“...since you have been born again, not of perishable seed
but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
1 Peter 1:23–25
A parent would need great patience if they found their child tearing up a Ksh.1000 note. They would need even greater patience if the child intentionally kicked the TV and broke its screen (it would require much grace to discipline them out of love as opposed to rage). Children understandably display a lot of ignorance. And it is in the nature of ignorance to take something extremely valuable and handle it without the proper care. As Peter writes to these suffering believers, he wants them to know that the instruction to love one another is rooted in the new life they have received. A new life which is imperishable, and produced by the living and abiding word of God. Basically, what he is saying to them is, “The thing that you have received is so precious, you cannot live as if it is of little value.”
A story is usually told of a baby eagle who fell among ducks and learned to waddle like them, not realizing the potential of incredible flight that it possessed. Much like this baby eagle, when believers do not realize the true effects of the work the Lord has done in them, they behave like people of the world. But our passage today very clearly shows us that the call to love one another earnestly from a pure heart is rooted in the fact that we have a new nature altogether! We have been “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable.” This is what is referred to in John 1:12-13 when it says we have been born of God. It is also what is in view in James 1:18 when it says that God brought us forth by the word of truth to be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. Ephesians 4:24 helps us appreciate that our new nature in Christ is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. In short, because we are a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17), and because we have been born of imperishable seed after the likeness of God, we must realize that we can genuinely live to please the Lord. It is no longer within the realm of impossibility. It is not even within the realm of the improbable, but well within our grasp, as we hope in Him who works in us both to will and to do according to His good pleasure.
Realize that this fundamental change was brought about by the “living and abiding word of God.” Notice that, just as the seed which produced our new nature is imperishable (meaning that the life we have in Christ cannot be destroyed), the word of God which He used to bring us to life is described as “living and abiding.” His word is not dead and inactive, nor is it passing away. This is why Peter quotes from Isaiah 40:6-8 to show that even though all flesh is passing away with the former creation, God’s word remains forever. The source of our new life is as permanent as our new life itself. Because God’s word proceeds from Him, and He is eternally unchanging, nothing can thwart His word. It remains forever.
Finally, realize that this word through which we have a new and imperishable life, and which will remain forever even after all flesh passes away, is the good news that was preached to them (and to us). The gospel of Jesus Christ: His incarnation, His sinless life, His substitutionary death, His victorious resurrection, and promised return, is the word which remains forever. It is this good news that God used to create new life in us by the powerful working of His Holy Spirit. That is where our hope lies, not that we are good or deserving, but that He is kind and gracious, and has shown us mercy and forgiven our sin.
Therefore, armed with this great truth about who we are in Christ, and about the enduring gospel that God has used to give us new life, we now realize that we are eternal creatures dealing in eternal realities. We can go out and heed the instructions of Scripture, secure in our redeemed standing before Him, and convinced of our new identity in Him. For we have indeed been born again of imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God, which is the good news of Christ that was preached to us.
What is the primary way in which you define yourself? Is it as an ordinary human being, or as a new creation in Christ Jesus? Which actions do you justify because you don’t properly value your new identity in Christ?