I Peter 1:13

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

May 30, 2013

 

We have seen that 1 Peter opens with a beautiful description of who we are in Christ.  The salutation in verses 1-2 tell us we are:

·        “aliens” – That reminds us that this world is not our final destination.  We are just passing through.  The plural form of that word reminds us that as we pass through this world, we are not alone.  We are part of a larger Christian community.

·        “scattered” – We saw that is the word used to describe the process of a farmer sowing seed.  God scatters us into the world as His seed to take root, grow, and bear fruit.

·        “chosen” – That word means that those who turn to faith in Christ are chosen for special relationship with God and chosen for special task in world.  In the OT the word used to describe the nation Israel.  In the NT it used to describe those who have entered a faith relationship with Jesus Christ..

Then, in verses 3-12 there is a beautiful description of what we have in Christ.  These verses remind us that in Christ we have:

·        “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (v.3)

·        “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (v.4)

·        “protected by the power of God through faith” (v.5)

·        “the salvation of your souls” (v.9)

 

These first two paragraphs deal with the privileges of Christianity.  Now, beginning in verse 13 Peter begins to focus of some of the responsibilities that flow from these privileges.  Notice that the first word of verse 13 is “therefore.”  That word points the reader back to all that has been said to this point.  As a result of these privileges you have in Christ, here is what you are to do.

 

This next section of I Peter can be outlined as follows:

·        1:13 – A thesis statement

·        1:14 – Something to remove from our lives

·        1:15-25 – Some things to add to our lives

           

In the book Through the Wilderness of Loneliness Tim Hansel tells about a traveler in Vermont who lost his way...he drove his car into a little village, rolled down the window, and said to one of the locals, “Friend, I need help.  I think I’m lost.”...the villager looked at him for a moment and then in that slow, northeastern drawl asked, “Well, do you know where you are?”...the traveler responded, “Yes, I saw the name of the village when I drove in.”...then the villager asked, “Well, do you know where you want to be?”...and the traveler said, “Yes” and told the man his intended destination...the old villager looked away for a moment deep in thought and then he dispensed some good northeastern philosophy...he said, “Well, the way I see it, you ain’t lost.  You just need directions.”

 

I like that little story because it reminds me of an important truth about the Christian life...it is possible, in the spiritual sense, to not be lost but to still be in great need of direction...even those people who have experienced a genuine conversion, a real spiritual re-birth in their lives need instruction, training, and discipling...and we never outgrow that need...

 

The thesis sentence in verse 13 gives us some very specific direction for the life to which we are called in Christ.  This verse tells us we are to do three specific things:

 

“GIRD UP YOUR MINDS FOR ACTION”

1.      The phrase “gird your minds for action” is an especially vivid phrase...the metaphor here would have been instantly understood by the recipients of this letter...in 1st century eastern world, men generally wore a long flowing robe as their outer garment...if fast movement or energetic movement was needed, the men would “gird up” their robes...this was done by tucking the portion of the rob which fell around the legs into a broad belt which was worn around the waist...an equivalent modern metaphor would be our phrase “roll up your sleeves”...

2.      Want you to notice that this girding, this preparing for action takes place in the realm of the mind...when a person becomes a Christian, when a person makes a serious commitment of his/her life to Christ, a transformation begins to take place in that person’s thought process...

--Romans 12:2 tells us that when we commit our lives to Christ a renewal begins to take place in our minds...

--Ephesians 4 teaches that as Christians we are no longer to walk in ignorance and darkness...

3.      And the purpose of this renewal is not merely to satisfy our intellectual curiosity...it is not to make us feel smarter, more intelligent than others...the purpose is to equip us, to prepare us for actions...we are to “gird our minds for action...

 

1.      The life to which God calls us is a life of action...it’s a life of doing something...Christianity is not a life of navel gazing!... it is not a life of just philosophical or even theological inquiry ... it’s a life of service...of ministry to others...Jesus, Himself, is our model in that...He was not a philosopher or a theologian in the classical sense...He was a minister, a servant of others...in the Scripture Jesus is described as One who “went about doing good...”[Acts 10:38]...He fed the hungry, healed the sick, befriended the outcast, encouraged the downcast...and He calls us to that same kind of active life...

 

1.      Jewish writer Elie Wiesel tell of a rabbinic student who was critical of God for how things are in this world...his teacher asked the student, “Do you know how to make the world better?” to which the student replied, “Why, yes.  I think I do.”...and his teacher’s response was, “Well then, get to work.  There is no time to spare.” [Brian’s Lines, Vol.16, Issue 2]

2.      One thing I Peter 1:13 tells us is, “Get to work!”...we are to be ready for action...

 

 

“KEEP SOBER IN SPIRIT”

1.      The next instruction in I Peter 1:13 is to “keep sober in spirit”... that word translated “sober” is used only six times in the NT, and three times of those uses occur in the letter of I Peter...in addition to this verse will find the word in--

--4:7 says that “the end of all things is at hand...therefore be sober for the purpose of prayer...”

--5:8 says that we are to “Be of sober spirit” because our adversary, the devil, is seeking someone to devour...

2.      The word translated “sober” is “nepho”...originally it meant simply to abstain from getting drunk with wine...but over time it came to carry the ideas of stability, steadfastness, and self-control...and the basic idea behind the word is self-discipline, to be in control of one’s life...

 

1.      In addition to calling us to a life of action, God also calls us to a life of discipline...a study of the various disciplines of the Christian life could be a whole Bible study series in itself...Richard Foster, in his classic book Celebration of Discipline divides the disciplines of the Christian life into three broad categories:

·        Inward Disciplines (Meditation, prayer, fasting, and study)

·        Outward Disciplines (Simplicity, solitude, submission, and service)

·        Corporate Disciplines (Confession, worship, guidance, celebration)

2.      And our lives are better and we are more useful to God when we give ourselves to these disciplines...

 

1.      In the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta Michael Johnson won gold metals in both the 200 meter dash and the 400 meter dash...and that moment of triumph in the Olympics was the result of years of disciplined training...in his book Slaying the Dragon Johnson writes, “I can proudly say that I’ve never missed a scheduled day of training in ten years.”

2.      And as a result of his self-discipline, combined with his natural talent, he reached the very pinnacle of his chosen field...and as we live disciplined, controlled, sober lives, we find ourselves in the position of being able to accomplish more for the Lord...

 

“FIX YOUR HOPE COMPLETELY ON THE GRACE TO BE BROUGHT TO YOU AT THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST”

1.      The third instruction in this verse is “fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” ...what Peter is saying is, “Don’t lose sight of your destiny!”... you live now in God’s grace and when the Lord returns to this world victorious over evil, as the King of kings and Lord of lords, you will still be living in God’s grace...

2.      Christians have every reason to be optimistic...we ought to always have a hopeful outlook...Warren Wiersbe tells of receiving a note from a friend that said, “When the outlook is gloomy, try the uplook!”...and when we look toward God, when we remember our current standing in Christ, when we remember our ultimate destiny in Him, we have every reason to be optimistic...

 

1.      One of my favorite writers is John Maxwell...has written several very insightful books on leadership...in his book The Winning Attitude tells about a time when the Scottish novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson was very ill...had been bedfast for sometime from a variety of illnesses...however, was determined not to let his deteriorating physical condition affect his attitude toward life...after a particular difficult time his not-so-cheerful wife said to him, “I expect you still believe it’s a wonderful day.”...and Stevenson replied, “I do.  I will never permit a row of medicine bottles to block my horizon.” [The Winning Attitude, p.122]

2.      As we travel through this world we can choose to focus on the immediate problems which invariably surround us or we can take a broader view of life and focus on our ultimate destiny in Christ...and as we remember who we are in Christ and as we fix our hope on Him, we despite the temporary setbacks we may face, we have every reason to be characterized by optimism...

CONCLUSION

1.      Someone has said the lie most often repeated in our world is that statement “Easy to assemble.”  Doesn’t it frustrate you when you purchase some item which needs to be assembled and the accompanying instructions are so complex or so poorly written that you need a Ph.D. to understand them?  Fortunately, God’s instructions to us in the Scripture aren’t written like that. His instructions are clear.  They are direct. God’s instructions are easy to comprehend...

2.      I Peter 1:13 tells us in clear, concise language how God wants us to live—

--Be ready for service and ministry... “Gird up you minds for action…”

--Be disciplined in your spiritual life... “Keep sober in spirit…”

--Be optimistic about your future in Christ... “Fix your hope on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ…”

3.      That’s what God desires from us and our lives are better when we live His way...

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