Author: Ron Graham

Peter

Our Right Response to God
—Obedience, love, hunger and growth

Our previous lesson in First Peter, examined the first three of seven things we must show in our hearts and lives, so as to make a right response to God. In this lesson we look at the other four.

1 A Godfearing Obedience

1Peter 1:13-17

The value, and indeed even the necessity, of obedience to God is questioned in some circles. Peter however assures us that we must be "children of obedience" (1Peter 1:14). He says, "Conduct yourselves with fear" (1Peter 1:17). This, however, does not contradict the "great mercy" of our heavenly Father (1Peter 1:3). God is not unconditionally merciful. When Peter says, "fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you" (1Peter 1:13) he has just said, "Gird your minds for action" (1Peter 1:13). The attitude of hope demands action.

The grace of God demands our obedience to Christ (cf Titus 2:11-14 and 1Peter 1:2). Without giving our best to that obedience, we cannot receive God's best for us. God won't save someone who won't believe and obey Jesus. We understand, of course, that our best cannot merit salvation without Christ. Nevertheless obedience is a condition of our receiving God's best through his great mercy and grace, and obedience is the right response to that grace.

2 A Sincere Love

1Peter 1:22

Our obedience to God means above all that we love others. This love must be sincere and unhypocritical (1Peter 1:22), shown without favour. I do not understand this, as some do, to mean "unconditional love" because it is tied in with "the living and abiding word of God" (1Peter 1:23). Love has to be according to truth and justice, which makes it conditional.

A love based on a disregard for truth is not a sincere love. For example, imagine someone says, "If you really loved me, you'd be willing to tell a lie to keep me out of jail". There are conditions on what we will do for a person out of love for them. God is love, yet his love is conditional, as we noted in the previous point. Our love should imitate the love of God. Such love on our part is the right response to God's love toward all mankind.

3 A Childlike Hunger

1Peter 2:1-3

Peter likens our hunger for God's word, and our taste for his kindness, to the hunger of a newborn babe for the mother's milk. When a baby wants its breakfast, a baby wants its breakfast! This hunger and thirst for God's truth is a right response to that truth which God has so kindly made known to us through Jesus Christ.

[Note: Peter is not using the milk analogy in the same way that Paul uses it (1Corinthians 3:2 Hebrews 5:12 ). Peter is not telling us to be spiritual infants or to eat spiritual baby food. He is illustrating the strong desire for spiritual food, not the quality of the food.]

4 Being Built Up for a Holy Priesthood

1Peter 2:5

We are being "built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God". It is of course God who is building us up, and helping us grow, through his word and his providence. However we are "living stones" and active in worshipping God in the ways that he accepts. All Christians are priests in God's temple, and our worship that we offer to God is a right response to his making us a chosen people and a royal priesthood called into the light (1Peter 2:9).

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