1 Peter 1:22-25 ~ 20081102~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
11/2 1 Peter 1:22-25 love one another
13 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. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 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.
22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
1:22 tav qucav umwn hgnikotev en th upakoh thv alhyeiav eiv filadelfian anupokriton ek kardiav allhlouv agaphsate ektenwv 23 anagegennhmenoi ouk ek sporav fyarthv alla afyartou dia logou zwntov yeou kai menontov 24 dioti pasa sarx wv cortov kai pasa doxa authv wv anyov cortou exhranyh o cortov kai to anyov exepesen 25 to de rhma kuriou menei eiv ton aiwna touto de estin to rhma to euaggelisyen eiv umav
Peter has spent the first 12 verses celebrating what God has done to make us his forever. In verses 1-3, he chose us and caused us to be born again through the resurrection of Jesus. In verse 4 he is keeping our inheritance safe for us. In verse 5, he is guarding us by his power for our salvation through our faith. In verses 6-7, he is testing our faith by the fire of trials so that it is proved genuine. In verses 8-9 he points to our joy in Jesus as evidence of our genuine belief that will result in our salvation in the end. In verses 10-12 he encourages us that prophets and angels and evangelists, through the Holy Spirit were all working together to bring us salvation. Then in verse 13 he inserts a critical 'therefore' to give us commands; the commands hinge on and flow from an understanding of the doctrinal truth he has presented. Because of what God has done to make you his forever, this is how you should respond. So far, he has given us three commands. In verse 13, set your hope fully on future grace, in verses 14-16, be holy - highlight the priority of God in you actions and attitudes, and in verses 17-21, live in fear - fear of treating the infinitely precious sacrifice of Jesus as something impotent and insignificant. These three imperatives are primarily Godward - they define our relationship with and attitude toward God - we are to hope in him, to be holy like him, and to live in fear of displeasing him.
Now in verses 22-25, Peter turns his attention to our horizontal relationships that flow out of our vertical relationship:
Peter now gives us a fourth command - 'love one another'. We need to understand what he is commanding us to do, why he demands it, and how he expects us to do it. He is demanding that we love one another. We might initially react against this. How can you command love? Isn't love an emotion? You can't command me to feel something that I don't feel. I've often hear the comment: 'I know I'm commanded to love them, and I do, but I don't have to like them' By studying what Peter has to say, we should come away with a better understanding of our obligation to our fellow believers and some practical advice on how to put it into practice.
Peter starts us out by reminding us of our conversion and what it accomplished. In verse 2, Peter told us that we are elect 'for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.' He now points us to our obedience to the truth as what has purified our souls. In the New Testament, obedience to the truth and belief in the truth are synonymous concepts. Believing the gospel message is the same thing as placing yourself under the authority of God and his word. Nowhere in the bible is faith a mere mental agreement with the historical facts of the gospel message. Always faith engages the whole person and demands a new affection and and is produced by a new life. Embracing the good news about Jesus means subjecting yourself to the authority of the truth about God and living consistently with it.
Peter points us to the purifying effect of embracing God's truth. And he points to a decisive past action rather than a continuing process. If you have embraced Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection as the substitute for your sins, then you have been purified. You have been decisively washed by the blood of Jesus.
Remember when the disciples came into the upper room, and they had been arguing about who was the greatest and none of them would stoop to do the menial task of washing the feet of the others? To their shock, their Rabbi laid aside his clothes and wrapped himself in a towel and stooped to wash their feet. When Jesus came to Peter, Peter said 'You shall never wash my feet!' (Jn.13:8-10). Jesus replied 'If I do not wash you, you have no share with me'. So Peter ambitiously answered 'Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!' Jesus replied 'the one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean...' Peter had been washed from his sins by trusting Jesus.
In Acts 15:9, Peter said that God cleansed the heart of the Gentiles by faith; here he says that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth.
You have purified your soul by obedience to the truth for an intended purpose. That purpose is 'a sincere brotherly love'. Jesus washed you so that you can love your brothers. This is sibling love - blood relations are strong. I have a brother who is 8 years older than I am and we are good friends today. But this was not always so. I was the little kid that was into his stuff and he loved to torment me. But I remember one glorious day when a bigger kid was bullying me and made the mistake of pursuing me all the way home. He didn't expect to run into my big brother, and he suddenly found his feet dangling a few inches off the ground as my brother explained in graphic detail what would happen to him if he was ever found bothering me again. Blood relations run deep. Relationships bought with the precious blood of Jesus run even deeper. We are blood brothers and sisters. We have a new family bond because of being born into God's family.
We were purified for sincere brotherly love. The word is literally 'un-hypocritical'. Our love toward our brothers and sisters is to be real; genuine; not fake; not the putting on of a mask and pretending to love. That is all too common in the church and we need to repent of that. Peter's argument here is 'since you have been purified for un-hypocritical love, then love! He changes the word from 'philadelphia' to 'agape'. This describes unconditional purposeful love - to intentionally bring the highest good to the other, even at the expense of self. This love that has no conditions- 'I'll love you as long as you are part of my natural circle of friends' 'I'll love you as long as you respond appropriately and gratefully' 'I'll love you if you are somehow deserving of my love or if I am able to see some growth or effort on your part'; I'll love you if you are lovable'; 'I'll love you if the demand is not too high or the duration is not too long'... Agape love is love with no conditions. Love that puts the needs of others before your own - self-sacrificing love.
And this love is descried in two ways. It is an earnest love and it is from the heart. The word 'earnest' carries the idea of being stretched to the limit or exerting your full capacity to love. Love in earnest and love from the heart. This is not a superficial kind of love. This is love that originates in the core of your being. We might say 'love with all your heart and soul' - love with full intensity with a love that is heartfelt and genuine.
This brings us back to the question - how can Peter command heartfelt un-hypocritical love? I can do the loving thing because I know I ought to, but I can't manufacture this full-on heartfelt intensity of love that Peter demands. I can act loving even when I don't feel like it, but how do I eliminate hypocrisy from my love? How do I love sincerely, from the heart, in earnest? How do I become not merely willing, but eager to love my neighbor like I love myself? How do I not quit loving when I get tired and worn out? Peter gives us his answer in the next verse:
Peter grounds his command for agape love in our regeneration. You can love like I am commanding you because you have been born again. In verse 3 he said 'blessed be...God...' because...
Our new birth results in a new family relationship. We love one another because God is now our common spiritual father through new birth. We love one another because the nature of the father – who is love- has been passed on to us. We can keep on loving one another because the new life we have in Jesus is indestructible.
In verse 4, Peter told us that our inheritance is imperishable. In verse 18, he told us that we were not ransomed with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. Now he tells us that the seed or sperm that produced our new life is not perishable but imperishable. We have imperishable DNA through our new birth!
Our new birth came by means of God's word.
Peter here tells us that God caused us to be born again through or by means of his word. His word is living; so we have life. His word remains; so we will persevere. God's word will not perish, so we who trust in God's word will never perish. Peter substantiates his claim with a quote from Isaiah 40:6-8. The context is a proclamation of comfort to Israel, because although they will be carried off in captivity to Babylon, God will restore them from their exile. He will blow on their enemies and they will wither like grass, but his promises will never fail. Peter is writing to the elect exiles in Asia Minor, and he is encouraging them to love because God's word has created new life in them. No nation, no matter how strong, not Babylon, not Rome, not the people that are now persecuting you, can thwart God's purposes. God is keeping an inheritance for you, and God is keeping you for your inheritance. God's word has birthed new life in you, and that life is imperishable. God's word is powerful and will accomplish its purpose.
And God's purpose for his regenerating word is to create a community, a family who hope in his grace, who love what he loves and are holy like he is holy; who esteem Jesus so highly that they fear treating with contempt the value of the cross; who love one another sincerely, earnestly, un-hypocritically, from the heart.
And Peter concludes 'and this word is the good news that was preached to you.' This indestructible word, this life creating word, is the good news, the gospel message that was preached to you. Prophets prophesied, searched and inquired about the grace that was to be yours; they served not themselves but you; these things have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven (1:10-12).
This is the gospel message:
The good news is a message of God's gracious love:
God's love is free and unconditional:
Our love for others is a natural result of God's love for us and the new birth;
So how do we love? The good news that Jesus died for our sins was proclaimed to us, and that indestructible message creates life in its hearers. The life that is created is life from God and will reflect God's character of love.
So what if this morning an honest glance into my own heart tells me that I don't find God's love there? What should I do? Our text this morning tells me to look to God's love in the gospel message. Look to the life transforming message of God's grace toward sinners in the cross. Look to the magnitude of your sin against God, for 'he who is forgiven little, loves little' (Luke 7:47). Look to the precious blood of Jesus that ransoms us from the futile loveless life inherited from our forefathers. We are set free to love each other. Be immersed in the word of God that creates a life of love in its hearers. The good news is the power of God to save believers. Drench yourself in God's word and allow God to shape your emotions and attitudes and actions to the image of Jesus.