I. Christ motivates us to holy living (13-16)
II. Christ has redeemed us (17-21)
III. Our lives have been changed by God’s Word (22-25)
I. Christ motivates us to holy living (13-16)
• What is the “therefore” there for?
• What is the motivation for the behavior verses 13-16 encourage us to have?
• How does Christ’s sacrifice motivate you?
• What does it mean to “prepare your minds for action?” Where is the battle for holiness in the life of a Christian won or lost? Are your minds prepared? How to ensure that we are winning the battle in our minds?
• What does it mean to keep sober in spirit? How can you keep sober in spirit?
• Where are you fixing your hope? Let’s imagine that an unbiased third-party examined your life to see where you fix your hope; where might they look?
• How can we take the way of escape when we encounter temptations? Why does it say that these were ours in ignorance?
• What is our motivation supposed to be for being holy? Define holiness.
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 2:5 – In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
Proverbs 17:22 – A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Matthew 15:11 – What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
2 Corinthians 4:16 – Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
Verses on Holiness
2 Corinthians 7:1 – Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Thessalonians 4:7 – For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
Hebrews 12:14 – Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Leviticus 20:26 – You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. The previous verses tell us of the importance of the coming of the Messiah. For thousands of years the Old Testament prophets studied the Scriptures in depth to try to find out more about the time and details of His coming. The angels also wanted to know more about it, and still do desire to know more about His second coming. We are in an extremely privileged position because much of what the Old Testament prophets wanted to learn, we already know. We have the benefit of seeing a much larger section of God’s plan than they did. We can learn from the life of Christ and understand in depth God’s plan for redemption. Simply put, we know much more than they did.
Yet how does this knowledge change us? What good does this knowledge do us? What should we do because of this knowledge? That is what this section of Scripture is about. Most of the rest of the chapter focuses on practical application for believers.
2. First, we are to prepare our minds for action. This shows us two areas of the Christian life, the mind and our behavior. Which one comes first? Obviously, the mind. Our brain first decides what it wants to do. Then, it sends signals to our body. After that, our muscles respond by carrying out the wishes of the brain.
This mirrors a very important Scriptural truth, which is that the battle is fought in the mind. Jesus alluded to this when He pointed out that we are guilty for our sinful thoughts (such as lust and hate) before God, even if we didn’t do any wrong action. Yet most of the time, a person’s thoughts will dictate his actions. Can you give any biblical examples?
The Pharisees’ jealousy led them to kill Jesus. Eve saw that the fruit was attractive and so ate it. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him and so sold him as a slave. The list goes on and on. Every willful sin first comes from an evil desire in the mind.
James 1:13-15 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
The battle is in our mind (sometimes referred to as the heart, the center of our thoughts). If you lose the battle there, eventually your evil desires will be carried out. How can we win this battle? How do we prevent ourselves from thinking evil thoughts? Can we control it? If we win the battle in our minds and actively focus on the things of God, we will naturally follow His will.
What can do to ensure we win this battle?
A. Realize that what goes in is what will come out. If we fill our minds with junk (bad music, movies, trash books, silly romantic forums, vanity and gossip) then this will influence our behavior. If we fill our minds with the things of God (Bible, Christian books, Christian fellowship, verse memory) then this, too, will show itself in our actions.
B. Be proactive. Do not allow your thoughts to run wild anywhere they please. You have to take control of your thoughts. How? Evaluate whether the thoughts that pop into your mind are edifying or not. If they are lustful or tempting in any way, then stop it! Never think that you can control it, that you will just enjoy fantasizing about the temptation, but not do it. Don’t even start going down that road.
C. Don’t be idle. As you have probably heard many times, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.” Keep yourself and your mind busy doing good things. Don’t just sit around lazily, or you will be more likely to fall into temptation.
3. The second part of that phrase says “for action”. We prepare our minds by feeding ourselves the Word of God. But it doesn’t stop there. We need to take action on what we know is right. It is not enough to say “I should help the poor.” We must take action to do it. It is not enough to say, “I should share the gospel with my family.” We must set meetings or purposefully bring up the gospel in conversations with them. It is not enough to say “I should read the Bible every day” or “I should have times of prayer and quiet times with person X.” We must do it. A plan without a strategy is doomed to fail, and a strategy that is never put into motion is useless.
4. Keep sober in spirit. John MacArthur says that being sober in spirit includes “steadfastness, self-control, clarity of mind, and moral decisiveness.” We need to understand the importance of living our lives for God. We need to understand the stakes of God’s battle with Satan and Satan’s desperation to attack believers. We need to understand that the world is scrutinizing everything we do looking for a reason to reject the message that we preach. We need to understand that sin is serious, no laughing matter. We need to take our responsibilities to our family, our brothers and sisters in Christ, our neighbors, and our society seriously.
Perhaps the opposite of having a sober spirit is following the carefree lifestyle of “
Eat, drink, and be merry.” Life is much more than this. Don’t waste your life.
5. Fix your hope. The first part of this chapter was mostly about the living hope that believers have. This living hope defines everything we do. Sometimes in this polluted world with a myriad of new problems every day, it is easy to lose sight of this hope and get bogged down in the hustle and bustle around us. This is why Peter tells us to fix our hope completely on God’s grace.
Hebrews 12:2 – Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
To be successful, an athlete must fix his eyes on the finish line and the prize that comes with finishing first. For us to be successful, we must fix our eyes on Christ and never let anything take His place.
6. God’s grace has changed our lives and holds us to new higher standards. We must not go back to our previous way of life. While an unbeliever, we may have made excuses for our sins. In some cases, we might have actually thought that doing something wrong was acceptable since everyone was doing it. Whether or not we had this excuse before, now we do not. We know God’s commands. We know his standards. We are no longer ignorant.
So how can we fight lusts? How can we better ensure that we don’t go back to our former lifestyle?
7. Verses 15-16 list the key character quality Christians should strive for and why. That is holiness. We are to be holy because God is holy. God is perfect, the Creator of the universe. He is our ultimate example. If there is no God, ultimately there can be no standard for determining right and wrong. There would be no reason for being moral beyond the fact that it might make you feel good.
But, because God is true, He defines the standards for all of creation. Since He is perfect, we should strive to be like Him. In the Old Testament you can see that worshipers of false gods become like them. The worshipers of Baal that Elijah was challenging cut themselves up when appealing to their god. Many times, they worshiped their god by committing gross sexual sins at the very temple of their god.
A weak sinful god breeds weak sinful followers, since a sinful god would never judge them for doing the same sins it does. A righteous, just, holy, and loving God, inspires His followers to ever greater heights. If you find that you are struggling with holiness (and we all are), study and meditate on God’s character. Never be satisfied or content with sin. Notice that this verse says we should be holy in all we do. Not just some, 50% or 80% or even 99%. ALL. This is our goal. Is it attainable? On our own it is not. But with God’s grace each time we face temptation, we can be victorious. Sin is not necessary. There is never a case where we “have” to sin.
II. Christ has redeemed us (17-21)
- What do we learn here about the judgment?
- What is the basis for the judgment?
- How should this influence our actions?
- Why does it say this should cause us fear if we have already trusted in Christ?
- What does “redeemed” mean?
- What is the relationship between Christ redeeming us and the judgment?
- What do we learn here about “foreknown”? How does relate to the fact that God foreknows the elect?
- How is the period of time when Jesus came referred to? Why is it called the last times? Are we still in these “last times” or past them?
- How should Christ’s redemption of us affect our lives and behavior?
Verses on Judgment
2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Revelation 22:12 – Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.
Romans 14:10-12 – You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
Verses on Redemption
Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Colossians 1:14 – In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:20-22 – And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.
1 John 3:16 – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. God is an impartial judge. He doesn’t favor the rich or the poor. He doesn’t favor the famous or the weak. He doesn’t favor man or woman, or any race. He is the perfect judge. He is perfectly fair and perfectly just.
2. The basis for the judgment is our deeds. In the book of Acts. Paul was on trial, not really for anything wrong he had done. In the sight of the law, he had done no wrong, but the leaders hated him and his cause. They therefore put pressure on the judges who were deciding Paul’s case. These unfairly kept him in prison with no evidence and though he had broken no law. Paul repeatedly defended himself saying he had broken no law. But they didn’t care about his actions, only about political pressure. The judges over Paul were bad judges, completely unjust. God is not like them.
The good news for us is that God doesn’t care about political pressure. He will look at our deeds and nothing else.
We all like fairness, right? Fairness makes a good judge.
The bad news is that although we might not be convicted based on the laws of our country, our deeds will condemn us in God’s sight, because we have not lived up to His standards. If we are practicing sin, we have reason to fear, knowing that God sees everything we do.
Therefore, we have both good news and bad.
3. More good news (the best news) is that God knows no one can pass this test and provided a way for us to be saved from judgment- the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Christ redeems us.
Nothing else can. No amount of money can save us. No quantity of materials. No amount of effort. Christ’s blood is the only thing that can wipe out our debt and place us to right standing with God. This blood is precious. It’s precious because it belongs to God’s Son. He is innocent. He is perfect. He didn’t deserve to die. Jesus has the utmost value in God’s eyes, but God gave Him up for us. This was a very high price to pay. How should this high price of redemption affect our lives now?
4. Obviously we should be grateful. At the same time, it should remind us about the seriousness of sin. If sin wasn’t serious, Christ wouldn’t have had to die. But He did. Every sin we commit contributed to the necessity for Christ to hang on that cross, bleeding out in front of the world. Every sin we commit held Him there. He had to suffer the penalty for every sin we have and ever will commit. If our hearts are sensitive to pain or suffering, this will touch us. Hopefully, it will motivate us to stop it. Stop sinning. Sin is not forgiven for free. Sin must be punished. Christ took it so we wouldn’t have to. That should motivate us to love and serve Him.
5. He was foreknown. Here is another use of that word. It indicates again that this word doesn’t just mean God knew ahead of time. God didn’t just know ahead of time that Christ would die. He planned it. The myriads of prophecies in the Old Testament confirm that God planned this ahead of time. Therefore, when the Bible says that God foreknew the elect, it doesn’t just mean that He knew ahead of time we would believe. It means that He ordained it ahead of time.
6. The last times – Between Christ’s first and second coming is all the period of “last time” or “last days” or “last day” or “last times”. We are in the final era of the world. If two thousand years ago was already the last times, now it must be at the end of the last times!
Application: The world is drawing to an end. Are you redeeming the time? Are you ready?
III. Our lives have been changed by God’s Word (22-25)
- Why should we love others? How should we love others (sincerely and fervently)? Why can we love others?
- How is the word of God described? Why are these two adjectives (living and enduring) chosen? How is the word of God compared to earthly things?
- What are some other verses which tell us about the word of God?
Verses on the Word of God
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Matthew 24:35 – Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
Luke 11:28 – He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Our obedience is based on the truth. While sharing the gospel, many have said, “The Bible is good. It has good morals and principles inside. It shows us how to be a good person.” Their idea is that the Bible has helpful principles for us to live by, yet they don’t believe in God. They like the Bible because it shows us to do good deeds, but they don’t accept its primary message or believe that it is the truth.
However, if the Bible is not the truth, there is no point in studying it. There is no point in obeying it. If it is not the true standard from God, then it is just some dead peoples’ opinion and therefore doesn’t matter. But the Bible is truth. We do what is right because we know that it is right.
2. From the last verses, we see one of Peter’s key concerns for the brethren. He exhorts the believers to be holy, to purify their souls. This is one of our chief goals during our time on earth. We are to be holy as He is holy. We are to be sanctified day by day.
3. As our souls are sanctified and our hearts are cleansed, this will affect our everyday lives and our actions, meaning that we will begin to show love to the people around us. Over a long period of time this love cannot be forced or faked. True love must come from our heart. People will be able to tell if the good things we do for them stem from our own selfish motivation.
True love cares only for the other person and is not focused on oneself. Two words (one adjective and one adverb) are mentioned for how we are to love others. The first is “sincere.” What are some examples of insincere love? How about sincere love? Sincere love comes from the heart. It comes with no strings attached and no catch. It is giving a gift with no thought of return
James 1:27 – Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
The second word is “fervently.” We are to fervently love others. This shows the degree we are to love others. It is not halfhearted. It is not sometimes. It is not 80% (as in I will be nice to you most of the time and that is OK). It is complete and willing to do anything in our power for others just as Christ gave His very life for us.
4. This type of love is not natural. In fact, our nature is dead set against it. But, we have been born again, therefore, God gives us the strength to do it where we by ourselves would fail.
5. The Word of God – It is living and enduring. For many of the questions we ask in study (IE: how do we know God’s character? How can we grow closer to Christ? How can we strengthen our faith? How do we know God’s will?) can be answered correctly “Bible.”
But why is the Bible so powerful? Why can the Bible change our lives? Because it is God’s Word. It is living and active. It ministers to real people with real needs in real life situations. It answers every important question we can ask about our life and this world.
It contains every guiding principle we need for how to shape our character and direct our life. It contains everything we need to know about who is our God, His character, and His standards for us.
Virtually everything we see around us will one day perish and be destroyed, but God’s Word endures. Its power will never fade. Its truth will never change. Its message will never need to be updated. It has eternal value and it can influence our lives and our destiny for eternity. The things around us will fade in importance. Careers end. Achievements fade with passing time. Success is forgotten.
Power will change hands. Physical fitness will fail. Fat bank accounts will grow empty. Relationships (if not founded on God) may break apart. Homes and cars will get broken. God’s Word still remains unchanged. It can and should change our very lives.
What applications can we make from the fact that the Word of God is living and enduring and far more important than the temporary earthly things around us?
A. Love it. The beginning of the next chapter shows us that we need to crave God’s Word as newborn babies crave pure spiritual milk.
B. Memorize it. Get God’s Word into our hearts so that we will not forget it.
C. Study it. Dig into it to learn everything we can about God and His plan for our lives.
D. Read it. Keep reading it through and through. Although we may have read it before, we will forget some of it. We need to be reminded about the truths in it since our flesh is sinful.
E. Teach it. We must share God’s Word with others. Whether they know it or not, they need it. It is much more important than whatever earthly things they are spending their time on. We must pass it on to others and teach them to do the same.
F. Obey it. Don’t just know the Bible. Don’t just build up spiritual knowledge. Apply it. Allow God to use His Words to change our lives. It may not be easy. It may require losing face or changing a habit that our flesh loves. Make the sacrifice for God. Offer your body as a living sacrifice to Him.
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