1 Peter 1:13-16

'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
I will never forget the moment I learned that two friends of mine, high school classmates, were hit by a drunk driver as he was coming home from a bar. One friend died immediately; the other’s life was forever changed. Too much alcohol can soften inhibitions, blur judgment, and cloud our thoughts. Under its influence, people can’t be trusted to walk a straight line, much less drive a vehicle. Too much alcohol slurs speech, runs red lights, fuels anger, destroys relationships, and ends lives.

In this passage, Peter calls his brothers and sisters in Christ, both then and now, to prepare our minds for action and to be sober-minded. He understands, like Paul, our need for clear and energetic thinking. He realizes the importance of ‘taking every thought captive to obey Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:5), and he draws a direct connection between our thought patterns, our emotions, and our behavior.

Even secular authors, neuroscientists, and psychologists capitalize on this connection with bestsellers on amazon.com about the power of positive thinking, mastering our minds, or getting out of our own heads. But as is so often the case, these are not groundbreaking ideas, but ideas grounded in the ancient wisdom of the Word of God.

Our state of mind and the condition of our hearts drive our behavior, for ‘out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks’ (Matthew 12:34) and from our hearts come our very worst behaviors, such as immorality, theft, murder and adultery (Mark 7:21-22). Peter challenges us not to be conformed to the passions of our former ignorance, not to be slaves to our sin nature, but to be holy in our conduct, as God who called us is holy. But ‘there is none holy like the Lord, no rock like our God’ (Samuel 2:2). God is uniquely set apart, ‘majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders’ (Exodus 15:11). We cannot be this kind of holy.

Except in Jesus Christ.

If our minds meditate on the truth Peter has outlined at the start of this chapter, namely our salvation in Jesus Christ, an ‘imperishable, undefiled and unfading inheritance,’ then our hearts will fully hope in this grace. And the grace of God teaches us to be holy in our conduct, to renounce worldly passions, to live self-controlled and godly lives (Titus 2:12).

Paul writes it this way in Romans 12, verse 2: ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’

We can be intoxicated by substances, sensuality, materialism, anxiety, pride, anger, and a thousand other idols that would take residence on the throne of our minds. Or we can meditate on the promises of God, setting our hope fully on the grace that is ours both now and will be fulfilled at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Questions for Reflection:
  1. Take inventory of your thought life this morning. What consumes your thinking? Are you obsessed with news headlines, reliving an unpleasant conversation, longing for something you wish you had, drowning in worry, seething in anger? Take time this morning to confess your sins and to offer up your needs and desires to God in prayer.
  2. For further study of what it means to ‘not conform to passions of former ignorance,’ read Paul’s letter in Colossians 3:1-17, considering how we are to ‘put off the old self’ and to put on love instead.
Rebecca Janni | Author

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