by Mike Ratliff
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. (Luke 12:33-36 ESV)
One recurring warning throughout the New Testament is that Christians should live in such a way that they will be ready when their Lord returns. What would that life look like? How should we live in order to be ready when He comes and knocks? I doubt that it would look like the self-indulgent, pop-culture oriented, heavily marketed, so-called Christian lifestyle that waters down the gospel and breeds “Christians” who are both theologically and scripturally ignorant. They follow “another Jesus” whose creators have designed to fit the image that draws the crowd they want. The “followers” of this “other Jesus” resent any call to live lives of repentance before a Holy God who is to be feared. What does the life look like that is prepared for our Lord’s return?
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13 ESV)
The first word in this passage is “therefore” or διο. “Therefore” is a good translation. It could also have been rendered as “consequently.” This word is referring back to Peter’s exposition of how Christians are born again to a living hope. In light of the wonders of this salvation given to us in 1 Peter 1:3-12, we are being prepared for the eternal purpose of it and how we should live to be ready for it. The following phrase pertaining to this “therefore” is preparing your minds for action. However, the Greek actually should be translated as “girding up (αναζωσαμενοι) the loins (οσφυας) of your mind (διανοιας).” The ESV translation states what this colloquialism means to the 21st Century Christian, but the original translation would be like us telling our readers to “fasten their seat belts” or “roll up your sleeves.” This is a way to stress that what is required for the life that is prepared for the coming of the Lord is not one of passivity or laziness, but one prepared for vigorous and sustained spiritual exertion.
With the loins of our minds girded up for action, what are we to do? We are also to be sober minded (νηφοντες). To be sober minded is to be discreetly watchful of what is going on. The Christian whose mind is ready for action yet in a sober-minded way is one who doesn’t follow after the crowd. Trends and what the masses go hard after are looked at very carefully by this Christian. Things like the Purpose Driven Church, the Emergent Village, the tattooed outlaw preachers, et cetera will be seen by this Christian for what they really are and he or she will not be deceived nor follow after the crowd. He or she will remain faithful to what the Word of God calls them to do and to be because his or her hope (ελπισατε) will be fully (τελειως) on the grace (χαριν) that will be brought to them at the revelation (αποκαλυψει) of Jesus Christ (ιησου χριστου). Where is the focus of those living this way my brethren? Is it on self with hope tied to things in the temporal? No! Those preparing correctly for the return of their Lord have their hope FULLY on the grace that will come their way at His return! That says a lot about how one lives in the temporal doesn’t it? Will this person hoard the world’s goods or will he or she use what they have to extend the grace given to them by their Saviour?
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 1:14-16 ESV)
14ως τεκνα υπακοης μη συσχηματιζομενοι ταις προτερον εν τη αγνοια υμων επιθυμιαις 15αλλα κατα τον καλεσαντα υμας αγιον και αυτοι αγιοι εν παση αναστροφη γενηθητε 16διοτι γεγραπται [οτι] αγιοι εσεσθε οτι εγω αγιος (1 Peter 1:14-16 WHNU)
Notice that those who live this way are called obedient (υπακοης) children (τεκνα) who are not (μη) conformed (συσχηματιζομενοι) to the passions (επιθυμιαις) of their former ignorance (αγνοια). This is the new life in Christ taught throughout the New Testament. This is a life of repentance and it is not maintained passively, but with a mind that has its loins girded for action. This mind is no longer ignorant or consumed by lusts or passions of the flesh. In v15-16 we have our calling. We are called to be holy as our Lord is holy. This means that we are to be set apart from sin to the service of God. Our standard of and motivation for holiness is the absolute moral perfection of God Himself.
No one is saying that any of us can do this perfectly. If so then there would be no need for the following passage.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:9-10 ESV)
My brethren, we are being called to extricate ourselves from the bondage to our flesh in which this evil world specializes. We are to train up our minds for this high level of discipleship which we find in wonderful passages such as Romans 12:1-2. I pray that all reading this will take this call seriously as they actively pursue this close, holy walk with the Lord as living sacrifices whose minds are being constantly renewed through living the Cross-centered life set apart from the flesh and this evil world to the study of God’s Word, all for His glory.
Soli Deo Gloria!