1 Peter – 1 Peter 1:1 – 3:20
Ten weeks ago we began a series on First Peter. We’re taking a breather from in-depth, verse-by-verse study and doing a bit of review. We’re zooming out, pulling together the many threads we’ve encountered, reminding ourselves of the “big ideas” that holds this powerful little letter together. First Peter is about “resources and responses for joy and fruitfulness while suffering”, and we’re calling this two-part review: “What’s True” (and therefore) “What to Do”. The Christian life involves obedience, but God-given resources always precede and enable our responses. Last week we studied our God-given resources for obedience: God saves us by graciously choosing a people for himself, giving Christ to die in our place, and then sending his Spirit to cause us to be born again. God changes us by giving us love for Christ and faith and hope in him, freedom to love and serve others without fear and self-protection, and giving us perspective and power to suffer with confidence and contentment. God promises that he will keep us and care for us in this life, bless us in our righteous suffering, and will complete our holiness and salvation in the next life.
Today we turn to our obedient responses, but we must not simply focus on mere externals, because God cares about the heart (1:22), and that we obey “for the Lord’s sake” (2:13). This is what Jesus did—and God commands us to do (2:21-24). Here are five biblical truths about how we are to obey: [A] God’s provision always precedes his commands, so we know we have adequate resources, both to obey and even to want to obey (Philippians 2:13). Ask God to help you obey and trust that he will. [B] Obedience must not be merely external—that’s hypocrisy. We obey “from the heart”. [C] Obedience precedes and unleashes God’s power (Luke 5:1-11). [D] Obedience doesn’t earn us God’s approval and generosity. That’s all by grace. [E] Disobedience does not disqualify us for grace. It does impoverish our experience as Christians and dishonor God, but if you’re a born-again child of God, then the very righteousness of Christ has already been credited to your account.
Now that we know how to obey, what does Peter tell us to do:  Live in submission to God (“…fear God…”, 2:17). Many people say, “We should love God, not fear him!” We are commanded both to love God (Matthew 22:37) and to fear him. This involves “…setting apart Christ as Lord in our hearts…” (3:15). “Lord” means “master”, so we don’t treat his teachings like a “second opinion”. In addition, we are to…  Live in light of eternity—”…fixing our hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at Christ’s return…” (1:13). Biblical hope is a confident assurance of something God has promised, but hasn’t yet given to us. Our expectation of good is to be “completely” fixed on eternity. Many good things no doubt will come our way during this life—but we’re not to fix our hope on them. “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away—blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Develop our interior lives. Peter says “Don’t be concerned with your outward appearance…” (3:3). Our physical bodies, along with the rest of creation, are cursed (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). We age, decay, and eventually we die. I hear so many Christians talking about their latest diet and work-out plan, but I rarely hear this conversation: “I’m concerned about my Bible intake. I want to make sure I’m getting a balanced diet of God’s word. I’ve got to fix that.” The Bible puts the emphasis on spiritual discipline (1 Timothy 4:7-8). We do this by “craving the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word” (2:2).  Make an absolute commitment to holy living. “…be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy” (1:15). “Keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” (3:10-11).  Love fellow believers. (1:22 & 2:17). “…show sincere love to your brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.”  Honor all people, especially those in authority. To “honor” means to “determine the value of something”. What is the value of a human being? We’re made in the image of God. Christ died for us. So we honor everyone—rich or poor, pretty or plain, born or unborn. We have a special responsibility to submit to all human authority. Jesus modeled perfect submission, and tells us to now to do the same.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
From the Sermon Summary, review the five biblical truths about how we are to obey (see A-E). Then, choose the one command which you think you most need to apply (see 1-6). Tell a friend which command you chose— and why. Ask them to pray for you to take godly action this week.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)