Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV
God has called his followers to be holy, set apart for God and set apart (unlike, different) from the world of sin. We are not supposed to be like the world or to adopt their attitudes, philosophies and behaviors. But, we are now to be his possession, and he is to be the one ruling our hearts, our life choices, and our conduct (Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21).
For, faith in Jesus Christ means that we are crucified with Christ in death to sin and that we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life in him to be lived to him and to his righteousness. Our old lives of living for sin and self should be put behind us, and now we should be walking by faith in obedience to his commands, for to this we were called (Eph. 4:17-24).
And, because Jesus called us out of the world, and we are not like the world, then the world hates us. They do not love us as their own – as one of them. But, the world also includes the worldly church, so we will face rejection and persecution from the worldly church, too, because we are still standing on the truths of scripture, and we are still standing on the gospel of our salvation which teaches death to sin and living to righteousness.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV
It is only by the grace of God that any of us can be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God. It is only because Jesus died on that cross and rose again that we can die with him to sin and live with him and to his righteousness. It is only by the power of God’s Spirit living within us, too, that we can live set apart from the world and holy unto God, and that we can walk (in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.
It is only by the Spirit of God and in his power that any of us can be “born again.” The first time we were born, we were born physically, as babies. But, we must also be born spiritually of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ. But, first the old life of sin must be put to death and then we can put on Christ and his righteousness. Then we are born again to a living hope.
And, a living hope is true hope based on the Word of God in its fullness, and in context. And, that true hope says that we must walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God if we want to have eternal life with God. And, it says, too, that if we don’t walk according to the Spirit, but we choose to continue to walk (in practice) according to the flesh, then we don’t have eternal life with God but we will die in our sins (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 8:1-17).
Also faith in Jesus Christ is not a one-time experience in our lives. Faith is ongoing. It is continuous. Every day we make the choice either to put sin to death and to live for God in obedience to his Word, or we choose to embrace our sins and to go our own way and to do what our flesh dictates, instead. So, daily we must die to sin and live for God, as a matter of our life course, if we want to have eternal life with God (Rom. 6:1-23; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV
But, the Christian life is not “easy street.” It is a life of suffering, as well as a life of freedom, joy and victory in Christ. Dying to our flesh daily is suffering. Taking up that cross daily and following Jesus is suffering. Being persecuted and hated for righteousness’ sake, and being mistreated and rejected for our walks of faith with Jesus Christ is suffering. And, going through trials and tribulations which come to test our faith is also suffering.
But, suffering is for our good that we may share in the glory of God and in his holiness. It is for our good, too, that we may learn humility and obedience (Jesus learned obedience through the things that he suffered). Suffering puts our faith to the test, and if we respond to it in the right way, it helps us to grow and to mature in Christ and to become more like Jesus, too. For, it moves us away from sin to obedience to Christ.
Some people think that Jesus died on that cross just to forgive us our sins so that we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. They think it is all for them. But, what they don’t realize is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to him and to his righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. For, our salvation is not just for us. It is that we might become God’s possession and that our lives would be for his honor, glory and praise (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21).
And, the way in which our lives can be for the praise, honor and glory of Jesus is if we live our lives for him in his power, and if we let our lights shine for all to see, not just in words, but by how we live our lives in obedience to our Lord’s commands. And, it is by us sharing with others the love God has for us, in that he provided the way for us to be delivered from our slavery to sin, and that he will empower us, too, to walk in obedience to him.
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV
Faith is believing in what we cannot see with our physical eyes, and in what we can’t touch with our physical hands. Yet, when we believe in Jesus Christ, and he comes to live within us in the person of the Holy Spirit, we do sense his Spirit living within us, and we can hear (not audibly usually) his voice speaking to our hearts, and we can have a conversation with him. So, we know he is there, not just by faith, but also by experience.
And, because we experience a relationship with our Lord, which is a real relationship with a real person, just not physically, we grow in our love for him through experience, and through that relationship, and through our conversations with him, and through our obedience to him, too. For, the more we obey him the more he reveals of himself to us, and the more we get to know him, and the deeper our love becomes for him, too.
And, this walk of faith, which is ongoing and continuous, which is a walk of obedience, then results in the salvation of our souls and eternal life with God. And, that is our hope, that one day we will be with Jesus face to face.
But, for now we live on the earth. And, God has put us on this earth for a purpose, too, which is his purpose for our lives, which is for his praise and glory, and which is that we live holy lives, pleasing to him, and that we are no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world (Rom. 12:1-2).
And, when we live like that, our lives will shine for Jesus, because we will be walking with Jesus, and it will be evident. But, they will also shine for Jesus as we share his light, his truth with the world about us, so that they can come to know him, too.
By Ann Aschauer
So Shine on through the darkness;
Be the salt and light for all your world.
Live for Jesus, ’til you see Him
And your faith has its reward;
Shine on through the darkness;
Let His love shine through you all your days.
Go and win your generation for the Lord.
c Ann Aschauer 1990