1 Peter 1:13-16
Why gird up the loins of your mind, be sober…
The modern demand for a religion which is practical is but an echo of the demand of Scripture. Right being and doing are the aim and proof, yea, the very substance, of Christianity. But Scripture adds that on which the moralists are silent - how this right living can be acquired. Redemption first, then holiness. Holiness grows out of redemption as its natural result. To say we do not want the doctrines of grace, but rather a setting forth of God's requirement of holy character, were as reasonable as to insist that the roots in the garden should be dug up, because we want, not roots, but fruit. Holy character is the outcome of a knowledge of free redemption through the Son of God. So much is involved in the word "wherefore" here. The paragraph has to do with practical life; it holds up the loftiest ideal: "As he who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy," etc., and this is set forth as the necessary sequence to the preceding.
I. SPIRITUAL REDEMPTION IS HERE SPOKEN OF AS "THE GRACE THAT IS BEING BROUGHT TO US IN THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST." Revised Version margin, "Greek, Is being brought." "At" is the ordinary preposition signifying "in." We, therefore, take the expression as covering all that the apostle has spoken of from the third verse. The nature, certainty, sublimity of redemption; redemption beginning here, perfected in heaven;-that has been his theme, and he now sums it up in the beautiful and comprehensive phrase, "The grace that is being brought unto you in the revelation of Jesus Christ." Think of salvation under this title.
1. It is God's free gift. "The grace." It is gratuitous. One of its marvelous features is that it is for "whosoever will." A salvation we had wrought for ourselves could not have rectified our relation to God; it would have freed us from condemnation, but not have opened to us the Father's heart, nor constrained us to his service. There is a priceless power in God himself discharging our liabilities by the atonement of his own blood, and thus saving the unthankful and evil, the outcast and lost, for nothing.
2. It is possessed by us in an extraordinary degree. There is evident stress on the words," to you." The expression seems to look back to vers. 10-12. Divine truths were in their dawning in the Old Testament, but they are brought to light in the New. Compared with what has to be revealed, it is darkness; for that which is the expression of God's boundless love, and the full reward of the atonement, will need enlarged capacities for its perception, and all eternity for its reception; but compared with what was revealed before New Testament times, it is brightness. Very touching is it, for instance, to think of Isaiah sitting down and pondering the prophecies he was given to utter, and vainly trying to understand their mysteries. "The Spirit was not yet;" but he has come now, and in his light we see light, Now we may "comprehend with all saints what," etc.; now "the eyes of our understanding being," etc.; now "eye hath not seen, nor ear... but God hath," etc.; "Verily I say unto you, many prophets," etc.
3. It is continuous and increasing with the revelation of Jesus Christ. "That is being" - it is a prolonged, unceasing, ever-enlarging bestowment. What we received when we first knew Christ as Savior was far surpassed by what came with glowing knowledge of him; and this, in turn, shall be immeasurably surpassed when we shall see him as he is. What is the joy on the face of the young disciple; what the calm of the saintly heart as it comes forth from the closet; what the growing likeness to the Savior in the good man's character; what the holy peace of the aged believer; what the glory of the redeemed in heaven, - but "the grace that is being brought to us in the revelation of Jesus Christ?"
II. THE POSSESSION OF THIS GRACE CLAIMS THAT WE CLEARLY APPREHEND ITS FULNESS. "Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for this grace;" equivalent to "God would have us see how great salvation is; if it is to work in us its proper work, we must have adequate views, and a firm, personal, intelligent grip of it."
1. There must be activity of thought concerning it. To gird up the loins is the preparation for activity. In Scripture we have the thoughts of God, but they are not revealed to the careless reader; they only yield to patient study under the illumination of the Divine Spirit. The absolutely needful truths of Scripture, like the corn on the surface of the earth, are easily gathered, but for the gold and gems we must dig. Some Christians know so little of God's grace because they have no systematic, leisurely, deliberate, prayerful study of Scripture. "Search the Scriptures;" "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord."
2. There must be freedom from what would dim our vision of it. "Be sober." Sobriety is self-restraint from what intoxicates. The intoxicated man has no clear perception of anything; he sees nothing as it is. There is an intoxication of soul which operates thus on spiritual perceptions. We may be intoxicated with business, worldly pleasure, pride of intellect, etc. To understand God's grace, a restraining hand must be put on this.
3. There must be confident anticipation of it. "Hope perfectly [Revised Version] for," etc. Hope is beyond faith. Faith reveals somewhat, then hope anticipates it. Hope expects, ponders, yearns for. "Perfectly;" equivalent to "without any admixture of doubt." To make the blessings promised in Christ a subject of hope would make them grow before our vision, and intensify the consciousness that they are ours. It does not impress us to know that a vast multitude of stars fill the sky, but to go into the observatory and single out one star for observation, and fix our mind on that, ensures one new beauty after another gleaming out of the darkness, and where we thought was but a star, a galaxy is discerned.
III. THE APPREHENSION OF THE FULNESS OF DIVINE GRACE WILL LEAD TO HOLINESS. Man says, "Be holy, then you will have hope; do your duty, then you will find rest." God says, "Salvation free through Christ first; then holiness as the result." Vers. 14-16 are the sequel to ver. 13. A table tells of a stream which made those that drank of it new beings; so to drink of the blessings which flow from Calvary is to find ourselves new creatures. None can know what redemption is, and that it is his, and fashion himself according to his former lusts in his ignorance; it rather creates a desire to be "holy in all manner of living."
1. It is so because of the filial love redemption evokes. Without redemption we have no sufficient motive to holiness; that comes with love to God in Christ.
2. And it is so because of the high purpose of God redemption reveals. As we apprehend what redemption is, we see it includes God's purpose of likeness to him. Then this likeness can be reached, for what God wills can be. - C.N.
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;