22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”And this is the word that was preached to you. — 1 Peter 1:22-25 NIV
In these verses, we are reminded of how limited the English language is in words to express love. We have one word, the Greeks had at least six words expressing different levels and types of love. Philia which means friendly and/or brotherly affection and is the word used here for the “love for each other”. The second word used here for love is agape which is the word that comes closest to expressing the kind of love Jesus showed for us when He chose to die on a cross for our sins. It is a totally selfless, unconditional love. It is a love that is unquenchable and no matter how much it gives, it is never satisfied. It only wants to give more and more. It is the kind of love that God wants us to have for Him and our brothers and sisters, as well as our enemies. The last part, “love for our enemies” is the one that gets our flesh in an uproar.Our flesh screams out, we have been wronged by that person and there is no way that I will ever forgive or love that person or those people. But Jesus told us in His model prayer to pray “forgive us as we forgive others” and we are also told:
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. — Matt. 6:14, 15 NIV
This is a requirement for those of us who have been born again. Our flesh is perishing but we are being renewed daily by the living Word of God. So, we must mortify the flesh and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit that so richly abides within each of us. That leadership will require us to love and to forgive at all costs.
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. — 1 Peter 1:17-20 NIV
There is nothing that we can offer to God that is acceptable for our redemption. Before the creation of the world, the price for our salvation was agreed upon by the Trinity. Nothing less than a sacrificial Lamb without blemish would be acceptable. In the Old Testament, the lamb had to be sacrificed over and over. In the New Testament, the perfect Lamb is sacrificed once for all sins of all times, past, present and future.
25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.— Hebrews 9:25-26 NIV
His work is finished. We, as Christians, have a work to do that will not be finished until the end of this age. We are foreigners, aliens and ambassadors here on earth. Our work is to spread the Good News that Jesus Christ has died and rose again to seal our redemption. Without Easter, there would be no reason to celebrate Christmas, It isn’t just a Christmas story. It is a story that needs to be told everyday, everywhere to every person.
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” — 1 Peter 1:13-16 NIV
We are saved by grace though faith and that is the only way anyone can be saved. Good works and good intentions cannot save us, only the grace of God. That is our belief, that is our hope. That hope is eternal based on the mercy and grace of God. We will not know the fullness of His grace and mercy until Jesus Christ returns in all of His glory to receive us into heaven. The eternal hope that we have through the grace of God should fill us with so much love for Jesus that we choose to remain obedient to His teachings and example. Our flesh desires to stay conformed to lusts and other evil desires. But now that we know those are displeasing to our Savior, we should attempt to “abstain from the very appearance of evil”. Is this a call for perfection? Yes. Will we attain perfection while we remain in this tent of flesh? No. But that does not excuse willful, deliberate sin nor is it an out for us to do whatever we desire and ask for forgiveness. Every moment of every day, we are making decisions. Those decisions will either lead us closer to Jesus or take us farther away from Jesus. Perfect? No. Forgiven? Yes. But we must determine at every moment whether or not we will press on toward our goal..
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. — Phil. 3:14,14 NIV
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. — 1 Peter 1:6, 7 NIV
We have to go through trials and tribulations here on earth. This should not surprise us, Jesus said “in this world you will be offended”. There is a specific reason that God allows us to go through these times of testing. And, amazingly enough, it is not to prove to Him how much we love Him, He already knows the answer to that question. No, these tests are so we can know where we are on our journey with Him. The suffering does allow us to realize whether or not our faith is genuine. If it proves to be genuine and our works withstand the fire, that is worth more than anything money can buy. Everything on earth can be and will be destroyed by fire except our faith and our hope. Because we have hope eternal, we can praise Jesus Christ and give unto Him the glory and honor He so richly deserves. It is then that we will realize the truth of what Paul tells us:
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. — Romans 8:18, 19 NIV
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time..— 1 Peter 1: 3-5 NIV
Because of what Jesus has done for us, we owe Him everything and yet we owe Him nothing. Our salvation is free and can’t be purchased, so, in that sense we owe Him nothing. But in the sense that we can be nothing and have nothing without Jesus, we owe Him everything. We owe Him praise, honor and glory at all times. We owe Him our allegiance and our faithfulness. We have to go through trials and hardships here on earth but we have an inheritance laid up for us in heaven. This inheritance gives us a living hope that we are totally secure here and now and for eternity. We are saved now but we will not realize the full extent of what that means until we are at home with Jesus for eternity. But we do know enough to know that we owe Him all of our praises, so let’s just praise Him continuously.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. — 2 Peter 1:5-11 NIV
If we put in the time studying the Scriptures and following the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we will add all these things to our faith. As we learn God’s Word, we will be able to access more and more Godly wisdom and power. These attributes of Jesus will not only confirm our calling but will also makes us effective and productive disciples of Jesus. If we don’t spend the time we will never be able to see beyond our fleshly desires, thus appearing nearsighted and/or blind. Then we will not be able to lead others to Jesus Christ, which is the ultimate goal of any calling that God has placed on our lives. Unless we continue to study the Word, we will soon forget that we have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb.
So, we need to be diligent and we need to be smart.
Study the Scriptures
Meditate on the Scriptures
Always pray for the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Repeat the story and rehearse all the blessings God has given us
Tell others about Jesus and what He has done for us
Then others will say about us the same thing they said about Jesus.
52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. — Luke 2:52 NIV
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love..— 2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV
We have accepted Christ as our Savior, what now? We are now new creatures in Christ Jesus and the new creature needs different food. Our fleshly desires will want us to continue in the old ways consuming the same old garbage, but these ways will not satisfy the new spiritual man. There will be a hunger and a thirst that we have not known before and that hunger and thirst can only be satisfied by the goodness of the Word of God. We need to add some spiritual food to our daily diet. Here in these verses, Peter has made us a short list of what is to be included. The list ends with love, which holds all the others together and without love, the diet would be incomplete and ineffective. We have been saved by grace through faith, now we need to add goodness and the knowledge of God. This is done by studying and meditating on the Word of God. It also includes prayer and conversations with other Christians. God has called each of us to a work that He planned for us long ago. But, first we need some training because God will never send us where He has not prepared us to go. We are sent to make disciples, but first, we must become disciples.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. — Romans 1:16 NIV
This verse must become alive in us and be the force that drives us to be a disciple. It can only be accomplished through “the power of God”.