1 Peter 1, Verses 13 to 19 and 1 Peter 2, Verses 24 to 25 and Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin
by Karl Kemp
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I'll always quote from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition, unless I mention otherwise. Sometimes I'll make comments in the middle of quotations in brackets [ ] or [[ ]] to make them more obvious. cf. means compare; e.g. means for example
INTRODUCTION: These verses are of key importance on the super-important topic of righteousness, holiness, redemption, and the victory over all sin through the all-important atoning death of the Lamb of God. For one thing, the apostle Peter exhorts us to be holy in all our behavior as God is holy. For 1 Pet. 1:13-19 I am borrowing heavily from Article #28 of my "Twenty-Eight Articles on Holiness and Victory Over Sin," which borrowed heavily from my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ." For 1 Pet. 2:24-25 I am borrowing heavily from my "The Christian, the Law, and Legalism." Both papers are available on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching), and the individual articles from both papers are available on this Christian article site. I highly recommend my book (available on my website and at amazon.com) and both papers on the topic of righteousness, holiness, and the victory over all sin.
I'll quote 1 PETER 1:13-19: "Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (14) As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, (15) but LIKE THE HOLY ONE WHO CALLED YOU, BE HOLY YOURSELVES ALSO IN ALL YOUR BEHAVIOR [my emphasis]; (16) because it is written, 'YOU SHALL BE HOLY [or, 'BE HOLY'], FOR I AM HOLY.' (17) And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; (18) knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile [and sinful] way of life inherited from your forefathers, (19) but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ."
1 PETER 1:13. "Therefore, prepare your minds for action [[We think with our "minds," which includes the high-level thinking we do in our hearts, including our priorities, attitudes, and motives.]], keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." As we (true Christians) live in the light of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the glory this will mean for us (see 1 Pet. 1:3-7; 4:13; 5:1, 4, 6, 10; Rom. 5:2; Col. 1:5, 22, 23, 27; and Titus 3:7, for example), we will be strongly motivated to live for God in His truth, righteousness, and holiness. As we, by faith, walk by the Spirit of God (cf., e.g., Gal. 5:16; Rom. 8:1-14 [see my recent article on Rom. 8:1-14]) and in accordance with the Word of God, we are enabled to think right in our hearts (cf., e.g., Rom. 8:5-9; 12:2). Our primary thinking takes places in our hearts, not in our heads. As we walk by the Spirit of God, which we are enabled, and required, to do on a continuous basis, we will think in line with the Word of God in our hearts and we will walk in the righteousness and holiness of God on a continuous basis.
1 PETER 1:14. "As obedient children [or, "children of obedience"], do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance." Christians must be "children of obedience." These Christians from a Gentile background that the apostle Peter was addressing here (and all Christians) must not to be conformed any longer to their former sinful lifestyle (see 1 Pet. 1:18; 4:2-4, for example). We have put off the old man and have become born-again new creations in Christ Jesus (see 1 Pet. 1:22, 23; 2:1, 2, 24, 25; Rom. 6:1-23; 2 Cor. 5:14-17; Eph. 4:17-5:4; Col. 2:10-15; and 3:1-11, for example). This is the Christian ideal, and it is not presented in the New Testament as an unrealistic ideal. God's powerful grace is sufficient, but the victory over sin is not automatic and it involves warfare against the world, the flesh (the old man who wants to continue in sin), and the devil and his hosts.
I'll quote the first part of Rom. 12:2, which uses the same Greek verb for "conform," "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing [or, better yet, "renewal" with the BAGD Greek Lexicon] of your mind." The indwelling Spirit of God in combination with the Word of God (especially the gospel) enables us to have a renewed mind. As we discussed under verse 13, we are enabled, and required, to think right in our hearts. I am not saying that all born-again Christians have a renewed mind. Although we Christians are required to take the Word of God (especially the basics of the gospel) into our hearts and walk in line with that Word and by the Holy Spirit on a continuous basis in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God, this doesn't always happen. For one thing, it is easy to walk to a significant extent in the flesh, instead of the Holy Spirit; nevertheless, we are enabled, and required, to walk by the Holy Spirit on a continuous basis (cf. Gal. 5:16; Rom. 8:1-14).
Whether we know it or not (ignorance of God's Word isn't an acceptable excuse), when we become Christians we sign a contract, so to speak, agreeing to walk in the Word of God and by the Spirit of God on a continuous basis in the righteousness and holiness of God.
1 PETER 1:15, 16. "but LIKE THE HOLY ONE [Greek adjective "hagios"] WHO CALLED YOU, BE HOLY [hagios] YOURSELVES ALSO IN ALL YOUR BEHAVIOR [my emphasis]; (16) because it is written, 'YOU SHALL BE HOLY [or, "BE HOLY"; hagios], FOR I AM HOLY [hagios].' " (See Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:7.) Instead of "You shall be holy," I prefer the NIV's "Be holy." This is a command, but what God commands us to do, He enables us to do (by His sufficient grace).
It would be difficult to imagine a stronger statement of the fact that Christians are called to be (and enabled to be) set apart from all sin than the exhortation contained in these two verses. (See Matt. 5:48; 1 John 2:6, 29; 3:3-12; and 4:17, for example.) It is clear that Peter was speaking of Christians actually being set apart from all sin and living for God in an abiding state of holiness. He said, "but LIKE THE HOLY ONE WHO CALLED YOU, BE HOLY YOURSELVES ALSO IN ALL YOUR BEHAVIOR [my emphasis]." These words certainly include walking with the victory over all sin - by grace through faith. The New Testament makes it clear that we will be forgiven if we should sin when we sincerely repent, but it is very important for us to have faith (in accordance with God's Word; God and His Word must be the object of our faith) to walk with the victory over sin on a continuous basis. The apostle Peter believed and taught this; so did the apostle Paul; so did the apostle John; etc.
1 PETER 1:17. "And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth." We Christians do address God as Father; we are His born-again children. In 1 Pet. 1:3, 23 Peter spoke of our being "born again"; and in 1:14 he spoke of our being "children of obedience." Knowing that God will judge us according to our "work" should provide very strong motivation for us to live in His righteousness and holiness (by His sufficient grace through faith).
God does not just overlook our sin because we are Christians. It is a serious matter for God's born-again children to rebel and sin against Him. If it really is sin it is a serious matter. He expects more from us because of the grace He has given us. The righteousness and holiness of God are imparted to us through the saving, sanctifying grace of God in Christ, which includes the work of the Spirit of God who dwells in all born-again Christians (Rom. 8:9); we receive and walk in these things by faith. (See Eph. 2:8-10; Gal. 5:16-18, 22-25; and Titus 2:14, for example.)
Since God will impartially judge each person according to their work, He will not show partiality to any, including Christians. The "work" we do, shows what is in our hearts. Faith without works is dead; it isn't saving faith. It must be understood that the good "work" we do as born-again new creations and by the indwelling Spirit of God is the "work" of God, and He gets the glory for the righteousness and holiness that is manifested in our lives. It is true, of course, as I mentioned, that forgiveness is provided for Christians when we repent, but Christianity is about much more than forgiveness. If "Christians" are characterized by sin, they will be condemned (see Matt. 3:1-12; 7:13-27; 16:24-27; John 5:28, 29; Rom. 2:1-16; 6:21-23; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 2 Cor. 5:10; Gal. 5:19-21; 6:7-9; Eph. 5:5-7; Col. 3:5-7; Rev. 21:7, 8; and 22:12-15, for example).
I'll quote Rev. 22:12-15, which is one of the passages I just listed. I'll quote these verses from the NIV. The Lord Jesus Christ is speaking here. "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward [My recompense] is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (13) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. [[These words strongly confirm the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son, along with verses like John 1:1-5; 20:28; and Heb. 1:1-3, 8-10.]] (14) Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city [the city of God's new Jerusalem]. (15) Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." "Those who wash their robes" are the ones who cleanse themselves and become sanctified through the sanctifying blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, in accordance with the Word of God, which is backed up by the all-powerful Spirit of God (see Rev. 7:14; 19:8, for example).
I'll also quote Rev. 2:5, where the Lord Jesus was speaking to the Christians at Ephesus about AD 95 (what He said to those Christians applies to all Christians who are in the same situation): "Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and DO THE DEEDS [[WORKS. The Greek noun used here ("ergon") is translated "work" or "works" 96 times by the NASB and as "deed" or "deeds" 65 times, and other ways; "ergon" was used in Rev. 22:12 (which was quoted in the last paragraph): a more literal translation of the last words of 22:12 would be "to each as his work [ergon] is."]] YOU DID AT FIRST; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place - unless you repent." If the Lord Jesus removes the lampstand from a church that church is no longer part of the Body of Christ.
These verses certainly demonstrate that God takes note of our works; works of righteousness are required; in other words a righteous lifestyle is required. As the apostle James (not one of the twelve; see Gal. 1:19) said, "faith without works is dead" (James 2:26). Saving faith will necessarily result in righteousness and holiness, as we walk by the Word of God and the Spirit of God, which we are required to do.
The apostle Paul would agree that Christians must have the righteous works (a righteous lifestyle) that the grace of God (by the indwelling Spirit of God) enables us to do. (See Eph. 2:10; 5:1-21, for example.) Christians are required to live in the righteousness of God, which includes thinking right in our hearts and doing righteous works (by His grace through faith).
I frequently hear Christians (including ministers) say that we are not required to have works, but they are wrong! How desperately we need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. The apostle Paul said we are saved by faith, not works, but he didn't mean that we can be saved without the works that the grace of God enables us to do. The apostle was against works (very much including works of the Mosaic Law) without faith in Christ. He didn't leave any room for salvation that was not built on the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death and resurrection (cf., e.g., 1 Cor. 3:10, 11). He was against bringing the ceremonial works of the old covenant into the new covenant, ceremonial works like circumcision, or dietary laws, for example (cf. e.g., Rom. 2:26-29; Gal. 2:16; 5:1-12; 6:12-15). He was against works of the flesh being done for the glory of man or to try to earn/merit the salvation that God freely gives in Christ; God must receive all the glory for our salvation, including for the good works that we do as His new creations in Christ and by His grace, which includes the work of the indwelling Spirit (cf., e.g., Rom. 3:27, 28; 4:2, 4; 11:6, 33-36; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-10; Phil. 1:6; 2:12, 13; 3:9; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:4-7). Salvation in all of its aspects is of grace, not what is earned/merited/owed.
I recommend reading my foundational paper "The Christian, the Law, and Legalism" that is available on my internet site and in six parts on this Christian article site. I'll list the section headings of that paper: 1. Introduction; 2. Christians are Enabled, and Required, TO KEEP THE LAW OF GOD; Including the Law Contained in the Old Testament, Excluding the Ceremonial Law; 3. Christians Are Enabled, and Required, TO KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS of God/Christ; 4. Christians Are Enabled, and Required, TO OBEY God/Christ (including His Word/Law/commandments); 5. Christians Are Enabled, and Required, TO LIVE/WALK IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, which means living/walking in the will of God, according to His Word/Law/Commandments; 6. Christians Are Enabled, and Required, TO BE HOLY/TO LIVE IN HOLINESS, which Includes Living in the Will of God, According to His Word/Law/Commandments; 7. Christians Are Enabled TO DO THE WORKS that Are Required According to God's Word/Law/Commandments, by His grace/Spirit through faith; the works aren't optional; 8. Doesn't the New Testament Teach that the Mosaic Law/Old Covenant Has Been Set Aside and that Christians Aren't Under this Law? And Doesn't it Teach that No One Will Be Justified by Doing Works of the Law?; and 9. Legalism. Romans 2:1-16 are discussed in that paper. Romans 2:6 says "who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS [WORKS]." I recommend reading what I said under Rom. 2:1-16, especially under verse 6. (Romans 2:1-16 are discussed in Part 2 of "The Christian, the Law, and Legalism" on this Christian article site.) I also recommend reading my foundational "A Paper on Faith" that is available on my internet site; extensive excerpts from that paper are available on this Christian article site.
I'll quote 1 Pet. 1:17 again, "If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth." Those who know that they will face the judgment of God must "conduct themselves in [reverent] fear [before Him]," living in His righteousness and holiness, always staying fully ready for the return of Christ and the day of judgment. Such things as correct doctrine (though necessary), godly parents, or the externals of religion will not prepare us to stand before God any more than they sufficed for the children of Israel (see Matt. 3:7-10; John 8:31-47; and Rom. 2:1-29, for example).
"Christians" could be rejected on the day of judgment (see Matt. 7:13-27, for example). It is also true that a Christian could make it to heaven but lose rewards because of living by the flesh in certain areas (see 1 Cor. 3:5-15, for example). It is a serious matter for Christians to be unfaithful to God, and we must have a reverent fear regarding this matter. We will all have to answer to God (see Rom. 14:10-12, for example). The Bible shows that we must have a healthy fear of all sin (see Matt. 10:28; Luke 1:50; 12:5; Acts 9:31; 2 Cor. 7:1; Phil. 2:12; Heb. 4:1; and 1 Pet. 2:17, for example).
1 PETER 1:18, 19. "knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, (19) but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." Christians have been redeemed from their former futile [sinful] way of life by the "precious blood [of Christ]" (see 1 Pet. 2:24, 25; 3:18; and 4:1-6, for example; and see under Rom. 3:24 in chapter 6 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin"). I'll quote 1 Pet. 2:24, "and He Himself bore our sins [He bore our sins with the guilt and with the penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin] in his body on the cross, so that WE MIGHT DIE TO SIN AND LIVE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS [my emphasis]...."
As we have discussed in some detail, the Lamb of God bore our sins with the guilt and with the penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin), so we could be forgiven, be redeemed out of the kingdom of sin, be born again, and be made righteous and holy with the very imparted righteousness and holiness of God. God paid an infinite price in the sacrifice of His Son to save and sanctify us. When we learn who Jesus is and what He has done for us in His atoning death, what He requires of us, and the fact that God hates sin, it is inconceivable that the blood of Christ does not have the power to set us free from all sin, as we appropriate and walk in that power through faith.
Now we will discuss 1 Peter 2:24, 25. These verses serve as a brief summary of what the apostle Paul said in Romans chapter 6, which is one of the most important passages, if not the most important passage in the New Testament, that instructs and exhorts us to walk with the victory over all sin through the all-important atoning death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. (See my recent article, "Some Glorious Highlights from Romans Chapter 6.")
1 PETER 2:24, 25. "and He Himself bore our sins [with the guilt and penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin)] in His body on the cross, THAT WE MIGHT DIE TO SIN AND LIVE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS [my emphasis. In other words, through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, Christians are enabled, and required, to die to sin (to stop sinning) and to be faithful to God and His covenant (the new covenant) and "live to [or, in] righteousness."]; for by His wounds you were healed. [[Actually, as the margin of the NASB shows, "wounds" is singular in the Greek. Significantly, Peter was quoting here, as he was in the next verse, from Isaiah chapter 53 (see Isa. 53:5, 6). The Hebrew of Isa. 53:5 also uses the singular for the word translated "wounds" here. This collective noun "wound" embraces all that the Lamb of God bore for us in His atoning death, as He bore our sins with the guilt and penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin). See the discussion of Isa. 53:4-6 on pages 18-24 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin." Include the section titled "All the Old Covenant Sacrifices, and Especially Those on the Day of Atonement, Pointed to the One Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ" on page 18.
Isaiah 53:11 deals with the fact that the Lamb of God, THE RIGHTEOUS ONE, through His atoning death, would MAKE RIGHTEOUS His people; He provides forgiveness (and God's imputed righteousness) and enables us to live in an abiding state of righteousness (God's imparted righteousness), as we cooperate with the powerful saving grace of God in Christ through faith (a faith that is based on God and His Word; especially the gospel of new-covenant salvation). This super-important verse is discussed on pages 26-29 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin." Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is probably the most important passage in the Bible dealing with Christ's all-important atoning death. It is clear (when these words are read in context) that when Peter said "you were healed," he was speaking especially of the spiritual healing that we receive (including forgiveness, the new birth, and the death to sin/sinning and transformation to righteous living from the heart), but it is also clear, I believe, that physical healing, mental healing, etc. are provided in Christ's atoning death. See on Isa. 53:4-6 (pages 18-24 of "Holiness and Victory Over Sin"), and see the chapter in that book titled "A Study to Show that Healing and Health Are Included in the New Covenant Atonement."]] (25) For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have [through repentance and faith in Christ] returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls."
May God be glorified through this article and His people come to a better understanding of the gospel, where required! In Jesus' name!
Karl Kemp; November, 2013
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