We are given instruction to live lives holy before the Lord. Under the Old Testament covenant, there were strict regulations that the Israelites obeyed – items of clothing to be worn by the priests, steps to offer various sacrifices, penalties for wrongdoing. I read these laws and cannot remember them all! Yet, the way the Israelites lived set them apart from the rest of the nations. The God of Israel set their standard of living in line with His heart. For example, the Israelites held high regard for human life when other nations were sacrificing their firstborn children in the fire of Molech or giving them to be temple prostitutes. In addition, while many nations had slaves, the Israelites were given specific instructions regarding care of their slaves. There were also severe penalties for disregarding God’s holiness. Two of Aaron’s sons died when they offered profane fire before the Lord, something He had not commanded them to do. King Saul was rebuked when he disobeyed the Lord’s command to completely destroy the Amalekites, keeping the best of the livestock for “sacrifice” to the Lord. We cannot assume to know what is right and holy before God – we need to honour His Name and His authority. As God says in Leviticus 10:3 – “By those who come near Me, I must be regarded as holy, and before all the people, I must be glorified.”
1 Peter not only gives practical instructions for holy living, it also sets out the underlying goal, purpose and motivation for a life of holiness.
[1 Peter 1:13-16] – Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
The phrase “gird up the loins”, as used in the Greek, was used as an expression to describe “letting nothing distract or interfere”. As some other translations read – “minds that are alert”, “think clearly and exercise self-control”, “prepare your minds for action”. This is call for self-control and perseverance. It takes desire, will and effort to continuously remain alert and sober. It is a choice we make and a conscious decision. It is not something we just do once, but it is a lifestyle. The next instruction is to “rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” The revelation of Jesus Christ is also the revelation of God’s grace. As Ephesians 2:7 explains, “…that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” We are then given reason for holy living in our identity – we are obedient children, redeemed from old ways and ignorance, and shown a new way. Romans 6 speaks about this in detail. Here is just a small excerpt from Romans 6:10-14:
- “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
Again, Jesus is our example – He who died to sin once and for all, and now lives, eternally glorifying the Father as He is in eternal glory. In being set free from sin, through Christ, we take on His likeness. And, if we strive to become more like Christ, then we follow His example in being dead to sin, but alive in God. In other words, we fight against sin, and we strive to live a life that glorifies our Holy God. How can we do anything else once we have tasted and seen the Lord’s goodness? While we fall into sin time and time again, it is completely possible to still live a holy life. How? We come under the law of grace – one which is fulfilled through faith in Christ, repentance of sins, and a life of love for God, demonstrated by obedience to His commands. As we continuously put faith in Christ and turn to Him, He covers our sins. In this way, as we grow in knowledge and understanding of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we present ourselves as alive from the dead! Life requires growth and new revelation. We need to feast on the word of God, to rest in the presence of God, and to grow each day in more intimate knowledge of Him. Eternal life, life spent in the presence of God, has been given to us through Christ Jesus and it starts now!
[1 Peter 1:17-21] – And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
God the Father is a just judge, and He gives to each one as he deserves. 1 Corinthians 3 also speaks of this.
- Verse 8 – “Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labour.”
- Verse 13 – “ …each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.”
We take responsibility for the way we live our lives. We cannot blame other people or rely on their revelation of God. We ourselves need to build upon the foundation of Christ and we will each be judged accordingly. Knowing this, we are instructed to conduct our lives on earth “in fear”. The word “fear” often comes with a negative vibe, so what does it meant to live in the fear of the Lord? This in itself is a topic of its own. Here is a little diagram I made some time ago with verses about the fear of the Lord.
Fear of the Lord Diagram (click for picture)
Reading through all these verses, I saw this:
- Loving God = fearing God = knowing His commands and obeying them = knowing and having the heart and mind of Christ = hating the world and hating evil = living as a stranger in the world
Of course, this has been simplified. However, we can easily see how all of these characteristics go together. 1 Peter explains that this way of behaving comes from knowing where our salvation comes from – it is not bought (with silver or gold), not earned (with traditional sacrifice), but freely given with the precious blood of Christ. How? Peter explains even more. Christ was the lamb without spot or blemish, the perfect holy sacrifice, therefore able to atone for all sins once and for all.
- [Hebrews 9:12-14] – “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Again, Jesus is our example, raised to life through the power of God the Father, and given for us so that our faith and hope might be placed in God alone.
- [Hebrews 5:5-9] – “So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’ As He also says in another place: ‘You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek,’ who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him…”
Knowing these things, let us indeed place our hope in Christ, abide in Him and pursue a life of Holy Living, worship before the Lord.