Living with True Hope
Topic: English Passage: 1 Peter 1:13
[Please excuse the poorer quality of the recording. A transcript is below.]
Obviously, this is a troubled time for our society. We are still not done seeing the effects of a novel coronavirus and of our government’s response to it. And then, we had the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. And now, we have the protests and the riots and the looting and the curfews. And last I checked, those have resulted in 17 deaths. So, there’s a lot going on.
We have people in authority abusing or neglecting their authority. And we have people rebelling against authority. We have God being dishonored in multiple ways.
To some of us, there may be a very direct impact, either emotional or financially, and to others of us, it might be a little more detached as we see other who are affected. We are all experiencing this in different ways and in varying degrees.
I don’t want to make light of what has happened. I’m not trying to minimize any of the sin or any of the difficulties we’re going through. But with regard to the big picture of humanity, I think one of the important lessons here is what we read in 1 Peter 4:12—“Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you.” It doesn’t say, “ignore what’s happening or be indifferent to it.” But it does say, “Don’t be surprised by it.”
Every generation looks back on human history and acts as if we have advanced so much since then. And maybe that’s tied to the evolutionary mindset where things are supposedly getting better over time. That is the opposite of what God has said. Mankind is not getting better. Society is not going to improve on its own.
We might see some kind of advancements in technology or medicine, but left to ourselves, there will be no advancement in the things that ultimately matter for eternity.
You might have heard people say things like, “This is the 21st century. This isn’t supposed to be happening. Why haven’t we grown past this by now?”
Well, as Christians we know the answer. This world has been and will continue to be stained by sin. We live in a fallen creation. And that fall is seen in the natural world, with diseases and death, but it’s more specifically seen in the human sinful heart.
The unregenerate heart pursues its own god, instead of the one, true God. And so, an unregenerate culture will do it as well. In fact, they will celebrate our freedom to do so.
Trying to create some kind of orderly, peaceful, and righteous system in this world is like trying to build a sandcastle along the shore on a windy day with a group of toddlers. You might make something very impressive if all the conditions are right. But eventually, it going to collapse. This world is temporary. It’s passing away.
And we know that the only true instrument for transformation is the gospel of Jesus Christ, when its accepted by those who hear. In some ways, God will use us who are Christians as a form of common grace in our families and our workplaces and our neighborhoods. But we should not be surprised when a culture that rejects the truth of God descends into chaos and disorder.
Nothing we can do on a human level is going to fix or end the problems in our culture. But with the gospel, and with the love of Christ, we can slow the degradation. And maybe, God in His mercy, will bring a reformation. But that’s up to Him. All we are responsible for is the proclamation of the gospel and the living out of that gospel truth.
No earthly city in this world is ever going to look like heaven. Hebrews tells us we are seeking a city that is to come.
Now, what is the closest we can get to a preview of heaven? Where do we find a united gathering of God’s people? ... We find it in the local church. The church isn’t perfect. We all still sin. But a faithful local church should be a taste of heaven.
Over and over again, the message you see in the Old Testament and the New Testament is that God’s people are not to look like the world. We are supposed to be different. We are not of this world.
And so, when the Apostle Peter wrote a letter to a group of Christians experiencing tremendous suffering because of the sin and the opposition in this fallen world, he continually reminded them that this is not their home. The first 12 verses of First Peter focus our attention on heaven, on our eternal inheritance secured for us by God. And then, for the rest of the book, Peter focuses on how our eternal salvation should be expressed as we live in this world.
Verses 1-12 have no commands. It’s all praise focusing us on God. But the rest of the letter is filled with commands which flow out of the promises we have in Jesus Christ and which highlight our distinction from the world.
We are going to be looking at two of those distinctions today. So, let me read the passage first, then I’ll tell you what those distinctions are, then we’ll talk about them a little more.
Today, we are looking at 1 Peter chapter 1, verses 13-16. Here’s what it says—13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
The opening word, there, as you just heard, is “therefore,” which means that what Peter is about to say flows out of what he’s just finished saying. And again, the previous verses were talking about the glorious blessing of our salvation.
So, since we have been chosen by God for an eternal inheritance, what should our lives look like in contrast to the world? We’re going to look at two answers to that today, and I think it would be a big benefit for us to meditate on these principles this week. They’re probably not going to be anything new, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important.
In light of our salvation, here’s what God is calling us to. Number one, you need to have a life of hope. And, number two, you need to have a life of holiness. Those are two major and foundational impacts Jesus Christ makes in our lives. He gives us a life of hope and a life of holiness, and He calls us to dedicate ourselves to it.
Let’s look a little more at the first calling: a life of hope. This is what we see in verse 13. Let me read it again—Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I see two lessons there that we can extract about hope. And these are going to be our subpoints under our first heading of hope. Hope-lesson number one is this: Hope is a mental focus on the objective truth of Jesus Christ. Hope is a mental focus on the objective truth of Jesus Christ.
At the beginning of the verse, ESV talks about preparing our minds for action. Literally there, the expression Peter used says, “having girded the loins of your mind.” That’s an expression going back to the time when everyone basically wore a skirt.
Both men and women wore long robes which were cinched at the waist. Well, if you were getting ready for some kind of intense work or physical act, you would gather up all the loose ends of that robe and wrap it up against your loins or your hips. It would all get tucked into your belt, and then you could go work in the field or fight in a battle or whatever. “Girding up your loins” was a symbol of preparedness.
In this case, though, Peter is talking about a figurative girding. “Gird up the loins of your mind.” In other words, “be mentally prepared.” And remember, this is going to be connected to what he’s about to say about hope. And so, it tells us that hope is a mental focus. It’s a mental discipline.
I don’t mean what I’m about to say to sound insensitive, but I think this is a fair extension of what Peter is saying: A lack of hope exposes a weak or a lazy or an untrained mind. Hope is a mental discipline.
Whenever sports come back, you watch any professional player when the game is on the line. It doesn’t matter is they’re taking a free throw or a penalty kick, or stepping into the batter’s box or onto the pitcher’s mound. They can’t afford not have their mind on the game. If they’re not focused, it could cost them the game, or they end up on the blooper reel.
As soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can’t afford to look back all the time and say, “Well, my minds wasn’t really into it.” We need to be mentally prepared for this battle and that includes having a life of hope. So, in the context of hope, the Holy Spirit says, “Get your mind right. Be mentally prepared.”
Now, connected to that, Peter then talks about being sober-minded. We usually talk about being sober as the opposite of being drunk or under the influence of something. And that’s true. But being sober-minded is more than just not being high or drunk; it means you’re thinking clearly about things. You’ve got your priorities straight. You are less focused on your feelings or your desires—which are subjective—and you are more focused on that which is objective—the stuff that isn’t going to change.
Well, in light of hope, and in light of the salvation Peter has been talking about, I think this is a call to think objectively about the saving truth of Jesus Christ. This pain, this difficulty, is temporary. But our heavenly inheritance is eternal. Look around at this world for a moment, but then look up at all that we have been given in Christ. Ephesians says, “we have been seated in the heavenly places.”
I think one of the defining characteristics of immaturity is the inability to be sober-minded. Immature people don’t think clearly because they’re driven by their feelings. They can’t step back and see the big picture.
To a five-year-old, for example, it doesn’t matter that he’s got a bucket of French fries sitting in front of him with more than he can eat. He’s going to have a fit as soon as his little brother, who doesn’t have any fries, grabs one tiny fry. And there are many more examples that could be given.
Immature people don’t think clearly. They blow things out of proportion. They emphasize the little things and they minimize the big things. They don’t understand the big picture. They are not sober-minded. And in the moments where that is you or I, we are drifting away from biblical hope. Biblical hope is a mental focus on the objective truth of Jesus Christ.
He died for our sins. He rose from the dead. He has wiped our spiritual record absolutely clean. After He resurrected, He ascended to the Father where He reigns over the universe. And He will take us to Himself one day, and He will come to the earth to deal out perfect and eternal justice.
This is Jesus Christ. He is the only Savior. And if you don’t know Him, God is calling you today to surrender your life to Him, to call out to Him in prayer for forgiveness and mercy.
And whether you have done that or not, God is calling all of us to make a bigger deal about what Jesus has done and will do in this world, than about whatever else anybody is doing right now.
Again, I don’t want to minimize the pain and the frustration of all that this world includes. But, for the sake of experiencing biblical hope, I’m asking you to put it all in perspective. As Peter says, “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
All the sin you see in this world—whether it’s the sin of a police officer or a governor or a mayor or protester—all that sin is the result of a misplaced hope. They all think that what they are doing is going to solve this world’s problems. They all feel justified in doing what they’re doing. That’s how this world operates.
But rather than rush to judgment about the world’s false hopes, we need to recognize that we have false hopes too or minimized hopes. We are tempted every day to put our hope is things that are either sinful or secondary.
We hope in retirement. We hope in a doctor or in our medication. We hope in our grandchildren. We hope for 5 o’clock when we can clock-out. We hope in a promotion. We hope for our next vacation. We hope for our kids’ bedtime. We hope for some movie to come out.
Those things may not be inherently sinful, but they cannot be our final hope. We can’t be living for that. We’re not supposed to fall apart or lash out in anger when those things get delayed or cancelled. We are called as Christians to live for something greater. We are not of this world, and our hope is not in this world.
Let me give you a second principle about hope. Number 1, I said that hope is a mental focus on the objective truth of Jesus Christ. Hope-lesson number 2 is this: Hope is a present focus on the future grace of Jesus Christ. Hope is a present focus on the future grace of Jesus Christ.
Biblical hope is not a lightning bolt that suddenly zaps you. It’s not a ray of sunlight that serendipitously breaks through the clouds. Biblical hope is not a coincidence. Like I said, it takes mental focus, mental effort. And your mind is like a spotlight. It has to be pointed somewhere. It has to be focused on something. It has to be fought for.
So, where should our minds be focused? What should our hope be set on? Verse 13 says, it should be set on grace. If we want present hope, then we need to be setting our eyes on grace. But, Peter says, that specific grace to focus on here is not here yet. It affects our life now, but it’s a future grace. It’s a grace that is being brought to us.
It’s like your fresh-made carne asada taco or hamburger after the order has been placed and paid for. You can smell it. Your mouth is watering. Your stomach is grumbling, and there’s no food in front of you. But it’s coming. It’s on the way. It’s being made especially for you and it’s already paid for.
That’s the future grace Peter is talking about. Verse 13 ends by saying it is a special grace that will finally be ours at the revelation, or manifestation, of Jesus Christ.
When is that? That’s not talking about death. When you die, you will be free from the pain of this life, and you will see Christ. But that’s not the fullness of our inheritance. Peter is looking beyond that. In fact, even the saints who have gone to be with Christ keep looking forward to something. And that is the day Jesus Christ is manifested to the entire world.
It is the day of Christ’s victory over all the sin and the evil and the injustice of this world. If you want a passage to read or study this week, go to Revelation 19. That’s at the end of the Great Tribulation, when this world system is at its worst and most rebellious. Jesus Christ makes Himself known, and He rescues His people and rejoices with them in the Kingdom, and He overthrows in judgment everyone who rebels against Him.
First Corinthians 1:7 reminds us that Christians are those who eagerly wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Second Thessalonians 1:6-7 says that the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire. And when that happens, He will repay with affliction those who afflict us, and He will grant relief to us who are afflicted. The Son of God will bring His perfect vengeance and His perfect peace.
Back in verse 7 of First Peter 1, we were told that that the revelation of Christ will be for us a day of praise and glory and honor. Chapter 4, verse 13 says it will be a day of rejoicing with exultation.
God invites you to focus on His truth and to have a life of hope. Colossians 3 says that when Christ who is our life appears in this world, we also will appear with Him in glory.
Calling us out of this world, now Jesus calls us to have a life of hope. His second calling on our lives is to have a life of holiness. And those two callings are very closely related. But we’ll look at that next time in verse 14-16.
Would you join me in prayer?
Father, we ask that You would be gracious to us and to our nation. We ask for physical protection and sustaining, and we ask for the grace of order and righteousness. What we are seeing now are very clear evidences of a culture that is turned away from you.
But rather than condemn, we ask that you give us the grace, first of all to see our own sin. We have been forgiven in Christ and yet we all live in a body of death. We are still trapped in a fleshly body. And we are still lovers of self, greedy, and prone to place our hope in something other than Christ.
Would you give us the grace to look out into this world, not with eyes of judgmentalism or unrighteous anger, but with broken and loving hearts.
Broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are on that road. That was the road that we were on, and you rescued us. We ask that you do the same for the people in our nation and in our communities—whether they be people in authority, like the president or the governors or the police officers, or people from every other walk of life.
We know that the only true source of real transformation is the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek. In Christ, our cultural differences are no longer barriers but reasons to celebrate as we know you more and showcase Your manifold wisdom and grace.
Use us Lord, to speak up about the hope that we have. Give us the mental discipline we need to focus on the future grace and not the present trials. And may our visible hope open doors for us to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Father, we ask that you bring a reformation in our nation and in the world. You are a patient God. You take no pleasure in the wicked but wish for all to come to repentance. May that be our desire too.
And if in Your wisdom, you decide to allow our nation to continue descending into chaos and disorder, we pray You would give us the grace and the strength to continue standing for the truth. And we pray that our Lord Jesus would come soon. It is in His name that we ask these things. Amen.