World English Bible translation
1:13Therefore, prepare your minds for action, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ -- 1:14 as children of obedience, not conforming yourselves according to your former lusts as in your ignorance, 1:15 but just as he who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all of your behavior; 1:16 because it is written, "You shall be holy; for I am holy."
Peter has written to people who were beginning to undergo trials and persecutions. He told them that God was with them and that these trials would result in a testing of their faith. Through the process of testing they would prove to themselves that their faith was genuine and faith is the most important substance in the world. The end of their faith is the salvation of their souls; a salvation so rare that Old Testament prophets and even angels longed to understand it. But Christians are chosen by grace and God is revealing His grace and His mercy to the world through them.
So Peter tells them that now is the time to prepare their minds for action. Now is the time to be ready and sober and to concentrate on the important things that God was revealing. In today's vernacular Peter would be telling them that now is the time to put on "their game face." What is the important thing that Peter tells them to concentrate on? "Set you hope perfectly on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." The inheritance that will be ours when Christ is revealed in the end times is the important goal that Peter tells them to be concentrating on. They are allowed to participate in that grace if their faith proves genuine. If they hold to their faith in trial and persecution, the reward will be theirs.
Peter goes on to tell them that because they are obedient to God, they must turn away from their "former lusts." Because God called them out, they must live to a higher standard. He quotes from the Old Testament; "You shall be holy; for I am holy." Our understanding about God colors everything that we do. The way that we respond to other people and the way that we respond to adversity tells us something about how we think about God. When you are undergoing a time of trial, is the first thing you think about that God must be against you? Or, are you one of those people who only call on God when things get too tough for you to handle on your own? Each of these responses, and we all have them at some time in our Christian life, comes from an inadequate understanding about the nature and character of God.
But Peter's main point is about holiness. Peter writes that if we understand God it will affect our own personal holiness. As we draw closer to God, our behavior is affected. We will turn away from the sin that once entangled us and be led by the Spirit into a new way of life. The more that we know about God the more our own behavior will become like His.
What Peter does not say is that by living holy lives we can avoid trials and persecutions. In fact, the opposite is true. The more our lives are conformed into the image of Jesus Christ, the more we will be persecuted by an unholy world. The servant is not greater than his master. As the world treated our Lord, so it will treat us if we have the courage to make our lives conform to His life.
Now is the time to be sober and prepare our minds. We have two choices. We can become more like Christ and be persecuted by the world. Or we can choose to become more like the world and face less persecution. The first choice leads to the blessing of God and life everlasting. The second choice is the road to the death and destruction of this world. Men and women of faith will choose the way of life and are guided by the Spirit of God into a life of holiness and obedience. Those who lose faith will face the judgment of this world by God.
Today is the day to choose. Who will you believe? Who will you follow?
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