How Then Shall We Live? (Part 3)
Have you chosen to live a Godly life as demonstrated by love for one-another?
We are in the process of examining the subject of what it takes to live for God from 1 Peter 1:13-25. We saw in part one of this devotional series that Peter was writing to people who were undergoing great persecution. Their needs were many and their pain was great. Yet, the gospel message spread throughout the then-known world. Even today, the gospel spreads when people are persecuted. The only way these people could withstand the persecution was to be keep their focus on God. Peter wrote that Godly living involves:
- Living a New Life
The question we considered in part two of this series was, “What is the motivation for becoming totally devoted to God?” We saw that Christ must be our motivation to live the new life. Peter provided three critical aspects regarding our redemption in Christ.
- Believers are to call on the Father
- Believers will be judged by the Father
- Believers must recognize the cost of redemption
Now we want to examine the result of living a life of faith, obedience, and holiness brought about because of our redemption in Christ. Living a Godly life results in conformity to love. Peter wrote (1 Pet 1:22-25):
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers, And its flower falls away,
But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
Peter makes two critical observations regarding the love we should have for one-another.
Love one another from a pure heart.
This is agape love brought forth by man’s will. This love is based on evaluation and choice; it is a matter of will and action. Agape love is love that seeks the very best from the object of that love without expecting anything in return. The object of the love is to be other people, especially those who are also seeking to live Godly lives. Therefore, it is a mutual love, i.e. we are to love one another. The love should emanate from the heart with all fervency. This kind of love should be expressed in its fullest capacity. It has four aspects:
- Love comes from a purified soul. Love is neither ceremonial nor external; it is moral. The souls of believers have been purified. A purified life allows one to love purely those who share the same faith.
- Love comes from obeying the truth. Obeying the truth is not the means of purification, but it does relate to the human attitude that allows the Spirit to purify. It is not the obedience of works; rather it is the obedience of faith. As trials refine faith, so obedience to God’s Word refines character. One who has purified himself by living according to God’s Word has discovered the joy of obedience.
- Love involves the sincere love of the brethren. Our love must be without hypocrisy. The Greek word used here is philadelphia; this is a word used only of love between believers in the New Testament. It is produced in the heart by the purification. Agape love can come only from a changed heart, from one whose motives are pure, and who seeks to give more than he takes. Thus, because of philadelphia, the love of the brethren, believers should have agape love.
- True Christian love involves being born again through the Word of God. All people were born the first time with corruptible seed—the seed of Adam. This seed of natural life is subject to decay and death, i.e. it is natural, human degeneration. Through the rebirth, believers were born the second time with the incorruptible seed which is the Word (logos) of God. The Word of God is not subject to decay and death; it cannot fade away; it cannot become degenerate. The Word of God is living and it abides forever. It is relevant for all time (even though people of our age want to change it fit the culture). Because believers are regenerated by the word of God, they are fully capable to love one-another.
We often underestimate the power we have to make people feel important and to feel cared for. Tolstoy, the great Russian writer, was passing along a street one day when a beggar stopped him and pleaded for alms. Tolstoy searched through his pockets for a coin, but finding none he regretfully said, “Please don’t be angry with me, my brother, but I have nothing with me. If I did I would gladly give it to you.” The beggar’s face flamed up, and he said, “You have given me more than I asked for. You have called me brother.” Do you demonstrate you love for the brethren by calling them “brother” or “sister” with compassion?
Love endures forever because the Word of the Lord endures forever.
Peter proclaims that the glory of man is like grass. Grass goes through its natural cycle. It withers, the flower falls off, and it dies. That is exactly what happens to human glory. It is there one moment and then in the next breath, it is gone. However, that is not so with the Word (logos) of God. His word endures forever. This time Peter uses the term rhema rather than logos. Rhema is the spoken word or the proclamation of the gospel (through the spoken word). Consider the logic of what is said (originally by Isaiah—Isa 40:6-8):
- Since, human existence (which includes human glory) is transitory like grass.
- Therefore, all of man’s achievements are transitory.
- However, the word of God is not transitory.
- Therefore, it endures forever.
Through this passage, Peter wants us to know that truth comes from God’s Word. By knowing and obeying God’s word, we can live pure and holy lives. Most importantly, Peter wants us to help others find salvation in God through the proclamation of the gospel message. Peter concludes this section of Scripture with the statement, “Now this is the Word which by the gospel was preached to you.” What is the gospel? In its simplest form the gospel by which we must be saved is Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. Only evangelization of this form leads to regeneration. The acceptance of this message resulted in the regeneration of these Jewish believers, and it does the same for us as well.
We have been given eternal salvation though the shed blood of Jesus. He paid the penalty for our sins. He has given us a new life with a new reason for living. He has fully designed our very purpose for living. I wonder, is this reason enough for me—and for you—to honor Him?
- He asks me to conform to Him…to be like Him. This requires a changed life resulting from my obedience to Him.
- He asks me to separate myself from all that is impure and evil.
- He not only asks but he expects me to pray to Him as God the Father.
- He encourages me to look ahead to the Judgment Seat of Christ (perhaps with some fear and trepidation).
- He asks for my faith and my hope.
- He asks for my love toward Him and those who are of the household of faith.
- He asks me to live as if I really believe as true the Word that was preached to me.
We need to ask ourselves these questions. Do we have reason enough to honor Him? Are we prepared to live our lives for God? Are we willing to love others as God has loved us? Are we willing to change our life-style so that we live in the purity of life God has prepared for us?
Please consider this litter poem as you ponder these questions.
Blame Me Not
You call me Master and obey me not;
You call me Light and see me not;
You call me Way and walk not;
You call me Life and desire me not;
You call me Wise and follow me not;
You call me Fair and love me not;
You call me Rich and ask me not;
You call me Eternal and seek me not;
You call me Gracious and trust me not;
You call me Noble and serve me not;
You call me Mighty and honor me not;
You call me Just and fear me not;
If I condemn you, BLAME ME not!