1 Peter 1:17-23
We are looking at 1 Peter which is a message of hope for those who are in the midst of trials and suffering. So this is a good letter to study as many are going through trials, challenges and suffering because of this pandemic.
During this time frame Peter was writing primarily to the Jewish Christians who were being persecuted for their faith and thus had scattered throughout the Roman Empire. In the passage we last week (1 Peter 1:3-9, we learned that every Christian has hope. The foundation of our hope is rooted in the gracious and merciful act of God through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. And by hope we are not talking about wishful thinking but rather firm conviction.
Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have received salvation and are assured an inheritance of everlasting life! And since our salvation is secure, we can endure trials with hope, because we know that the difficult times we are going through right now will end. There is a time limit on them. And once we are reunited with God in heaven, we will never experience suffering or anguish again.
How do we know that? Because in the book of Revelation John tells us in 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
So one sure way to assist us in getting through the dark and narrow tunnel to the end where we see the light is to remember, that what we are going through is temporary — it will end! Maybe it won’t end during this lifetime, perhaps not until we reach heaven – but it will end!
Now let’s read our second passage from 1 Peter – still chapter 1, but verses 17-23. “And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as ‘temporary residents.’ For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.
Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.
For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.”
In verse 17 we learn that our Father judges each person’s work impartially – He does not play favorites. Now keep in mind – this judgment is not in reference to the decision of whether or not we are going to heaven – when Jesus speaks of separating the goats from the sheep in Matthew 25:31-33 which states, “He says, ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.’”
We are not talking about that time. Peter was assuming that as Christians their salvation was secure. But rather when we get to heaven we will again be judged by our works once we have accepted Christ. And we will be rewarded based on what we’ve done!
It’s important here to remember that the first will be last, and the last first. And that Christ came as a servant. So try not to judge or compare yourself with others. Christ alone knows what is truly in your heart and everything you have ever thought or done. We’d be wise to keep this in mind because we will be judged accordingly.
Verse 17 –Live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. He speaks of us as foreigners because this world, this life, is not our home – heaven is our home. Then he speaks of reverent fear. When Peter speaks of fear of God he means reverence and awe! Recognizing to the best of our ability, with our very limited understanding, just how great and mighty our God is! Respecting His stature, wisdom, creativity, power, might, etc. – all the many facets of who God is!
Verses 18-19 We were not redeemed with silver or gold, but rather with the blood of Jesus Christ! We were rescued from the old way of life handed down from our ancestors to become part of the family of God!
Verse 20 And this was God’s plan from the very beginning – that Christ would die for each one of us. This was His plan from before the creation of the world! Verse 21 This plan was revealed through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Because He was raised from the dead we believe in God – we place our faith and hope in Him.
Verse 22 As His followers, when we obey Him and His truth, we become purified. This happens so that we may experience sincere love for each other and Peter goes on to tell us we must love one another deeply, from the heart. Remember we were told by Jesus in John 15:12 a new commandment I give you, love one another as I have loved you. This adds a whole new dimension, an entirely different level to what it means to love each other. It means we must love others with the love of Christ! His love is sacrificial and unconditional!
Verse 23 And we can love with the love of Jesus because when we chose to follow Him and enter into a loving relationship with Him, we were born again of the Spirit! Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can love with the love of Christ! It’s not easy – it means we have to tap into His power – but it can and should be done.