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Weekly Word

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Our Present Life II

Today we will pick up at 1 Peter 1:17-21.  Peter continues to encourage them for the task of living for Jesus in this world.  His last instruction was for them to be holy.  In this section he commands them to live in the fear of the Lord.  Did anybody tell Peter he was writing the New Testament?  Sounds like he is still stuck under the law, doesn’t it?  If you think so, then perhaps you haven’t really discovered the heart of the gospel.  Should Christians have a “fear of the Lord?”  What about 1 John 4:18, “Perfect love casts out all fear?

If you honestly read the context of 1 John 4:18, you will quickly notice that John is using this statement to challenge those who say they love God but don’t love their brother.  It is John’s way of calling their bluff at the least and, perhaps even further, challenging them to quit being afraid of where God’s love is leading them.  Here is an illustration for you.  I have driven on some high mountain roads that have scary cliffs on one side.  Generally there is a guard rail to help you stay on the road and also given you a sense of security.  However, if you drive straight into the guardrail on purpose you might just go through it.  The good road and guardrail may help us not to be afraid, but that doesn’t change the fact that a normal person never loses the truth that to fall off the cliff would be a fearful thing.  As long as you are staying on the road, i.e. operating in God’s love, then you don’t need to worry about those fears.  However, we should always have a fearful understanding of what driving off the road and over the guardrails really means.  It would be terrifying.  So let’s go to the Word.

Live In The Fear Of The Lord

Verse 17 contains the command to conduct ourselves here on earth in fear.  It is important to know what this is and what it is not.  Peter is not talking about mental fears such as pessimism and phobias.  Rather he is talking about having a fear regarding the consequences of our actions, and a fear regarding the very real dangers around us.  All of this is rooted in the Lord.  God has created a universe that has very real consequences to everything we do, both good and bad.  So when Peter tells them to be holy, which is more positive, he then follows it up with an imperative that is somewhat negative sounding.  But that is the nature of pursuing Holiness.  I am saying yes to some things and no to others.  I should be joyous in the right things and fearful of the wrong things.  Why? I should be because they represent a threat to my relationship with God.

Peter reminds them that they are those who call on the Lord.  This is a reference to Joel 2:32.  They were in trouble and under judgment and cried out to the Lord and the Lord saved them out of that judgment.  To lose relationship with the Lord is to go back under judgment.  That should always remain a horrific thought in the mind of the believer.  No turning back, must be our motto.  So what is the character of this Lord who has saved us?  He doesn’t play favorites.  Just because he has helped me doesn’t mean he is going to play favorites with me.  He will judge our lives and works in truth and righteously.  So, though we can be safe because we are on the road of Jesus (I am the way, the truth and the life), that doesn’t mean there isn’t any peril still.  Satan is working to deceive us.  He is working to tempt us.  He is working to get between us and Jesus.  We need to fear that like the plague.  There is no way around the fact of what Peter is saying here and still be true to the Gospel.  God is not looking for people who will say all the right things but live any way they want.  He is looking for a people who will trust him and follow him.

Peter reminds them that they have been purchased back to God.  A price had to be paid and it wasn’t with earthly wealth or money.  Each of us was trapped in a society with traditions of looking at the world and living.  These traditions are like chains that keep us from God and the truth.  But God stepped in and redeemed us, purchased us back for himself, in order to set us free.  If he had done this with mere money then we would only feel obligated to him as much as the amount.  In fact, if we wanted to, we could “pay God back” and be on our own.  However, God paid for us with the precious blood of His Son, Jesus.  We could never pay that back if we wanted to.  Jesus was the lamb of God who was perfect and without sin.  Yet he died for us.  To the world this might seem like a waste.  Here is the perfect sinless man and we “expend” his life early, on a cross?  The world’s mentality would make him king and use his DNA to not only clone him, but also use as a pattern to make all of us like him.  This is what it cost to purchase our freedom.  The idea of living as if that sacrifice wasn’t that important ought to strike fear to the depths of our heart.  Jesus is our very hope and faith.  To treat his sacrifice as worthless would be to lose everything.

Peter then reminds us about this Jesus who was “Foreknown before the foundations of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”   Sure the Father knew in advance that Jesus would die on the cross.  However, as John says in John 1:1, he was also foreknown in the sense that he existed with the Father in Eternity past.  Before God created the heavens and the earth he sat down and counted the cost.  He knew what would happen and what it would take to save mankind.  Several places in the New Testament talk about what God has done before the foundations of the world were laid.  Here they are.

Mt. 25:34, God prepared a Kingdom for all those who would believe on Jesus Christ.

John 17:24, The Father loved the Son.

Eph. 1:4, We were chosen in Jesus for amazing blessings that are listed.

Heb. 4:3, God finished the work of Rest for us.

Rev. 13:8, Jesus was slain

Rev. 17:8, Our names were written in the book of life.

And of course, we have our verse today in 1 Peter 1.  God has thought this through and worked it all out.  We just need to keep our faith and hope placed in Him.  This is the Jesus that we have believed in.  Can we turn our back on him now?  Shouldn’t we live with a deep fear of what our plight would be if we turned away from Jesus now?  That doesn’t mean fear is our only motivation.  But neither is it healthy for it to be absent.  There are very real and serious danger involved.

Let me close with this.  When we walk in the love of Christ and not for the love of this world those fears will be far away and not as visible.  However, the further we get from the love of Christ and the closer we get to the love of this world, then those fears ought to rise up and warn us to turn back.  That is the issue.  May the Lord draw our hearts fully to Him.

Our Present Life II Audio