While listening to my pastor’s continuing exposition of 1 Peter 1 this morning, I was struck by the timeliness of the passage he used for a subject he didn’t directly address. His sermon was about personal holiness (which is, of course, the main thrust of the passage) – but I have been unable to leave verse 14 alone all afternoon. In the wake of the recent Revoice conference, it struck me that this passage wasn’t highlighted very often in responses. I believe it should, going forward. Here’s why.
1 Peter 1:13 has a “therefore”, so it behooves us to go back to the previous context to find what it’s there for. We’ll start in verse 10.
As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that [would come] to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven– things into which angels long to look. – 1 Peter 1:10-12
So, we’re speaking of the Gospel and salvation – as well as the earnest searching of our spiritual forebears into the details of its accomplishment in future. Those details are what we possess – details which even angels long for a clear glimpse of. Now, verse 13;
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. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts [which were yours] in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all [your] behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” – 1 Peter 1:13-16
Therefore, (as a result of the previous things) there follows a number of things we are to do, as a consequence. First, prepare your minds. Literally, “gird the loins of our minds”. Get ready – there’s work to do! Mental work – heavy thinking – don’t be dull, or apathetic! Second, be/keep sober – be watchful – collectedly, calmly – without impairment due to excess. Often paired with “be alert”, and martial imagery elsewhere. Thirdly, “fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you“. Literally, “perfectly hope” (τελείως ἐλπίσατε). The “fixed” stems from the implication of “to the end”, or “to completion” in τελείως – perhaps in the sense of “fixed determination”, this is a “fixed hope” on the grace to be brought.
Like I said, however, the next verse won’t let me alone. As obedient children (ὡς τέκνα ὑπακοῆς) – as a contrast to “disobedient” children, yes – but the picture is that of a child obeying his parent. ὑπακοὴν is used earlier in vs. 2 – it is Jesus Christ we are obeying. Notice the various parallels in usage and context. We’re speaking of much the same thing as vs. 14 is. In vs. 22, we are told that since we have purified our souls in ὑπακοῇ – obedience – for a sincere love of the brethren, we are to love one another from the heart. Note 1 John 3:3 here – “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” The parallels are unmistakable. Hope, purification, obedience, holiness. This is an act of obedience. An active, fixed hope. An act of purification – striving toward holiness. What does that look like? Well, the verse continues, with an obvious parallel to Romans 12:2. Do not be conformed to the former lusts in your ignorance. Or, possibly, do not be conformed in your ignorance to your former lusts. The word for “conformed” is interesting. It’s a compound of “sys” (with, beside, accompanying) and “schema,” from where we derive “schematic.” In this context, it refers to the “manner of life” – our discourse, actions, etc. In short, our identity – with an implication of fashioning/constructing as well.
To rephrase it, it’s saying “do not fashion your identity around your former lusts, in your ignorance.” The application should be immediate – and helpful in the context of our current discussion about “identity” in Christ, no?
From comparison with our parallel passage, we can also glean a few applications. Our minds should be transformed – as should our hopes, our attention – and last but not least – our identities. We are united with Christ – and that union brings forth an identity which replaces the identity of the old man. Our minds are transformed, (gird those mental loins!) that we might (also) approve the will of God – that which is good, acceptable, and perfect. Not those former lusts. Those are not us any longer. Those no longer enslave us – and we can no longer identify with those worldly chains, can we?
- 1 Th 5:6&8, 2Ti 4:5, 1 Pe 4:7, 5:8↩