Living Hope: Growing in Living Hope

1 Peter 2:1-12

 

 

We have seen how living hopes begins in us. It begins when we experience the second birth; being born again. We have seen how important living hope is; we endure in life because of God’s living hope. Now we will see how it is firmly established in our lives.

 

It’s important for us to know about the living hope God offers. If we neglect the importance of living hope we may be deluded into falling short of what is available to us from God.

 

A study was done concerning people who apparently died as a result of Voodoo Curses. In the Caribbean and South America Voodoo is a feared and mysterious presence. Part of its influence is based on its apparent power to control people and in some cases bring about the death of those on whom a Voodoo curse has been issued.

 

A study was done to examine why those who had been cursed actually died. Those who had been cursed were observed to die a slow death. What was common in the case of the death by Voodoo curse was "the cursed person is overwhelmed by hopelessness to the extent of refusing all food and water." In other words, the victims believed that Voodoo was all-powerful and that nothing could thwart a Voodoo curse. Their hope was in Voodoo and when that Voodoo was used against them, they lost all hope of escape. [1]

 

If only these victims had known about God’s living hope they may have found freedom from such curses. They would have been able to respond hopefully with such scriptures as:

 

  • Romans 16:20 – “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” 
  • James 4:7 – “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” 
  • 1 John 4:4 – “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 

The gospel of God’s hope in Christ is meant to turn people away from such occultic practices. As Paul described his ministry this was one of the major purposes:

  • Acts 26:18 – “‘to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’”

Living hope is important and practical. It spares us the despair of worldly occult and demonic activity. It enables us to resist the devil and live in the light of God's truth (e.g. 1 John 1:7). Living hope is God's light that overcomes the darkness of this fallen world. It takes the teeth out of the evil predators in this world. It leads us to victory.

 

In the first twelve verses of chapter two in first Peter we see a very clear statement by Peter that this living hope is based on Jesus and His word. These verses will show how to grow spiritually and establish a living hope in our lives based on the following things:

 

·       Desiring His Word – 2:1-3

  • Coming to Jesus  – 2:4
  • Building Together – 2:5-12

 

Let’s turn to God’s word and learn about His living hope.

 

Desiring His Word

 

1 Peter 2:1 – “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,”

With the word "Therefore" Peter connects what follows here with his preceding inspired words. Living hope begins with being born again. But living hope doesn't stop there. Living hope must be cultivated. Like a beautiful flower in a garden, it must be pruned and fed and protected from weeds that would choke it's life out.

 

The phrase, “laying aside” (Greek apotithemi - Aorist/Middle/Participle - having laid aside; having put off; having cast aside) was an everyday phrase in Peter’s day that was to describe laying aside tangible things like clothes or sinful practices or thoughts like greed. The Apostle Paul uses the same phrase in the letter to the Ephesians when he states:

 

  • Ephesians 4:22 – “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,”

Therefore, according to Peter the clothes we once wore, “all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,” needs to be put off as a first step. Twice he uses the adjective "all" (Greek pas ) which indicates all forms of, every, all, the whole part of. This speaks to a thorough work being sought by Peter. We need to guard against thinking we are the exception. It's best to thoroughly and completely root out the things Peter speaks of here.

"Malice" (Greek kakia ) refers to badness, depravity, evil, malice, naughtiness, wickedness, ill will, vice. The idea is to put away anything that would be associated with badness or that which is outside the parameters of God's word and ethic.

"Deceit" (Greek dolos ) refers to that which is used as a decoy, bait, wile, deceit, guile. Like a decoy duck used in duck hunting "deceit" is something that looks real and alive but is fake and dead. Deceit is therefore presenting yourself or speaking of something in a way that presents as authentic but in reality is inauthentic. Deceit is presenting yourself as something you are not. Deceit is disguising yourself as something you are not. Deceit is the evil stepsister of lying.  Stay away from all such things.

"Hypocrisy" (Greek hypokrisis ) is acting under a feigned part, pretending to be something you are not, pretention. Hypocrisy is pretending to be something you are not. It is being dishonest. Originally it was used to describe an actor in a stage play. In Greek and Roman society actors would use masks to depict emotions or characters. For instance an actor portraying an angry character would hole up a mask with an angry expression in front of his or her face. Hence the expression, “Put on your happy face,” captures the idea of what a hypocrite does. The idea here is to hold up or put on a face that does not accurately portray one's feelings or attitude. We need to be honest and be who we actually are. We need to be truthful not filled with falsehoods.

"Envy" (Greek phthonos ) refers to ill will, jealousy, spite, envy, a desire to harm others. The idea is wanting what others have instead of genuinely rejoicing with their good fortune. We should desire the best for those around us not look to bring them down a notch when they succeed.

"Evil speaking" (Greek katalalia ) means backbiting, speaking evil of others, defamation. It is looking to point out and expose evil in others not from a desire to build them up but for a desire to drag them down or put them down.

 These are all attributes of the sinful nature. Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and evil speaking are all issues that come from the heart. They are indicators that a person is living more toward a sinful nature than waling in the leading of the Holy Spirit. These are all attitudes that are loveless. If love is the fruit of the Spirit and evidence of being born again (e.g. Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22-24) then a person with such attitudes and ways of living needs to do some serious soul searching and repenting before God. They need a course correction in heart.

Let's be honest. According to Peter the first thing we need to do in order to grow in our living hope is to be honest. We aren't going to be in a position to grow in our faith if we aren't honest about who we are. To be dishonest with God is to present ourselves to God as a mannequin. If we give God a mannequin it is presenting Him an inaccurate, lifeless, proxy, facsimile. Nothing substantial or eternal will happen to us in such a case. In truth, when we are untruthful with the Lord we aren't really presenting Him with what He needs to work in our lives.

 

We need to be truthful because if we live a lie we eventually begin to be self deceived. We get to a point where we can no longer discern truth from falsehood. We don't know where our lies end and our truthful being begins. We need to present ourselves to God openly, honestly in all our naked truth. Then God can operate and begin cutting out the diseased tumors in our life.

 

If we are going to grow in the Lord, in our faith, we need to come honestly to Him. Malice, envy and evil speaking are all traits which are motivated by trying to be better or at least appear better than others. Deceit and hypocrisy is trying to present yourself as someone you are not. If we are going to grow in living hope the first thing we have to do is be honest with God and others.

1 Peter 2:2 – “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,”

Have you ever seen a newborn baby who is hungry? They cry and carry on and their focus is total. The scream and yell and the only thing they want is food! You can try to give them a rattle, but they’ll push it away. You can try to show them a book or pretty pictures, or even TV, but you know what, food is the only thing that will satisfy them. A newborn baby actually feels pain in their gut until they get that food! That’s the way Peter said we should be. We should thirst and hunger for the food of God’s word and we should settle for nothing less. When you ‘re hungry for God’s word, someone can give you the newspaper, a magazine, even Sports Illustrated, but it just won’t do. A book, a pamphlet, even a religious or spiritual book, but you know what, the only book that will feed your soul is God’s book, the Bible.

Be a spiritual sponge. When children are young it's amazing how they soak up information. A child's mind is like a sponge that has an insatiable appetite for information. I love to watch my grandchildren and how everything is new to them. They hang on my every word. They love to go on "adventures" with grandpa even if it's to an ordinary 7-Eleven store. They're excited to go anywhere because everywhere they go is new and exciting. Ever have a discussion with a three, four or five year old about trees, rain, the sky, animals, or any other thing that adults have long lost their appreciation for? To a child learning is exciting. Everything is worth investigating. That's the way we should be with God's word. We should get excited about studying God's word. Look at everything as fresh and new and worth looking into. Be a spiritual sponge and soak up all you can about God and His word. That's how you will grow in living hope.

The apostle Paul commended the Thessalonians for the way they soaked in His word. Read what he said:

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:13 – “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” 

When you hold a Bible in your hands do you realize what you are holding? Do you realize that you are holding the very words of God? Do you realize those words are breathed out from His heart to ours? That’s exactly what Paul said when he wrote to Timothy saying:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

The words, “by inspiration of God,” are a translation of one word from the original Greek language in which the New Testament was written. That word is theopneustos literally means God-breathed.  God breathed out of Himself words to give us spiritual life. We need to approach God’s word not like we approach the daily newspaper, but for what it actually it, the word of God.

We need to soak in God’s word as much as we can. Read what Paul wrote to the Colossians about this:

  • Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” 

You can’t grow in your faith without a steady and regular diet of God’s word. Bible consumption is essential to spiritual growth. There are no alternatives. We need  a steady daily diet of God's word. Therefore, go where it is taught, read it and soak it in daily, share it with those around you, especially those in the fellowship of believers. If you soak in and gobble up God’s word, you can’t help but grow in your relationship with Him.

1 Peter 2:3 – “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” 

Your desire for God's word is an indicator of spiritual life. If a newborn baby had no appetite it could prove fatal. For a baby to not have an appetite is so out of the ordinary that you might question whether or not that baby was alive. The point Peter makes with this comment is that if you don’t hunger after God’s word, well, are you alive spiritually?

 

Why is desiring and soaking up God’s word so important? An anonymous writer has described the Bible’s worth in this fashion:

 

THE BIBLE - GOD’S HOLY BOOK

This Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, it’s precepts are binding, its histories are true, and it’s decisions immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.  It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Christ is its subject, our good it’s design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is given to you in life, will be open in the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy precepts.”

 

COMING TO JESUS

 

1 Peter 2:4 – “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,” 

What does this mean? In the Old Testament one of the metaphors used in reference to Messiah was that of a “rock” or “stone.” The verse that Peter likely had in mind when he wrote this verse was from Isaiah, which states:

 

  • Isaiah 28:16 – “Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.” 

Notice what Isaiah prophecies, the stone is placed in Zion, which is a reference to Jerusalem. The “stone” is foundational, sturdy, reliable and holds up what is to be built upon it. The “stone” is “a tried stone,” in other words, this “stone” or Messiah, would be scrutinized and judged by men and “rejected indeed by men” (1 Peter 2:40). “Whoever believes will not act hastily,” or be put to shame. In other words it’s worth it to believe in this stone the Messiah.

Peter adds, the “stone” is “chosen by God” in that it fits perfectly into His plans. Because of this the “stone” is indispensable and “precious.”

Coming to Jesus means knowing Him through His message. A summary examination of the Gospels reveals that the message of Jesus consisted of:

  1. Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God (i.e. God’s rule in the heart now and in the future His kingdom on earth) - Repentance is closely connected to entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 1:17; 4:17; 10:7; 11:20-24; Mark 1:15; Luke 13:1-4).
  2. Jesus taught the need for discipleship (i.e. being a learner who grows in understanding and application of what is taught) - “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19); Jesus taught the blessedness of being a disciple (Matthew 5:1-12; Matthew chapters 5 through 7); Disciples are to be salt and light  (Matthew 5:13-16)
  3. Jesus taught about prayer - Disciples should have a vital prayer life (Matthew 6:5-13; 9:38; 14;23; Mark 6:46; 11:24; 13:33; Luke 6:12; 9:28; 10:2; 18:1-8; 22:40 ).
  4. Jesus taught about righteousness - Righteousness acceptable to God must be heart oriented and more than a religious pursuit of God (Matthew 5:20 – 6:4); true righteousness involves doing God’s will in life (Matthew 7:21-23); be heavenly oriented and trust God to provide (Matthew 6:19-21, 24-34); don’t be a hypocrite (Matthew 23).
  5. Jesus taught God’s way of salvation is single and solitary – A narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14); Build your life on the rock of Jesus’ words (Matthew 7:24-27); Jesus is the only way to get to God the Father in heaven (John 14:6).
  6. Jesus taught and demonstrated He could heal (Matthew 4:24; 8:4-17; 12:15; 14:14; 15:30; 19:2; 21:14).
  7. Jesus taught we should beware of false prophets (Matthew 7:15-20; 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22).
  8. Jesus taught servanthood - Followers of God should be humble and have servant’s hearts - If you want to follow Jesus you have to deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24-27); The greatest according to Jesus is the humblest, the least and the servant of all  (Matthew 18:1-5; 20:27-28; John 13:1-20); come humbly before God (Luke 18:9-14).
  9. Jesus taught about His redeeming sacrifice - Jesus must go to the cross and die and three days later be risen from the dead for the remission of sins (Matthew 12:40; 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19, 28; 26:36-46; Mark 8:31; 10:45; John 2:19-21; 10:18).
  10. Jesus taught the need for salvation from sin - Jesus came to save the lost (Matthew 18:11); With God all things are possible including the salvation of sinners (Matthew 19:26); You must be born again through faith in Jesus (John 3:1-21; 5:24; 6:47); Without Jesus you will die in your sins (John  8:24); Eternal life is knowing  Jesus (John 17:3); Saving faith is a work of God in a person and therefore a gracious provision of God (John 6:29, 44; 1:16-17); Jesus taught He can free a person from sin (John 8:31-36).
  11. Jesus taught that He is our source of spiritual life and nourishment - Jesus is the bread of life, the one who feeds our souls through our relationship with Him (John 6:35, 48, 51); Jesus quenches the thirsty soul (John 7:37-39); Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12); Jesus is the resurrection and life (John 11:25-26).
  12. Jesus taught and proved He is God – His disciples said Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and has come to give His life a ransom to redeem the lost – Matthew 16:13-21; He is the great “I AM” (John 8:58); His opponents said He made Himself equal with God and Jesus said He should be honored as the Father is honored (John 5:16-24); The scriptures bear witness to Jesus (John 5:39);  Jesus and God the Father are one (John 10:30-33); He who sees Jesus has seen the Father also (John 12:44-45).
  13. Jesus taught love  - The greatest commandment is to love God supremely and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 5:43-48; 22:37-40; Mark 12:29-31; Luke 6:27-36); Love involves service (John 13:34); Love is the evidence of being His disciple (John 13:35); Love involves obedience  (John 14:21-24; 15:10);  we need to abide in Jesus’ love (John 15:9-10); Our love is to be like the love Jesus modeled for us (John 15:12-13; 17:26); Love is a command of Jesus; it is not optional (John 15:17); Jesus wants to know if we love Him (John 21:15-17).
  14. Jesus taught that eternal life was about knowing the Father and Him - Jesus said, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3). Jesus didn't teach religion. Jesus taught relationship. If we are going to grow in our faith we need to approach God in Christ relationally by His grace through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). We can't approach God religiously by our works.  
  15. Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit – He promised to send the Holy Spirit to help His followers after He would ascend to heaven (John 14-16); Jesus taught that those who worship God should worship Him in spirit and truth (Matthew 4:10; John 4:23-24); Jesus’ teachings must be spiritually discerned (John 6:63).
  16. Jesus taught He is coming back! - After Jesus leaves He will come again and we ought to watch for His return (Matthew 24:29-31, 36-51; Luke 21:36); When Jesus comes back at His Second Coming it will be for judgment (Matthew 24:31-46); Until Jesus returns we ought to be making disciples, baptizing people as a sign of their new life in Christ via the gospel and teaching them to obey all that Jesus taught (Matthew 28:18-20).

 

You aren’t going to grow in your faith unless you focus on getting to know Jesus. He is what holds everything else together.

 

Building Together

 

FELLOWSHIP IS AN ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

 

1 Peter 2:5 – “you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” 

 

It's not about "me" it's about "us." Notice that Peter moves from metaphors that are individualistic to those that are group oriented such as, “stones” (plural), “priesthood” implies a group (2:5), “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (2:9), “a people” (2:10), “sojourners and pilgrims” (plural – 2:11), “speak against you as evildoers” (2:12). The use of plurals and word forms that refer to groups implies a unity of believers that is necessary for God’s work to be done. We need to unite in Christ. There is no such thing as a solitary or isolated believer. Believers in Christ were designed to belong to a group or fellowship. Unless a Christian is a part of a fellowship, they will not grow efficiently if at all.

 

In Hebrews the importance of fellowship is expressed in the following way:

 

  • Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” 

Fellowship is essential to spiritual growth. The Christian needs to be in fellowship regularly. The Christian life is not an isolated private life. There is no such thing as private religion. Believers need each other to spur one another on in their faith, to encourage one another and counsel each other. The following verses further support this truth:

  • Proverbs 27:17 – “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” 
  • Galatians 6:1-5 – “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.5 For each one shall bear his own load.” 

The Christian needs fellowship so that they will not be crushed under the “burdens”  of life that are too great for any one person to bear. The Christian has a responsibility to be in fellowship to serve the body of fellow believers as God give opportunity, this is their “load.”

JESUS THE CORNERSTONE OF OUR FAITH AND FELLOWSHIP

1 Peter 2:6-8 – “Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, 1 “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,”8 and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.” 

Jesus, the Cornerstone of our faith and fellowship. Peter quotes from Psalm 118:22 which refers to a Jewish tradition that illustrates the rejection of Messiah. Tradition tells us that when the stones were being quarried and cut for the building of the Solomon’s Temple that the cornerstone that was designed to hold all the other stones in place was the first stone to be cut. The cornerstone was the most important stone and was given priority. But when the stone was cut in the quarry and sent to the builders at the Temple site they didn’t know what it was for, they couldn’t figure out how it fit in, so they threw it aside. To them this stone was a mistake; just some wrongly cut stone that didn’t fit in place. Now when they came to the end of the building of the Temple and it was time to place the cornerstone, it was nowhere to be found. They contacted the stonecutters in the quarry and asked where the cornerstone was. The cutters said that they had sent the cornerstone in the first shipment. So the search was on and low and behold, the stone that had been initially rejected by the builders was found and was indeed the chief cornerstone, the one that holds everything in place.

Have you ever played the game “Jenga”? It’s a neat little fine motor game for kids, but adults like to play it too. You stack rows of three rectangular blocks in levels on top of each other and then try to remove a block from a level without causing the structure to fall down and then place the block on the top. You repeat this until one person makes the building fall. A cornerstone is like that very bottom piece that has the greatest load on it. If you tried to remove that piece first, the whole structure would crumble. That’s like Jesus; He is the piece of the fellowship of believers upon Whom all the weight is laid. He holds the body of believers together. He is the foundation, the indispensable foundation. You can’t have fellowship without Jesus. Paul referred to the essential and foundational aspect of Jesus when he wrote:

  • 1 Corinthians 3:9-11 – “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 

Jesus is the One who makes fellowship possible and desirable. Fellowship is gathering to worship Him. Fellowship is gathering to learn about Him. Fellowship is gathering to talk about Him and how He is working in the life of believers.

THE PURPOSE OF HIS PEOPLE

1 Peter 2:9-12 – “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 

The purpose of the fellowship of God’s people is:

First, as "a chosen generation" we are to live with purpose. Every follower of God in Christ should see themselves as on a mission from God. Whatever station in life we are in, we should see it as a platform from which to serve the Lord. In our jobs and careers we serve the Lord not merely people (e.g. Colossians 3:17, 23-24). Each of us has been sovereignly birthed into a period of history during which we are God's instrument to further His purposes and be His representatives. Are you approaching life with a sense of godly purpose?

Second, as a "royal priesthood"  we are intermediaries. As royal priests of God we are to represent God to people and intercede before God on behalf of people. We are God's ambassadors commissioned by God to present the possibility of reconciliation with God to a world separated from God by their sin (e.g. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

Third, as a "holy nation" we live as a nation within nations. We are to be good citizens of the nations in which we have been sovereignly birthed by God. But our first citizenship and loyalty is to the Kingdom of God (e.g. Philippians 3:20). We see first God's kingdom and His righteousness (e.g. Matthew 6:33-34). As much as we can we should honor and submit to the world's government in which we live. God has ordained all governments (e.g. Romans 13). He does allow even evil governments to exist. As citizens of His holy nation we should work toward making governments as holy and righteous as possible. We are God's infiltrating people. We infiltrate and influence the worldly nations and governments in which we live toward godliness and righteousness. That is our mission.

When the laws of secular government conflict with the laws of God then we are to oppose them and work toward righteousness. We are to work through peaceful means and through scripturally sound principles. Revolution is the last resort and not to be entered into lightly. In only the most extreme situations does God call people to rebel against evil. God would have us submit to injustice if it means winning the lost. As a holy nation living in a fallen sinful world there are many hard decisions and sacrifices to be made. The only way to maneuver righteously through them is to seek the leading of the Holy Spirit. The United States of America and our founding fathers are an example of those following the leading of the Lord in a difficult oppressive situation.

Fourth, as a "His own special people" we live exceptional lives. "Special" (Greek peripoiesis ) means preserved, peculiar, purchased, possession, saving, acquisition. We belong to God and should reflect His ownership on us. Peter earlier was inspired to write, "But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I ma holy.'" (1 Peter 1:15-16). We are not to blend in with the world or be in distinguishable from the world. We should stick out as different from the world. When we are seen by others they should get a sense of our being different. That difference should be a good difference, a holy, loving, kind, generous, servant-hearted difference. We should not be satisfied with being ordinary but should seek to reflect the exceptional work of God in us. We should therefore seek to be exceptional in all areas of life to the glory of God!

Fifth, the purpose of this "chosen generation. . . royal priesthood . . . holy nation. . . His own special people" is to  “proclaim the praises of Him. We praise Him "who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." "Marvelous" (Greek thaumastos ) means wonderful, marvel, marvelous, worthy of admiration, excellent, passing human comprehension, causing amazement, to be reverenced, extraordinary. It's an extraordinary work of God that we "who once were not a people but are now a people of God, who had obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." We are who we are by the grace of God (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:10). We have our identity in Christ. We once lived under God's righteous and just condemnation for our sin. But now we have experienced the benefits of His mercy toward us. There are no satisfactory adjectives to describe the holy light of God and all that He has graciously done for us in Christ.

Paul was inspired to write, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). Paul then goes on to give one of the most precious inspired descriptions of our blessings in Jesus.

Peter does the same thing. He speaks of , "Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8). There just aren't any adequate human words to describe the glorious marvelous light of the Lord. All we can do is praise Him and worship Him for all He is and has done for us. By grace we are the objects of His love and affection. That should cause us to rejoice. Rejoice!

Worship is important to growing in living hope. Praise is an act of worship. We come together in Christ to praise our LORD. Worship is a big part of the body of believers. Read some verses which attest to this:

  • 1 Chronicles 16:29 – “Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!” 
  • John 4:23-24 -  “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  (Emphasis added; notice “worshipers” is plural alluding to the body of Christ.)
  • Hebrews 13:15 – “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” 

Worship is a time when believers lavish praise on their Savior and LORD. Worship helps believers come into the presence of God. Worship is what we will be doing a lot of in heaven.

  • Revelation 4:10-11 – “the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” 

Sixth, the purpose of this "chosen generation. . . royal priesthood . . . holy nation. . . His own special people" is to  “by our good works . . . glorify God . . . .” How do we do that? By remembering that we are "sojourners and pilgrims" or those who are just passing through this world. And by staying away from or “abstaining” (Greek apechomai - to hold oneself off, refrain from, abstain from) from “fleshly lusts.”

What are “fleshly lusts”? “Fleshly lusts” are those thoughts and actions that seek to indulge in and pervert natural desires. Fleshly lusts are self-centered, self-promoting, selfish acts that dishonor rather than honor God (cf. Galatians 5:16-21 and contrast with fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-25).

Instead we honor God with honorable conduct. Peter says, "having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles. . ." "Honorable" (Greek kalos ) means beautiful, good, valuable, virtuous, honest, worthy, excellent, commendable, admirable. Again, Peter directs us to live exceptional lives. An honorable exceptional life is a life that is righteous and godly even when only God can see us. An honorable exceptional life is one that goes beyond the world's expectations. It is a life with the fingerprint of God on it. It is a life that causes the unsaved to take notice. That's what Peter said, "that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation."

In all and everything we do we should do it with the purpose of in some way glorifying God. When we live with the holy ambition of glorifying God it keeps us on the holy path to growing in living hope. If you want to experience fully and grow in living hope, then sacrifice yourself and seek to glorify God.

This passage of Peter’s first epistle has been speaking about building on what was begun in the person “born again . . . through the word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). In 1 Peter 2:5 Peter likens believers to a “spiritual house.” Therefore the final question is, how are you building? Are you building on Christ? On His word? Are you soaking it in or just floating on the surface. How you build and the effort you give is important. The following story will show you why.

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

               

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

 

When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."

 

What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

 

God wants to give us so much. He wants to build us strong and sure. He wants to build into a beautiful house. But we need to show up and cooperate with Him. By His Spirit we need to follow the building plans and follow Him step by step. In the end, if we trust and obey Him, the finished product will a great place to live. If we give only half our hearts to Him the building we come out with may come crashing down. You get out, what you put in. How are you building?

 

 

 

 



[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201209/voodoo-death-i