by Johnathan Arnold
Sometime before Peter wrote his first epistle, Nero, a deranged emperor, induced mass panic in the Roman Empire by setting fire to his own capital city. While he was likely making room for his profligate building projects, Nero cast blame on Christians who were already mistrusted for turning Romans away from the Greek gods.
Peter writes to encourage persecuted Christ-followers who were scattered across the empire and uncertain about the future. He challenges them to look beyond this present world to Jesus’ second coming and to focus on living a holy life in this present age.
A single-minded focus on our eternal salvation should lead us to live a life worthy of our Savior while we are passing through this world.
A Single-Minded Focus on Our Eternal Salvation (1 Peter 1:13)
THE REVELATION OF JESUS
SET YOUR HOPE FULLY ON THIS
- We do not hope in Donald Trump’s campaign.
- We do not hope in American dominance.
- We do not hope in our financial portfolio.
- We do not hope in the organized church.
- We do not hope in our spouses.
- We do not hope in ourselves.
Our hope is fully anchored in Jesus and especially the fact that Jesus is coming to save the righteous (Titus 2:13). “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
TIE UP THE LOOSE ENDS OF YOUR THINKING
Before we were saved, we were deeply influenced by this world and “the god of this world [who] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Corinthians 4:4). We are in a process of renewing our minds (Romans 12:2) — straightening our priorities, rejoicing in what is right, and avoiding distractions from what really matters.
Loose ends in our thinking are hazardous when going into spiritual battle. If we do not tie them up, we may lose our faith before Jesus comes, and “be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28).
Holiness starts in the mind.
Many stumble through life without clear spiritual vision — without spiritual discernment — like the disciples to whom Jesus said, “Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?” (Mark 8:17-18).
The church world is spiritually hungover from decades of diluted preaching. We need to return to the pure Word of God and allow it to clear our heads. Holiness starts in the mind. It must be etched clearly in our mind’s eye that Jesus is coming and everything we do in this life matters.
A Life Worthy of Our Savior While We Are Passing Through This World (1 Peter 1:14-21)
WE ARE NOT OF THE WORLD
We are, in fact, just passing through. Peter says, “pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” or “conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile” (1 Peter 1:17). Recall that the people to whom Peter was writing were actual exiles, feeling displaced and unwelcome in their homes. They were actually sojourning. (To sojourn is to stay somewhere temporarily, like when someone studies abroad for a semester.)
But Peter is not using the word “sojourning” or “exile” in a temporal sense; he is using it in a spiritual sense. He is saying that every Christian is an exile. We are not at home in this world. We are on a journey through this life, and our destination is heaven.
Every Christian is an exile. We are citizens of a different country. This world is not our home.
While we are in exile in this life, we should not be swept up in the world’s affairs. We should beware of political entanglements. We should not be encumbered with material possessions. We should not be fixated with a career or a relationship. Those things may crumble in an instant. But our heavenly home — our final destination — will never crumble.
We are far too at-home in the world. Because we are not persecuted, like first-century Christians in Rome or twenty-first-century Christians in the Middle East, we have not had a strong taste of what it is like to be strangers and exiles in the world. For nearly 250 years in America, being a Christian has been a good thing — good for one’s business and reputation. Only in recent decades has that started to change.
But we should not be too alarmed. “Normal” for a Christian is feeling uncomfortable in the world. We should not fit in. How could we? “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides for ever” (1 John 2:16-17).
While we are waiting for our eternal salvation, we should live like exiles. We must reclaim our faith from the American dream and swim against the corrupt currents of this world.
Continue reading Called unto Holiness: Part 2, A Life Worthy of Our Savior.