Sermons

May 10, 2020

Hope That Leads to Holiness

Steven Lee | 1 Peter 1:13-16

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. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”—1 Peter 1:13–16       

Introduction

Our world has a shortage of hope, and an abundance of hopelessness. For many, hopelessness has descended upon us like a storm cloud that will not lift. This is a season when our trials have come into focus. We are facing a pandemic and polarization. We are lamenting injustices and grappling with isolation. We are experiencing fear and frustration. Plagued by sleeplessness and sorrow. Seeing anguish and animosity make an impact on us and those around us.

Though facing very different circumstances, we understand a little of the confusion, discouragement, and tribulation that Peter’s audience is facing. In our series thus far, we’ve seen in these 12 verses the glorious work of God for believers:

  • They have been born again to a living hope,
  • they have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
  • they can rejoice in trials, and
  • they have the privilege of beholding these glorious realities. 

The note that Peter has struck thus far is in line with the theme of the book: As elect exiles, stand firm in the true grace of God. Do you see all that grace that God has bestowed upon you in 1:1–12? Do you see how wonderful this is?

You can see the objection that might come from Peter’s readers that he anticipates: We know that we have a future hope of glory, but what do we do right now? How do we live in the midst of our current trials and suffering? It is perhaps a question many of us are asking of God as well: I know I have future glory, but what hope do I have right now?

Peter shifts here in verse 13 from what God has done for us, celebrating God’s glorious work of redemption, to now addressing how believers are to live. We get our identity first (elect exiles) before we’re told how to live (stand firm in the true grace of God). In the first 12 verses we had no commands, exhortations, or imperatives, but now Peter shifts to give us five main commands in 1:13–2:3. This morning we’re focusing on the first two. 

Peter’s main point in our passage (1 Peter 1:13–16) is that believers live to reflect their heavenly hope and true identity. The promise of a future heavenly hope informs and shapes our thoughts and actions right now. Faith in Christ isn’t just about insurance for the future, but a transformative power for the present. Our identity in Christ informs all of our attitudes, thoughts, and actions right now. 

In our passage we have two commands that Peter gives us to his audience:

  1. Transformative Power of Hope (1:13): “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
  2. Transformative Power of Holiness (1:14–16): “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”

1st Command: Transformative Power of Hope (1 Peter 1:13)

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.

First notice the “Therefore …” indicating Peter’s shift. He goes from recounting God’s glorious work in the new birth to now exhorting this readers how to live in light of these truths. God’s commands are rooted in our changed identity as his children. We don’t change our behavior to be accepted by God, but we are welcomed into God’s family in order to live as his children.

This command is to “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Hope is not a passive feeling, but a response to the sovereign work of God. Peter’s command to “set your hope” comes after recounting the grace of God in 1:1–12: We have been chosen, born again to a living hope, you have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, he is protecting us, we have a future salvation, and the privilege of receiving all of this grace. 

We respond to God’s grace in our lives by hoping in, trusting in, and placing our faith in God’s grace. Peter uses hope and faith almost interchangeably. Faith is trusting God to do what he says he’ll do. Hope is trusting God for his future grace that he has promised.

In 1 Peter 3:15 we read, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Be prepared to respond to those who ask for the hope that is in you, namely to answer why you place your faith or trust in God.

We see two ways Peter is calling for his listeners to “set their hope” on future grace. He says (1) preparing your minds for action, and (2) being sober-minded. 

Preparing Minds for Action

You might notice that your Bible has a footnote indicating that “preparing your minds for action” could be translated more literally as “girding up the loins of your mind.” The image there is of first-century men who wore long flowing garments that would have made it difficult or nearly impossible to run or engage in some serious work. To “gird up the loins” is to wrap that extra flowing fabric around and tuck it in to your belt so that you could run without tripping and falling. The image is that of getting ready to engage in serious work or labor.

The modern equivalent would be to roll up your shirt sleeves or put on your work clothes to prepare for serious work. Put on the right gear and remove all the obstacles to accomplishing the work. Hope is not passive—waiting around to feel differently—but active work to engage the mind and heart with spiritual truth. [Illustration: Gardening] If you want weeds in your garden, you don’t have to do much. But if you want a flourishing vegetable garden with fresh tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs, it requires work: tilling, digging, and planting. 

Hope does not happen haphazardly, but through proactively pondering the privileges of being God’s progeny. To “gird up the loins of your mind” is to exercise effort, energy, and intentionality to call to mind the glorious work of the gospel. Going back to the garden metaphor, our minds are like a garden where we must pull out the lies of Satan, the lies of sin, and the lies of the world at the roots—and plant good seed in order to bear fruit. If you are feeling hopeless this morning, full of sorrow and sadness, searching for solutions for your despondency, ponder the glories of Christ, meditate upon 1 Peter 1:1–12. Commit it to memory this week. Do whatever you need to do—girding up the loins of your mind—to cultivate hope in your heart. Bring God’s promises from the background to the foreground of our hearts and mind.

This is beautifully illustrated in Lamentations 3. Many of us know verses 22–23: 

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

But just because these realities are true doesn’t necessarily give us hope unless we remember and meditate upon them. That’s why the verse immediately preceding says, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope” (Lamentations 3:21). How do we have hope? When we call to mind God’s character, accomplishments, and sovereign power on our behalf. 

Lamentations 3:24 concludes, “‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” How does the author of Lamentations have hope? When his soul says to himself, “The LORD is my portion.” Hope bookends one of the greatest truths about God’s character to exhort us to remember it and call it to mind.

Sober-Mindedness

The second way that Peter calls his audience to set their hope is with sober-mindedness. This would be a direct contrast with drunkenness, both literal and metaphorical, I think. Do not drown your sorrows, fears, and anxieties in alcohol—or anything else that we use to dull our senses. Instead, be sober and self-controlled.

This call is not just against drunkenness, but is a call to abandon and remove from our lives the things that dull our spiritual senses. What diminishes our love for God, dulls us to his glories, and minimizes his power and perfection? There are thousands of morally neutral distractions at work in our world today that keep us from hoping in God alone.

Pastor C.H. Spurgeon illustrated this sober-mindedness that believers are to have. He wrote in one of his sermons: 

One day, many years back, a thick darkness came over the United States. Now and then in London we have dreadfully dark days for which we can scarcely account, but this was quite a new experience for the New Englanders, and caused a terrible sensation. So exceedingly black was it that the barn door fowls went to roost in the middle of the day. The darkness grew worse, and people trembled in their houses, declaring that the end of the world was coming. They were all excited and alarmed. One of the houses of legislature adjourned under the belief that the day of judgment was come. The other house was sitting, and the blackness was so intense that everybody was awed. A motion was made that they should break up, as the end of the world had certainly arrived. Colonel Davenport objected, saying, “The Judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjourning; and if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish, therefore, that candles may be brought.” 

It is dark. But whatever is going to happen, or whatever is not going to happen, let us be found girded, sober, and hopeful. In these dark political times, these dark religious times, I call for candles. For we mean to go on working. [1]

I have noticed that the more I read the news, the more frustrated, anxious, and distracted I get. We can let our hopes rise and fall with every tweet, news report, Tribune article, or Governor update. Or we might be tempted to drown our sorrows, fears, and anxieties with anything that will help take our mind off of it all. Instead, look to the “grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Be girded up, sober-minded, and ready. Leave behind the junk food that the world offers, and feast on the promises of God and on the truths revealing his character.

2nd Command: Transformative Power of Holiness (1 Peter 1:14–16)

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 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.

Notice how Peter prefaces his command with verse 14. He begins by appealing to their identity as “obedient children” reinforcing what we saw in verse 2, that we are set apart by the Holy Spirit for “obedience to Jesus Christ,” sprinkled by his blood. The command for holiness follows from our identity as his obedient children because we have been rescued out of darkness, brought into God’s marvelous light.

The call to holiness is not a burdensome command, but rather to be who we truly are: children of God. We are to increasingly resemble our heavenly Father. Have you noticed that those of the same household often have similar mannerisms, humor, and sometimes even a distinct smell? Similarly, Peter is calling his readers to resemble their heavenly Father, to look like him, act like him, love like him, and even to have his aroma. 

Our family resemblance to God is contrasted with our former way of life: “Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.” In essence, don’t live the way you no longer are. Don’t live according to your former way of life, according to that which is past, but rather live as you are now, as God’s children. This “former ignorance” is likely referring to their former way of life: “sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” (4:3).

Consider how hope and holiness relate. Faced with trials and challenges, we are refined to truly hope in God—not to hope in acceptance, safety, health, prosperity, or anything else. As we hope in God in the midst of trials and challenges, God is using it to make us more and more like him. We are being conformed to his image. Like 2 Corinthians 3:18, we all, “beholding the glory of Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” Trials clarify and focus the source of our hope so that we become more holy like our Father. 

Peter in verse 16 quotes Leviticus: “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” These words are repeated throughout Leviticus, in particular in 19:2, 20:6 or 20:26. God’s people are to reflect God’s character. Holiness is befitting or appropriate for God’s people.

But one thing I don’t want us to miss in the book of Leviticus. Throughout the book, but in particular chapter 19, we see the repeated refrain “I am the Lord your God.” Consider Leviticus 19:1–4. 

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the LORD your God.” 

The repeated message throughout Leviticus, which Peter quotes, is that God’s people are to have their lives radically transformed by their new identity and allegiance.

  • In Leviticus 19:9–10, God’s people are to reap their fields to leave some for the poor and sojourner. Why? Because “I am the Lord your God.”
  • In Leviticus 19:11–12, God’s people are not to steal or lie. Why? Because “I am the Lord.”
  • In Leviticus 19:13–14, God’s people are not to oppress their neighbors, the laborer, or mistreat the deaf or blind. Why? Because “I am the Lord.”
  • In Leviticus 19:15–16, God’s people are not to be unjust or discriminate against the poor. Why? Because “I am the Lord.”
  • In Leviticus 19:17–18, God’s people are not to hate their brother or seek out vengeance. Why? Because “I am the Lord.”

And it goes on and on. Instructions are given for how to treat your daughter, how to honor the elderly, how to treat strangers and sojourners, and how to be just in your business dealings. Each one is followed by “I am the Lord” or “I am the Lord your God.” The point is that your identity as God’s people informs all of life. Your allegiance to Jesus transforms what you do, how you live, what you pursue, what you delight in, and every single aspect of life. There is no part of our lives that does not come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Being a child of God changes everything. Faith in Christ isn’t just about insurance for the future, but a transformative power for the present.

We are to live justly, to love our neighbors, to consider the marginalized such as the poor, sojourner, blind, deaf, and powerless because we are God’s people, we are children of God, and our allegiance is to Christ and Christ alone.

Application & Conclusion

We have such glorious good news as believers. We have been born again to a living hope that dislodges all of our misplaced hopes. By setting our hope on this grace, we remove lesser hopes and lesser loves. We unearth our idols of comfort and security, and increasingly love the things that are lovely and look more and more like Christ.

It is a beautiful thing when you interact and encounter people that resemble Jesus. You think, “Look at that hope, look at that joy, and look at that trust even in the midst of great hardship.”

If this morning you’re low on hope and have a surplus of worry and anxiety, we’re glad you’re listening this morning. Jesus is the answer. Take your eyes off of lesser hopes, insufficient hopes, and hopes that will ultimately disappoint, and instead set your hope fully on Jesus Christ by entrusting your life to him this morning. He has storehouses of hope, ready and available to give to all who will become and surrender to him. It’s not a temporary stimulus package to help you feel better, but rather a well-spring of living water and eternal life that will transform you top to bottom, inside out, and reach into every crevice of your life. 

As I meditate on resembling Jesus more and more, I’m stunned. We were once enemies, strangers, and outsiders. But now, if we are trusting in Jesus, we are his adopted children, brought into his family, and we are being transformed. By God’s grace we are increasingly being conformed to his image. We are becoming—by God’s grace—more holy, more loving, more steadfast, more gentle, more bold, more courageous, more just, more joyful, more peaceful, more patient, more kind, more self-controlled, and more and more eager and excited for his return.

Holiness is not being stickler, a fuddy-duddy, or a kill-joy. To become more like Jesus is to grow our capacity to delight in the things that are truly glorious. To really experience the joy that will never disappoint, that can withstand trials and suffering, and that will result in praise, glory, and honor. To disdain holiness is to work against all the good that God has in store for us.

Our hope is in the grace that is to be revealed at Christ’s second coming. There will be day where we will no more cry out, “How long O Lord? How long until all the injustice in our world is made right, pandemics come to an end, trafficking is abolished, abortion will cease, racism is no longer, disease is banished, and brokenness, both in our hearts and in our world, is undone? There will be a day when God will answer our cries of “how long O Lord?” will be answered by the Lord Almighty, and we will shut our mouths in awe and worship. Until that day, we will sing …

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus’ name
__________

[1] Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: 1 Peter (ed. Elliot Ritzema and Jessi Strong; Spurgeon Commentary Series; Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014). 

Sermon Discussion Questions

Outline

  1. Set Your Hope on Future Grace (1 Peter 1:13)
  2. Be Holy Like Your Heavenly Father (1 Peter 1:14–16) 

Main Point: Believers live to reflect their heavenly hope and true identity.

Discussion Questions

  • In verse 13, what does the word “therefore” imply about what came before (1 Peter 1:1–12) and what follows after (1 Peter 1:13–2:3)?
  • What does it mean to “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”?
  • What are some examples of “preparing your minds for action” and “being sober-minded”?
  • In verse 14, what is the significance of being “obedient children”?
  • Take a moment to read Leviticus 19. What do you notice about God’s commands and how they relate to the Israelites identity as his people (e.g., “I am the Lord your God”)?
  • How is our conformity to Christlike holiness a beautiful reality rather than a burdensome command?

Application Questions

  • How can you increasingly “set your hope” on future grace this week?
  • What steps can you take to “gird up the loins of your mind” (1 Peter 1:13, KJV) and to be sober-minded in your life?
  • Can you think of any “passions of your former ignorance” that no longer characterize your life? Can you take an opportunity to give public praise to God for his work of transformation?
  • In your life, are there areas of “former ignorance” that continually need to be put to death?
  • What are some ways we can joyfully strive to pursue Christlike holiness?

Prayer Focus

Praise God for all that he has done for us in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 1:1–12) and for making us his children who increasingly resemble our heavenly Father. Confess any areas of sin, such as failing to set your hope on Christ, laziness, drunkenness (literal or spiritual), and losing sight of our identity as his children. Thank God for forgiveness of sins, for present and future grace in Christ Jesus, and for Christ’s imminent return. Ask God for well-placed hope in him, and that you would increasingly become who you truly are: a holy and blessed obedient child of God.

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