In 1 Peter 1:3-12 we discussed salvation as hope, joy and privilege and in verse 13 we come to a therefore. Peter is now going to tell us what we ought to do, or how we ought to live based on the salvation we have received.
First he tells us that out of obedience we should not conform to our former evil desires but need to live holy lives, because God is holy in His person. In this context what does holy mean? Are we to be perfect? Is he saying, like Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”? Does holiness equate to perfection or sinlessness? If not, what does it mean?
The Greek word here is hagios. The fundamental meaning is different or other than. It connotes sinlessness because in context it says we are to be different from the world just God is different. Just because our religious practices make us different from the rest of the world does this mean we are doing what Peter says we ought? In what ways are we to be different from the world?
Peter then calls us to a life of reverence. Once again the Greek is instructive. You know the word Phobos, it means fear. One of the meanings suggested by Strong is “fleeing because feeling inadequate”. I think this hits the matter directly. It is when we feel adequate to the task of living our lives that we fail, but it is not because of our own efforts, not all of the silver and gold we can amass that we are saved. It is solely because of the adequacy of God’s sacrifice we are saved.
Our salvation should not only lead to lives that are different and lives that reflect the poverty of our circumstances before God, it should lead us to love each other in truth. The two words here are philadelphian, which you all knows means brotherly love, and anupokriton which means without hypocrisy or hidden agenda, unfeigned. How much easer is it to love God, holy and perfect than to love other Christians? (Should you need a perfectly loathsome example you may think of the prospect of loving me in this space.) And as another thought experiment, perhaps we should also consider the possibility we may have a responsibility to be loveable. How easy are we making it for our brothers and sisters to love us? (That’s a big ouch for those of us with a positive love for our curmudgeonly tendencies.)