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1 Peter Chapter Two, A Call To Holiness

In our study of 1 Peter chapter two, we look at the calling on our lives to be holy due to our relationship with Jesus Christ. We will look at what the call is and how we can apply it to everyday situations.

1 Peter 2:1 - 3

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Peter starts us off here by telling us to remember what we learned in the first chapter. We are to remember that because we have the hope that we studied in that chapter, we are to get rid of the sin in our lives. We are also reminded from the last chapter that we are given the power to overcome our flesh through the gift of the Holy Spirit. He also tells us to crave pure spiritual food which means not only get rid of the bad but to replace it with the good things which come from God. We also have the promise that, when we do that, we will "grow up" in our salvation. The more you obey God the easier it will get to listen and follow Him.

1 Peter 2:4 & 5

As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

This passage speaks of the transformation of worship from a building to a daily walk. The temple was made out of stone and many stones were stacked on top of each other to create the walls. Here, we see that we are a spiritual house of worship to God. When we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit, we became a house of God and He dwells within us every day. Unlike the Temple, we do not need priests to go to God on our behalf as we have God living in us as the temple. In the old Temple, animal sacrifices were offered as the temporary payment for sin but, through Jesus Christ, our sins are paid for forever. We no longer have to offer sacrifices to be saved but instead we offer spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God because of Jesus. These spiritual sacrifices can be simply putting God first in our lives and that means listening to him and doing what He asks of you.

1 Peter 2:6

For in Scripture it says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.'

Here, Peter quotes from the book of Isaiah the prophet. Isaiah told of the day that Jesus would come and the fact that, when we trust in Him, we will be saved and lifted up. He uses building terms as the people of Isaiah's day could understand building the physical temple. The promise of this verse is for us today as well in that we will not be put to shame when we trust in Jesus as the Cornerstone of our relationship with God.

1 Peter 2:7 & 8

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,' and, 'A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.' They stumble because they disobey the message-which is also what they were destined for.

This passage refers to a tradition about the building of the Temple and we must remember that God had instructed the builders that they were not to shape the stone at the site. It is said that, when the Temple was being built, they brought a large stone up the mount from the quarry to the site. The stone would not fit anywhere and so they set it aside (rejected it). When all of the other stones were put into their places, there was a large hole left at the top corner of the Temple. They retrieved the stone that they had set aside and it was a perfect fit to the spot at the top corner of the Temple. This final stone is called the capstone or the cornerstone. We can see in this tradition, as well as in this passage, a beautiful picture of Jesus and the salvation He offers as He became the Temple. In the last part of this passage, it tells of the rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah. It tells of how Christ can either be a stepping stone for you from where you are to a right relationship with God or cause you to stumble if you reject God's grace through Jesus. Many stumble because it is 'too easy" and we as people want to contribute something to our salvation but we must simply accept the gift and trust in Jesus.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

WOW! What a wonderful basket of gifts from God are contained in this one verse. We are a "chosen people" and He picked us even when we were enemies of God and going our own way. It is only by His grace and mercy and nothing of ourselves. We are a "royal priesthood" and have access to God because of our right relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. This allows us to serve Him with the authority of God. We are a "holy nation" and we are called to be different (set apart) because we are His. We are a "people belonging to God" as we were purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. Since we are His, He will take care of us and we know that we are His because of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. We also see our purpose in all of this which is to "declare the praises of him" and that includes every aspect and event of our lives.

1 Peter 2:10

Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

There is a very key truth in this verse but it is easily missed. The verse speaks of the fact that we were not always God's people because of sin and our will to do our own thing. But, we have received mercy through Jesus Christ and our relationship has been restored. We are now known as "the people of God" and a key word is "the". Today, there are many who are trying to make peace with different "religions" and are even going so far as to deny Jesus as the Son of God. This verse can remind us that there is only one way to be "the people of God" and that is through His Son. Anything other than that is quite simply a lie from the devil and his demons.

1 Peter 2:11

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

In this verse, Peter calls us to be holy and reminds us that this world is not our home. As aliens and strangers, we are called to be different and he reminds us that these sinful desires are battling against our soul. Each and every day, our flesh will try to get us to go one way but the Holy Spirit that is alive in us will try to get us to go God's way. As we grow in our Christian walk, we will be led more by the Spirit and be more conformed to the likeness of Christ.

1 Peter 2:12

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Here, we see another reason for the call to holiness and that is to be a witness to those around us who do not know Jesus. We are called to "Live such good lives" (be holy) so that people around us cannot help but see God at work.

1 Peter 2:13 & 14

Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

As Christians, we are to be model citizens of our countries even though this is not our home. We are called to obey the laws of our land "for the Lord's sake". Jesus himself, when confronted by the authorities, submitted to them even to the point of death. Jesus even asked the Father to forgive them because they didn't know what they were doing. Just as Jesus prayed for the authorities, we should as well and we should pray that they would gain wisdom from God. Those who seek positions of authority should note that they will be held accountable for the manner in which they lead.

1 Peter 2:15

For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.

Actions speak louder than words sometimes and Peter gives us the reason for us to be good citizens. At times, people may laugh at you or say false things about you but, by focusing on glorifying God with our actions, they will be silenced.

1 Peter 2:16

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

Once again, Peter issues the call for us to be holy. We are free to do everything in Christ but we do not do things that dishonor the name of Jesus. He tells us to live as servants (bond slaves) of God. Remember that a bond slave only does the will of his master and, in this case, the master is God.

1 Peter 2:17

Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

Peter gives us guidance on our relationships. We notice that we are to respect all people and this goes back to the first chapter of Genesis where we are told that man was made in the image of God. Because all people are made in God's image, we are to respect them. We are told to love believers and that love is putting them ahead of ourselves as that is the example that Jesus gave us. Finally, we are to honor and respect the authority of the government and sometimes this is tough but we must rest in the fact that God is in control.

1 Peter 2:18 & 19

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.

At first glance, our reaction to this passage is probably "I am not a slave and so this doesn't apply to me" but in fact it does. Most of us have a job where we receive pay for a service that we perform for our boss. The only difference between slavery and a job working for someone else is in the method of payment. The master of a slave was obligated to take care of the slave's physical needs while, in the case of a job, the boss (master) is obligated to give the employee (slave) money to provide for their own needs. Therefore, whether you have a kind, compassionate, Christian boss or one that is only concerned about himself, we are to voluntarily submit to their authority and honor them. If the master is unjust and you suffer, God will call the master to answer for their actions. You will be commended for your obedience to God.

1 Peter 2:20

But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

One of the Hebrew names that describes God is El Tsaddik and it reminds us that God is just and right. Punishment for doing something wrong is commonly called discipline and punishment for doing good things is commonly called persecution. Discipline is, in fact, an act of love and is meant to better the person that is receiving the punishment. A good way to describe it is training and it is the basis for the word "disciple" which Jesus told us to go and make in the Great Commission. Persecution is the opposite and is given to stop someone from doing something good. For example, in many countries, it is illegal to share the Bible with others and if you do so you can be punished (persecuted). Standing firm in the face of this punishment (persecution) brings glory to God and can even bring others to faith in God. That is commendable before God. Do you have a personal story of standing up in the face of persecution? If so, you can share that and help others to stand in the same situation.

1 Peter 2:21

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

If I was to describe what it means to me to be a Christian, this is the verse I would use. It is so simple to understand but a challenge to live. We are simply to stand up and follow the example of Jesus Christ in all of our thoughts and actions because He paid the price for us. We are His bondslaves and He is the most terrific Master that anyone could have.

1 Peter 2:22 & 23

'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

Here, Peter quotes from Isaiah 53:9 which told of the sinless sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus was innocent of all and yet, when He suffered, He did not condemn but continued to put his trust in God to judge. A Hebrew name that describes God is El Tsaddik which means the just and right. Jesus knew that and trusted the Father to deal with His accusers. In fact, Jesus prayed that the Father would forgive them. That is tough to do but Jesus has given us the example of what to do and how to act when we are persecuted or wronged in any way by others. We can remember that, as Jesus was sinless, He suffered for no reason and did so in a manner that glorified God. We should do so as well.

1 Peter 2:24

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

Peter reminds us that Jesus submitted even to the point of giving up His life for those that hated Him and treated Him badly. Because He took away our sins and paid for them, we are healed and can have a right relationship with God. Peter also reminds us that because of that we can and should "die to sins and live for righteousness". To "live for righteousness" is where your every thought and action is based on the will of God and His Word. God also gave us the power to do so through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 2:25

For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Without proper guidance, sheep will just wander off and perish. It is not that they are that stupid, it is simply that they focus on what is directly in front of them and miss the larger picture. But, when properly guided, they can be very productive and the same things are true of man. Left to our own, we can see the effects of sin all around us and the death that goes with it but, when properly guided by God through the Holy Spirit, we all can be productive for the kingdom. If you are ready to answer the call to be holy, you can start by pressing the reset button on your life and coming back to the Shepherd.

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