Scripture: 1 Peter 1:13-21
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.
- 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
IV. OUR FOURTH ENCOURAGEMENT IS–WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO OUR FATHER
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.
V. OUR LAST AND GREATEST ENCOURAGEMENT THE LOVE OF CHRIST
19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
Peter is challenges us to do two things:  Look forward to the Grace that will be revealed at the COMING OF CHRIST and  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.
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.
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.
Do you have a desire to be holy?
Are you willing to be different from the world?
The first step is to be born again.