14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV
- Introduction: Mark Twain’s Prince and the Pauper
- What does it mean, to be “holy” (qodesh [H6944]; hagios [G40])
- As it relates to salvation (Isaiah 64; 1 Peter 3:18)
- As it relates to “sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7, hagiasmos [G38])
- As it relates to our set-apartness (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:2)
- As it pertains to God? (1 John 1:5)
- What is the standard of holiness when it comes to God?
- What is holiness as it relates to sin? (Romans 6:1-14)
- The enemy within (Mark 7:14-22)
- Unhelpful terminology:
- Helpful terminology:
- How do we measure or assess our holiness progress?
- How do we pursue holiness as we engage others? (“Socks and cigarettes”)
- Sacred v. profane
- The isolation/insulation trap (asceticism)
- The assimilation trap
- Authentic engagement (Leviticus 20:26)
- Holiness and the Gospel (1 Peter 1:3-8)
- Conclusion (Psalm 19)
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. 14As
obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions
of your former ignorance, 15but as he who called
you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since
written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17And
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, 1 Peter
1. Last Week: Gearing Up (Exodus 12:11; Proverbs 31:17; Ephesians 6:14)
2. Being sober-minded (“keep sober in spirit”): G3525, nēphō
a. 1 Peter 4:7, 5:8
b. Luke 21:34-35
c. Romans 12:2
d. Romans 13:13
e. 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8
f. Matthew 6:33
g. 2 Timothy 2:3-5
h. 2 Timothy 4:5
i. Hebrews 12:1
j. Colossians 3:2-4
3. The opposite of sober-minded (1 Peter 4:3-4)
4. Summing up “preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded”
5. Applying “preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded”
6. Holiness versus Obedience
a. Are all believers obedient children?
b. Is being holy in our conduct different than being obedient?
c. What, then, is “holiness”?
7. Saved from and to
a. Saved from:
b. Saved to:
8. The object of our hope
a. Defined: 1 Peter 1:9-10
b. Timed: 1 Peter 1:5, 7, 13
c. Explained: Titus 2:11-14
d. Quantified: “Fully” G5049, teleiōs
| Christ with me, Christ
before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my
right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie
Christ when I sit
Christ when I
arise, Christ in the heart of
every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of
every one who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye of
every one who sees me,
Christ in every ear
that hears me.
from: St. Patrick’s Shield
9. Next Three Commands
a. v. 14 do not
b. v. 15, 16 you also, you shall
c. v. 17 Conduct
The king passes in front of the soldiers.
They stand strong and silent.
The people strain to see.
Power excites and enthralls and enchants.
I walked on the sidewalk in front of the cathedral.
I looked up at the giant ornate doors.
I stepped backwards and tried to see the full length of the tallest decorative spire.
I noticed the cell phone antennae.
What motivates the design and building of a cathedral?
What sort of awe quickens the heart and brightens the imagination?
Am I going through life without the Big Deal?
Have I missed my chance to be truly inspired, truly overcome by awe?
Where are my fellow worshipers, who can join me in designing our cathedral?
When do we come together to fall on our knees and chant, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”
Yahweh passes in front of us.
We avoid stepping on the old chewing gum on the sidewalk.
We check our cell phone.
The “punch line” of Ecclesiastes is contained in the last two verses of the book: The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV)
only God matters …
The entire Old Testament is summarized in those last two verses: (a) The law (“keep His commandments”); the prophets (“bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil”); and wisdom (“Fear God,” which according to Proverbs 9:10 is the beginning of all wisdom).
The last two verses of the book also point to the New Testament. As a precondition to becoming a follower of Christ, it is necessary that a person have a large, even fearful, understanding of God-the-all-knowing-all-seeing-Judge. Only then does it make sense for that person to realize that he or she cannot possibly rise to God’s standard of perfect holiness, and only then does our desperate need for a Savior become clear. On the other hand, a follower of Christ, that is, one who loves Jesus Christ and relies upon Him, expresses and acts out his or her love for Jesus Christ be keeping His commandments (John 14:18-21).
… or else life is just a meaningless mist
The theme of the book of Ecclesiastes is that life without God is hebel [H1892], that is, a transient, meaningless vapor or breath or mist. Life for humans, from this perspective, is hardly different than that of a goldfish swimming in a bowl.
We are hardwired to find meaning in life somehow and somewhere. People who do not find their meaning and identity in God, often try to find it somewhere else: status, work, career, family, reputation, contribution to history, timeline on facebook.com, pleasure, etc.
This is frustrating, because it does not work. When we try to find meaning in these ways, we become exhausted and disappointed. Worse, the more adept we feel we have become on our own (“under the sun,” that is, without God), the more sinful and corrupt we tend to become. Indeed, the Bible describes atheism as both foolish and corrupting (see Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1).
Which is why denial of God, or separation from God, is itself a form of hell (see Matthew 27:45-46).
Audio MP3 Discussion of this post is available here.
Some Observations about the Text
Life is Short: So What? Wisdom literature, from Hippocrates, to Confucius, to any number of other thinkers and authors, often includes warnings about the shortness of life. Psychologists consider an orientation to short-term pleasure-seeking to be counter-productive in the quest for happiness. Many old clocks include the words Tempus Fugit on their faces.
However, the “So What?” question is seldom asked and almost never answered. (Hopefully the So What question is not fully answered by Caribou Coffee‘s marketing slogan, “Life is short. Stay awake for it”).
Biblical Warnings about the Brevity of Life. When the Bible address the matter of life’s transience, it usually does so in specific contexts. In other words, the “So What?” question is answered. You can see this by doing a word study of hebel, translated two out of three times in Psalm 39 as “breath” and once as “nothing” [ESV]. Blow some bubbles and watch them pop … hebel describes the resulting “nothingness” of a disappearing breath.
Here are some examples of contexts in which the Bible points to the transience of life:
- Life is short … so consider the sovereignty and eternal existence of our Creator. Psalm 90.
- Life is short … so call out to God, who is enthroned forever and who is remembered throughout all generations. Psalm 120.
- Life is short … so pay careful attention to God’s Word, which stands forever. Isaiah 40 (also quoted in 1 Peter 1:22-25).
- Life is short … so don’t bother boasting about your future plans. James 4.
- Life is short … so focus on laying up treasures according to God’s riches not earthly riches. Luke 12:13-21.
The Brevity of Life and Suffering. There are a couple of ways to think about the brevity of life as it relates to suffering. One way is fatalistic: life is short, so the suffering that we endure in life is, in the larger picture of things, short. Of course, no matter how long we life, if much of our life is spent in suffering, we can end up with a frustrating and negative view of life. Or we can adopt the view favored by some Eastern religions, that is, that karmic fatalism ought to simply be accepted and not questioned.
Another way to think about the brevity of life as it relates to suffering, is to focus on the reduction of pain and the maximization of comfort and pleasure. Life is short; make the best of it and leave it at that. This hedonistic view of life does not provide any understanding of or engagement with suffering; it simply seeks to avoid it. There is no meaning or purpose in life except to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
If you think that suffering and evil are human experiences that lead you to ask questions about God and the possibility of creation, you are right. They should. Especially in view of the brevity and transience of life.
The problem that people often have when they consider suffering and evil in light of the possibility of God-as-Creator, is that they superimpose their own rational matrix, their own set of naturalist presuppositions, over the question. They tend to define suffering as evil, for example, when suffering is not necessarily evil (ask any athlete in training). And they tend to define evil by their own terms as well … often without giving due consideration to how the “evil” question could possibly look from an enlarged perspective of time (as in, eternity past and future) and space (as in, the relative size of this tiny dot in the universe call earth). In other words, they attempt to resolve the question of evil-in-view-of-God, from a human/humanist view that does not and cannot take into account God-as-Creator. They loop themselves into a syllogistic lasso that makes it impossible for a rational, reasonable or even intelligible answer to emerge.
Eternal Life and Not-Suffering. The words of Jesus Christ, and indeed, the words and ideas found throughout the Bible, make sense, in part because they are not time-limited. They presume time and space beyond this earth. If God is, and if God is Creator, the universe itself would not contain God (2 Chronicles 6:18). And yet only a God who created all of heaven and earth, could fill heaven and earth … so much so that we could never actually hide from Him (Jeremiah 23:24). The “natural” phenomena of time and space only make sense if we understand that they have a super-natural origin, that is, a spiritual origin. Otherwise known as God (John 4:24).
The Bible also recognizes that we have “eternal” yearnings. The brief, transient human life expectancy leaves us wanting and frustrated. The Bible observes that we are actually wired for this frustration. God — the Creator of time itself — put eternity in the hearts of humans for a reason (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This frustration points us toward God, which is why the great majority of all people who have ever lived, and the great majority of all people who are alive today, gravitate toward some religious or spiritual expression or endeavor. We even hire specialists, called priests in most religions, to work on the project of connecting humans to God.
But there’s only one specialist, one priest, who lives forever. That priest is Jesus Christ, who has a permanent priesthood (Hebrews 7:24). He is the living One who was dead and is alive, and holds the keys to heaven and hell (Revelation 1:18). Having been raised from the dead, Jesus Christ dies no more (Romans 6:9). And He invites us to participate in His eternal life (1 John 5:11-12) by turning to Him in faith (Galatians 3:26-27).
Listen to an Audio MP3 Discussion of this post here.
A Closer Look at the Text
Numbering of the Psalms. The first eleven verses of Psalm 147 are numbered as Psalm 146 in the Septuagint-based Biblical numbering system used by Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions (and the remaining verses of Psalm 147 are designated as Psalm 147 in the Orthodox/Catholic traditions). In the Masoretic-Text based numbering system used in most Protestant translations, all twenty verses are designated Psalm 147. The numbering does not really matter: the numbering of the Psalms is somewhat arbitrary, and in both the Protestant tradition and the Catholic/Orthodox traditions the entire Psalter is present. It’s just the numbering that is different, not the Word of God in the original Hebrew.
Chiasm. The literary structure of the Psalm is chiastic, that is, the first half builds to a climactic center-point, and the second half follows on from that climactic center-point. As part of the center-point, the Psalm acknowledges at verse 11 that God takes pleasure in those who fear Him and in those who hope in His steadfast love.
What Motivates our Praise of God? Gratitude for grace, including answered, prayer are certainly two reasons that we praise God. Spurgeon calls praise of God a duty that is the ultimatum of our faith: “Excuse me that I continue to say to you, ‘Praise ye the Lord,’ for, often as I say it, you will not praise him too much; and we need to have our hearts stirred up to this duty of praising God, which is so much neglected. After all, it is the praise of God that is the ultimatum of our religion. Prayer does but sow; praise is the harvest. Praying is the end of preaching, and praising is the end of praying. May we bring to God much of the very essence of true religion, and that will be the inward praise of the heart!”
Fear. Why does God take pleasure in our fear? Because fear of the Lord is the beginning point for a proper posture toward an awesome and almighty God-the-Creator (Proverbs 1:7). It is fear that makes it possible for us set aside everything in life in order to learn about and appreciate the Gospel, and God’s love and hope (in a sense this is a “pedagogical” fear) (Psalm 25:11-15). Only fear prepares our heart to follow God, enables (relationship with God) and leads to hope (2 Corinthians 7:1). This requires a sincere sense of helplessness before God, something that the Bible calls “fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). It helps us understand that we are not in a position to “negotiate” with a holy and fearsome God; instead, we are left to trust entirely in Jesus Christ.
In other words, once we have a proper fear of the Lord, it becomes possible for us to read and listen properly to His Word (i.e. a pedagogical fear) and to be in friendship with Him (Psalm 25:11-15). As we do, we can grow in love and fellowship with Him … all the while retaining at least some ongoing (slightly fearful) sense of His holiness and greatness (2 Corinthians 7:1).
Being Brokenhearted. “Brokenhearted” as we use the term can have a fairly broad application. We usually use the term in reference to a loss of relationship, or of dreams, or of hope, or of promise. Sometimes we experience deep loss when we are victimized by crime, or by the devastation of a storm or flood or fire.
The two words that make up the term broken-hearted (shabar leb) are used in the Bible less casually than we tend to use the term, and more narrowly. In the Bible, being brokenhearted means that our heart, our soul, and our very being is smashed and crushed and demolished. It means that we are dust, that we are completely undone.
Psalm 69:16-20 uses the term “brokenhearted” in connection with being ashamed. Shame, as used in the Bible, has to do with seeking to hide from the eyes of God (just as Adam and Eve were ashamed of their sign tried to hide from God, Genesis 3:7-8). Brokenhearted includes a senses of spiritual, not just emotional, devastation. Biblical broken
Similarly, Psalm 51:17 speaks of a broken-and-contrite heart, that is, a heart that is properly sorrowful about offending God. This condition is the same as described at Isaiah 57:15 and Psalm 34:17-18, except that these two verses point more directly to the spiritual aspects. A broken heart includes a sense of spiritual need as well as emotional need. This holistic need can only addressed, assuaged and satisfied by the good news of the Gospel, as observed at Isaiah 61:1.
Philosophical naturalism is a particular form of atheism or agnosticism that denies that there is a spiritual reality outside of the material reality that can be accessed and verified through the scientific method. There is no spiritual dimension, no soul, no God, no miracles and no paranormal. When two people fall in love and declare that they are “soul mates,” this is nonsense to the philosophical naturalist. When someone suffers a serious loss in their life and uses terms like “spiritual crisis” or “crisis of faith,” again, nonsense. This type of language is seen by the naturalist as merely describing emotions, which they view as physiological only. No eternal soul, no spirit, only physical chemistry and body fluids. That’s it.
Philosophical naturalism makes for interesting intellectual discussions, but it’s not what most people experience. We experience love and shame and loneliness and dread from the depths of our being. From our soul. And when we are truly brokenhearted, it’s not just an emotional swing. It’s spiritual. We know that … from the depths of our soul.
He heals the brokenhearted. He binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3.