How can we stay pure in an increasingly polluted world? And when I say “world” I am not thinking of the planet, or people, but philosophy…the current system of thought – the predominant mind set that exists in our society. Some would say that purity is only realized through isolation, withdrawing from the world so that it won’t rub off on you. But the Bible says…”that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). Maybe this is where the phrase: we are not OF the world, we are IN the world, originated. In fact Jesus prayed for His disciples about their relationship to the world…”I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:14-15). Jesus in effect is saying, ‘don’t isolate them from the world – but insulate them by keeping them from the evil one.’
I want to remind you of one incentive that Peter offers you in the first chapter of his first Epistle for remaining pure in a polluted world. For the sake of understanding the context, the first 12 verses focus on living in hope – v.3…”Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Then from verses 13-19 he focuses on living in holiness – v.13…”fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Then in verses 15-16 we read…”but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Hope and holiness go together, 1 John 3:2-3 – “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” When Christ appears we will see Him, and as a result of seeing Him, we shall be made like Him. In His presence sin will be eradicated from us and we will reflect His glory and through the majesty of that moment we will be made like Him. Sin doesn’t stand a chance in the presence of the risen and glorified Christ. When Jesus appears the Father will unleash a power in His people that will forever expel every sinful impulse from their souls and replace them with a mind, will, disposition, and character of Christ Himself – what a day that will be! But here is the really important practical point of it all…our present possession of such a hope is a strong incentive for our purity of life. The hope that we possess is incompatible with indifference to the pollution around us. It’s not easy to live in this world and maintain a pure lifestyle. So let’s take a brief look at the first of several incentives Peter lays before us for remaining pure.
We have a future hope – v.13 – “Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The revelation of Jesus Christ is another expression for the ‘living hope’ and ‘appearing of Jesus Christ.’ You and I live in the future tense. Our present actions are governed/guided by a future hope. Our outlook often determines the outcome, just as our attitude has a way of shaping our actions. So how does this future hope preserve our purity amidst the pollution?
“Gird your minds for action”…reminds us of the importance of a disciplined mind. It suggests pulling all your thoughts together – no room for sloppy thinking – tuck in your robe to run! Discipline your mind to centre your thoughts on the return of Christ. Perhaps this is an illusion to the Passover (v.19) in which Israel was to eat in haste and ready to run…”eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’S Passover” (Exodus 12:11). Bottom line…a Christian who is looking for the return of Christ has a greater motivation for present obedience than one who lives ignoring the reality altogether.
“Keep sober in spirit”…reveals to us of the value of a sober mind. This is a calm, steady, and controlled mind that weighs matters carefully. Some people get carried away with prophetic studies and lose their spiritual balance. Christ’s coming should encourage us to be calm and collected – “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1Peter 4:7).
“Fix your hope completely”…instructs us of the importance of having an optimistic mind. Hope to the end, set your hope fully – have a hopeful outlook! When we think hard about the glorious hope that awaits us our whole life becomes saturated with an unquenchable optimism. So, when your outlook is gloomy – try the up-look!