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. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:13-16 ESV
As we wait for the revelation of Jesus Christ and the redemption of our bodies, we have a responsibility, a duty. We have been born again to a living hope through faith in Jesus Christ. We have received the Holy Spirit of God as a permanent resident in our lives. He acts as a kind of down-payment or “the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” (Ephesians 1:14 ESV). Paul also says that God has “put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 1:22 ESV). We have been justified, deemed righteous by God, because of the atoning blood of Jesus. We stand before Him, free fr0m any condemnation, and as His adopted children, heirs to the incredible inheritance He has in store for us.
So in the meantime, we are to live like what we are. We have been set apart by God, consecrated for His use. We are “vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory – even us whom he has called” (Romans 9:23-24 ESV). Paul tells us, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7 ESV). In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV). This was the same point Peter was trying to make. While his readers were waiting for their future glorification, they were having to endure suffering and persecution because of their faith. So Peter felt compelled to remind them of who they were and how there were to live. In other words, he was calling them to live lives of holiness – as those who had been set apart by God and for God.
Peter calls upon an Old Testament passage to remind his readers of their responsibility. It is found in the book of Leviticus. It reads, “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44 ESV). The Hebrew word translated “consecrate” is the word qadash and it means “to set apart as sacred, consecrate, dedicate” (“Hebrew Lexicon :: H6942 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. http://www.blueletterbible.org). They were to live as who they were – those who belonged to God. He had redeemed and rescued them out of slavery. He was leading them to a land of abundance and blessing. They were His people and He was their God. But they were to live their lives in a distinctively different manner than all the nations surrounding them. The passage in Leviticus goes on to say, “You shall not defile yourselves…” (Leviticus 11:44 ESV). Moses used the Hebrew word, tame’ which means “to defile oneself, be defiled” (“Hebrew Lexicon :: H2930 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. http://www.blueletterbible.org). They were to remain qadash (set apart) by not tame’ (defiling) themselves.
So when Peter uses this passage, he is reminding his readers that they are already holy or set apart by God. But their choice of actions can result in their own defilement. That is why Peter wrote, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15 ESV). So Peter told them to prepare their minds for action. Dr. Thomas Constable gives some helpful insight into just what Peter was trying to say. “He said in effect, Now that you have focused your thinking positively you need to roll up your sleeves mentally, pull yourselves together, and adopt some attitudes that will affect your activities” (Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Notes of 1 Peter, 2008 Edition). In other words, their holy standing was to show up in their every conduct. This was going to require that they be “sober-minded” or calm and collected. They would need to be thoughtful and circumspect in their decision-making. They would need to be careful and discerning in their conduct. Peter calls them to live as “obedient children” refusing to go back to living like they used to live. Peter told them, “Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then” (1 Peter 1:14 NLT).
Holy living takes effort. It doesn’t come naturally for us as human beings. Because of the fall, we have been polluted by sin and, even as Christian, we still retain our sin nature. Paul tells us, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions” (Galatians 5:17 NLT). His point is that, if we attempt to live holy lives in our own strength, in our flesh, we will fail. But if we rely upon the Holy Spirit within us, we can live in such a way that our lives reflect the true nature of who we are: children of God. But Peter provides us with one more thing we must do: “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13 ESV). Our current spiritual health is totally reliant on our future hope. If we do not constantly remind ourselves of what God has prepared for us in the future, we will have difficulty understanding or enduring the difficulties that come in this life. Holy living requires that we see ourselves as holy people, set apart by God for His use. We belong to Him. We are His children and our actions and attitudes in this life should reflect our belief that He has promised us a rich inheritance in the next life.