Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I Am holy."
1 Peter 1:13-16
I am excited to begin a Bible study in 1st and 2nd Peter this year. I feel we have much to learn from this man who was called by Jesus to be one of the twelve disciples. He walked and talked with Him daily. He did life with Him on this earth. He was there in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was an eyewitness and participant of the last supper, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. He spoke with the resurrected Christ and saw Him ascend into heaven after giving them instruction not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there to receive the Holy Spirit. We know all of this was fulfilled in the first chapter of the book of Acts. Looking at the timeline, 1 Peter was written thirty years later in 63 AD and 2 Peter was written in 66 AD, the year before Peter was martyred and Paul. Obviously, Peter has earned the right to be heard.
I want to encourage you to do Bible studies on your own. You don’t have to be in a group. In fact I think you would benefit greatly to strive to study your Bible one on one allowing the Holy Spirit and His Word to be your teacher. We are encouraged not to remain as babes desiring only the milk of the Word, but to grow up into maturity desiring the meat of the Word. We all need discipling when we are new believers, but we are not to remain in that state, but commanded to go and make disciples.
We do not allow our children to continue to be nursed and spoon fed as toddlers. They are taught to feed themselves. How abhorred we would be to see mothers still nursing and spoon feeding ten year olds! Yet, we seem to be missing this elementary teaching in the organized church. Please study your Bible one on one with your Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God. It will be the best Bible study you will ever attend!
The church was in a state of upheaval and great persecution. It greatly resembles what our nation is quickly becoming. Peter gives us great instruction in the few verses we are focusing on this week. How do you prepare your minds for action? They filled their minds with the teaching of Jesus. We must do the same.
When I was a young believer I read an enormous amount of books by great Christian authors. But as I have matured and gotten older I find myself satisfied with nothing less than the Word of God itself. I do believe the Bible is not just another great history book, but the Words within are alive, sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing, as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:11-12)
No other book or author has that power. I know this to be true. I have lived it for the past 46 years. I don’t allow myself to indulge in philosophical conversations as I did in my younger years, because as I got older I saw the futility of it spiritually. It only distracted me from the Word of God. It never strengthened my faith, or had the power to reveal who God was to me. Only His Words can do that. I have never found any source other than the Bible that has the power to transform me to become more like Christ.
As I allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the hidden truths in God’s Word I am set free from the hidden chains that bind me from within. I believe this was true of the disciples of Christ then and now, and is why we receive these instructions from Peter.
We are to keep sober in spirit. Again, I know no better way to do so, than staying in the Word of God and communion with the Holy Spirit. In order to do this we have to weed out of our lives the things that feed our flesh instead of our Spirit. We know our flesh wars against our spirit man. We cannot have it both ways. Most professing Chrisitians do not believe this. That is because they don’t read their Bibles. The American Church is ignorant of God’s Word, because most churches are meeting social needs rather than spiritual needs. The Word of God plays a very small role in our busyness of works without a personal relationship with our God. We tend to feed off each other, seeking one another’s approval rather than God Himself. Most are sincerely deceived, because they do not know enough of the truth to counter the lies of the enemy. He comes as an angel of light; not a little red man with a pitch fork. We are told the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. Most of us are totally unarmed in the spiritual battle we don’t even recognize we are in. We must wake up!
Our hope is to be fixed completely on the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. It isn’t our works that save us, it is knowing the truth of the finished work of Christ. You will never know that, or what it means, unless you seek truth with all your heart from God’s Word alone with Him. Then when you assemble together, as we are told to do, there will be more light among you than darkness. Rather than the blind leading the blind, being seduced with lies and deception leading into hell. Yes, hell! Hell is as real as heaven. You will also find that truth in God’s Word.
Peter tells us we must be obedient children, and warns us not to return to our former lust when we were ignorant of the truth of God’s way trapped in our own desires and pleasures satisfying our carnal nature. Now is not the time to fall back into life patterns God has delivered us out of. We must deny our flesh. We cannot serve God and ourselves. One or the other must be your God. It is moment by moment choices we make daily.
If I do not feed myself more with the Bread of Life than my stomach, my stomach will rule. Obesity is the largest killer of life in America. It isn’t all the other diseases we tend to focus on. It is allowing our god to be our bellies. Phillipians 3:18-19 declares to us:
"For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things."
We are called to be holy in all our behavior like the Holy One who has called us. Our obsession with food is just one example. Being involved in the health and fitness industry for years I observe this up close and personally. This can also mean being so obsessed with eating healthy, it consumes our thoughts more than the spiritual promises we should be relying on.
It is written, "You shall be holy, for I Am holy."
Friends, this commandment is for our good. God is a God of love. He is love. He loves us as no other can. If you read His Word you will know that. He proved His love for you as no other. Until you allow the One who created you to love you, you will never experience what you were created to become for Him — To know His love for you personally; and then to love and be loved. Your response will be to love Him with all your heart, mind, body, soul, and strength. It will be voluntary. He will not force Himself on anyone. He believes in freedom. There is no tyranny with this King! He gave everyone a free will to choose or reject His love for His creation. You weren’t an accident. You were designed and created by God Himself. There is no one like you. No one can take your place in His heart. Yes, He loves you specifically. This is true for all of us.
I pray you will prioritize a Bible study for yourself this year. Learn the truth about life here on this earth and eternally. We know there has to be something bigger than ourselves deep down inside each one of us. If not, there is no hope. There is no lasting reason for existing.
The Bible has not expired and never will. Every other philosophy will come and go, but not the truths hidden in the Word of God. There is no more fascinating book you can read intellectually or historically. The difference is with the Bible you must pray for revelation of truth to be revealed to you by the Holy Spirit who promises to lead us into all truth. (John 16:13) You can’t treat it as just another academic book. It isn’t. It must be spiritually discerned. It will be if you humble yourself, and ask for truth with a sincere heart. Let us all take to heart the words of Peter who left us an honest, transparent life of triumph and failures, but in the end he finished victoriously, loving not his life more than Jesus, offering himself as he had watched his Savior do for him. O that we might all follow him to glory with our Lord and Savior who alone is worthy of all glory, honor, power, and praise!
In His love.
A fun bike ride with my biking buddies at Salem Lake in Winston-Salem, NC this week after an abundance of rain!