Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

Molalla, Oregon

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Who Am I?

September 21st, 2008 by Vic

Bible Reference: 1 Peter 1:17-2:3

Peter is telling us about God and who we are.  He uses some unique and majestic words.  Peter was just an ordinary fisherman who chose to obey completely.  He chose to say, “yes” when God’s Spirit spoke to him.  As he grew in his spiritual life he found God to be greater than words could describe.

He started his letter by describing our salvation from God’s point of view.  Then he reminded us of all the blessings we have to be thankful for.  In 1:13-15 he challenges us to live holy lives just like our Father.  By disciplining our minds, our emotions, and our dreams we can live the way we were designed to live.

Because our Father is holy Peter expects us to live holy lives.  God has set the standard.  God is the standard.  We are to be holy as He is holy, to be perfect as He is perfect, to be merciful as He is, to love as He does.  Until we see the real standard, we assume the popular is the standard.  Everybody else is doing it.

I read a newsletter this week that identified some trends in some Christian organizations to use mystery religions as our standard rather than the Bible.  They claim to believe the Bible, but they seek power, influence and experiences that are not Biblical.

In Peter’s letter he focuses on the Trinity.  Peter does not mention all the diseases that destroy our relationship with God.  He does not mention that bitterness is the cancer of the soul.  He does not mention that pride can wreck the church.  He does not threaten us with some scare tactics to entice us to live holy lives.  He does not use a manipulative argument to convince us we should be holy.  He does not focus on what we get out of salvation, but what God has done for us.

Peter only says, “Look how great God is!  Look at all the blessings and privileges He has given us!”  Maybe some of you have always been motivated by negative threats.  But Peter asks you to consider God’s love.  Maybe you need to hear about judgment, tribulation, and the wrath of God, but Peter does not do that until the last chapter of his second letter.  If you do not live according to the instruction manual, you will self-destruct.

Peter is writing to Christians who were scattered around the Roman Empire and were suffering.  They knew what it was like to see loved ones sacrificed to lions for Caesar’s pleasure.  They knew what it meant to say “Jesus is Lord” and refuse to say that Caesar was lord.  They all had loved ones or knew of loved ones who had given their lives as a testimony for Jesus.  They did not need to be scared into living holy lives.  They just wanted to hear more about God.  They wanted to hear again how great God is and what He was doing.  They wanted to see God.

In I Peter 1:2, Peter says we are what we are, where we are, ‘according to’ the foremost knowledge of God.  The foremost knowledge of God is the standard on which the plan of our lives has been built.  In 1 Cor, Paul says that Jesus is the foundation on which we build His church.  God is in control.  He is the standard for our lives.

We must not measure our lives by the expectations of man or by our own self evaluation, but by the standard of God.  You are who you are in God’s eyes.

God is holy.  He is our standard.  God is holy and He has made holiness the standard necessary for the health of His universe.  Whatever is holy is healthy; evil is a moral sickness that leads to death.  Sin is spiritual cancer.  We are healthy when we live according to the owner’s manual of our lives.

The Scripture is plain.  We are commanded to live holy lives.  A holy life will be very different than what the world defines as normal.

In the rest of the letter Peter tells us how to live a holy life.  In various ways he answers the question, “How can I be Christlike?”  In the Scripture today Peter says you were like slaves, but now you are children.  Obey your Father.  You were like grass, but now you are eternal.  Your behavior was worldly, but now godly.

It is interesting in verses 17 and 18 that Peter says conduct yourselves in fear “knowing”.  Normally we fear what we do not know or understand.  But the fear of God is a respect that grows greater as you know Him more.  Some people fear knowing an evil father.  Christians fear knowing a loving Father.

1. You call God, “Father”, so live in reverence.     We are God’s CHILDREN  (1:17)

2. You were redeemed, so live in freedom.    We are God’s SLAVES  (1:18)

3. You were purified, so live in love.  We are part of the FAMILY of God  (1:22)

4. You are eternal, so be different.      FOREVER BEAUTIFUL  (1:25)

5. You have new clothes.  Clean ATTITUDE and lifestyle (2:1-3)

“And if you are calling upon for yourselves as Father, the one who impartially judges according to each man’s work, live like it.”  It seems only fair that if you call God your Father, you should live like His children remembering you are sojourners here and not citizens. (1:17)

You say you believe in God.  Satan believes too.  Satan condemns.  He judges each man by externals.  He does not consider the motives of the heart.  God wants us to live like His children.  He wants us to reflect His nature and do good, be honest and pure.  He is pleased when the world sees our works and gives Him glory.  I am pleased when people see my kids and give them a complement.  God judges my heart.  God judges impartially.  He judges justly.

Notice that God sees our work as singular.  My whole style of life is seen as one.  He does not have to weigh the good deeds against the bad.  Good deeds are only good when they are done with the right heart and bad deeds can be used for good if my motive is right.  God told Isaiah He could not endure the nice religious ceremonies of the people when their hearts were full of iniquity. (Is. 1:13)  God judges our ‘work’ not our ‘works’.

If God is our Father, then this world is not our home and we should with reverence live each day for Him in the time we have.  If God is our Father, then why fear Satan?  If God is our Father then why get too comfortable in this world?  Fear God knowing God.

Peter gets excited when he thinks about our redemption.

“It is an obvious fact that you were not redeemed with little corruptible coins of silver and gold in a slave market from the empty way of life handed down by your fathers.”  All of Solomon’s riches could not redeem him. (1:18)  All the worlds riches could not redeem you.

The word “redeem” means to buy back, to rescue.  Like a watch in a pawn shop we are redeemed from a useless, powerless, empty, vain, idle way of life.  You were not functioning as you were designed to do, but redemption restored your freedom.  You were prisoners of sin and self with very little space to move and big guilt to carry.

Grammatically ‘redeem’ is in the aorist passive form, which means at a definite time the subject received some action from an outside source.  We receive redemption.  The work was completed when Jesus said, “It is finished!”  Jesus paid the price of our redemption.  When we believe, we receive!

By believing on Him, we accept His work on the cross as our release from the chains of our sins.  Our chains fall off when we bow at the feet of Jesus.  We are free from the chains of men’s expectations.  We are free from the chains of customs, ritual, and routine.  We are free from the chains of our desires.  We have been redeemed. The ransom has been paid.  Our life now can have meaning.  Our horizons can expand.  We can live as children of the King.

At death we receive final salvation, unlimited space.

But in contrast to the little coins that are used to buy back slaves, you were redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus.  There is some majesty here.  I suspect Peter is on his knees in praise.

God did not use coins, money, cattle, kingdoms, or stars to redeem me.  He used the most precious thing He had.  He gave His only Son.  All to Him I owe.

For hundreds of years the O.T. Temple sacrifices taught them of their repeated and continuous need for atonement.  But the blood of animals could not wash away sins.  Only the blameless and spotless Lamb of God could take away the sins of the world.

“Before God threw the universe out into space, it was already known that Jesus was our redeemer.  Even though conceived before the chaos, this plan has just been manifested and made totally visible in these last times for your sake.” (1:20)  “You who through Him are believers unto God, the God who raised Him from out of the dead and gave Him glory so our faith and hope might be unto God.” (1:21)

Our God is a raising from the dead kind.  He is the creator.

The word foreknown is a perfect participle which means an action in the past is still the truth today.  Jesus held a place in the presence of God and He continues to hold that place.  He was known by God before creation and is still known today.  The incarnation did not change Jesus’ relationship to the Father.

‘Manifested’ is an aorist participle, pointing to a definite act at a given time.  In time Jesus has been manifested.  The relationship remains eternal, but the manifestation occurred at a point in time.

By believing in this manifestation we can have faith and hope in God.  When we were slaves to sin, our faith was in ourselves, our money, our mind, our strength.  Our hope was in ourselves.  But we could not give ourselves meaning.  We did not really trust ourselves.  We did not see any hope out of the rat race we had put ourselves in.  But all things were changed when we said yes to Jesus.  We were redeemed so our faith and hope are in God.

1. We are God’s children

2. We are God’s slaves.  He redeemed us and set us free, to be no man’s slave again.

3. We are part of the family of God.  The holy One.  We fear God, knowing His love.  We love others because our hearts are changed.

“Our souls have been purified” we have been made holy and set apart by our great High Priest “in the sphere of obedience to the truth.”  We are the children of obedience.  A consistent obedience to the truth, purifies the heart.  As we walk in the Light…we are cleansed from all sin.  The Holy Spirit purifies our hearts by faith.  We live by faith.  In Isaiah 35:7-10 we are shown that God intends that the highway of holiness on which we walk will be a beautiful way amidst a chaotic and desolate world.

There is cleansing power in the Truth, the Word.  Many hear the Truth, but most are not purified because they will not obey it.  But if we obey we will have a sincere brotherly love.  You will have a new nature.

This love is a love of reciprocity.  We love because He first loved us.  We love because we really enjoy being with the object of our love.  We have a very special love for other Christians.  We have many of the same likes, goals, and desires.  We enjoy being together and the more we are together, the more our love grows.

We have a sincere love of our brothers and sisters in Christ because Christ has redeemed us.  A sincere brotherly love is not common outside the church.  Before they were believers, their love was not sincere.  It was hypocritical.  Often it was just pretending for the expediency of the moment.

If you do not have a sincere love for other Christians, you better check your faith and hope.

According to the N.T., there are only 3 things that are sincere or real: faith, love, and wisdom.  These all come from a pure heart.

Peter says, some Christians may not be sincere.  They are wearing different masks with different people.  They were pretending.  The reason for their insincerity is that they have strayed from the Word.  Failure to obey the word brings division.  Failure to obey the Word brings sin in my heart.  Obedience purifies my heart so I have a sincere love “from a pure heart”.

You can’t be holy without obedience.  But if you are walking in obedience you can do what Peter commands: “From a pure heart love one another fervently.”

There is an interesting change in this phrase.  The pronoun ‘one another’ is a reciprocal pronoun.  Which means Peter expects some give and take.  However, the word for love is no longer reciprocal.  It is one way.  It is the commitment kind of love that loves because of the nature of the lover and has nothing to do with the object that is loved.  We sometimes say that this is God’s kind of love because He loved us when we did not deserve it and we were unlovely and repulsive in our sin.  However, God is love.  He has to love because His nature is love.  He loves because He is love.  This is the love that is in harmony with all His other attributes of mercy, grace, justice, holiness, etc.  This is the kind of love we need.

God also has a brotherly kind of love for us as mentioned in John 5:20 and 16:27.  When Jesus asked Peter if he loved him 3 times, the first 2 times he used agapao and the third time he changed to phileo as if to say, “Are we still friends?” But this word here is agape and not phileo.  The sincere love is phileo; this fervent love is agapao.

We are to love one another with a love that expects no love in return.  Peter makes up a word here to describe this love.  It must be intense, stretched out, fervent, with effort.  Not a flash in the pan, but continuous.  Stretched out like the neck of a race horse at the finish line.

To you who now love one another with a brotherly love, with fondness and affection because they are nice to be around,  God is saying, “Make love your nature.”  Put love in your pure heart.  The feeling of fondness is good and proper, but now let the Spirit purify your heart by faith and give you perfect love.  Make perfect love your very nature.  This is a command to love, with a perfect love, which is holiness.  Allow the fruit of the Spirit to grow in your life.  If the fruit of the Spirit is growing “you will never sin.” (II Peter 1:10)

Watch the transition here.  Following the command to be holy, again Peter reminds us why.

1. We are God’s children.

2. We are God’s slaves.

3. We are part of God’s holy family.

4. We are eternal.

“Having been born again not of corruptible seed, but undying seed through the living and undying word of God.” (1:23)

I want to think about the thought of being born again with an imperishable seed.  If everything in this life is born to get old and die, then when we are born again with the Word we get younger.  So the oldest angel is the youngest?  We just experienced a physical birth this week.  Nancy and I have a new grand daughter.  The spiritual birth metaphor suggests similarity, but a radical difference.

Peter states that we are eternal and contrasts our nature with grass and flowers.  The inference is, you are eternal so don’t live like the flowers with no hope.  We have been born again of a seed that never dies.  Our very nature is eternal so the activities of our lives should reflect our hope.  We should be building one another up not destroying.  We should see all of life as part of God’s eternity.  We should understand death and see it as part of life.

When we accepted Jesus as Lord of our lives and we committed our lives to Him, we received the seed/Word of the Kingdom of God which was planted within us.  An undying seed in us has come alive.  It needs to be nourished and cared for.  Our lives are the soil that we keep weeded and watered as the power of God works within us.  It’s a mystery.  The imperishable seed has started something growing in us.

We have a future.  Our faith and hope are in God.

In Palestine there are 243 species of grass.  They all wither with the first frost.  But in contrast to the grass our nature never fades away.  The living and eternal word is the Kingdom of God abiding in us.  Within the seed is the power of eternity.  Within the seed is our deliverance from sin and death.  Our hope is in the seed.

If we are the children of God, if our faith and hope are in God, if our nature is to love, if we are eternal, then stop looking like the flowers and the grass.  There is no place for wickedness, fraud, hypocrisy, envies and gossiping in your life.  We should not be affected by every little breeze.  We should not be affected by every temperature change.  We are not fragile to the abuse of this world.  If you are a Christian, you will not suddenly fall into sin.

The word which has been preached to you is the word that abides forever.  As the word is undying, you are undying because that is the seed planted within your spirit when you were born again.

So, 2:1-3 says dress like you belong to God and you have eternal life.  Peter tells us what to take off, but does not describe our righteous robes except to say we will be hungering for God.

The first verb in chapter 2 is used 7 times in the NT and 6 of those are strong holiness passages.  It is always used in the middle voice which means that the subject is acting upon himself.  The subject does the action to himself.

An extended translation here would be, “put away from yourself once and for all”.  The form of the verb tells us that Peter expects us to do this at a definite point in time.  In the last chapter we were recipients of salvation.  God acted and we passively received the action.  We have been born again because we have received redemption from God.  As we have noticed in Acts, our salvation was preceded by a sharp conviction of our sin and a desire to repent and be forgiven.

Peter is writing to Christians.  Now this verb, apothemenoi, means to lay aside, take off, put off, rid yourselves at a definite point in time of some old clothes.  The combination literally means “from + to place”.  There is emphasis on separation.  Some things should not be part of my life.

I want us to look at the other 6 places this word occurs in the N.T.  Then we’ll come back and see what Peter is telling us in these 3 verses.

  • Acts 7:58  In a physical sense I become separated from my coat.  I do it for myself in preparation for an activity.
  • Rom. 13:11-14  We put off the deeds of darkness.  We put on the armor of light, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Eph. 4:22-25  We put off the old self, put on the new, and put off falsehood.
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