Called to Obedient Action (1 Peter 1:13-25)


Sermon by Rev. Daniel L. Sonnenberg | August 8, 2011


Text:

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 the sake of you  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 Pet. 1:13-25 ESV)

Notes:

Story about my responses to changes and disappointments at a former church before and during to seminary – anger, disappointment, lost faith in the church, leaders of the church, and God.

Sometimes we allow our feelings to determine our thoughts and actions and need to be reminded of the facts so return to hope based on faith.

Our actions should be based not on our feelings but on the facts of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

This passage is a call to obedient action based on the truths of Scripture. But we are not left alone to obey. God has empowered us to do what he calls us to do.

The Doctrine of Sanctification says,

When we are truly born again, God gives us a new heart, and enables us more and more to make choices that are pleasing to him and more and more to turn away from the choices that displease him. But is a battle in this life because there are vestiges of the old life still remaining, but we will ultimately overcome, and at death will be made perfectly holy.

So we are not on our own. “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” and “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.”

This passage includes, four calls us to obedient action based on – motivated by – what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

The first is a call to hope

The second is a call to holiness

The third is a call to fear God

The fourth is a call to love other believers

The passage begins with the words, “Gird up the loins of your minds” as we said last week. In other words, put your minds into action.

The first call to obedient action is,

To Hope… Because of the grace to be brought to us when Christ returns.

We looked at this last week, so we won’t belabor this again. The point is, obedient action begins with the mind. We must get our minds in the game so we can respond in obedience to God. If we have lost hope, perhaps it’s because we’ve put our trust in something other than the salvation that will be brought to us when Jesus returns.

Maybe we’ve been spending the majority of our time thinking about getting ahead in our careers, getting ahead in school, getting into the best college, getting onto the best team, finding the best girl or guy to date or to marry. If we put most of our hope in earthly things, we lose hope in heavenly things. We need to “fix our eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” setting our hope completely on him. When we do that, he will provide those things we truly need in this life. He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.”

When Jesus was in his darkest hours in Gethsemane and on the cross itself, he placed his hope completely in God’s deliverance through the promised resurrection and the glory that awaited him. He told his disciples many times before that though he would be delivered to death by men, he would rise again by the power of God. That’s where he placed his hope. Where is your hope today?

The second call to obedient action is

To Holiness. Because God is holy.

Verse 14 begins with, “As obedient children” – true Christians, whose lives have been changed – “no longer conforming to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written” – quoting Leviticus 11 – “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Obedient children – those who are born of God – take after their Father. They try to act like him. They strive to imitate his character. They try to think like he thinks and feel what he feels. They strive to pattern their lives after his – his attitudes, his concerns, and his actions.

How many of you boys try to imitate your father? How many of you girls try to imitate your mother? It’s the natural thing to do. I remember getting greasy pretending to work on the tractor like my dad. I wanted to be like him and to do like him.

But let’s face it. Thinking about imitating God whom no man has ever seen is pretty daunting. However, imitating Jesus, who walked where we walk is a bit more imaginable. He experienced the same temptations and trials we face, yet without sin. He is our model.

Paul wrote, “Become imitators of me as I am of Christ.” If Paul sought to imitate Christ, shouldn’t we? He is our High Priest who understands and helps us in our weakness. We should imitate him and cry out to him for his help.

Are our minds and hearts set apart for God, or do they fall back to our former way of life before we knew better? Are we seeking to imitate Jesus, or are we imitating our former father, the devil?

Jesus sought to be holy like his Father. He had no sin, yet he sought to be set apart for God’s service. He said, “For their sakes, I sanctify myself – that is, – I set myself apart – I give my life as a sacrifice – “that they may be sanctified  – set apart –  by your truth.”

Remember, as God’s “children” we don’t have to do this all by ourselves. We have brothers and sisters in the faith who can help us as well. More often than not, they’re only as far away as your phone and are happy to pray with us in our time of need.

The third call to obedient action is

To Fear God… because God is an impartial judge and because Christ paid a high price for our sins.

Verse 17, “Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.”

Sometimes we take God’s forgiveness for granted. We act as if there will be absolutely no consequences for our actions in this life because we’ve already been forgiven. However, this passage says that is not the case – that there will be a judgment even for believers.

On judgment day, we will stand before Christ and “each will give an account of himself to God” (rom 14.10,12)… “that we may receive what is due us for the things done in the body whether good or bad” ( 2 cor 5.10; c from 2.6-11; rev 20.12, 15).

For believers there will be a judgment, to evaluate and grant various degrees of reward*, but this should never cause us to fear we will be eternally condemned. Jesus said, “He who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life; he does not come into judgment…” John 5.24

We are following after Christ who has received a reward for what he has done on earth. After his death, resurrection and ascension, “God…seated him in the place of honor at his right hand in the heavenly realms… God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.” (Eph 1:20-22 NLT)

“Be diligent so that you receive your full reward.” (2Jo 1:8)

Sometimes, we not only take God’s forgiveness for granted, but we also take Christ’s sacrifice for granted.

So second, we should reverently fear dishonoring or taking for granted Christ’s sacrifice for our sins for which he paid the price with his own life.

Verse 18, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”

Imagine how you would feel toward someone who saved your life by pulling you from a burning building or carried you to safety through enemy gunfire after you had been wounded in battle. They literally saved your life. You would feel you owed them a permanent debt of loyalty. Even more so, this is what Christ has done for us by shedding his own blood. Since he has given his life for us, we should strive to show our undying loyalty to him?

The fourth call to obedient action is

To love one another…because we are of the same spiritual family.

Verse 22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.”

We are to love one another because we are members of the same spiritual family.

Verse 23, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.”

Sometimes we disappoint each other or hurt one another which can lead to gossip, holding grudges and judging each other. This causes divisions in the church, a bad testimony to outsiders and dishonors the Lord. But because we are members of the same family we should love one another deeply enough to overlook such faults or to go to one another to seek and grant reconciliation.

Remember the words of Paul, “don’t with your superior knowledge cause a weaker brother for whom Christ died to be destroyed.”

Christ died for every member of our new family. We should show the same sacrificial love for one another as he did. Christ himself gave us a new commandment on the night he was betrayed when he said, “Love one another.”

Our actions should be based not on our feelings but on the facts of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Let’s let our actions reflect the truth of what Christ has done for us.

Consider these questions as we close. When we are faced with a choice:

  1. Is my mind fixed on Jesus?
  2. Am I seeking to be more like Christ in all my ways?
  3. Will my thoughts and actions earn a reward like Christ’s and honor his sacrificial death on my behalf?
  4. Am I treating fellow believers as those for whom Christ died?

    Click here for the series of twenty-three sermons on the entire book of 1 Peter.

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