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© Rosemary Bardsley 2018

In this section of his letter Peter encourages us to live godly lives. He gives several instructions, each of which is grounded in and motivated by either the nature of God or the salvation that we have in Jesus Christ.

Study 1Peter 1:13 to 2:3. List each command/instruction about how we should live, and the reason(s) Peter gives why we should live this way.
Three commands:



Two reasons:


Two commands:


Two reasons:


One command:

Two reasons:


One command:

Two reasons:


Two commands:


Three reasons:




In this section we will look at the instructions that Peter gives us.

A.1 Prepare your minds for action (1:13)
Literally: ‘gird up the loins of your minds’ – a reference to tucking up the Middle Eastern robe into the belt in order to be ready for and capable of physical action. Peter is telling us to be mentally prepared, mentally ready.

Suggest what being mentally prepared for action might mean in your life as a Christian, in terms of:
[1] Understanding who God [Father, Son and Holy Spirit] is:


[2] Understanding what God has done for you in Christ and by his Spirit:


[3] Understanding yourself – as you are in yourself:


[4] Understanding yourself – as you are in Christ:


[5] Understanding what God expects of you:


[6] Understanding the world [local, national and global] in which you live:


The importance that Peter places on our minds is affirmed by Jesus and by Paul:

Check these texts. What do they teach about the importance of our minds?
Matthew 22:37:

Romans 12:2:

Ephesians 4:17-24:


Philippians 2:1-5:


If we have a wrong or deficient understanding of God, of Christ, of the cross, of salvation, of ourselves as sinners, of ourselves as God sees us in Christ, of how God expects us to live, and of the world in which we live, then we will have:

Wrong expectations of God,
Wrong expectations of how God relates to us in Christ,
Wrong expectations of ourselves,
Wrong expectations of our fellow believers, and
Wrong expectations of our world.

We will have set ourselves up for constant disappointment and frustration – with God, about salvation, with ourselves, with our fellow believers and with our world.

But if our minds are prepared for action by the truth God has revealed in his written word, then we will be ready for anything that the world, the flesh and the devil might hurl at us. We will also be prepared for our own failures and those of our fellow Christians.

A.2 Be self-controlled (1:13)
The word translated ‘self-controlled’ in the NIV was translated ‘sober’ in the KJV.

Check the use of this word in these texts. How do they help us to understand what this means?
1Thessalonians 5:4-8:


2Timothy 4:2-5 (‘keep your head’ v.5):


1Peter 4:7:

1Peter 5:8,9:


What are the life-contexts in the above passages that make being ‘self-controlled’ a priority?



How does this command to be ‘self-controlled’ tie in with the previous command to ‘prepare your minds for action’?



A.3 Set your hope fully ... (1:13)
This command includes a built-in motivation as part of the command – ‘set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.’ There is a grand, glorious, eternal aspect of salvation that we do not yet experience, but is assured nonetheless. Peter’s command to us here is to be fully and absolutely confident of that future grace.

And this sure and certain confidence of complete and final salvation when Christ returns is to be lived out in the present context of conflict and suffering that Peter has already mentioned in 1:6-7, and will mention again repeatedly. It is this challenge, this living as strangers in a world that is hostile and that is filled with sin and suffering, including our own sin and suffering, and waiting in this interim for the promised future grace, that makes Peter’s first two commands – to prepare our minds for action and to be self-controlled – so necessary.

There is much that challenges our faith on an intellectual/philosophical basis.
There is much that makes living for Christ difficult physically, mentally and emotionally.
But here is the key: set your hope fully on that future grace promised by Jesus.

Identify in your culture and your circumstances things that confront, challenge or seem to contradict your belief in Christ and your commitment to live for Jesus:




A.4 Do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance – 1:14
This command flows on from the focus on our minds seen in the first command. Before we knew Jesus Christ two things characterized us: evil desires and ignorance of God.

These ‘evil desires’ include more than what is commonly termed ‘evil’ – things like murder, adultery, theft, dishonesty, jealousy. They also, and importantly, include things which, in our ignorance of God, we made the significant centre of our lives:

Our craving for power.
Our lust for popularity, prestige or fame.
Our craving for possessions and wealth.
Our drive to defend, preserve and justify ourselves before humans and before God.

In our lusting after these things we may have looked very ‘good’ on the outside, but they all expressed our human lostness, and our human need for identity, meaning and significance. They all revealed that we were fundamentally ignorant of God. If we had known God there would have been no need to lust after, to crave, to desire, to long for, any of these, for we would have found our true selves in finding God. God himself meets our fundamental human need. All the above are temporary, and ultimately impotent, substitutes.

[1] The only other place in the New Testament where the verb ‘conform’ is used is in Romans 12:2, which was referenced above.

[2] The word translated ‘evil desires’ is epithumia. This word means ‘longing’. It is usually, but not always, used in the New Testament to refer to strong sinful desires, often in phrases like ‘the lusts of the flesh’ (KJV). It can however, simply mean a strong longing. For example, Jesus used it in Luke 22:15 when he talked about how he had been longing to celebrate the Passover with his disciples.

A.5 Be holy in all you do – 1:15,16
This command covers the whole of our life – all of our behaviour. It includes our thoughts, our attitudes, our words and our actions. Everything.

The context and the motivation is: you have been called by God, and God is holy.

What does this ‘be holy’ mean? It means to be like God. And what is it about God that this command is telling us to copy?

There are some aspects of God’s being that we can never copy. For example:

We can never be ‘god’.
We can never be the I AM – the self-existing, self-sufficient, eternal One.
We can never be all-powerful (omnipotent).
We can never be all-knowing (omniscient).
We can never be present everywhere (omnipresent).
We can never be the creator/sustainer/Lord of all.

We can never be who he is in his essence. All that God is in his essence makes him unique. He is the only one of his kind. He alone is God, and there is no other. He is not a common ‘god’. He is not an ordinary, man-made ‘god’.

The word ‘holy’ refers to this uniqueness, this otherness, this set-apart-ness. It informs us of the utter separateness of God. He is the only one of his kind.

And that is what God is commanding us to copy:

He, by his Spirit, has set us apart for himself (sanctified – 1:3).
We belong to him, we no longer belong to ourselves (2:9).
We, set apart by God for God, are no longer ‘ordinary’, no longer for common use.
We are saved by God to live for him.
We are, as Peter has already taught us, ‘strangers in the world’.

So Peter is commanding us, repeating the command of God in Leviticus 19:2, to be holy – to be unique, to stand out from the crowd, because God is holy – God is the only God: unique, one of a kind, holy.

Not to be controlled by the mindset of the world around us (verse 13).
Not to be conditioned by the hopelessness of the world around us (verse 13).
Not to be conformed to the desires and longings of the world around us (verse 14).

That would be to display an ignorance of God and a still severed relationship with God (verse 14).

But to reflect the uniqueness of the One who called us out of that world and unto himself.

That will display that we are even now children of God and that we are now no longer ignorant of God (verse 14).

A.6 Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear – 1:17
Peter again points out that those who believe in Jesus Christ are ‘strangers’ here (see is first reference to this in 1:1). We do not belong here, we belong to God, we belong to his Kingdom, we belong in the new heavens and the new earth. Peter gives a similar command in 2:11: ‘I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.’

There is a strong connection between the fear of the Lord and godly living. Our knowledge of God generates an immense awe, a reverential fear, that exposes the inappropriateness of all ungodliness and all lack of faithfulness to God.

Check these texts. How do they express the connection between reverence for God and how we choose to live?
Leviticus 19:13-14:

Leviticus 25:17, 35,36:

Deuteronomy 6:2:

Job 31:16-23:

Proverbs 8:13a:


The pressure put upon us by the world we live in to conform to its mindset/worldview and deteriorating moral standards is great. Great is the pressure to ‘go with the flow’, to be one of the crowd, to go along with the ‘everybody’s doing it’ or ‘everybody says’ mindset. But greater still is God, and the reverence in which we are to hold him.

Discuss the tension between our reverential fear of God and the changing views and practices of our culture in relation to:
The origin of life (the creation/evolution debate).


The sanctity of human life (abortion, euthanasia, bioethics).


Acceptable sexual practices.


Gender fluidity.



A.7 Love one another deeply from the heart – 1:22
Peter here instructs us about the love we are to have for each other as believers.

Suggest what Peter means by:

‘from the heart’

Peter commands us to love [the word is agapao – which is the word used of God loving us] one another ‘deeply’ [the word is ektenos – which means intensely, fervently], and ‘from the heart’, or, as some ancient manuscripts read ‘from a pure heart’. This love that Peter commands takes us beyond the love that he says already exists. It is an intense, enduring love, like the love of God. It arises from deep within the heart.

So Peter is saying to us: you do love your fellow believers, so really love them. Love them intensely. Love them without limit. Love them as God has loved you.

How do these texts help you to understand the kind of love Peter means?
John 13:34

Ephesians 4:32 - 5:2

Colossians 3:12-14

1John 3:16-18

1John 4:7-12


A.8 Rid yourselves of ... - 2:1

List the negative attitudes Peter commands us to be rid of.




Compare Peter’s list with other New Testament lists of sinful attitudes and behaviours:
1Corinthians 6:9,10


Galatians 5:19-21


Ephesians 4:25, 29-31


Ephesians 5:3,4


Colossians 3:5,8,9


Personal inventory:
From Peter and Paul’s lists of sinful behaviours we are to put off, identify

[1] which behaviours you would personally find most difficult to get rid of,


[2] what you are going to do about this, and


[3] what will motivate you to deal with it.


A.8 Crave pure spiritual milk – 2:2
The Greek text, reflected in the KJV ‘desire the sincere milk of the word’, is more specific than the NIV ‘crave pure spiritual milk’. It identifies what we are to crave, to greatly desire: the ‘word’, that is the word of God.

Peter is urging us to be just as anxious for the word of God as a new born baby is anxious for milk; to be just as unsatisfiable with anything other than the word of God as a new born baby is unsatisfiable with anything other than milk.

Study these verses from the Psalm 119. How do they express this focused love of and yearning for God’s word?

This delight in and honour of the word of God was a governing principle in the life of Jesus Christ:

He was committed to obey the word of God – Matthew 4:1-11.
He was committed to fulfil the word of God – Matthew 5:18; 26:54,56.
He spoke the words of God – John 3:34, 17:8,14.
His whole purpose was to do the will of God – Hebrews 10:5-10.

Peter commands us to be just like this.

Like David, aware of our utter dependence on the word of God.
Like David, longing for and loving the word of God.
Like David, zealous for the honour of the word of God.
Like Jesus, totally committed to obey the word of God.
Like Jesus, totally committed to do the will of God revealed in the word of God.

Personal assessment: To what extent is this attitude to the word of God true of your attitude to the word of God?



Important note: Peter specifically instructs us to crave ‘pure spiritual milk’ - the word of God undiminished, undiluted, uncorrupted by the addition of human ideas, including ideas imported from other belief systems.

For extended studies on the issue of false teaching go here - http://godswordforyou.com/joomla4/how-to/deal-with-false-teaching.html