Sermon Study - 1 Peter 1:17-21

September 16, 2013

by Jeff Breeding

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Sermon Study

“Fearful but Confident” from 1 Peter 1:17-21. You can listen to the sermon here.

Sermon Review

The main point of our passage is found in verse 17: “Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” This is the third command that Peter has given to his readers. The first was “Set your hope fully,” and the second was, “Be holy in all your conduct.” And now the third command is “Conduct yourselves with fear.” There is a connection between the second and third command that helps us understand Peter’s point. Note that the command to be holy mentions the believer’s conduct, their way of life. And then note that the third command says “Conduct yourselves with fear.” There is a repeating focus on conduct. That leads us to conclude that when Peter says “Conduct yourselves with fear,” he is reiterating the call to holiness. Believers are to conduct their lives in a holy manner, following the holy character of the God who called them.

Fear in this context means a holy reverence that appropriately trembles before God. It is a holy reverence that acknowledges who God is – both gracious Father and righteous Judge. It is a holy reverence that acknowledges what God has accomplished – redeemed us from sin so that we might be holy. And it is holy reverence that acknowledges what God will do – bring all things to light on the day of judgment. It’s not terror, but a reverence and awe before the infinitely holy God.

After giving this command, Peter closes the section by calling us back to the confident hope that believers have through Christ. Beginning in v18 and going until v21, Peter works through different elements of Christ’s work in the gospel. The point is to highlight our confidence in Christ. Let me explain how I see his thought playing out. Peter has already established that part of the purpose of Christ’s ransom was our holiness. He redeemed us for holiness. Now, in the second half of v18, Peter works to show us that Christ’s ransom is absolutely certain. There is nothing that can thwart or question our redemption through Christ. So, if the ransom was certainly accomplished, then the purpose of that ransom – our holiness – will also be certainly accomplished. It’s gospel logic. The ransom was certain; therefore, the purpose of the ransom is certain as well.

For Further Study

In the second half of the passage, Peter emphasizes that Christ’s ransom payment was both sure and certain. The author of Hebrews makes a similar argument in Hebrews 9:11-10:39. Read through that passage and answer the following questions:

  1. According to Hebrews, how is Jesus’ ransom payment sure and certain?
  2. What difference does Jesus’ ransom payment make for the way believers live in the here and now?

For Personal Reflection

If we are to conduct ourselves with fear, we must be willing to ask ourselves the hard questions. Spend some time this week considering the questions below. Pray for God to give you clear insight into your own heart.

  1. Do I consistently ignore conviction from the Holy Spirit, or am I quick to confess my sin both to God and to others?
  2. Do I consistently pursue Scripture and prayer as the means of killing sin and pursuing holiness? Or, do I excuse sin under the guise of cheap grace?
  3. Am I growing in my holy reverence before God as the One who is both Father and Judge? Or, is my approach to God marked by a casual even flippant attitude toward his holiness?

If we are to conduct ourselves with fear, we must also be confident in Christ, remembering that our ransom through his blood is sure and certain. In light of that, spend some time considering these questions as well:

  1. How does Christ's ransom encourage me to continue pursuing holiness before the Lord?
  2. What are some practical ways that I can remember and meditate on Christ's ransom this week?

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