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Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC)                                                           Sermon # 2015

June 7, 2015                                                                                                    1 Peter 1:13-25

Dr. Ed Pettus


“Holy Obedience”


Last Sunday we started in 1 Peter looking at our identity as God’s people.  Peter begins his letter to the exiles reminding them who they are and whose they are.  It is my belief, and that of many others, that our context today makes letters like 1 Peter more vital to our understanding of ourselves and what God desires of us.  As we begin to face more and more hostility toward the Christian faith and as we see more Christians persecuted in the world, it because crucial that we understand and embrace who we are as God’s people and how we are to conduct ourselves in our time. 

Today we consider Peter’s word for what we are to do while in exile.  In this section, 13-25, he begins to talk about how we are to conduct ourselves knowing whose we are and knowing well our situation of growing opposition. 



1.1:13 Prepare Your Minds

a.Romans 12:1-2

The first thing Peter encourages for exiles is to prepare our minds.  How might we prepare our minds?  Well the first thing we could do is take to heart Peter’s first section 1:1-9 when he helps us see who we are in Christ.  That is to say, let’s get our minds right in the knowledge that we are God’s possession; we are God’s people.  Our identity as a person and as a people is defined by our relationship to Jesus Christ. This also means that we are not defined by all the things the world would like to set as our identity.  We are not defined by our work, not defined by what other people say, not defined by what we have.  We see all those sayings on t-shirts or plaques: golf is life, fishing is life, quilting is life, and you can add your own.  None of those things define who we are.  We belong to God in Christ!

The second thing we might do is read Paul’s letter to the Romans, particularly 12:1-2,

            I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.


            We renew our minds and prepare our minds by learning God’s word, by spending time in prayer, by sharing in fellowship and worship with fellow believers, and breaking bread together.  We gain the proper biblical perspective on life and the things of life, seeing the world for what it is and seeing God’s kingdom for what it is. 


2.1:14 Do Not Conform

a.Romans 12:1-2 – again!


Peter then says that we should not be conformed to our former way of life.  He is addressing Gentiles here who have come into the church by conversion and one of the tendencies would be to fall right back into sinful patterns they once practiced. 

We look again to Romans 12 – do not be conformed to this world – conformity is a dreadful sin.  We might conform to an old bad habit or to an old bad trait of the world.  Paul gives several lists of things to avoid, one from Galatians 5:19-24

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 


Instead of those things, the life of the Christian is marked by the fruit of the Holy Spirit,


22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.



3.1:15-16 Be Holy – What is holiness?


It sounds like a tall order to be holy as god is holy.  What is holiness then, if we are to be like God in his holy character?  It is just that, be like Him.  It helps us I think to phrase it like this: Let us be Christ-like.  Being like Christ is a little easier for us to consider since Christ was a human being and in that humanness we can relate.  Of course, we also recognize that Jesus was the only human without sin, so we can’t get all the way to Christ-likeness.  We might consider that holiness is much of what Peter is saying in verse 14, do not fall back into your former habits.  Holiness is living in Christ, with Christ’s attitude and Christ’s will and Christ’s Holy Spirit leading and guiding us.  Moses spoke this word to the Israelites when they were in exile, “be holy as God is holy”.  Holiness in the context of 1 Peter as well as that of Leviticus for Israel was to live a new kind of life.  This life was set apart – not as slaves in Egypt, but as free people and not as people who once lived in the passions of former ignorance, but as a new creation.  Holiness marks us as God’s people and as a people who live differently than people of the world.  


4.1: 17 Conduct Yourselves with Fear

a.Fear of what or whom?


We live holy lives when we conduct ourselves with the appropriate fear of God, that is, in the awe and reverence and honor that we give to the one who judges justly, who is holy, and who has ransomed us in Jesus Christ.  What shall we fear?  Only the One who is able to ransom us from sin and death.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10).  Our lives should reflect the deepest respect for God, honoring him with our lives on a daily basis so that others may see our good works and glorify the Lord (Matthew 5:16). 



5.1:18-21 Knowing our Identity

a.1 Peter 1:1-9



d.Christ Made Manifest

Peter returns to what we know about what God has done.  This is once again reinforcing our identity in Christ.  For we have been ransomed from an unholy life into order that we might live holy.  God knew this from the beginning of time and at the right time he sent Jesus Christ to die for us.  He was raised from the dead and glorified so that we might know the life of holy obedience. 


6.1:22 Obedience

a.1 Peter 1:2, 14, 22; 2:8; 3:20; 4:17


One of the reasons I chose to focus on obedience in the sermon title was the list of scriptures you see in the outline.  Walk with me through them.  1:2 – for obedience to Jesus Christ; 1:14 – as obedient children; 1:22 – having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth.

The opposite of obedience begins in 2:8 – They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do; 3:20 – because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water; 4:17 – For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?


Obedience is a crucial discipline in a time of exile.  We are called to trust and obey God’s word no matter the cost.  Obedience plain and simple means to do what God says.  The prime example of that is Jesus himself in Philippians 2.


b.Phil. 2:5-11

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


Jesus demonstrated the greatest obedience possible even unto death on a cross.  God calls us to such a great obedience, that we might stand firm on his word and continue to display the love that he has shown us. 


7.1:22 Love

a.John 13:34-35


34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”




b.1 John 4:7-12


Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.


These verses and may others are also ways we live in holy obedience, for Jesus told us to love God and to love one another.  Peter reminds those in exile to continue in God’s love.  All of this is in accordance with the Word of God. 



8.1:23-25 Word of God


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


Everything we are seeing today with the hostility toward Christians and everything we are seeing in our world is in this word of God.  Everything we are seeing in the world is going to pass away.  The one thing we can count on through whatever trials we have is the word of God.  Do you remember the movie City Slickers with Billy Crystal and Jack Palance?  Palance played the cowboy named Curly and he kept telling Mitch Robins, the city slicker, that there was only need of one thing.  “You stick to that and the rest don't mean [a thing]”    Well, in the movie the one thing might be different from one person to the next, but for believers it is the good news that was preached to us!  All else will fall away, but the word of the Lord remains forever.  Keep that word and all the rest does not amount to anything.  This word of God is what enables us to live in holy obedience, for it is here that we learn what God requires of us, what God has done for us, what God promises for us, who God is, how God is holy and steadfast and loving and faithful.