How can we be expected to live a holy life in the midst of this sinful world?
We are bombarded daily with things that children of God shouldn't focus on. We're encouraged to wallow in junk. Television commercials and radio ads.....internet click-teasers..... billboards ..... Everywhere we look, anytime we are listening, we are inundated with images and sounds and thoughts of things that are unholy. (I don't mean that there is no good at all in tv, radio, internet, etc. I'm just pointing to the fact that many of the things there are not in line with God's will for his children!)
And the hostility toward Christians? Wow, has it ever increased in the last few years.....we hear of be-headings and executions in the Sudan and other countries. Believers are lined up in Iran and asked to pledge faith to Islam instead of Christ, and those who won't buckle under are killed. Even in western countries, faithful believers are singled out for ridicule and persecution.
But Peter says we need to live with holiness in this world that is hostile to us.
I think he gives us some good pointers to help us out....
First, he says in verse two (of the first chapter of I Peter) that we are chosen by "the sanctifying work of the Spirit." The word that he uses means "setting apart" and he's talking about when the Spirit takes a believer from this world and sets him in his or her place in the community of God's children. But here is the cool part: see that "ing" on the end of the word? There is an active, ongoing process where the Spirit continues to separate us and move us closer to God....further from the world. All we have to do is submit to Him and then participate in the process. Namely, seek that close relationship with Christ.
Next, Peter mentions "obedience." Not only are we obedient when we accept the gospel, but a saving faith is a very active faith -- we want to please Him, and so we continue to be obedient.
Third, Peter mentions the "sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" and this refers back to Moses' sprinkling the Israelites with blood when the Covenant first began.
Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Exodus 24:8)Just as then, we are cleansed from sin when the blood of Christ is applied to our hearts when we commit ourselves by faith to follow Him. And just as in the word "sanctifying," there is an ongoing process here.....the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all of our sins at the moment that we accept Him, and there is also a repeated cleansing whenever we confess our sins:
(I John 1:9)There's one last key word that Peter uses in his first letter, that has to do with being holy in an unholy world that is very hostile to us. That is the word "submit."
That goes against EVERYTHING that the world wants to say. Today people are all about their rights. All about what offends them. All about what makes them happy. People are advised to assert themselves. To make their wants known. Even to demand what they want, and seek "fulfillment."
For believers, it is different. When we face trials, we can complain about how unfair it is. We can look for the quick way out. We can search for the easy way out. Or we can submit to God and trust that He has chosen us, and He has a plan for our lives. We can rest in the knowledge that He is in control, and with the trial, will illuminate the way that we should respond. (And you know what? That is how we find fulfillment! And we find peace. And contentment.)
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)I heard a preacher once say that when we are dropped into the boiling pot of trials, we can be like an egg, or we can be like a potato. An egg goes in the boiling water soft, but comes out hard.....a potato goes in hard, but comes out soft. If we submit to our Father, He will soften our hearts and bless us with hope, joy, and peace as we live in an unholy world.