How God Purifies Our Souls from Sin

1 Peter 1:22–25, Part 1


How does the faith in Jesus by which we were saved relate to the new life in Jesus for which we were saved? How do we pursue purity by grace, and not just our own resolve or discipline? In this lab, John Piper tackles a difficult question about obedience, pulling apart the various things that happen when we’re born again.

Principle for Bible Reading

When you come to a difficult question in a text, look for help first in the immediate context, then in the book in which you’re studying, and then lastly to other places in Scripture. Search other places within the book or more widely in Scripture for the same words or phrases.

Study Questions

  1. Explain the relationship in Peter’s mind between purity, obedience, and love explained in 1 Peter 1:22. Use your own words, and for the sake of this exercise, limit yourselves to this verse.
  2. What does “obedience to the truth” mean in 1 Peter 1:22? What reasons would you give for your explanation?
  3. Read Galatians 5:6, 1 Timothy 1:5, Acts 15:8–9, and 1 Peter 4:17. Explain how each might help us understand what Peter means in 1 Peter 1:22.
Piper: “Father, show us what love is, and perform it in our hearts.”

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:30)

Obedience to the Truth (02:30–05:17)

  • The love in 1 Peter 1:22 comes from a purified heart. (1 Peter 1:20)
  • The question for those who want love, then, is how we are purified.
  • The answer in 1 Peter 1:22 is through obedience to the truth.
  • Is that obedience obedience to the law (1 Peter 1:22)? Or is Peter talking about another obedience?
  • No, “obedience to the truth” (1 Peter 1:22) is faith and hope in the gospel.

Five Reasons for Faith in the Gospel (05:17–09:58)

  1. Love is the overflow of obedience to the truth (not itself obedience to the truth). (1 Peter 1:22, Galatians 5:6, 1 Timothy 1:5)
  2. The new birth is another way of talking about the purification of our souls, and the new birth happens through believing the good news. (1 Peter 1:23–25)
  3. People “who do not obey the gospel” in 1 Peter 4:17 are people who do not trust in the gospel.
  4. Faith unites us to Christ, and faith has a sanctifying and cleansing effect. (Acts 15:8–9)
  5. In the verse before (1 Peter 1:21), Peter talks about our faith and hope being in God, and then immediately says, “Having purified our souls . . .”

Let Your Faith Overflow in Love (09:58–11:29)

  • My conclusion is “obedience to the truth” means faith and hope in the gospel. (1 Peter 1:22)
  • Our souls are purified through faith by our union with Christ (counted as perfectly pure) and we are purified through this faith because it produces brotherly love.
  • Let your faith and hope overflow in love for others.
Piper: “We don’t obey our way into purity by keeping the law.”