity. Paul said, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. In other words, if the world had conformed you to their image or likeness, you are not holy.

 


My own personal definition of holiness is transparency: a perfectly holy person can think out loud without being compromised. Of course, Jesus is the only man who lived a perfectly holy life. His thoughts would never betray His profession. He professed to be the Son of God and neither His words nor His thoughts betrayed that profession. One of the big things that is important to young people today is authenticity, they want things that are real. When a person is holy, they are being real, not pretending. So there is a huge difference in being holy and acting holy.


No one can establish their own holiness. This is what the Pharisees and Scribes attempted and it will not work. Nothing is more putrid than man’s attempt to be holy a part from grace. But we are commanded here to be holy; so what is the catch? The catch is that God has called us and destined us to be holy and He is going to help us get there.

Transition:  Peter gives us a list of helps.

I. OUR FIRST HELPER OR ENCOURAGEMENT IS GRACE [1:13]

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 

When Christ is revealed, we are going to share in His glory. He is going to consummate our sanctification and we will be perfect as He is perfect. Our sinful nature will be gone and we will be like Him. What force or power is going to bring this about? I’m glad you ask and I will tell you. Jesus will perform this miracle by GRACE. You and I will not makes ourselves perfect: Jesus will make us perfect.

Roy Edgemon wrote these words years ago but they hold true today: Spiritual transformation is God’s work of changing believers into the likeness of Christ and empowering a life-long relationship of love, trust and obedience which will glorify Christ our LORD.

Peter’s advice is to fix your mind on this GRACE. There is no hope whatsoever, that you and I will become holy a part from Grace. HOLINESS IS NOT THE WAY TO CHRIST–CHRIST IS THE WAY TO HOLINESS.

What Peter does to encourage these believers is get them to live with the end in mind. Outlook determines outcome. Keep the end in mind. This is why he said, “Prepare your minds, be sober in spirit.” Paul said to the Colossians in 3:4, And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.  When Christ is revealed, the real you will be revealed. I know what I see in me and I have some idea of what the world thinks of me but Christ is going to reveal a part of me that I nor the world has ever seen. We have to keep the end in mind. Holiness is a work of Grace and Christ will complete this work of transformation.He had started. Paul said to the Philippians, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Abraham and Lot make a perfect example: Lot, after seeing Egypt, cast an eye toward Sodom. Lot was attracted by the world and after splitting up with Abraham, he pitched his tent toward Sodom. One compromise lead to another until he was smack dab in the middle of this vile and wicked place.

Abraham had a different perspective: he looked for a city whose builder and maker was God. Abraham looked beyond this world to eternity. As a result, he was nickname the “Hebrew,” the man from the other side of the river. In other words, they saw that Abraham was different. 

If we are going to seen as Holy, we must live for Christ and not for this world.

II. OUR SECOND ENCOURAGEMENT IS– WE ARE CHILDREN OF GOD

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lust which were yours in your ignorance.

15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;
16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 
  • Let me assure you that no one can be holy unless they have been born again. Go back to verse 3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Note also verse 23, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.
  • Our DNA is in this seed. Every person’s DNA [genetic coding] is different except identical twins. When we are conceived in the womb, God, through our parents, gives us our genetic coding. This is wholly a work of God. We nor our parents have anything to do with it. The same truth can be applied to our spiritual make up. When we are born into God’s family, we are giving His DNA through this eternal seed. He has impregnated us with His BLESSED HOLY SPIRIT.
  • Peter said [1 Peter 1:3-4] You must be born again of the imperishable seed: When this happens, God becomes your Father. I saw a guy the other day who looks just like his father. I had not noticed this when he was younger, but now that he is older, he looks more like his father every day.
  • I don’t look like my father but I have his mannerisms and when folks who knew my daddy see me that remind me that I am a lot like him. There was a time when I didn’t appreciate that but I have grown to like it. It is genetic, it has to do with my birth. The acorn does not role far from the tree.
  • I don’t know who is saved and who is not but I do know this: If God is really your Father, you are going to take on His mannerisms. In time there is going to be a resemblance and it has nothing to do with your efforts–it is genetic, wholly a work of Grace.

III. THIRD ENCOURAGEMENT–WE HAVE GOD’S WORD: HIS PROMISE

15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;
16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 
We are destined to be holy, it is written. John said, Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. [I John 3:2] Paul was quoting Isaiah when he said, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
When God says it, it is history, it is going to happen and He said, YOU SHALL BE HOLY.  He did not say, “You might be holy” or “There is a chance that you will be holy.”

IV. OUR FOURTH ENCOURAGEMENT IS–WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO OUR FATHER

17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth.

Our part in the process of holiness is obedience and we will be held accountability for our disobedience. It always helps when we know that we are accountable to someone. I made a lot of bad decisions growing up but not near as many as I would have made had it not been for my mother who always help me accountable. She along with the peach tree limb put the fear of God in me. In my early years, I obeyed her out of fear but eventually, I obeyed her out of respect.


I was not thrilled when God called me to preach but I was afraid to rebel against His call. For years, I preached under this sense of fear…Woe to me if I don’t preach. I was a middle adult before I realized how gracious God had been to me…What a privilege I have to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.


When Christ returned, we will be called to stand before Him and give an account, not only of our service but our motives. This should encourage us to get things right in the present. I want to be holy because I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

V. OUR LAST AND GREATEST ENCOURAGEMENT THE LOVE OF CHRIST

18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,

19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.


Peter is challenges us to do two things: [1] Look forward to the Grace that will be revealed at the COMING OF CHRIST and [2] look back at the cross and survey the price Jesus paid for our REDEMPTION.  The word ‘Redemption’ implies slavery. We were like the ancient Israelites, hopelessly enslaved. Redemption is the legal way of freeing a slave. Hosea redeemed Gomer for for six ounces of silver and 430 pounds of barley. Hosea used grain to finalize the payment because he did not have the cash. The price of redeeming a female slave was 30 shekels of silver. In other words, Hosea went to the bottom of his pockets to redeem this worthless woman. She was of little value to others but of great value to Hosea because he loved her.


Our highest motive for being Holy is the price that Jesus paid for our redemption. It was infinitely more than 30 pieces of silver. It was more than all the gold and silver in this world. We need be sober minded. We need to constantly look back to Calvary and ahead to the Second coming. This is why Jesus instituted the LORD’s supper to remind us of the price He paid and the reward He brings.


Here, Peter reminds of of what we were before Christ gave His life for us. We were slaves to sin and were living empty and meaningless lives. Christ saved us from this futile way of life and He offers us hope for the future. We must not forget where we would be without Christ.

CONCLUSION

I wrap up this message with a story from the book JESUS BY HEART. David lived near a cancer treatment clinic in one of our larger cities. Many patients who came for treatments had to stay over night but were not admitted to the hospital. It was up to the patient to find a room. Due to this demand, many residents on David’s block, rented rooms to patients. It was a way of helping the patients and making some extra money. One day an old man in a frail and tiny body came seeking lodging. His face was horrible disfigured from the cancer. He explained to David that he could not find a room. David had the perfect excuse to turn the ugly old man away: all his rooms were full but the humility in the old man’s voice touched David’s heart and so he made room for him. David’s children agreed that the old man could sleep in their room. David noticed quickly that the children did not seem to be bothered by the old man’s disfigured face. Long story short, the old man captured the love of David and his entire family. Every time he came to the city for treatment, he always stayed with David and family. David came to see what his children saw, a gracious noble man in a frail and ugly body. But the impact of the old man’s life didn’t hit fully until years later when David was visiting a friend with a Greenhouse. His friend raised flowers and he had a beautiful golden chrysanthemum in an old beat up, rusty bucket. David said to his friend, “If this beautiful plant was mine, I would put in the most beautiful container I had.”

His friend smiled and said, “Oh, I am not shocked at the beauty of this flower, I knew all along how beautiful it would become. That is why I thought, ‘this will not mind starting in an old dented, rusty bucket.”‘ It was then that the truth hit David’s mind like a cool breeze hitting the face. He could almost hear God saying of the old man, “This one is going to be beautiful. He will not mind starting in an old bent up rusty bucket.”

FOLKS: you have not seen all of God’s grace, only a smidgen. When Jesus returns, you will see GRACE in its fullness so always keep the end in mind.

INVITATION

Our father has called all of His children to holiness? If you have not or do not hear that call, you are not His child.

  1. Do you have a desire to be holy?

  2. Are you willing to be different from the world?

  3. The first step is to be born again.

The Man, The Moment And The Message

1 This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. 
2 God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. 

Introduction

  • I Peter has become a favorite to me. I don’t know how this happened, but over time, it is the first book I read when ever I begin reading a new translation. This has been going on for some five or so years. If we fast forward to I Peter 5:12, I think we will find out why this has happened in my life. Here Peter says…

  •  I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s GRACE for you. Stand firm in this GRACE. [Grace is the theme]

  • In this message, I wish to introduce our study in I Peter: one that I pray will be encouraging and uplifting. If you get a small percentage of what God has given me in the preparation of these messages, you will be blessed. I love this letter.
  • Speaking of this letter: when we get mail, the first thing we do is to see who it is from. If it is from a close friend or loved one, we give it special attention, don’t we. This brings us to the MAN.

THIS LETTER IS SPECIAL BECAUSE IT IS FROM PETER THE APOSTLE

I. THE MAN: PETER THE APOSTLE

v.1…This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. {Silas wrote it but Peter dictated the content. I Peter 5:12}

  • Note: It was from Peter the Apostle, not Simon the fisherman, but Peter the Apostle {a messenger, a delegate, one sent out} of Jesus Christ is writing to encourage these persecuted believers in the Northern part of Asia Minor, modern day Turkey and he does so with gentleness and grace. I think my love for this letter is the grace that exudes from Peter’s words. Oh how I love GRACE because it was grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved. How precious does that GRACE appear when I read and meditate on the Epistle of I Peter.
  • Think with me for a moment, how did Peter come to know the marvelous grace that he writes about? Peter was the first to confess Christ but he was also the first to deny HIM. Shortly after confessing Christ, he attempts to rebuke Jesus. One minute Peter is exclaiming the truth and the next minute he was acting as an agent of Satan. So we are talking about impetuous Peter, the man who only stopped talking long enough to change feet. We are talking about the oldest of the twelve who lead them boldly but also failed them miserably. We all know the story of Jesus renewing Peter after the resurrection. It was Peter who preached at Pentecost and it was Peter who became the leader of the church. So this letter is written some 30 years later. Peter is not an old man but he is probably in his early 60’s. He knows what it is like to fail and be restored. He has been growing in grace for 30 years.
  • This letter is not just from anyone, it is from Peter the Apostle: one who witnessed the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Apostleship and eyewitness account was a passing thing. These folks understood that in a few years, there would be no eye witnesses left, many of the twelve had already departed this world and Peter was only months away from his departure. Peter himself was awaiting trial under Nero who was possibly the most vile man who ever ruled the empire. He was a sexual pervert and had a touch of insanity.
  • To get a letter from an Apostle is one thing, but to realize that he is a dying man adds weight to his words.
  • I think the main thing we need to understand about the author of this letter is his experience in GRACE. After denying Jesus for the third time, I imagine Peter felt like he was finished but Jesus did not write him off although he did a terrible thing.
  • Jesus heard the denials but He did not reassess or disclaim His call on Peter’s life. Had our LORD been merely human, He might have said, “I made a mistake choosing Peter. He has too much pride and too big of a mouth. I will never be able to use him. I should have chosen John to be their leader. Peter is not cut out for this.”
  • NO! This is the great thing about GRACE. Jesus knew in advance that Peter would fail, it was Peter who didn’t see it coming.
  • Jesus changed his name from Simon [to hear from] to Peter [rock] because He knew what He could make out of this impetus and temperamental Galilean fisherman. Jesus transformed this loud mouth into a flaming witness. He transformed the impetus fisherman into a rock solid leader. He transformed a fisher of fish into a fisher of men. Only Jesus could do such a thing.
  • If there was anyone on the face of the earth who could talk about Grace from experience, it was Peter.

II. THE MISSION: ENCOURAGE BELIEVERS TO STAND FIRM IN GRACE

My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace. [I Peter 5:12, NLT]

Now a word about the people to whom Peter is writing. Scholars are divided concerning their ethnicity: some believe he was writing to Jewish Christians, other think Gentiles but it really doesn’t matter. He uses three words [all in verse 1] to identify these people:

  • Elected/Chosen {eklektos} [selected, chosen, picked out]
  • Strangers {parepidēmos} [Pilgrims, aliens, used again in 1 Peter 2:11]
  • Scattered {diaspora} [dispersed, spread out]

In the Greek they come together in the above order… Πέτρος ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκλεκτοῖς [elect] παρεπιδήμοις [strangers, aliens] διασπορᾶς [dispersed] Πόντου Γαλατίας Καππαδοκίας Ἀσίας καὶ Βιθυνίας

NOTE:

  • These scattered believers [not living in the bible belt] are like strangers or foreigners. They are being called to live counter to their culture which was very pagan.
  • There must be no attempt assimilate or blend in and this will [Romans 12:2… Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will]…undoubtedly  lead to persecution. They had already experienced some but Peter, who was in Rome, knew that it was going to get worse and it did. [Nero]
  • Peter understood that a call from Christ is a call to suffer and much of this letter is about suffering. [I Peter 2:21, F]
    21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 
    22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. 
    23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.
    24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.
  • When Christians do what is right in a pagan culture, they are going to suffer for doing good. David Green had to take on the Federal Government who tried to force him to provide funds for abortions in his company’s health insurance. He refused. Ultimately, he was favored in a Supreme Court Ruling but not until he had spent millions, not to speak of the loss of time. All Muslim businesses were given a free pass but the Obama administration targets Christian businesses.
  • Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cake shop in Lakewood, Colo., declined to make a cake for the wedding celebration of two gay men in 2012. Phillips told the couple that he would make a birthday cake but could not make a cake that would promote same-sex marriage due to his religious beliefs. Two lower courts ordered Phillips to serve gays but he carried his cause to the Supreme Court. Two of the Supreme Court justices were outraged at a comment made by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission…. who said, religion  has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, including slavery and the Holocaust." You have to understand where these civil rights groups such as the ACLU are coming from...Rich, agnostic Jews, in the mold of Ciaiphas, who hate Jesus. These talking pundits have made slavery, the holocaust and civil rights for sexual perverts the only three sins. It is OK to kill a baby but its immoral to honor the memory of George Washington because he owed slaves.
  • The ACLU along with every civil rights group I know always target Christians. If religion was really their target, they would go after Muslims and Orthodox Jews.
  • Long story short, we live in a Christ hating world and those of us who identify with HIM are going to suffer for it. It is not a matter of if but when...we are going to suffer for Christ.
  • The recipients of this letter had suffered but things were going to get worse and Peter is simply alerting them to get ready.

III. THE MESSAGE: SUFFERING NOW BUT GLORY TO COME

Peter says in verse 2, God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ

  • Note first of all that the TRINITY is at work in our behalf...God the Father chose us, the Holy Spirit is sanctifying us [making us holy] and Jesus made it all possible by dying for us. All of this is God's work in our behalf and it is according to His eternal plan.
  • Like Jesus, we are called to suffer but just as his suffering lead to glory, so will ours.
  • Jesus had the ability to look beyond the pain: the writer of Hebrews said...            "We fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
  • This is why Peter said in the closing of his letter [I Peter 5:12]...My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace. 
  • You might say, "God's gracious plan for you." Jesus coming was a part of a plan. His suffering and death were according to a plan. Our suffering is no different, it is according to God's plan. There is a purpose in our suffering.
  • Peter said at Pentecost, speaking of Jesus....  this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 
  • Peter says in chapter 4... Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world

CONCLUSION

Suffering is never pleasant but it is necessary for our sanctification. Suffering is God's refining fire, his smeltering furnace. Do you want what Jesus wants? Does your heart beat with His? If you answer yes then I know you have suffered.


Greed is no respecter of persons: never doubt that poor people can be just as greedy as the rich. We want to take possession of things. We measure people by the kind of house they live in, the clothes they wear, the cars they drive and their annual income or their net worth. This fallen world has a seductive power that can get to any man. In my life time, the only folks that I have seen OVERCOME THIS WORLD were those who suffered. People who have suffered intensely don't care for this world nor the things in it. They don't fight over land lines and inheritances because they see beyond this world. What was it that destroyed their love for this world? I can tell you, it was suffering. If you look closely into the lives of the great saints, you will see they all have something in common: they suffered.


As a very young pastor, I stood along side a family who watched their 8 year old son depart this world due to Cystic Fibrosis. Just minutes before his passing, I heard his dad say, "I would give everything I have in this world, for just one more day." I had enough sense not to articulate my thoughts but my thoughts were: "that's crazy, he is terminally sick, he cannot get well, why would you give everything you have for one more day?" I was young and ignorant and not fully convinced that life doesn't consist in the abundance of things one possesses. But the suffering, broken hearted dad didn't care for the things in this world. He loved his son and wanted to spend one more day with him. This man became one of the best friends I've ever had. He came to my defense when no one else would. He had more courage than anyone I've ever known. The LORD promoted him in November of 2009--He died like he lived, without fear. How did he get this way? By suffering. Peter got thrown into the same smelting pot as did Jesus and it bonded them together. I've seen the same think happen when we fellow believers suffer together.

My best friends are not those I played ball with or those I did business with, it is those I suffered with. I am not saying that suffering is pleasant, I am saying it has a purpose and the outcome for a believer is glorious. Hope is looking beyond the pain and seeing the glory that is waiting.

May you be encouraged by this word from God.