God’s Word for You
1 Peter 1:13-14 Grace alone
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, February 24, 2022
Peter has shown us that three groups—the prophets, gospel preachers, and even the angels—are all concerned with Christ and our salvation. And the Holy Spirit is behind it all, for our benefit. To what end? Why, our salvation, of course. This should be clear and obvious. But all of this has another benefit, a benefit for living today. It has also prepared us for godly living, and this is the point Peter takes up next with a string of commands or exhortations.
A Call to Holy Living
13 Therefore, after preparing your minds for action by exercising self-control, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
Read the beginning of verse 13 carefully. “Preparing for action” is not how we achieve self control, but the result of exercising self control. To be self-controlled or nepho (νήϕω) is to be sober; to exercise judgment without any fuzziness or impairment, not only temperance regarding chastity, drink, and food, but to be alert and awake (1 Thessalonians 5:6), ready for action like an athlete, getting rid of folly and wickedness, without being misled by flattery or deception. By keeping the mind under control in this way, dismissing the deceptions and lies of the devil and focusing only on the will of God, the Christian is ready for action, ready to run with his faith. The first task is to set the mind “fully” (teleios, τελείως) on the saving grace of God. Should I worry about my spiritual strength, my religious choices, my inner decisions? No. No! Not at all. I should set my hope fully and only on grace, the grace of God, and know that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone (Romans 4:16; Ephesians 2:8). Here Peter teaches the great pillar upon which the Church stands or falls; Justification by grace alone through faith. “Even if, in the power of the Holy Spirit,” Luther said, “a man were to keep the law completely (he said this merely as an example, not as if it were possible), he ought nevertheless to pray for divine mercy, for God has ordained that man should be saved not by the law but by Christ. Works never give us a peaceful heart” (LW 54:10).
Does Peter mean to say that the grace of God will not truly and fully be ours until the Last Day, when the apocalypse or revealing of Christ finally comes when the Lord will return to judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 4:5)? No. God’s grace is ours now, and we trust in that grace. This is why Paul includes the blessing, “Grace and peace to you” in the second or third verse of most of his letters, which Peter and John imitate in some of theirs (1 Peter 1:10; Revelation 1:4). Grace is given by God “to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16), and “this grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (2 Timothy 1:9), but it has now been revealed in Christ, who gave himself over to death for our sins.
Keeping this grace before us, we are prepared for the tests and crosses of each day. Illness, strife, argument, disagreement, injury, oppression, war, attack, and even death may come, but we keep our trust fixed firmly on Jesus. The one who came to rescue us from sin will come again to rescue us from the grave. He himself said: “Which is easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” (Matthew 9:5). But since he has proven that he can do both, even for the dead, we trust in him for everything.
Pastor Timothy Smith