Love The Greatest Motive for Holiness 1 Peter 1d
1 Peter 1:18-25
Stephen Caswell © 2000
He Merely Showed Hands
William Dixon lived in Brackenthwaite, England. He was a widower who had also lost his only son. One day he saw that the house of one of his neighbors was on fire. Although the aged owner was rescued, her orphaned grandson was trapped in the blaze. Dixon climbed an iron pipe on the side of the house and lowered the boy to safety. His hand that held on to the pipe was badly burned. Shortly after the fire, the grandmother died. The townspeople wondered who would care for the boy. Two volunteers appeared before the town council. One was a father who had lost his son and would like to adopt the orphan as his own. William Dixon was to speak next, but instead of saying anything he merely held up his scarred hand. When the vote was taken, the boy was given to him.
Last Sunday morning we saw how God announced His salvation through the prophets and the Gospel. This wonderful message brought hope to all mankind. In fact Peter commands believers to set their hope fully upon the return of Jesus Christ. He also commands us to live holy lives as God's faithful children. Today, Peter continues to remind believers of their holy calling. In these verses he shares with us the strongest motive of all for holiness, love. Peter reminds believers that it was the love of God that provided our salvation. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Today we will see two more things about our salvation.
I. God's Redeeming Love & II. Our Response To God
Firstly God's Redeeming Love
a. The Precious Blood Of Christ
1 Peter 1:18-19 Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
Christ's sacrifice for us shows just how much God loves us. 1 John 4:9-10 says: In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. In verses 18 and 19 Peter reveals the cost of our salvation. God didn't redeem mankind with silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without spot or blemish. The word redeem lutrow means to liberate, to deliver, to release for a ransom. Jesus Christ paid the price to set us free from sin with His own precious blood. It cost Jesus His life to redeem us from slavery.
Slaves In The Roman Empire
In the Roman Empire there were some 60 million slaves. Slaves had no rights. They had to serve their master until he died. The only way a slave could be freed was if he or someone else could pay their master the price of redemption. Only then could he be set free. Since slaves had little opportunity to gather that sort of money, they rarely ever set themselves free. Very occasionally some one else would free them. This was known as redemption.
All of mankind has been enslaved by sin. But unlike Roman slaves money can't be used to redeem us. We owed God a debt that we could never repay. The Bible says that the soul that sins shall die. Money and good deeds are not sufficient to pay for our redemption. However, Jesus Christ paid our debt with His own blood. God requires that sins be atoned for by blood. God provided Abraham a ram to take the place of Isaac. Israel came out of bondage in Egypt under the blood of the Passover lamb. The Bible refers to this as redemption. Under the law God allowed lambs and bulls to be sacrificed in the place of the people. Isaiah foretold that God would provide a sacrificial Lamb for all mankind. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming he said: Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29
No Price Too High
Mrs. Samuel Untermyer, wife of the late lawyer, once cabled her husband from Europe about a Gobelin tapestry she’d found: the price was $25,000, and she wanted to know if she should buy it. No, was Mr. Untermyer’s reply. Price too high. But she returned from Europe with the tapestry. When her husband asked why she had disregarded his reply she showed him the cable. It read: NO PRICE TOO HIGH. For man’s redemption, God thought no price was too high, even the blood of His Son. Our redemption through Christ's blood reveals how much God loves us.
b. The Predetermined Plan Of God
1 Peter 1:20-21 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden they didn't catch God off guard. He already knew that man would sin and need salvation. God promised Adam and Eve in the garden He would send a Savior. Peter makes it clear that Christ’s death was an appointment, not an accident; for it was ordained by God before the foundation of the world. From the human perspective, our Lord was cruelly murdered; but from the divine perspective, He laid down His life for sinners. But He was raised from the dead! Now, anyone who trusts Him will be saved for eternity. When we think about the sacrifice of Christ for us, certainly we should want to obey God and live holy lives to His glory. God loves us greatly. Martin Luther called John 3:16 the heart of the Bible, the Gospel in miniature
Ÿ “God”… …The greatest Lover
Ÿ “So loved”… …The greatest degree
Ÿ “The world”… …The greatest number
Ÿ “That He gave”… …The greatest act
Ÿ “His only begotten Son…” …The greatest Gift
Ÿ “That whosoever”… …The greatest invitation
Ÿ “Believeth”… …The greatest simplicity
Ÿ “In Him”… …The greatest Person
Ÿ “Should not perish”… …The greatest deliverance
Ÿ “But”… …The greatest difference
Ÿ “Have”… …The greatest certainty
Ÿ “Everlasting Life”… …The greatest possession.
God's predetermined plan reveals how great His toward us love is.
c. The Purification Of The Spirit & The Word
1 Peter 1:22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.
In verse 2 Peter reminds believers of the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work. Soren Kierkegaard said this: God creates out of nothing. Wonderful, you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: He makes saints out of sinners. God's Word is also involved in this cleansing process. A number of New Testament verses refer to the cleansing work of God's Word. Gregory the Great said: The Bible is a stream of running water, where alike the elephant may swim, and the lamb may walk without losing its feet. Now we are obedient children who no longer want to live in the selfish desires of the old life. The Word of God and the Spirit of God work together to cleanse us from sin. They work together empowering us to live holy lives. God's sanctifying work shows how much He loves us.
d. The Proclamation Of The Word
1 Pet 1:23-25 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
Peter has already talked about being born again and the proclamation of the Gospel. But now he ties them in with our own salvation. The only way to enter God’s spiritual family is by a spiritual birth, through faith in Jesus Christ. Just as there are two parents in physical birth, so there are two parents in spiritual birth: the Spirit of God and the Word of God. Together they give birth to God's children. This new birth, places within us a new nature as well as a new and living hope. John 1:11-13 speaks of this: He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Peter says that we have been born again of the Word of God. God's Word is incorruptible seed. What comes to life from God's Word will last forever. Our first birth was a birth of flesh, and the flesh is corruptible. Whatever is born of flesh is destined to die and decay. Like the beautiful flowers of spring, man’s works look successful for a time, but afterward like flowers they start to decay and die. Only those that do the will of God will abide forever. When sinners hear the Gospel of Christ and obey it, the Holy Spirit comes into their life and gives them a second birth. From then on they possess spiritual life. Life that will last forever.
Not Moody But God Said So
A woman who was a very busy church worker waited for D. L. Moody after he had told a group of church workers some very plain truths from God’s Word. Mr. Moody, said the angry woman, do you mean to tell me that I, an educated woman, taught from childhood in good ways, and all my life interested in the church and doing good, must enter Heaven the same way as the worst criminals of our day? No, madam, said Mr. Moody. I don’t tell you that at all: God does. He says, everyone who would enter Heaven, no matter how good they think they are, or how well-educated, or zealous in good works, must be born again.
God went to great lengths to ensure that we heard the Gospel. The good news proclaimed in God's Word tells us just how much God loves us.
God has clearly shown the greatness of His love towards sinners. Firstly, He revealed it by giving His Son to shed His precious blood to redeem us. Secondly, God had planned it all before the foundation of the world. Thirdly, God revealed it to us by placing His Holy Spirit in our hearts to make us clean. Finally, God proclaims it in His Word that remains forever. These all declare God's great love for us. Are you telling others of God's great love for them?
Secondly Our Response To God
How should we respond to God's Redeeming Love? Peter speaks of two responses that sinners need must make. Firstly, to believe in God and Secondly, to love one another.
a. Believe In God
1 Peter 1:21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
The first response is to believe the Gospel. It is only after sinners believe what God has said that they can be saved. Those that refuse to believe the Gospel in fact call God a liar. They do not accept that He is telling the truth about their sin, death, hell, heaven and salvation. The lake of fire will be full of people who didn't believe the Gospel. People who refused to believe that Jesus Christ came to save them. Let's look at a few verses. Revelation 21:7-8 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
I quoted from John 3:16 earlier, this time we will look at the following verses also. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Those who believe in Jesus won't perish in hell; instead they receive eternal life. Those who don't believe are condemned already for rejecting the only one who can save them.
Finally Romans 10:8-10,13 But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. The first response all men need to make is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Sinners must believe that Jesus Christ the sinless Son of God died for their sin. They must believe that God raised Him from the dead. They must receive Jesus as their Savior and confess Him as their Lord. When sinners do this they are born again of the Holy Spirit. They receive eternal life.
What Is Belief?
John G. Paton, pioneer missionary to the New Hebrides in the Pacific, was hard put to find a word for believe, in the sense of trust, in the language of the South Sea Islanders, for whom he was translating the New Testament. Finally he found the solution, by thus translating the answer of Paul and Silas to the question of the Philippian jailer, What must I do to be saved? Lean your whole weight upon the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. We Trust Him completely!
b. Love On Another
1 Peter 1:22a Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
The command for believers to love one another is given many times in the New Testament. Jesus said to the disciples that love was to be the benchmark that the world would recognize His followers by. But by nature, all men are selfish; so it took a miracle of God to give us His love. When sinners are born again they not only receive forgiveness and eternal life but a new nature too. We receive God's cleansing with a new set of values. Because we obeyed the truth through the Spirit, God purified our souls. Romans 5:5 tells us that the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the love of God.
Peter used two different words for love: philadelphia, which is brotherly love, and agape, which is godlike sacrificial love. It is important that we share both kinds of love. We share brotherly love because we are brothers and sisters in Christ and have likenesses. We share agape love because we belong to God and therefore can overlook differences. Peter commands believers to love one another fervently. This is possible since we have a new nature, God's nature.
1. Love Must Be Sincere
It is tragic when people try to manufacture love, because the product is obviously cheap and artificial. The love that we share with each other, and with a lost world, must be generated by the Spirit of God. It is a constant power in our lives, and not something that we turn on and off like a radio. Not only is this love a spiritual love, but it is a sincere love. We love with a pure heart. Our motive is not to get but to give. There is a kind of success psychology popular today that enables a person to subtly manipulate others in order to get what he wants. If our love is sincere and from a pure heart, we will never use people for our own advantage.
2. Love Must Be Fervent
This love is also a fervent love, and this is an athletic term that means striving with all of one’s energy. Love is something we have to work at, just as an Olympic contestant has to work at his particular skills. Christian love is not a feeling; it is a matter of the will. We show love to others when we treat them the same way God treats us. God forgives us, so we forgive others. God is kind to us, so we are kind to others. It is not a matter of feeling but of willing, and this is something we must constantly work at if we are to succeed.
Again we have two wonderful assistants to help us love: the Word of God and the Spirit of God. The same truth that we believed to become God’s children also nurtures and empowers.
It is impossible to love the truth and hate the brethren at the same time. This because the Spirit of God produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such there is no law. If we are filled with the Word of God and the Spirit of God, we will manifest the love of God in our daily experiences.
White Man To God’s Man
When Wycliffe translator Doug Meland and his wife moved into a village of Brazil’s Fulnio Indians, he was referred to simply as the white man. The term was not a complimentary one, since other white men had exploited them, burned their homes, and robbed them of their lands. But after the Melands learned the Fulnio language and began to help the people with medicine and in other ways, they began calling Doug the respectable white man.
When the Melands began adapting the customs of the people, the Fulnio gave them greater acceptance and spoke of Doug as the white Indian. Then one day, as Doug was washing the dirty, bloodcaked foot of an injured Fulnio boy, he overheard a bystander say to another: Whoever heard of a white man washing an Indian’s foot before? Certainly this man is from God! From that day on, whenever Doug would go into an Indian home, it would be announced Here comes the man God sent us. The way that Doug demonstrated God's love for these Indians won them over. This is what God wants all believers to do.
How have you responded to the love of God? Have you obeyed the Gospel and believed in Jesus Christ to save you? Have you received Him as your personal Savior? If you are a child of God do you show it by your love for the brethren and all men? God calls us to do this!
When you and I think about the sacrifice of Christ for us, certainly we should want to obey God and live holy lives for His glory. God's love is the greatest motive for holiness. When only a young lady, Frances Ridley Havergal saw a picture of the crucified Christ with this caption under it: I did this for thee. What hast thou done for Me? Quickly, she wrote a poem, but was dissatisfied with it and threw it into the fireplace. The paper came out unharmed! Later, at her father’s suggestion, she published the poem, and today we sing it.
I gave My life for thee,
My precious blood I shed;
That thou might ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead.
I gave, I gave, My life for thee,
What hast thou given for Me?
This is a good question, indeed! I trust we can all give a good answer to the Lord.
Benediction 2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.