In our Introduction to the book of First Peter, we discovered that this little five chapter book is a book about suffering. We learned how singularity qualified this vulnerable and effusive man is in guiding you and I through the difficulties of life. This lesson begins at verse 13 of the first chapter where we find the beginnings of a rich vein of Bible Truth. Here through the end of the first chapter we will unearth six critical and necessary adjustments to our attitudes and focus. If we are faithful to follow them in the course of struggles and sufferings; we will most certainly imerge holy.
- You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy – Leviticus 19:2
The term holy does not mean perfect. God does not command that you and I be perfect in this life – we are going to fall flat from time to time. Holy means “consecrated, dedicated.” Now that we can be. Peter describes the pathway through suffering to holiness. We learn that our sorrows actually help us live set apart. To guide us into the place of Suffering to Holiness Peter instructs you and I in six areas:
- Be Engaged
- Be Obedient
- Be Fearful
- Be Reminded
- Be Available
- Be Refueled
Suffering to Holiness – Be Engaged
Peter’s first point of order is that we must emerge from our sorrows and sufferings to engage the world around us. Now this is counter-intuitive. When walking through the place of suffering, of trials – we want to turtle in – we want to be left alone. Check out the first words of verse 13:
- Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ – 1 Peter 1:13
Gird up. Get involved. Now watch carefully how he instructs you and I that our engagement takes place at three levels; three things you and I must do to navigate the path of sufferings to holiness…
Be Engaged – Prepare for Action. Gird up the loins of your mind. Preparation means doing before moving. We need to prepare for our day before we begin it. You are likely familiar with the Armor of God – and yet did you stop at any point today to “put it on?” The passage says put on the FULL armor of God. We are to put on Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. To neglect any of it is to expose yourself to attack – to become vulnerable. We must engage actively and not sit passively through our trials and struggles. Look at the verse above to see how Peter continues with two more insights into becoming engaged with our sufferings:
Be Engaged – Be Sober. This is serious business, you want to sit in your suffering – or do you want out? Don’t let it wander into damaging territories – reliving the things that you suffer. You must use your willpower to capture. You must not play at this – but to pay attention – to control – to the crud you are letting your mind ponder over:
- Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth – Colossians 3:2
- We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:5
Be Engaged – Fix your hope on Grace. Fix – tie yourself to – bind yourself Onto Grace. Note there are two features of Grace. First, the forgiveness of God toward the believer. We are saved by Grace. Next – and importantly – there is a second feature of Grace we need to consider. That is the Grace of the sovereignty of God. That God is permitting you to go through the stuff that you are going to. That He oversees and administers His power and protection throughout. That you are under His Grace as you go through your trials.
Suffering to Holiness – Be Obedient
- As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance – 1 Peter 1:14 NIV
Peter calls us to obey. And he immediately provides two actions we must take on the road to obedience.
Be Obedient – Do not conform to evil desires. In the first place, evil desires are transitory and unfulfilling. Everything you hold onto that is not of GOD is going to rot away. Check out these passages which speak to the temporary nature of our unrighteous desires:
- He knew no quiet within him, he does not retain anything he desires – Job 20:20
- The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever – 1 John 2:17
But how then are we to overcome them? Let’s remember Peter is giving us insights into obedience. Note in the verse below the bit about renewing your mind. It’s a painful thing to do. Why? Because we hang onto the ways we like – we like to sin. But we must accept the fact that our minds needs renewing!
- And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind – Romans 12:2
And if you think you can do it without the Bible – the living and active Word of God then you are greatly mistaken. Your mind cannot be renewed by meditation or mantra – But only by the Word. Now don’t miss that next phase Peter used in verse 14 (cited just above). Note how he describes the stuff we hang onto… “you had when you lived in ignorance.” That’s right. In ignorance. You sought after evil desire because you were ignorant. You thought you knew better how to care for you. You thought you knew how to control your impulses. You confused your wants with intelligence. King David warns of this tendency:
- Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you – Psalm 32:9
When you apply your own reckoning you are simply a mule – you are living in ignorance. Note too however, Peter uses the past tense! Peter says you had. What can this mean but that things no longer are that way? He calls us back from returning to those days – from living as we did. Get past your evil desire – if booze does not edify God in your life – knock it off. If you think adultery or fornication are okay with God – knock it off. If you are sour and judgemental of others – knock it off. If you live for self indulgence… KNOCK IT OFF!
Be Obedient – Be Holy. Holy does not mean perfect – it means consecrated, dedicated. You and I are going to fall on our faces – we are not yet perfected. However we most certainly can become consecrated and dedicated – we can become Holy.
- Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth – Ephesians 4:24
- That He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints – 1 Thessalonians 3:13
Suffering to Holiness – Be Fearful
- 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 – 1 Peter 1:17
Now you and I are not all that excited about the word “fear.” We somehow tie it (incorrectly and un-Biblically) to an Old Testament God who was angry all the time. So what happens but you and I tend to swing to the other side of the spectrum and treat the Holy One like an old school chum. Peter reminds us that we must remember Who we are dealing with. Not “the Man Upstairs”. Not the old Guy with a beard. But we are dealing with the Most High God. We are to fear Him – to fear sufficient to moderate our behaviors to please Him and to follow His ways. Read the language of these next verses:
- My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments – Psalm 119:120
- Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God, and the dread of Me is not in you, declares the Lord God of hosts – Jeremiah 2:19
- And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do – Hebrews 4:13
You’re not hiding from Him! Where can you go from His Presence?
You think leading a double life is fooling Him? We need to fear Him. There is a powerful and humbling aspect to living in respectful fear of the power of God. To remember we incite Him when we thumb our noses after He instructs us how we should live.
Suffering to Holiness – Be Reminded
- Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ – 1 Peter 1:18
Be Reminded – About what we know about ourselves. We are to remember! Peter writes: knowing… This is our state – Peter tells us to remember the truth of our own condition. You are not some dirt-bag – some loser meant to come through life alone and unguarded. You matter! We are redeemed, bought and paid for by the Blood of Lamb of God. Think about that while in the midst of your struggles and sufferings. The path from sufferings to holiness is best traveled when we remember to meditate on Things we know about ourselves. Then too:
Be Reminded – About what we know about Jesus
- For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 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 – 1 Peter 1:20-21
These great Truths are among a host of insights offered in the Word about the nature, the mission and the Glory of the Lord Jesus. While we are going through our “stuff” we must be reminded both about what we know of ourselves and of Him
Suffering to Holiness – Be Available
- Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart – 1 Peter 1:22
We are to be available to love – to support – to be compassionate towards others. This is a great tonic for when we are weighed down with our own stuff. Note these words sincere and fervently! There is great traction toward holiness during suffering when we love and support others. Being available to others brings its own healing, is own purity, refinement and holiness.
- By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another – John 13:35
- Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins – 1 Peter 4:8
Suffering to Holiness – Be Refueled
- For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God – 1 Peter 1:23
Note firstly that Peter uses the word-pictures of the Master. Born again. The image of the seed – which what? – seeds are the hope of harvest. Not the seeds we sowed before – within our selfishness – those are perishable.
But faith in the Lord Jesus changes our seed – our hope of harvest. We become fruitful – the harvest imperishable. – the things we do matter for eternity! And what is the source of this imperishable harvest? How can I get me some of that? THE LIVING AND ENDURING WORD OF GOD.
We must become refueled in our study of the Word – to lose ourselves in It, to be trained in It, to love and honor It. That’s right… Your Bible. See how Jeremiah speaks of it in the citation below. Look at his attitude toward the Word. Look at the benefits he receives from it – a joy and delight of my heart. Then Drink in the next passage from the Psalms about the Word of God – phrase by phrase – benefit by benefit.
- Your Words were found and I ate them, and Your Words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts – Jeremiah 15:16
- The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned and in keeping them there is great reward – Psalm 19:7-11
Did you take that in? The rich value, the benefit of refueling yourself by daily contact with the Word of God. With that Bible, right in your home. All that power, all that expression of the Divine at your fingertips. We must be Refueled by it!
These then are six insights I recommend to you while you sit amidst the pain and sufferings of living. Things that you can do – things within your reach. Things that will make a difference! Lord Bless You as You Go
- Be Engaged
- Be Obedient
- Be Fearful
- Be Reminded
- Be Available
- Be Refueled