“And if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
1 Peter 1:17–19 (ESV)
We all ask ourselves questions about the lives we are living. Sometimes these questions are about the meaning of life, while sometimes they can be about the practical outworking of our lives and the things we wish we could have done differently. How blessed it would be just to know how we are meant to live! And this is the question our passage answers. How should we live? Or more specifically, how should you live?
Our passage today follows the call in verse 14-16 to live as obedient children who pursue holiness because God Himself is holy. If you are a believer in Christ, here we see that God wants you to be informed and driven by the truths of His character and your salvation as you seek to grow in obedience to Him. He does not just want you to make a great effort to obey Him, He wants you to be rightly motivated as you do that. It’s not just obedience that you are called to, but rather gospel-informed obedience. Let us consider three motivations from our text.
First, pursue obedience from an understanding of God’s unchanging character. We are called to conduct ourselves with fear during our time of exile because we call on Him as Father who judges without partiality. Many might be misguided and assume that this section calls us to a slave’s fear which looks upon our own performance as the basis for acceptance before God. Instead, we should notice two things: firstly, we are considered exiles whose home is not here, but in the heavens with God, and secondly, we are those who call on this impartial Judge as our Father! Our relationship to Him is reinforced even as we are called to conduct ourselves in awe and reverence for Him, because we understand His holy and just character. We are to understand that the act of God’s judgment flows out of His just and righteous character. When you become aware of this, you will not trivialize the things that offend Him. And yet, when you consider the two other motivations, you will realize that He doesn’t call you to earn His love or evade His wrath through your own performance.
Secondly, pursue obedience knowing that you were ransomed. The call to obedience is not a call to fix yourself. In your state of sin, you were far too broken for that kind of remedy, you were a slave to your futile ways, a slave to patterns of thinking and living that were leading you to death. You were helpless and hopeless as a slave to that form of “life”. But God ransomed you. The price (ransom) to secure your redemption was paid and you were set free. The Father wants you to know that as you seek to obey Him, you obey Him as one who has already been ransomed. Incredibly, you were not just ransomed from the guilt of your former ways, but from the ways themselves, which you inherited from your forefathers. It’s not just forgiveness that was purchased, but also the ability to renounce your former ways. We don’t strive in vain! You are not what you used to be. God does not see you that way nor should you see yourself in that light. Therefore, pursue obedience as you remind yourself these truths everyday.
Thirdly, pursue obedience knowing that you were not ransomed with perishable things like silver or gold. Some of the most precious and durable things in this world (silver and gold) are described here as perishable. In contrast to them, the precious blood of Jesus will never lose its power to atone for your sin, to suffice as the price and sacrifice for your redemption. Your salvation is fully secure because the price that was paid is not perishable. It is the pure and precious blood of Jesus like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. God does not want the mention of obedience or holiness to dent the fullness of your hope. To the contrary, God wants us to pursue obedience knowing that we are His, having been redeemed. Our standing is irreversible for it has been secured by the precious blood of Jesus.
So, how should you live? As a ransomed child. We who were slaves to our ignorant and futile ways have been powerfully set free from them by Christ who paid for our us with his precious blood. For our sake Jesus hung on the cross. What else is there to do other than to obey him?
Do you truly believe that it is not by your own effort that you become acceptable before God?