“If you appeal to the Father who judges impartially according to each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in reverence during your time living as strangers. For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but, with the precious blood of Christ, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb.”
Peter begins the next section with “If you appeal to the Father…” The NIV translates this as “Since you call on the Father…” And the NET: “And if you address the Father…” I like the NIV, because the assumption isn’t if, but when. Since we do call on the Father, we need to understand that he judges impartially, according to each of our works.
The God of the universe is the one who judges us. Even though he is our Father, he shows no favoritism toward his children. Aren’t you glad? He treats all of us equally! Nothing we do or not do is going to cause him to love us more. But he will discipline us. Hebrews 12: 5-6 says, “And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons:
My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly
or lose heart when you are reproved by him,
for the Lord disciplines the one he loves
and punishes every son he receives.”
We shouldn’t misunderstand these verses though. This is about how we conduct ourselves here and now. This is not about the final judgement. Remember what we learned in Ephesians. Paul writes, “The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory” (1:14). We have the guarantee of our salvation once we have put our trust in Jesus.
We are to conduct ourselves with reverence. Some versions translate this as conduct yourselves with fear. Wayne Grudem writes in his commentary, “Fear (phobos) of God’s discipline is a good and proper attitude, the sign of a New Testament church growing in maturity and experiencing God’s blessing…Moreover fear of God is connected with growth and holiness elsewhere in the New Testament.” Here are some of the verses he uses to support this. “So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers” (Acts 9:31). “Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will be afraid” (1 Timothy 5:20). “Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
We are to conduct ourselves in reverence during our time living as strangers. What does he mean by living as strangers? We are temporary residents here. Paul writes in Philippians 1:27-28, “Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel, not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your salvation—and this is from God.” This brings to my mind the time I went on a mission trip to Mexico over 30 years ago. We had a college student with us who was taking us to and from the location where we would build a house and lead a Vacation Bible School. On our way back across the border to the United States, the guard asked, “Citizenship?” Without hesitation, this girl called back “Heaven!” I’ve never forgotten this! Too often we forget where our true citizenship is, and we let the burdens of this world get us down. Some of my favorite verses right now are these. “Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
“For you know that…” begins a new sentence, but in the Greek it is a continuation of the previous sentence, using the phrase “knowing that…” Grudem states, “Though it is not made explicit by Peter, the sense seems to be, ‘conduct your lives with fear of God’s discipline(v.17), because you know that God redeemed you out of a sinful manner of life at great cost, with the precious blood of Christ (vv. 18-19).’”
Let’s first look at the word redeemed. It means to gain or regain possession of something in exchange for a payment. John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus redeemed us by his blood on the cross. Romans 5: 8-11 says, “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, since we have now been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. And not only that, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.” We are reconciled to the Father because of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. We were sinners. Jesus was sinless. He took on our sin and was the sacrifice for us. In the Old Testament the Israelites were to take an unblemished animal to sacrifice on the altar for their sin offering (see Exodus 12:5 and Leviticus 1:3-5). Hebrews 9:13-14 says, “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we can serve the living God?”
We have been redeemed from our empty way of life inherited from our fathers. Today that can refer to anything that is not of God. I looked up ‘empty’ and found these references: empty arguments (Ephesians 5:6); philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition (Colossians 2:8); empty notions of their unspiritual mind (Colossians 2:18); empty speculations (1 Timothy 1:4); empty speech and contradictions from what is falsely called knowledge (1 Timothy 6:20); and empty talk and deception (Titus 1:10). There is a lot of emptiness in the world today. I am thankful that we are redeemed from that!
The last thing I want to cover is the precious blood of Christ. We have already discussed that Jesus had to be without sin in order to redeem us. Peter says we were redeemed not with perishable things such as silver and gold but with the precious blood of Christ. He once again refers to gold. Gold was the most valuable substance on earth. He uses something that his readers would recognize as being exceedingly valuable, and calls it perishable, especially compared to the precious blood of Christ.
I will end with this. Our conduct matters. We are to live our lives in such a way that it brings glory to God. We have been redeemed from our old way of life!
Grace be with you!
2 responses to “1 Peter 1:17-19”
As usual – This is so good. Challenge or Study questions would be great!
What are some empty things in your life?
How can you improve your conduct as a believer in light of your heavenly citizenship?
What are some areas where you are weak in your conduct that you need Christ to cover?
What does it mean to you that you are redeemed?