Message 5: God’s Grace in Salvation – Living in Holiness (1 Peter 1:13-21)

Author & Audience

We have begun a series of sermons from the letter that Shimon Kefa (Simon Peter) wrote to the believing communities who were living in the region of Asia Minor (mostly in modern day Turkey). Shimon Kefa became the leader of this band of disciples and later the chief of the Shl’chim, the Apostles. He is noted as being the Apostle to the Jews while Paul was primarily the Apostle to the Gentiles. Peter turned out to the leader of the early messianic movement of Jews who believed in Yeshua as the Messiah. We also noted in the introduction, and it continues to be important as we seek to understand what is written, that this Epistle was written to the communities who were going through times of trial and suffering and they were also about to enter into a greater time of persecution by the Roman Emperor Nero somewhere between 62-65AD. This series is entitled “Hope and Grace in Times of Trial.” In this truly pastoral letter, Peter encourages us in our daily walk with God no matter what we are going through in our lives. Through his words, God speaks to our hearts about our identity and our calling in Messiah as a holy priesthood standing fast in the true grace of God, empowered to be his witnesses in this world. Even though this letter was primarily written to messianic Jewish believers, we know that there were also many grafted in Gentiles who were part of those communities in Asia Minor. As such, the recipients of the letter were very much like Hineh Yeshua – Jews and Gentiles one in Messiah.

Outline (Adapted from Warren Wiersbe’s expository outlines of the Bible):


Last Time

Last time we were truly encouraged by Peter that we who believe in Yeshua as our Messiah today, have what the prophets looked forward to and what angels long to understand. We are recipients of salvation that was promised by the Prophets of old. They were our servants, as it were, prophesying under the inspiration of God things that they themselves did not fully understand. After all, it would have been very difficult for them to understand that there had to be two comings of the Messiah. The first time he comes he has to deal with the problem of sin. He has to die on the cross as an atonement for the sins of his people and the sins of the whole world. He is buried but is raised from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures. Then the Messiah will come again. This time not to deal with the problem of sin, but to come as a great King Mashiach in glory to judge the earth and to sit on the throne of his earthly forefather David. Truly we are blessed to have revelation from God that unlocks this prophetic mystery. Even prophets and angels longed to look into these things. Even the disciples had to receive a bible study from the resurrected Messiah to truly understand. We today are recipients of their ministry. Today we will continue in the section called God’s Grace in Salvation and see how Shimon Kefa calls us to a life of holiness.

Living in holiness (1:13–21)

Read 1 Peter 1:13–21 (TLV)

Verse 13 begins with “Therefore.” What is it there for? In the light of all that has been said of the great salvation we now have, we have to behave in certain ways… i.e. we ought to live holy lives.

Peter gives us 4 motives for living holy lives

  1. Our blessed hope; the soon appearing/revelation of Yeshua the Messiah and the gift/grace we will receive when he returns…
  2. God’s command; “you are to be holy because I am holy…”
  3. A third motive for holy living is the judgment of God (v. 17). God our Father judges each one of us impartially according to our deeds (faith vs deeds, cf. James)
  4. A fourth motive for holy living is based on the costly bloody sacrificial death of the Messiah. The price Yeshua paid for our salvation should be a motivation for us to live godly lives. [2]

A Closer Look

1 Peter 1:13 (CJB) 13 Therefore, get your minds ready for work, keep yourselves under control, and fix your hopes fully on the gift you will receive when Yeshua the Messiah is revealed.

The Apostle calls us to Holy Action – “get your minds ready for work” i.e. for action. This literally reads “gird up the loins of your mind.” Just as at the first Passover in Egypt we are told to eat the Passover with our loins girded, so too are we to live with a mindset for action. The ESV version has it “preparing your minds for action.” The idea of girding up your loins comes from the way men dressed in those days (and still in Middle Eastern fashion) with those long robes or dresses. In order to get any work done or to run somewhere, you would need to tuck them in. So here Peter encourages us to have a readiness in our mind for action. Cranfield suggests that we could translate this “roll up the shirt sleeves of your mind.” We ought to be living holy lives that bring glory to our Messiah. Here we see the holiness of good deeds… a very Jewish concept indeed… We are not saved by our good deeds, but we are certainly called and even, as Rav Sha’ul would say, created to do them (cf. Eph 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Peter also tells us to “keep yourselves under control [or in some translations “be sober minded”], and fix your hopes fully on the gift you will receive when Yeshua the Messiah is revealed.” Being sober-minded or exercising self-control is a hard discipline to master but surely part of the daily challenge of every disciple of Yeshua. We do this as we look forward to the grace of God that will be revealed when Yeshua returns. I like the translation of the TLV which renders “keep yourselves under control as “Keep your balance.” Keeping yourself balanced is a sign of spiritual maturity, not veering off to the left or to the right – being a balanced believer… Fixing our hopes “fully on the gift you will receive when Yeshua the Messiah is revealed” will result in us reordering our lives with godly priorities. If we live with the sense that Messiah is coming back any moment, it will change our priorities.

1 Peter 1:14 (CJB) 14 As people who obey God, do not let yourselves be shaped by the evil desires you used to have when you were still ignorant.

Don’t think the way you used to… we must allow the Word of God to shape our minds. We need to be shaped by God’s view and his opinion about us and not our own thoughts or what people think about us. As Rabbi Sha’ul puts it “be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” Instead of being shaped by our evil desires, we should be shaped by the Spirit of God.

1 Peter 1:15-16 (CJB) 15 On the contrary, following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life; 16 since the Tanakh says, “You are to be holy because I am holy.”

Being holy as the Lord God is holy is impossible. However, God does not ask us to do something that is impossible without giving us the power to do it. It is impossible to be holy like God without the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He is the one who gives us the power to live holy and surrendered lives for God. We are to emulate God’s holiness in our lives. What does that look like for the follower of Yeshua? We are to be like him. What did Yeshua’s holiness look like?…

1 Peter 1:17 (CJB) 17 Also, if you are addressing as Father the one who judges impartially according to each person’s actions, you should live out your temporary stay on earth in fear.

We should remember that God is Avinu, “our Father” and he is “Melech HaOlam,” he is the “King of the Universe” and as such is the judge of the universe. He shows no favoritism and will just everyone according to what he does. For this reason we need to live our lives here on earth in fear and respect of God. Just because we are members of God’s own household, we are family, doesn’t mean that we can live in disobedience. We must be people “who obey God.” This is also a reminder to each one of us not to judge others. God is our judge, we each have to answer to him for our own lives.

1 Peter 1:18-21 (CJB) 18 You should be aware that the ransom paid to free you from the worthless way of life which your fathers passed on to you did not consist of anything perishable like silver or gold; 19 on the contrary, it was the costly bloody sacrificial death of the Messiah, as of a lamb without defect or spot. 20 God knew him before the founding of the universe, but revealed him in the acharit-hayamim for your sakes. 21 Through him you trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory; so that your trust and hope are in God. Just to note: verse 1:18 is often used as one of the reasons that this letter wasn’t written to Jewish believers but to pagans when Peter says; “You should be aware that the ransom paid to free you from the worthless way of life which your fathers passed on to you did not consist of anything perishable like silver or gold;” (1 Peter 1:18, CJB)

They say that surely Peter wouldn’t refer to our Jewish forefathers as having passed onto us a futile or worthless way of life? I would suggest we can understand this in two ways. Remember that in these congregations there were many from Gentile backgrounds for which this statement would be true (your fathers passed onto you a worthless way of life). Also, it could be understood that Peter is reference to the worthless traditions that have been passed onto us Jewish people through the Oral Law of the Mishnah. [3]

Now I know that this may be a controversial topic but we can say that even though not all oral tradition is worthless or futile (because obviously some of it is surely helpful and informative) but we can say that it has continued to have a very strong hold and sway over the Jewish people keeping us from embracing Yeshua as our Messiah and just because they are old, doesn’t mean that they are correct. It is important for us as messianic believers to respect and appreciate the Oral Law and traditions that have been passed down by the Jewish sages. However, on the other hand, we need to see them in their proper perspective, the writings of learned men not the inspired writings of Scripture. That way we can glean the relevant information that agrees with the Word of God without swallowing it all hook, line and sinker. In any case, whatever the futile way of life that has been passed on by our forefathers may have been, all of it is worthless in comparison to the greatness of immeasurable value of our salvation in Yeshua the Messiah. Perhaps Peter is over emphasizing the point as in a typical rabbinical method of teaching of hyperbole.

Whatever the case, the truth is that the price that was paid for our salvation is immeasurable, it is beyond compare, it is priceless. Silver and God cannot compare with the costly blood sacrificial death of the Messiah – a lamb without defect or spot… At Passover time we have just celebrated the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah all mentioned here in these verses… “…Through him you trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory; so that your trust and hope are in God…” Remember Yeshua said:
“Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you may also be… I am the way, the truth, and the life! No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you have come to know Me, you will know My Father also. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.” (John 14:1-3, 6 TLV)

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 737). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 742). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (2005). The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude (1st ed., p. 333). Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries.