Defend the Faith with Holiness (1Peter 1-2)

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There are some things I enjoy doing and others I just endure. And yes, there are certainly some things I avoid all together.

For instance:

I enjoy sports and games. The challenge and competition is exciting for me. Maybe this is my dark side and short-sighted weakness. But, I enjoy most every sport and game even if it is one that I’m not particularly familiar or fond of, I will enjoy it because of the competition aspect.

I endure musicals. My wife loves watching musicals. One time I took her to see Les Miserables and somehow I ended up watching the back of my eyelids; she says I fell asleep. But I will watch musicals because I love my wife.

I endure Disney princess movies. I have four growing daughters and this is their world. So, I am learning to endure and somewhat like princess stories because I love entering my daughter’s worlds.

I endure camping. I’ve been camping a handful of times. Once I went camping on a missions trip to St. Davids, Canada. The shower stalls were filled with mosquitoes. Now, before you think I’m just being boojee, it was more than just swatting a few flies; there were cake clumps of nats that lined the walls and floors. It was enough to make you vomit. And because I forgot how fun that was, I planned another camping mission trip to Appalachia area in WV and had our group stay at a tent campsite. It rained about 50% of the week. Further, I grew jealous because there were cabins on the other side of the campground. So, I do not dislike or avoid camping but it is more like something I endure than enjoy.

I have a fear that some Christians look at holiness like I do camping.[1] Holiness is not your passionate pursuit. You might try to make more good choices than wrong ones, but holiness as an every day, moment by moment aim? No. Yet, you expect holiness in your pastor and a few spiritual leaders in the church. You might appreciate that a few other Christian acquaintances somewhat emphasize holy living. But personally, you just seek to survive another day in the midst of all the stresses of life. In your life, holiness can wait.

If this describes you then 1Peter has a word of challenge for you.

My friends, do you not realize,

  • “without holiness no one will see the Lord” Hebrews 12:14
  • “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8defend faith_logo
  • God in heaven is holy
  • Jesus is the one which angels sing “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty” (Revelation 4:8)
  • Angels are holy (Luke 9:26)
  • Heaven is the holy city (Revelation 21:2)
  • God expects His people to be holy (1Peter 1:16)

 

EXAMINE                   Defend The Faith with Holiness 1Peter 1:13-2:25; cf. 4:1-19        3 Reasons for living holy

We live holy to look Jesus in the eyes one day (1:13)

Peter urges believers to be prepared [literally – “gird up loins”; has the picture of a worker or athlete tucking the lower part of robe around the waist so their legs could move unhindered]. Christians act for action – live as if you were in a war.

Illus: Can you imagine a soldier entering a battle zone with the goal of not getting hit very much? Silly? Strange? Senseless? Yes to all these and more. And yet, this is the sort of low expectations believers have in regards to holiness – not to sin very much. Christians must prepare for the temptations they face with sober-mindedness. One of Jonathan Edwards resolutions hits home: “Resolved, never to do anything which I would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.”[1]

  • Fear Jesus and seek His approval more than the crowd or the world’s.
  • Flee temptation. 1Cor 6:18 “Flee from sexual immorality” 2Tim 2:22 “Flee the evil desires of youth”
  • F.L.E.E. Strategy
    • Fill up with the gospel and God’s word Psalm 119:9,11 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against you.” 2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
    • Listen to the right voice and avoid the lies. John 8:44 satan is “a liar and father of lies” Proverbs 5:1-5 “My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol.”
    • Expose to light and not darkness by confessing shortcomings and sin failures. John 3:20 “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” Psalm 34:3, 5 “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through groaning… I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
    • Endure the good fight of the faith. 1Timothy 6:11 “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Hebrews 12:7, 12-14 “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? … Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of join but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

We live holy to grow up from spiritual infants to obedient children (1:14 – 2:8).

Peter understood that these believers were experiencing great suffering. Their present and future circumstances looked bleak, in terms of comfort. If they did not grow up they would fall down.

How does Peter describe growing up?

  • Leave sin and love the Savior 1:14-16 as obedient Children, do not be conformed to the passions of former ignorance but obey God and be holy.
    • knowing that you were ransomed from futile ways… with the precious blood of Christ (1:18) Every time you are tempted to sin look at Jesus bleeding and dying. Remember as Jesus died your sin has died (cf. Rom 6:1-11).
    • God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God (1:21)

In the Christian life, obedience is not an option and spiritual alertness is not an alternative. Believers must stay awake to the dangers of spiritual apathy. One of the greatest dangers is returning to past sin. Peter says “do not be conformed to the passions of former ignorance” (1:14). Proverbs 26:11 says, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” (cf. 2Peter 2:21-22). Dogs return to vomit. Disciples of Jesus return to gospel victory where grace overcomes not just the penalty of sin but the power of sin to fuel obedience.

Christians are called/commanded to grow in holiness. One who has been made holy by the power of the gospel cannot remain in an unholy lifestyle. “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1John 1:6). God has saved us from a life of sin and saved us to a life of holiness.

Ephesians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him… that we should be holy and blameless before him.”

1Thessalonians 4:7 “For God has not called us for impurity but in holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”

1Peter 1:15 “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct”

  • Love believers 1:22, 2:1 “sincere love: love one another earnestly from a pure heart… put away all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander”
    • sincere love, pure heart
    • malice: deep evil… moving from depravity to deplorable viciousness
    • deceit: trickery, entangled lies… manipulation to achieve selfish gain
    • hypocrisy: acting a part, pretending one identity when reality is different…
    • envy: jealousy, pride… being unsatisfied turning to unpredictable evil
    • slander: evil speaking… moving from anger to wrath, rage and bitterness
    • Holiness is lived in humble community.

When I watch the news I shake my head in disappointment and disgust. Human depravity grows increasingly live before our television screens. Sincere love and purity of heart is gone from society. And this is what Peter is exhorting these believers to go up against and live in contrasting ways.

You think… oh, I’m loving and sincere.

  • Have you ever stopped talking to someone (silent treatment) because they offended you? That’s malice.
  • Have you ever puffed up your resume or when introducing yourself in order to gain acceptance? That’s deceit.
  • Have you ever not stood up for Jesus or for the good of another when you had opportunity and power to do so? That’s hypocrisy.
  • Have you ever wanted what someone else had (marriage, family, career, wealth, possessions, personality) that it impacted your present circumstances (feelings or reality in relationships, etc.)? Or worse, wished misfortune upon someone? That’s envy.
  • Have you ever disagreed with someone and in describing the incident twisted the discussion even in the slightest bit to position self in right? That’s slander.holiness funny

You see, we are all guilty. Peter is saying “grow up”.

How does Peter prescribe growing up?

2:4-6 Come to Jesus and live as Him as your cornerstone

2:2-3 Crave the pure spiritual milk. Peter says there has to be an exchange – “put away” then “put on/in”. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can sustain your life and hope – especially in midst of suffering.

Illus:

  • Imagine if you only ate once a week.
  • Imagine if you only charged your phone or laptop once a week.
  • Imagine if you only fueled your car once a month.
  • Imagine if you only cleaned your house & fridge once a year.

The point is our hunger for God, gospel, God’s Word must be as great as our hunger for daily food, daily electronics charging, etc.

 

We live holy to be a priest to our world (2:9-12)
A summary point of why Peter is emphasizing holiness is God’s mission for the believers. God saves His people from sin and for service. He has a purpose for them to proclaim His grace and promote His greatness in our lives. God’s missionary purpose is part of the DNA of the believer.

1Peter 2:9 But you ARE a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

  • chosen race: As Israel was God’s chosen so the church is God’s elect
  • royal priesthood: A priest had at least 3 main roles[2]
    • 1) Priests offer spiritual sacrifices to God (1Peter 2:5).
      • Believers offer their bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Trouble is living sacrifices seek to crawl off altar.
      • Believers offer sacrifice of praise and worship with the fruit of our lips (Hebrews 13:15).
      • Believers can offer a sacrifice of wealth as a fragrant offering to God’s glory of good of others (Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:16).
      • Believers can offer a sacrifice of prayer (Luke 5:33; Revelation 8:3).
    • 2) Priests reflect God to the people.
      • Speaking as God’s messenger of blessing, instruction, warning, judgment, hope/restoration.
    • 3) Priests represent people to God
      • Making sacrifices on behalf of people (Hebrews 2:17; 5:1; 8:3)
      • Making intercession (praying) for people (Exodus 17)
      • In OT kings were not allowed to be priests. Only Jesus was both noble and near. Jesus lives to make intercession for us (Heb 7:25).
      • And now, God calls us a royal priesthood. We are all priests to reflect God to people and represent people to God through praying and seeing the potential for God to work in their life.

 

  • a holy nation… a people for his own possession
    • The Israelites were a nation set apart and distinct with God’s presence, God’s promises, God’s provision, and God’s principles. They were to be God’s people and a light to other nations (Gen 12:2; Deut 28:12; Isa 49:6; etc.). Israel was to have influence around the world for the fame of God’s name not their own. They were chosen in God’s mercy not because of their merit; they were few and weak in number (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).
      • 1Peter 2:12 “keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable…”
    • Similarly, Jesus says that God’s people are salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16).
    • Patriotism is in the gospel… until then they are exiles (1Peter 1:1).

 

APPLY/THINK

  • Survival in storms or suffering is synced to spiritual growth. Grow up in Jesus.
  • Usefulness is united to holiness. Grow up in Jesus.

 

 

[1] Illustration idea adapted from Kevin DeYoung,The Hole in our Holiness

[1] Illustration idea from Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, p.93.

[2] Adapted from sermon by J.D. Greear, “Who We Are, Where We Come From and What We Do” 1Peter 2:8-12 from series I Am an Alien.

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