Elect Exiles?: A Living Hope (Part 2)

The “living” element of a believer’s hope calls for more than just passive waiting on the second coming. Because of the hope the Christian has he is compelled to obedience. That is part of Peter’s message to the Christians living in exile now. Peters tells them, and us, that because of our redemption we must now live our lives in obedience to Jesus Christ.

We talked last week about the key words in verse 13 that identify the shift from description to prescription. The “Therefore,” tells us that on the basis of all that Peter has previously said we are now to do the following. In light of this hope, Peter gives a specific command to us:

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,  15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,  16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,  18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,  19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:14-19)

Holiness is the response of the believer redeemed by the “precious blood of Christ.”

Living Hope calls for action on our part, but it’s interesting to observe here that access to this living hope is also what makes the appropriate action possible. Note that Peter says we are to be holy, for God is holy. That’s a high standard. How on earth can any Christian achieve such a position of holiness? Be holy like God is holy? We can understand and maybe even achieve something like Peter’s “holiness” or Paul’s “holiness” or “holiness” in some general sense, but not the holiness of God. That seems far beyond and above us, and of course it is. But in the power of the living hope real holiness becomes an ever-increasing possibility for the believer.

Peter says that the believer has been “ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers” (v. 18). What does he mean? What are the “futile ways”? Peter here is speaking about the “useless, worthless, or vain” existence of all men outside of Christ. The greatest accomplishments apart from him leads to nothing. One might accomplish great tasks in this life, but when you stand before God to give an account of that life it will be worth nothing. Only that which is done for Christ, in the pursuit of holiness, by the power of His Spirit in you, will last. But there is hope here for believers. Because we have been redeemed from futile ways, from selfishness, from indulgence, from un-holiness, now we can pursue a worthwhile life. Now as obedient children we don’t have to be conformed to the passions of our former ignorance (v. 14). Conformity will now be to Christ, to full living.

The Christian, you see, is without excuse. O, don’t misunderstand. Holiness is still hard, I’ve written elsewhere about that. But there’s still no justification for sin in the life of the believer. We have been redeemed from worthless living. We’ve been redeemed to pursue God’s holiness. We are now obedient children being conformed to the image of God’s Son. We have a living hope that changes everything about us. The Christian cannot sit idly by and wait for the second coming. No, this hope calls us to action. Because we have this “living hope” we can now really live!

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