March 13, 2016
1 Peter 1:17-25
Life can be pretty hard. For some of us that’s an understatement. One momentary lapse in judgment, one call from the doctor, be in the wrong place at the wrong time, one misstep . . . and we learn how fragile life is. Most of us understand the difficulties of life, so we try to fill our lives with things that can make us really, really happy and content. But sometimes we try to manufacture our happiness.
We often do this without realizing it. For some people, it’s buying things. Maybe jewelry, cars, homes, furniture, electronic toys, tools which double as toys, computers, games, books and more. Even those things which give us that quick hitting feeling of ecstasy, but leave us empty in the end. How many times have you felt worse after, than before?
Yup, life can be difficult. So, what’s the solution? It’s one of those solutions which leads us to a place we don’t want to go . . . to a mirror. You see, when we stop and take a good look at in the mirror, it means we’re taking a good hard look at ourselves and who we are. If honest, we gain a better understanding if we’re going in the right direction. We may even realize how really empty and futile our lives are. And if you don’t get stuck there, that’s a great opportunity.
Kind of like Solomon as he struggled to enjoy life, but ended up claiming life was meaningless, proclaiming, “vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” In other words, when he looked at himself in the mirror he saw the errors, the sinfulness in his ways . . . and only at the end of Ecclesiastes can he remind us we need to turn to God in a powerful, reverent, awesome – – – type of fear; and follow God’s commandments.
What about us, what do we need to do in order to experience God’s power, courage, peace and love? Today’s passage is one we need to take to heart. Because Peter is reminding us of some very important truths.
For the past 2 weeks we’ve been looking at holiness. Last week, Peter called us to be holy, as God is holy. To be holy means we’ve been set apart. We’re to be different so that the world can see our holiness and can experience Christ through us.
Our holiness is about our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And we share in Christ’s holiness. It’s about living our lives in a manner which honors and glorifies God as we serve Him and others, as we make a difference in the world.
So, let’s see what Peter is calling us to do, and note that every time you see a word in all caps and in red, that’s part of the holiness of Christ. In 1 Peter we read ~
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.
The holiness of Christ is implied throughout this passage. And remember, and this is really important, our holiness is not ours! It comes through Christ. On our own, we can never be holy!
So, Peter calls for us to live our lives as if we were strangers in this world. You see, we weren’t meant for this world, we were meant to live in eternity, to live in the garden, where there was perfection, no killing, no backbiting, no slander, no taking what’s not yours, none of that existed. Since we were meant to live in the garden, and obviously we’re not there, we struggle with living in this world.
And in the midst of this struggle, we’re to look at God like we’re looking at the most wonderful, most powerful, most courageous, most amazing person ever. When we look at God and see His greatness, we see God’s character.
When we look at God, we recognize the great gift given to us . . . Jesus. Listen again to Peter’s words,
18 knowing you were ransomed (redeemed) 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.
The things in this life will perish, they aren’t going to save us. They can’t! What is it out there you think can save you? We may think the most precious metal – – – gold can. But even gold, selling at $1,254 an ounce . . . think of what I would be worth if I was solid gold – – – $3.5 million. That’s not too bad. But money can’t buy our joy, or our redemption, money can’t buy our eternity, it can only buy things which will perish in this lifetime.
Instead we receive this great gift of God, the gift of redemption. It’s a gift which never perishes, spoils or fades. What does it mean to be ransomed and redeemed?
It means ~~ to pay a full ransom, to be released on receipt of that ransom. To restore something back, to buy something back. To return into the possession of its rightful owner. Liberated by a ransom payment.
But to be ransomed and redeemed has a much deeper meaning for us. You see, it comes from a Greek word which refers to of slavery. Without going into too much detail, a slave could buy their freedom or have someone else buy their freedom. By the payment of a specific price a person could be set free from their bondage.
That is what God did for us. God bought our freedom for us. Yet, we are slaves to sin. Slaves to the ways of the world, and God has redeemed us from our empty way of life.
I love the way Eugene Peterson translates that passage in The Message ~ It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life. Isn’t that a great way to claim what God is trying to tell us. And it cost God plenty to redeem us. It cost Him the life of His Son.
The redemption we receive is the price Jesus paid for us by dying on the cross. It’s the blood He shed for you and me. He paid the ransom note for us, so we would be free from this empty life where we seek to please ourselves at the expense of pleasing God. In the end we cheapen the costly grace of Christ.
Peter wants us to realize that our lives are not going anywhere on our own. When all we use is our own willpower, what and where do we get? More frustration and determination to do better next time. But God wants us to understand this crucial point in the Bible. It’s really vital for us. Most people have heard it over and over, and because we do, we kinda lose the meat of what God has done for us.
Our freedom only comes because of the PRECIOUS blood of Jesus. His blood, His life, given for you and me – – cost Him everything. Think about your own blood, how precious it is, how life sustaining it is . . . and now consider for a moment what it means that God sent Jesus, His one and only Son, to be our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer . . . to shed His precious blood so we could be redeemed / ransomed – – – bought back – – from our personal prisons.
Jesus was that one sacrifice, the only perfect sacrifice, because Jesus was without sin. You see, in the days of the O.T. the Jewish people needed to perform animal sacrifices to find forgiveness and cleansing from God. And the animals had to be perfect, there could not be a little spot or blemish on that animal. Only something that was absolutely 100% pure and perfect could be our sacrifice, and now we have the One who was pure and perfect, without sin or blemish. He became our sacrifice.
When the Jews left Egypt, they needed to sacrifice the lamb and take that blood and rub it on the doorposts so the angel of death would pass over their homes. In the same way, Jesus is our lamb, He is the precious One, the Mighty Warrior, the Prince of Peace, sent by the Father, to shed His perfect, pure, uncontaminated by sin – – – -blood for you and I. He did it so we could find forgiveness and a relationship with God which is supposed to change our lives forever. Glory!
Now comes the clinching statement from Peter. He reminds us that because we believe God raised Jesus from the dead and has now glorified Jesus – – we are commanded to do something that is not quite as easy as we would like it to be. He tells us ~
22Now 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.
WOE!! What a statement from Peter! Peter’s telling us, now that we’ve been purified and cleansed by the blood, by the death of Jesus, because we recognize the truth about Christ, we are commanded to have sincere love for one another, love one another deeply, from the heart.
We’re to have sincere love, which means love one another without being a hypocrite. You don’t say you love someone and then slap them around. Isn’t that what happens in abusive homes. Mom or dad says to the kids, “I love you, honey” then smack. That is hypocritical love.
So Peter tells us not just to love one another, but to love one another . . . DEEPLY. This means to intensely, earnestly, fervently . . . love one another. It means your love is fully stretched, reaching its full potential. Like stretching a rope as far as it goes, so it is completely taut. RUBBER BAND
And when you love, you don’t just do it because you have to, you do it from your heart, not expecting anything in return. Solomon reminds us in Proverbs 4:23 — Above all else, guard your heart, for all of life flows through your heart.” A healthy church is made up of healthy Christians. Love is a clear sign of health. Healthy churches willingly give and receive love.
As we consider God’s love, keep in mind that God never asks you to do anything He is unwilling to do first. When it comes to love, John tells us, “We love because He first loved us” — 1 John 4:19. God’s command for us to love is totally reasonable. His expectation — that we love one another — comes to us at His expense. But, is it practical to love one another deeply, to love from our hearts?
Yes, yes, yes, it is possible to love one another sincerely, deeply, fervently, doing it from the heart. It is possible because it is reasonable. What God commands you to do, He empowers you to do.
The command “to love one another deeply” is difficult, but it is possible. It is not our natural inclination to put the interests of others before our own. To fulfill the command requires strength that can only come from God.
Understand that Peter is not talking about loving people in general, he is very specifically talking about loving others within the church. Those who are in Christ. This is not about outside the church.
This means we must look at one another and see the gift of life poured into others by Jesus. It means when we are frustrated about something in another person, we still treat them with respect and kindness, even when we don’t want to. It doesn’t mean you cannot become angry, but it means how you display your anger will indicate a great deal about your character.
We can only deeply and sincerely love one another when we are experiencing God’s great love in our own lives. That is not always easy, but it is necessary if we are to be a healthy church. It’s those old lyrics,
“They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” How we show love, in a healthy, sincere, non-hypocritical, deep and fervent way will separate you and me from the way the rest of the world loves.
But are we doing it? So . . . what can you do to better demonstrate love to your brothers and sisters?
We are called to love, because He loved us and gave His life for us. It was the power of the blood of Christ, His precious life, given for you and me so that we could be here and worship Him and receive His power and grace and love. He has ransomed us. We have been redeemed.
When we experience this great gift, we can move closer to the cross, without fear of condemnation. Because Christ died for us. So, as we are moving forward in the process of holiness, we move nearer and nearer to the cross of Christ.