The Future inheritance as an Incentive to Holiness (1 Peter 1:13-21)

by FBCMagnolia

  1. The Future inheritance as an Incentive to Holiness (1:13-21)
    1. Setting One’s Hope on the Inheritance (1:13-16)
    2. A Call to Fear (1:17-21)

Last week we learned that because of our future inheritance we can now go through trials with joy and hope.  This week we will learn that because of that same inheritance we now have an incentive to be holy.  Meaning that we will through sanctification become more like Christ because since we have been adopted into God’s family through the sacrifice of Jesus and our repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus as our Lord, Savior, and Treasure, we will start to resemble our heavenly father, just like how many of us in some way resemble our earthly father.

We all that have been blessed with a good earthly father will in some ways reflect not only their physical appearance, but also their personality, humor, and quirks.  Have you ever been embarrassed by your dads humor, mostly because you hear it over and over again in your house.  It is like he only has three jokes.  But then almost instinctively you find yourself doing the same thing.  Another example is my coaching baseball.  The stuff that comes out of my mouth most of the time that is from instincts, I heard first come out of my dad’s mouth.  I fought this for a little while until I realized that it was almost always good advice, so I might as well, just keep it.

This is what Peter is appealing to in this passage.  He is telling us that if we are truly the children of God then we will act like it.  Not, out of purely our own will, but because it will come to us instinctively because of how much time we should be spending time with him through the Holy Spirit.

There are three commands that we should be aware of in this passage.

Setting One’s Hope on the Inheritance (1:13-16)

First is in verse 13, God has given them an unshakable hope in Jesus Christ, and so they are to fix their hope completely on what Christ has done for them.  Hope will not become a reality without disciplined thinking.  Just like in sports or in playing of an instrument.  The more you think about something or study it the better you become at it.  Thinking in a new way does not happen automatically; it requires effort, concentration, and intentionality.  So a Christian athlete or band member does not focus on his skill for his glory any longer, but seeks out ways to better his skill in order to glorify God in his life.  This passage tells us to be self-controlled here it means to be sober-minded.  What happens to an outfielder that starts to day dream and gets distracted by what is going on in the stands?  He is more prone to error, right?  So when the Christian is lulled into drowsiness, they lose sight of Christ’s future revelation of himself and concentrate only on fulfilling their earthly desires.

Second command that we have in this passage comes in verses 14-16, Peter summons the readers to holiness, and this means that they will not succumb to the desires that drove them before.  The Christian life is not passive.  Ungodly desires still beckon believers and tempt them to depart from God.  They must refuse such desires and choose what is good.  They are to do God’s will just as obedient children obey their parents.  God’s people are to live holy and pleasing lives because God is holy and good.

We are now to live different lives as God’s pilgrim people, conforming their lives to God’s very character.  Just like how someone people are like their earthly father, all Christians will be like their heavenly father.  We are God’s children, and as his children they are to obey him.  We have already seen in 1:2 that obedience is necessary for conversion and cannot ultimately be separated from faith, though it flows from faith.  Peter had no conception of the Christian life in which believers give mere mental agreement to doctrines.

A Call to Fear (1:17-21)

Third, in verses 17-19, believers are to live in fear.  The one they invoke as father is also their judge, who will assess their lives, and their eternal destiny according to their behavior.  Fear is also fitting because they have been redeemed by Christ’s precious blood, and his atoning work was destined by God for their benefit before history began.  In the meantime, their lives are to be characterized by faith and hope, trusting his promises while they endure sufferings in the present age.  (Schreiner, 2003)

Now at first this passage can be confusing because living a life of terror certainly does not fit with the joy and boldness of the Christian life.  Peter contemplated the final judgment, where believers will be assessed by their works and heaven and hell will be at stake.  There is a kind of fear that does not contradict confidence before our heavenly father.

A confident driver also possesses a healthy fear of an accident that prevents him from doing anything foolish.  A genuine fear of judgment hinders believers from giving into the temptation of license.

So in summary the commands we get in this passage is 1. To hope (v. 13), 2. Be holy (v. 15), and to live in fear (v.17).  Verse 21 closes this passage of scripture by reminding us that the holy life to which we are called is a life in which we are trusting in God’s promises.  Peter was not a moralist who proclaimed a message of works and the benefits of virtues for their own sake.  A life of holiness is one in which God is prized above all things, in which believers trust and hope in his goodness.