“Though you have not seen him” — and that is sure true of us in the 21st century, right? We sometimes wish we could, but thousands of people saw him and did not believe in him. You might not want that because they will be more guilty, I think.
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8–9)
The Affectional Nature of Christian Life
See, he’s describing the affectional nature of the Christian life with an absent Jesus — absent in the flesh.
You love him, you believe in him, you rejoice, and your joy is inexpressible. It is literally glorified. What does that mean? The joy of the Christian is glorified. I think it means that we see the glory coming at the revelation of Christ. We see our inheritance coming, and that hope streams back in and awakens joy so that the joy that’s awakened participates in what is making it so happy, namely the glory of Christ arriving on the clouds or appearing with him in death. So we have joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, and we love him.
What does it mean to love Jesus? Don’t quote John 14 or John 16:14 and say it means obey him. “Whoever loves me will keep my commandments.” That’s true. But it says the opposite of what you’re using it to defend. It says, “If you love him, you will obey.” It doesn’t say love is obey. Love is before obey. Love is Matthew 10:37: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
What kind of love is that? Well, the kind you have for your child, can you have for dad? It’s affection, it’s treasuring. “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed,” Paul said (1 Corinthians 16:22). Love for the Lord is finding Jesus more valuable than anything. Philippians 3:8: “ I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” To love Christ is to find Christ more precious in your heart than anything. That’s love for Jesus.
I came to a church, to kind of a Scandinavian work-hard church 35 years ago, and the vocabulary of the place was all laborious. Everybody was a worker for Jesus. That was the language in those days: “We worked for Jesus.” “We need more workers.” “We need workers Sunday morning,” and there were 24 deacons, and they all talked about workers, and there was one man, Rawlen, and he talked about loving Jesus. He was radiant. Nobody else talked about loving Jesus. Everybody talked about working for Jesus.
Actually, they didn’t talk about working for Jesus. They talked about working for the Lord. You never used the word “Jesus.” That was too affectionate. Well, things have changed, and we believe in affectional language and you should too. Love him — rejoice, believe, glorified joy.
Prophetic and Angelic Longing
Let me jump ahead here. First Peter 1:10–12:
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
So this whole section right here is about the prophets and how they prophesied not knowing fully what they were predicting but longing to know more about what they were saying. And then he refers at the end here to angels who also long to look in.
And the only thing I want to say about those verses is to say that I think the reason those verses are there with prophets longing to see what you’ve experienced more fully and the Christ that they predicted and angels who long to look in to is to heighten your sense of the value of what you have in Christ — to heighten the sense of your hope. I think that’s why those verses are there.
Imperative to Hope
“Therefore,” here comes an imperative, “preparing your minds for action” — that’s the paraphrase of the old literal girding up your loins (1 Peter 1:13). So they wore longer flowing robes, right? Men and women, and if they wanted to run this was not helpful to have long flowing robes. So, they’d reach down and grab the back, right at the back part of the robe, pull it up like this, tuck it in like this, and now they’ve got shorts on and they could move. That’s what girding up the loins referred to — gird up the loins of your mind. So it’s a metaphor of what you do with your mind.
So if the mind is sluggish with long skirts hanging all over it, or the next image “being sober-minded” — the mind can be drunk or the mind can be over-clothed for running a race. Can’t run a race if you’re drunk. You can’t run a race if you’ve got long robes.
So two images to say, “Come on, you got a brain! Use it for what you’re made for.” What’s that? Hope! Isn’t that amazing? I mean, this is huge. I want to linger here for an hour. How do you obey the biblical commands to feel? They’re all over the Bible. Right here.
“Hope fully” — hope fully on the grace of God. Now that’s a command to feel something. So here you are sitting there. Suppose you came in here very hopeless. Just feeling a dark hopelessness on your life tonight, and here comes Peter saying, “Hope fully.” My question to you is how do you obey that?
That’s the biggest challenge in the Christian life. How to obey commands that are outside your control. You can’t turn a switch on and off with hope, thankfulness, sorrow, joy. I mean, there are twenty emotions commanded in the Bible, at least, and you have no immediate control over any of them.
The human body and mind doesn’t work that way. Like, “Be happy!” “Feel sad! There’s somebody crying. You should feel sad.” “Fear. God said to fear him. Don’t fear those who can kill the body. Fear the one who can cast soul in the body. So start fearing right now.” You can’t command somebody to fear and just have them do it.
Well, the Bible says to do it. So that’s why I say we should just stop here and have a whole seminar on how do you obey commands to feel? Or you could view this seminar that way, which it is. Well, he gives you the answer or part of the answer. You don’t want to overstate it. How? Prepare your minds for action and be sober. Preparing your mind. Set your hope.
The Mind Serves Emotions
Being sober. Hope. The mind, the brain, is given for the sake of the heart. You see that here? The mind is given to you to serve your emotions. Emotions are what life is about, right? Satan thinks all right thoughts about God if he
has to. He feels all wrong feelings about him. He hates him. He’s very orthodox. He knows he rose from the dead. He knows he’s the Son of God. He knows he died for sins. Satan knows all the right facts. Knowing facts is not life. I mean, you know that. We’ve got names for people that are like human computers.
We want people who feel and who feel appropriately; weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice and who are robust in their whole soul. Life is about affections and loves and delights, fears and hopes, achings and longings. What’s the brain for? Well, it’s for being girded up and being sober, so that we would hope. And if you ask me what is the brain supposed to do?
The answer is study 1 Peter with all your might. Dig into every word of it until you chew it, until it is nourishing every pore in your body. I was a pastor for 33 years and I had a lot of people come to me paralyzed emotionally: “I can’t feel what I need to feel or I can’t this or that.” And it is amazing how we live in a day where people have extraordinarily passive notions about their emotions. Meaning for my emotions to get fixed, it should happen to me. Make it happen to me. At the opposite of this verse. There’s nothing passive in 1 Peter 1:13: Gird up the loins of your mind. Be sober. Hope fully.
Relentless Warfare for Hope
So I would ask them, so what has your strategy been to take away your anxiety? What has your strategy been to make you tender towards your wife? What’s your strategy been? And they’re kind of like,
“I mean, what steps have you taken?”
“I asked God to fix it.”
“How many times did you ask him?”
It’s just amazing. I mean, the biblical mindset towards having a heart of hope is one of warfare — relentless warfare.
John Piper was born self-pitying, pessimistic, critical, Eeyore-ish, Puddleglum-ish. And I wrote the books on joy. You know why? Because I’d like to have some. This is war. This is a lifelong war to be a hope-filled person. So I would give them assignments. I would say memorize Romans 8. See you next week.
I mean, we’re working here. We are not playing games. You’re not going to come to me and say you’ve worked when you haven’t worked. You haven’t worked. You’re expecting something to happen to you, something like boom. So prepare your minds for action.
Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13–16)
Transformation Through Knowledge
One more thing before I leave this paragraph. “Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance” (1 Peter 1:114). Just to underline how passions get changed.
Okay, so you got three pieces: (1) conformity to passions, (2) passions, (3) ignorance, right? Are you with me? Ignorance of something produces old passions produces rotten conduct. I want new conduct from you people out of new passions because of — what’s going to replace that? What’s the opposite of ignorance? Knowledge!
Why do the apostles write books? Isn’t that crazy? They want hearts for God. They’re writing books. Crazy. I mean, people mock that today. They mock that. “Well, you study, study, study. We’re ornery. I want heart. I want passion.” I said, “Yeah, me too. Me too, big time.” Look, it says, “Don’t be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.”
I’ll tell you where your bad passions came from. You’re stupid. You believe false things about God. You believe false things about the world. You believe false things about death. You believe false things about the Holy Spirit. You just believe false things everywhere and you expect to have hearts that are flowing with godly passions.
No way. This ignorance right here has got to be replaced, which is what I meant when I said gird up your minds and be sober-minded for the sake of your hope, which is the opposite of these rotten old passions. You were ignorant of your inheritance. You were ignorant that he keeps you. You were ignorant of all he’s done for you. And now it’s being replaced with knowledge. And that knowledge is awakening hope. And hope is the opposite of these passions. And it’s going to produce a new conformity to Christ called holiness.
So knowledge, passion for God, new conduct. So there’s the summary so far. God, great in mercy, Christ sheds his blood, he rises from the dead, he calls us to be born again, we have now a knowledge of a great inheritance and the Father getting us there, and thus new passions of faith and hope and joy and new conduct, and that’s called holiness. That’s the flow of thought so far in 1 Peter. And we got fifteen minutes. Let’s see what we can do.