What it Means to be Holy
1 Peter 1:13–16
1 Peter Lesson #045
March 31, 2016
“Our Father we’re thankful we can come together this evening. We’re thankful for Your grace and Your goodness to us. We’re thankful that we have Your Word to open the eyes of our souls to truth and that we can understand truth and that truth is the benchmark of our lives.
It’s the lodestone that guides and directs us. It’s that which gives us freedom, not in some mystical sense but it is that which is reality which you have created and we can align our thinking with reality and therefore, walk in wisdom and not as fools.
Father, we pray for our nation. As we look around we see horrible decisions being made at every level of government and business. We have slipped our anchor to any sense of morality and ethics. As a result this nation is headed to a terrible collapse.
No nation in history has ever survived moral relativism. Once you get into moral relativism it just destroys any sense of the ability to communicate or to think or to even conduct legal business. Father, the only solution is to get back to Your Word.
Father, we know that a collapse is what’s necessary in order to get people to turn back to Your Word. Often as we look at the history of Israel we see that didn’t happen. And if it did, it took decades. Father we pray for this nation. We pray for godly leaders. We pray for attentive listeners that would be able to influence others from the foundation of Your Word. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
This morning I took a little time or maybe it was at lunch I was looking and perusing on the Internet and looked at a number of different articles on a number of different sites as I hopped around. I was just astounded. If I wasn’t a believer I don’t know if I could survive.
There is no hope in this country. It is just deadly. We think, “Oh, if the Republicans win, there’s going to be some sort of turning around.” No, there’s not.
The blackmail that’s being conducted on this nation from different ethnic groups who are blackmailing different people, to businesses and corporations who are blackmailing governors and legislatures in states to do evil things, perverted things, is astounding if you think about it.
What got me going this morning was to look at the fact that in Georgia, the state legislature passed a really watered down and diluted religious protection bill. It initially started off trying to protect private owners of businesses from being sued if someone from the homosexual, perverted community came in to enlist them in baking a cake or any other kind of service. If they had a religious, moral, freedom of expression, first amendment objection, then this law was going to protect them.
They got rid of all of that to where basically it was just going to protect religious institutions from being forced to hire homosexuals and other sexual deviants that would violate the institution’s doctrinal position and their historically held religious positions. So it was a much reduced and diluted bill.
The Republican governor of Georgia vetoed it. The same thing happened in South Dakota. In North Carolina a few months ago the Charlotte city council passed a worse form of the bathroom bill than we had here in Houston. Then the state legislature in North Carolina passed a state law prohibiting any such bills being passed by any municipalities. Now those municipalities are all up in arms.
What’s happening in the background is that major corporations are coming in and they are blackmailing and putting pressure on these governments saying they’re going to take their offices out. Bank of America has threatened Charlotte that they’re going to move out of state and leave. All of these different businesses are putting pressure on the governments that if they don’t allow full freedom of expression in all homosexual deviancy, then they’re going to pull their freight and leave those states.
Where that comes home to roost is that if you’re working for those companies and you aren’t making an exit plan to go work and make money on your own, you are running a great risk. I’ve said this since I taught school back in the ’70s. Corporations and state governments and even the national government have adopted so many policies, especially through human resources which say how you have to treat one another in the corporate environment that run contrary to the Word of God that most Christians have compromised their ethics and their morals by even maintaining and having to enforce these policies at work.
Now what’s going to happen, I was joking with Alan about it before class, what’s going to happen now is that anyone who’s really teaching the Word and trying to hold people to a standard are going to watch more and more people leave their church because they’re not going to be able to withstand the pressure.
If you’re working for Exxon or if you’re working for General Motors or Apple or Microsoft or any number of these companies, the pressure on you as a Christian to conform your ethics to the post-modern ethics and the sexual ethics of those corporations is going to be intense. So you’ve got a choice. You can either walk the walk and be a disciple of Christ and suffer, which is what we’ve been studying about in Matthew and also in Peter, or you’re going to have to find a job somewhere else.
What will probably happen with most Christians is they’ll drift to one of the larger churches that teach very superficial Christianity and then they’ll end up at one of the mega-churches that doesn’t teach anything that even vaguely resembles Christianity because they’re not going to be able to live with the moral tension created in their life just so they can survive.
That really is a lot of the background we have in 1 Peter. Peter is writing to this group of Messianic Jews who were living in Asia Minor and they are facing ostracism from the Jewish community. They’re facing opposition from the pagan community and they are under a lot of pressure.
Their ability to do business is compromised, especially in the Middle Ages. It wasn’t quite like that in the 1st century but still this is a very tight group of people who are doing business with one another. If someone became a believer in Jesus as Messiah, then they would be ostracized. They would lose those business connections and those business opportunities.
And other things would happen. Maybe their children wouldn’t be able to be friends with other Jewish kids and things of that nature. There was social ostracism as well as economic ostracism because they had become believers in Jesus as Messiah.
You had other situations which occurred within the pagan community, the Greco-Roman community. This is what these believers were going through. Not the kind of overt persecution which later characterized the Roman Empire not too much later, such as the persecution under Nero.
This precedes that. This is earlier. Peter is really giving us extremely practical guidance as to how to face life living life in a world that is completely hostile to what we believe. I want you to think about something. In the last twenty years from 1996 to now could you have conceived of a presidential election with the options that we have? Half the Democratic Party are voting and in huge vocal support of an out-and-out Marxist Communist.
On the Republican side the frontrunner is someone as ignorant of international affairs and governing as Trump. He’s said a lot of things people agree with and also a lot of inane and stupid things that reveal his lack of experience in government and his lack of understanding of how the world works outside of business in the world of government.
In many cases he is just a Democrat-lite. He is a lot like what we used to have in the South as a Southern Democrat. They were somewhat conservative but they were liberal in a lot of other areas. As we’ve sort of progressed over the last twenty years with the Democrat Party moving more and more into the liberal far-left socialist extreme, your moderates have either gone independent or they’re drifting more towards the Republican Party.
They don’t have a philosophical conservatism that backs up their thinking. We’ve just fragmented as a nation. It gets worse every month looking at things in terms of this presidential election. It gets worse and worse and worse. There is no hope in this next presidential election.
The choices are all between really bad and a whole lot worse. It’s not going to get any better. The only hope is to change the internal thinking structure of the American people which can only been done through a turn back to God.
I almost feel like it’s time to start teaching Judges again because that’s exactly what we’re headed into. Another period where we just see a nation go through these cycles of self-destruction because they’ve rejected the God who created the heavens, the earth, and the seas.
Oh yes, marriage between one man and one woman.
And nations. God set the boundaries of nations. Once you reject that you’re just living in a fantasy world that ultimately dooms us to self-destruction.
With that lovely upbeat, positive optimistic introduction, let’s move forward in our study in 1 Peter.
In 1 Peter 1:13–16 we see an introduction. There’s a transition that occurs between verses 12 and 13 as we move from the introduction to the epistle into the main body of the epistle. These first four verses introduce themes that run through this epistle and sort of summarize it and set the stage for what will come in the first major division.
The focal point is in the command that we have in 1 Peter 1:15–16 that we are to be holy. It is repeated twice for emphasis. That’s a word that really confuses a lot of people. It’s a word that’s been used so frequently and so much in so many circles by so many people who don’t have a clue what it means that it’s come to mean nothing. It’s a feel-good, emotionally connotated word that has these religious connotations that people like to use.
They don’t really know what it means. We need to understand what it means to be holy. In fact, everything that we see in these four verses relates to what it means to be holy.
Most people think that holy means to be morally pure. Sometimes that’s also packaged with certain ideas of asceticism, that a holy person is someone who somehow lives above the plain of everyday existence, like that old saying that “they’re so heavenly-minded that they’re no earthly good.”
That’s the idea that a holy person is so caught up in something, like Buddhist monks and monks of the early church in the 4th and 5th centuries, so they would go out and live by themselves in the desert or the pillar monks that would sit on a pillar for a couple of years or four years or five years. People thought they were so holy because they had given up so much. They would go through so much suffering, self-imposed suffering, so it was assumed that must make them holy.
These ideas that entered into the mainstream of medieval theology continue to show up along the way. After the Reformation, in the post-Reformation period, as some of the churches and denominations and Calvinism and Lutheranism would become fairly creedal and just go through the forms of liturgy with very little genuine belief or passion to follow the Lord or be true disciples, you had the rise of different groups like the Pietists movement. And the Moravians, which was a missionary group.
The Anabaptists could be part of that at different stages. There are always these kinds of reform movements back to some kind of spirituality. Often it is confused with asceticism, which is just a product of the sin nature. That’s not what holy means at all.
Holy, as I’ve taught you many times, means to be set apart to the service of God. What exactly does that mean? How do we do that? That’s where we get some good practice guidance in terms of what Peter is saying here.
Now I just want to give you a little reminder that it’s very important to understand in Peter that when Peter talks about salvation, he’s not talking about Phase One justification. There are three stages or phases [Earl Radmacher often referred to this as “the three Tenses of Salvation”] of salvation.
Phase One, past tense, we are saved when we trust in Christ as Savior, we are saved from the penalty of sin. It takes place in an instant when we believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins.
Following that we have our spiritual life or spiritual growth [Phase Two]. Because we are regenerated, we become a new creature in Christ. That new creature has to grow and we grow as believers and we’re saved from the power of sin.
Not everyone grows. Some people are born [spiritually] and they almost starve to death for lack of nutrition, whether it’s due to their own negative volition or the negative volition of their pastors.
Then Phase Three is glorification, the end game. We need to begin with the end in mind. Glorification means we’re saved from the presence of sin.
The focal point here is how we can experience salvation and deliverance from trials in our present tense spiritual life but that is heavily influenced by an understanding of where we’re headed in the end game.
So we come to this new section. Peter says, “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.” If you just read that in the English you can get some good points out of it, but it’s a bad translation.
We have to rewrite it to understand how to apply it.
1 Peter 1:14–16, “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.’ ”
What we have is four uses of the word “holy” in two short verses. That tells us right away that the target, the linguistic target, the thematic target, that we have in these four verses is to be holy because God is holy and understanding how we do that, the mechanics of how we do that.
How do we do that? It’s very, very practical here. One of the things that’s important in any kind of Bible study or exegesis is to be able to figure out what your main thought is. What we have here, and it’s punctuated fairly well, is that we really have one sentence in these four verses.
We have one sentence but it’s broken into a couple of independent clauses and it also includes a quotation from the Old Testament.
When we look at this we have to figure out what the main thought is. The way I teach pastors to do this is that they have to find the main verb. It looks in the English like “gird up the loins of your mind” is a main verb. That’s an imperative.
In the Greek it’s a participle. It’s an adverbial participle which means it modifies a verb. Although there are imperatival participles, this isn’t one of them, although there’s a lot of debate over that. I don’t think this is one of them at all.
That’s not the main idea. The main verb is expressed as I’ve underlined here in the phrase “rest your hope”. Once we understand that’s the main command here, then we understand that the participles surrounding it are telling us how to rest our hope in something.
That’s where the practicality comes in and that where we can get good guidance from Peter on how we can rest our hope.
So the main thought here is to therefore rest your hope not conforming yourselves to the former lusts but you also be holy for God is holy. That’s what these four verses are about. It’s a challenge to hope in God.
Now how do we hope in God? We hope in God by not being conformed to the former lusts that characterized our thinking and our lives as unbelievers but by being holy and set apart to God. Once you understand that’s the thought, that’s the idea to hope in God, not rest in hope because it’s a much cleaner, more efficient command.
Peter is saying y’all hope in God. Have your confidence in God’s plan for your life. That involves doing two things: don’t conform to your former lusts on the one hand but be holy, live a life set apart to God, on the other hand. Now if you’ve got that, you’ve got what Peter is saying here.
He’s telling us to focus on the future. He’s telling us that when we understand the end game, then we have a confident expectation of where God is taking us through life no matter what trials and tests and difficulties may come up along the way, and we can have confidence that God does know what He’s talking about. He’s omniscient. He does know what He’s doing taking us through these circumstances and situations and He is working out His will in our life.
Let’s start breaking this down a little bit into some of the details. First of all as we look at this we look at the first word and it’s DIO in the Greek, which is not your normal word which is translated therefore or wherefore. Technically it’s called an inferential particle.
What that means is something has been said previously and he is inferring a result which should follow from what has been said before. This is a conjunction that is used to introduce a result clause. The result is living a holy life, serving God, being set apart to Him.
That result is what should flow from understanding what we’ve studied in 1 Peter 1:3 and following. He’s writing to an audience who are primarily Messianic Jews. He is telling them how to live in the midst of these fiery trials that they are going run into.
They’re going to be tested by fire according to 1 Peter 1:7. This conjunction tells us something. As I often say in Bible Study Methods class, when you see a “therefore” you need to see what it’s there for. It’s drawing a conclusion from what’s been said before. So we need to just take a quick review of what has been said previously.
If you have your Bible open, you should just look back to 1 Peter 1:3. We read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I pointed out the word “blessed” means praise, to express praise or thanks to God for certain things that He has done.
What has He done? The first thing he mentions is “that according to His mercy, He regenerated us.” This regeneration gives us an eternal life, but not only an eternal life, but it is a life that is directed toward something that Peter says is a “living hope”, not a dead hope. It’s a living hope.
Have you ever noticed when you read through the Old Testament and to some degree in the New Testament, you’ll see the emphasis on worshipping God who is the living God? Again and again it says God is a living God. That’s in contrast to worshipping idols that are made of wood and stone and metal.
You also have passages like we have seen in Isaiah where you have the people who were seeking guidance from the dead, the necromancers who were going down and trying to speak to the dead and call them up and going through all these various things. They’re looking for hope from the dead but we have hope in a living God.
He is alive and He is actively involved in human history and bringing it to its ultimate conclusion. That is a certain conclusion. It is a living hope. The word “hope” like we’ve seen in the past is a word that means confident expectation.
We use it in English or everyday language when we say, “I hope it rains tomorrow. Crops are dry. Foundations need to be watered. We haven’t had enough rain this spring. I hope we get a really good, soaking rain for the next couple of days.”
We have no idea what we’re going to get. The weather forecast may say it’s an 80% chance of rain but that 80% involves 10% of the people somewhere on the other side of town. When we say we hope it rains, we have no clue whether it will or not. It’s just wishful optimism.
That’s not how the Bible uses the word hope. It uses it as confident expectation, a certainty. It is so certain that it borderlines on the idea of trust. We trust in God to bring about what He says and that’s our hope. Those two words come really close together. I’m making a point out of that because of a verse I’m going to point out in just a minute.
What we see in terms of the “wherefore” His mercy has provided us with regeneration. That regeneration directs us toward a goal, a living hope, an endgame that we need to understand. In fact, this concept of hope is significant all through 1 Peter.
The noun which is used in 1 Peter 1:3 is used two more times in 1 Peter 1:21 which isn’t far from where we are right now. It says, “Who through Him believe in God …” That is through Jesus Christ. “Who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” Notice the close connection between faith and hope. We believe God, therefore it gives us confident expectation so we can live in the midst of the muck and the mire of fiery trials today because we know there’s a reason for it.
Then we get to 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” As I read that verse I wonder how many people have ever asked me because I seem so optimistic and hopeful.
Is your hope in the Lord obvious to the unbeliever around you? Often we talk about the fact that we have the witness of the life and the witness of the lips. A lot of people use the witness of the life to bail out so they don’t have to ever use the witness of the lips.
The witness of the life means that your life tells people that you are hopeful. You’re a cross-eyed optimist, if any of you remember what that song alludes to. Your optimism isn’t just wishful thinking. It’s grounded in that certainty with God.
How many people ask us, “How come you’re so positive? When you look at the bad things that could happen why are you different in the way you respond?” That’s what Peter is talking about.
Then the verbiage is used one more time in 1 Peter 3:5 in the context where Peter is talking about women living in submission to their husbands. He says, “In this way in former times [the Old Testament] the holy women …” These are the women who were living in a set-apart way, according to the standard of God and grace in their marriage. They hoped in God. The New King James Version says they trusted in God. That’s where it blurs the distinction between those two words.
I used the New American Standard Version here and put in the literal translation because the verb there is the same verb we have in 1 Peter 1:13. It’s ELPIZO. So they hoped in God, being submissive to their own husbands.
This is what happens. We’re going back. Why is he saying “therefore”? He’s saying therefore because we have a life that is directed toward this living hope. Also if we look at 1 Peter 1:4 there’s a certainty of a future inheritance for those who pass the test for faith in the test of adversity.
We see that in this focus on hope. For example in 1 Peter 1:6 we understand that there will be a salvation to be revealed in the last time. That’s Phase Three salvation. That’s not talking about justification or sanctification. That’s talking about the end game because we know it’s revealed at the last times, at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Then we see how in verse 6 that we can rejoice in various trials because ultimately we know that our faith is being tested and this is ultimately going to be revealed at the revelation of Jesus Christ at the end of verse 7. Then if you look at 1 Peter 1:11 it talks about the fact that as we realize deliverance in time, this relates to what Christ went through. He suffered at the First Advent and He will have glory at the Second Advent.
We, too, suffer in this life but there will be glory to come. We also see that “therefore” goes back to the fact that we are kept by the power of God through faith for that Phase Three glorification. That is back in verse 5, “Who are kept by the power of God”.
What Peter is saying is that all of these are true and in light of this we are compelled to do something. That’s indicated grammatically. In verses 3–12 there are no imperative moods. They are all indicative moods. The significance of that is that an indicative mood in the Greek is like a declarative sentence in English.
You remember when you were taught the four different kinds of sentences in English. The first one is the most common. It’s a declarative statement, a statement of fact, a statement of reality. At least this is from the speaker’s viewpoint. It may not be reality but from his viewpoint it is reality. That’s the indicative mood.
Paul does this in all of his epistles. Like in the epistle of Ephesians it’s all indicative moods in the first three chapters, then it’s mostly imperative moods after that. He first wants you to understand the realities of who we are in Christ [Ephesians 1–3] and then because that’s true, this is how we’re supposed to live. Then he just starts slamming us with all these imperatives and prohibitions in the last half of Ephesians.
Peter is doing that here. It’s all indicatives in the first twelve verses. This is who we are and what we have in Christ and what our destiny is. And now, this is what you should do about it. We have the imperatives coming up in verses 1 Peter 1:13–16 and then into the rest of this epistle.
The main command is this verb ELPIZO which is translated in the New King James Version as “rest your hope”. In other versions it’s translated “fix your hope”, “rest your hope”, “set your hope”, and “put all your hope”. Basically what it means is a confident expectation. It should be translated, because it’s a second person imperative, “y’all hope” or “y’all have a confident expectation in God’s plan and purpose for your life taking you into glory”.
That’s what he’s saying. The main idea comes after that phrase which we’ll look at in a minute [gird up the loins of your mind and be sober] so the command is rest your hope. It’s not just rest your hope because it’s followed by an adverb, TELEIOS, meaning completely, wholly [not partially in some sort of wimpy, waffling fashion] but completely, totally, fully investing yourself in God’s plan for your life.
If you don’t, you’re not going to realize the benefit of it. You have to fully hope in God’s plan and purpose.
That’s indicated by the next phrase which is translated fairly well, “Upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. That tells you right away that’s a future sense because it has this phrase “at the revelation of Jesus”. That is going to be at the 2nd Advent.
It’s not now. We realize the benefits and the training of the fiery trials only when we are face-to-face with the Lord and we see the production in terms of rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. We won’t understand it until we get there.
Peter says this is the grace that is to be brought to you. It’s grace because we’re delivered from this life. We get a resurrection body. We’re no longer going to be plagued by sin. There’s no longer corruption in the body. We’re going to see Jesus as He is. We’re going to be face-to-face with the Lord and we’re going to be rewarded in terms of our obedience in this life and our spiritual growth and our spiritual advance.
This takes place at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Now this is interesting. This is about the third time in these opening verses that Peter has taken us outside of time into the 2nd Advent and the future. For example in 1 Peter 1:7 he says that this testing of our faith, going through these fiery trials “may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”.
That’s the same phrase. This is when He returns for the church at the Rapture. In 1 Peter 4:13 at the end of this epistle he says, “But to the degree you share the sufferings of Christ [the degree to which you’ve grown and matured], keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” That’s at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
What we have here is a verse that’s translated somewhat awkwardly where the main command is at the end of the verse. We have this phrase as if it’s a command preceding it. That’s the phrase to gird up your minds and be sober. Both of those phrases grammatically are participles.
Participles modify a main verb. It makes much more sense and comes across as very practical advice if we understand how this works.
1 Peter 1:13 should be read like this as a sort of reworking and paraphrasing: “Therefore [in light of everything said in verses 3–12] rest your hope [or y’all hope or have confident expectation] fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” How do I do that?
That’s the question. How do I hope, how do I practically hope? Well, we’re going to get two ways to do this.
They’re expressed through these participles. In the Greek it’s pretty simple. In the Greek you can have a participle that has an article in front of it which we’ll see in the next verse. If it has an article in front of it, it’s probably going to function like a noun so it’s either an adjective or used like a substantive like a noun.
Other times when that participle doesn’t have an article in front of it that tells you that it’s probably being used to modify a verb. It’s telling you something about the verb. So the verb is a command to do something and it’s surrounded by these adverbial participles, then those adverbial participles often tell us how to do the command. Or what we should be doing in fulfilling the command. In other words, they’re participles of means or instrumental participles telling us how to do that.
Like walk by means of the Spirit. That’s an instrumental idea there. The first participle we have is girding up which is a literal translation, girding up the loins of your minds which is obviously a figure of speech. It’s an aorist middle participle. Going back a little bit to our basic command, what do we have? An aorist active imperative.
If your verb is an aorist tense verb and you have an aorist tense participle that’s telling you that the action of the participle either precedes or is at the same time as the action of the verb. It makes it very clear that this is telling us how we are to rest or hope in God.
We hope by girding up the loins of our mind. In other words, if you don’t gird up the loins of your mind you’re not going to ever develop hope. No one’s ever going to say, “Can you explain to me this hope that you have?”
So you have a two-step procedure. Step one you have to gird up the loins of your mind. Well, what in the world does that mean?
This is a time-honored phrase in the Scripture. We find it in a couple of different places in the Old Testament. Elijah is going to go on a little footrace with Ahab. Ahab was king of the Northern Kingdom and he’s just been defeated by Elijah and all the prophets of Baal and the Asherah are all killed up on Mount Carmel. So Ahab heads back to his capital city of Jezreel. Elijah is going to outrun him.
If any of you have ever run you know that you can’t wear a long, flowing robe and expect to get any speed because that robe is going to get in your way. So you have to figure out how to take it off or tie it off so it’s no longer restricting your movement. That’s the idea of girding up your loins. We’ll see an illustration of this in just a minute.
In Job 38 we have the exhortation by God to Job. Job’s been wanting to have a conversation with God about whether or not this suffering that God allowed in his life is really just and fair. So God says basically, “You want to have a conversation, Job? Come on out and gird up your loins [of your mind].” In other words, “Get ready. We’re going to have a conversation but I’m going to be the one to do all the talking.”
The idea of girding up is an idiom for being prepared for some task, getting ready.
Jeremiah 1:17, “Thou therefore gird up thy loins and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee.” God is speaking and He’s telling Jeremiah to get ready. These phrases are translated idiomatically in various translations as “Tuck in your robes” [a more literal translation] or “Get ready” or “Get prepared.”
We have a New Testament example in Ephesians 6:14 where we’re told, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.” Now if you know the context which I didn’t want to get into there, it’s describing the panoply of God. A great word and the next time we sing it in a hymn you’ll know that “panoply” means the full armor of God. It talks about the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, and it talks about the sword of the Spirit, the shield of faith, and the belt of truth.”
On this slide we see a picture of the Roman belt. The Roman belt was the anchor for everything else because the breastplate tied off and hooked to the belt to keep it in place. You hung your sword from the belt and the belt was how you would tie it off so it wouldn’t get in your way. You would hang some other things from your belt so you’d all be prepared.
The belt in the analogy of the armor is truth. Truth is the Word of God. Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in truth. Thy Word is truth.” Truth is what binds and hold everything together. Without truth you don’t have anything.
In the ancient world you have a situation where you have to gird up your loins. I ran across this on the Internet today, just trying to find if there was a good illustration to see if this would work. In the first panel you have your ancient Israelite standing there wearing his full length robe and tunic and it wouldn’t do to go out in the fields and work with that long robe on. It would get in the way. You couldn’t fight any battles. You’d have to gird your loins.
In the second panel, the first thing you would do is pull the tunic up until all the fabric is above your knees. That’s going to get rid of the distractions. Then you pull it all forward so it all bunches together. In the next panel you take it down, run it back between your knees, grab it from behind and pull it up so it’s tight. It’s no longer loose so it could get in the way. You pull each side up [in the second panel on slide 20], pull it up and tie it off so it is secure. That is how they would gird up their loins. Now you have a much better understanding of what this means.
This becomes the image and basically has the idea of removing anything that is a hindrance to your endeavor. If your endeavor is to go work in the fields you don’t want to constantly be bending over to pull out the weeds or to plant and to trip over the robe and fall down. You’ve got to get it out of the way. It’s real simple.
The trouble is in the spiritual life there are all kinds of things that get in our way. And we love them too much! We don’t want to get rid of those distractions.
The same thing happens in combat. You don’t want to go in to combat where you might have to run and you need to have a high degree of maneuverability and have your robes keep getting in your way so you can trip over them. All kinds of terrible things could happen including losing your life. This is the idea in girding up your loins.
If you were a football player this would mean you’re going to go put on your pads and uniform and your helmet and you’re going to make sure you have those right kind of Nike shoes or Puma shoes or whatever you’re going to wear so everything’s going to be right. You’ve got the slickest, tightest, whatever you’re going to wear for your pants and jersey so that you are going to be able to play to your maximum ability.
If you’re in track you’re going to get one of those really great suits they make now that almost make you run faster because of the way they let the wind slip around you. That’s the idea. A soldier in the ancient world is going to put on his armor, his shield, and his helmet. He’s going to get ready.
Spiritually we have another image of this in Hebrews 12:1–2. The writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore we also [that is we as believers] because we’re surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [these witnesses from the Old Testament who have gone before us] let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us …” We all know what those sins are in our lives.
Too often we make excuses for them and rationalize them. The writer of Hebrews is saying we have to completely cut out the situations and circumstances that give rise to that.
“Lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” That’s the same idea, girding up your loins. We do that how in Hebrews? Verse 2, “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him …” That’s a problem-solving device, inner happiness, and the joy of a job well done. The joy of rejoicing at the Judgment Seat of Christ for us.
“He [Christ] endured the cross …” The Cross wasn’t joyful. He was miserable the night before He went to the Cross in anticipation of the Cross. But there was something greater. There was the joy of accomplishing what God intended and that’s what He focused on and that’s what we’re to focus on, the end game which is the Judgment Seat of Christ.
So Jesus endured the Cross, despising the shame and then He’s glorified. He sits down at the right hand of the Throne of God. That’s the idea that Peter is presenting. We suffer now. We endure it. We focus on the end game for the glory that will be ours and the Lord for all eternity.
In 1 Peter 1:13 Peter says that y’all are able to have hope by girding up the loins of your mind. He mixes up his metaphors there a little bit. You have to get rid of all those mental distractions. This calls for mental attitude dynamics. You have to learn to think correctly and to discipline your mind to keep from thinking the thoughts you shouldn’t be thinking. You should be focusing only on what you should be focusing on.
The word for “mind” is the Greek word DIANOIA. DIA is the preposition and NOIA comes from the Greek word for mind, NOUS. It has the idea of girding up the thoughts of your mind, your thinking, your thought process, your intellectual ability, or your understanding of those things.
We see this emphasis in Scripture that the spiritual life is not a life of emotion. The other day someone sent me a link to Facebook. If you know what the Onion is on the Internet which is sort of a sarcastic approach to different contemporary issues. This was a tongue-in-cheek sarcastic approach about this contemporary church. It went through worship “collapse” on Sunday morning because one of their ten fog machines that they used during prayer time so everyone will feel closer to God broke down. Okay? See that’s contemporary spirituality which is about emotion and feeling.
I’ve heard of churches where when it’s time to pray the music goes real soft. You have a certain kind of music. The lights dim and sometimes they use these fog machines. They really do. They’re manipulating emotions because emotion is how you evaluate how to worship, in their minds.
In Scripture, the spiritual life is a life of thought. It’s a life of thinking, intellectual activity. It’s not a life of emotion. The word mind is used positively in Scripture. In Matthew 23:37 Jesus is quoting from Deuteronomy. “You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your emotions.” Right? No, “with all your mind,” your thinking.
Heart isn’t emotion here. These terms heart, soul, and mind are used synonymously for everything inside you. It’s controlled by your thinking.
2 Peter 3:1, “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder),” Notice he doesn’t say he’s stirring up your emotions. He’s stirring up the mind. I want you to think about this.
It’s used negatively in passages like Luke 1:51 talking about “the proud in the imagination of their hearts.” In Ephesians 4:18 believers have their understanding darkened. In Colossians 1:21 Paul says that in their unbelieving state they were alienated and enemies in their thinking to God, but now they have been reconciled.
We see critical passages like Romans 12:2–3, “Do not be conformed to this world [same word used in 1 Peter 1:14] but be transformed by the renewing of your mind [not the renewing of your emotions] that you may prove [or demonstrate] what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Paul goes on to say, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think [different word for thinking but a synonym] of himself more highly than he ought to think …” Notice he doesn’t say not to feel about yourself more highly than you ought to feel. That’s how our idiom is now. God doesn’t care how people feel. He wants to know how they think.
Then we have to think soberly which is a synonym we’re going to see in a moment here. This is the word SOPHRONEO which means to think objectively. It’s not talking the absence of alcohol. It’s talking about the fact that when a person is under the influence of alcohol they don’t think as clearly. So the idea here isn’t the exclusion of alcohol. It’s clear thinking, objective thinking, wise thinking.
2 Corinthians 10:5, we’re to “Cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Christianity is about thinking.
Romans 8:5–7. We’re carnally minded or we’re spiritually minded. The word “minded” there comes from the verb PHRONEO, which means to think.
We’re to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. That’s the content of our mind or our thinking in Ephesians 4:23.
So in 1 Peter 1:13 we’re told that we’re to have a confident expectation upon the grace that is to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ by first of all, girding up the loins of our mind [being prepared mentally]. How do you get prepared mentally? You get prepared mentally by studying the Word of God.
How often do I have to study the Word of God? Well, let’s see. 24/7 and that’s not enough. We have such a low level of expectation among evangelical Christians. We think someone is doing really well if they’re twenty years old and they can recite all 66 books of the Bible and if they can give us three salvation verses.
How about having whole chapters memorized like John 3 or Romans 8 or Ephesians 1 or Ephesians 2 or 5 or Galatians 5 or half of Galatians 2? We should have these things memorized. We should have whole books of the Bible memorized. Lots of times when you get past a certain age it’s a lot harder.
This is one of the things that you should be drilling into little kids. By the time they learn to read they should have half the New Testament memorized. They can do it. There’s nothing else in those little minds. Let them soak up the Word of God. Challenge them. They can do it.
We do this by girding up the loins of our mind and by thinking objectively. That’s the result of getting rid of the distractions in your thinking. Have clear, self-controlled thinking.
Now in 1 Peter 1:14 Peter is going to add to that, “As obedient children …” We’re all in the family of God now. As children we should be obedient to our Father. What does that mean? Negatively it means we’re not to conform ourselves to the former lusts. We’re not to be put into the mold [SUSCHEMATIZO] and again, it’s an instrumental participle. The question here is how do we hope.
We hope by not conforming ourselves to former lusts. If you’re letting lusts, any of the different categories of lust, sexual lust, approbation lust, power lust, or whether it’s some kind of chemical lust or monetary lust, any of the different kinds of lust, control you, that is what’s motivating your life. You’re never going to be able to rest your hope in God. You’re never going to be able to hope in God because you’ve got a major distraction. You’re wearing three or four robes and you’re just tripping all over yourself day-in-and-day-out and you’re never going to get anywhere in the race that is set before us.
How do we do it? We’ve got to not conform our thinking to the former lusts, as in your ignorance. Notice that ignorance is contrasted to thinking. Knowing something. We have to know the Word of God. Ignorance is the opposite. That’s the same word that is used, by the way, in Romans 12:2, not to be conformed to this world, to be pressed into the mold of this world.
We need to look differently, act differently, and think differently. Corporate America is forcing its employees to think like pagans. That goes back to my opening bad news. That is what’s happening. It’s happened for fifty years or more but it’s really bad now. If you want to hold fast to the absolutes of Scripture, if you’re down in the Bible belt, you’re fortunate.
Georgia is in the Bible belt. North Carolina is in the Bible belt, or South Carolina. I don’t know what belt that’s in. Grain belt or something. These other places are where there should be biblical truth. Charlotte, North Carolina passed a bathroom bill, the home of Billy Graham and Franklin Graham. Let’s put that into perspective a little bit. There’s some truth there. Southeastern Seminary is there founded by Norm Geisler. Okay? This is a major problem.
Peter also talks about this in 1 Peter 2:11–12, “… abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”
In 1 Peter 4:2–3 he says, “That we should no longer live the rest of the time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” He talks about our former life when we “walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.”
What characterizes the believer in the Church Age is going to be completely different from the unbeliever.
Now I’ll tell you a quick story. The first church I ever candidated in got this all wrong. This was over in the heart of Cajun Louisiana. Opelousas, Louisiana, the home of Jim Bowie. I got invited to come over there and candidate for this church. I think the first question was on my philosophy of ministry. The second question was would I preach against smoking, drinking, and dancing.
These people were all saved out of an intensely hypocritical Roman Catholic culture. Now I’m not saying all Roman Catholics are that way. They so badly wanted to distinguish themselves from the hypocritical Roman Catholics who were not living any differently from the world that they had slipped into this superficial legalism. They didn’t want anyone who was a Christian going to their church to do anything a Roman Catholic did. You had to be different.
This is not a superficial command here but we should think differently so we’ll live differently.
Then we get to the thrust of this opening section where Peter says the real issue is to be different. That’s what it means to be holy, not necessarily to be morally pure and perfectly righteous. 1 Peter 1:15, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”
Now the word holy, the Greek word HAGIOS, is based on the Hebrew word qadosh and it means to be separated unto God when it’s applied to us. When it’s applied to God it has the idea of being distinct and unique.
It’s the Creator/creature distinction. God is distinct and unique from everything He created. We are to live unto Him. It doesn’t have the idea of moral purity because the masculine and feminine forms of that word applied to the priests in the fertility cults who were basically cultic prostitutes. There’s nothing morally pure or ethically pure about that. But they were set apart to the service of their God. That’s the idea.
What Peter is saying to paraphrase it is like this. “But as to He who called you is distinct and set apart from His creation, you also be set apart in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be distinct and set apart, because I am set apart’.”
I think that will give you a little different slant on what it means to be holy. So how do we achieve the holy life as we close? I think we need to think as God thinks. We need to align our thinking with the Creator God of the universe who is distinct from His creation.
Again and again and again, this is what sets God apart in the Old Testament. He’s a living God. He’s not a God of metal, stone, and wood. We need to think like He thinks.
Second, we need to quit thinking like Satan and the world think. We need to not be conformed to the world. The world is Satan’s system. We need to think like God wants us to think.
The more we go down this toilet of paganism in this country, the more we are going to be at odds with everyone and everything around us. The old life we had where we could live in a comfort zone as a Christian because we had a culture that was still heavily influenced by Christianity is over with.
That realization started in 1963 and it came to fruition last June in that horrible Supreme Court decision that legitimized homosexual marriage. We used to be able to talk about the LGBT community. Now it’s the LGBT-q-q-xyz, I don’t know. I’ve summarized it. One word covers all those alphabets: pervert.
We need to quit thinking like Satan and the world thinks. Finally, we need to focus on the end game. The end game is what gets us through now. We understand that we’re headed somewhere. There’s a purpose and a plan and there is going to be joy and glory at the end. If we fail in the meantime, there won’t be much joy and glory at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things and be challenged by Your Word. To recognize that we have a vital role to play in the angelic conflict, witnesses in a pagan culture. We are to live in a way that distinguishes us from the pagans around us. We live differently because we think differently. We think differently because we are different at the core of our being.
Father, we pray that we would have the spiritual courage and the spiritual strength to fulfill the mission. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”