A Study in the Word – First Peter 1:13-16


Peter moves from the new status in Christ to sharing what we should do in response.  Verses 13-25 deal with aspects of holy living.  Peter begins with holy living through holy character (1:13-16).  Believers are to employ their intelligence for living a holy life; that is, holiness requires stretching one’s mind to accord with this new dimension of life (1:13a).  Then, we are to develop the discipline of self-control.  As a Christian, settle now what you will do and what you won’t do, and then put effort into what you will do (1:13b).  We then “fix our hope” by nailing down the long term to guide the short term (1:13c).  Intelligence, discipline, and determination are thus active qualities that come with the saving grace and holy character Christ gives.

These three aspects of holy living work themselves out in two steps.  The new nature of grace now controls one’s holy life.  Christians do not return to the way of life that caused the need for grace, so obedience to Christ is step one (1:14a).  A difficult change, yes; but completely worthwhile.  Step two is rejecting the ignorance of no control: “Stop molding your character by the evil desires you used to cherish when you did not know any better” (1:14b, Williams).  Will Rogers said, “We’re all ignorant - just on different subjects.”  Fair enough, but holy living can only flourish if based on the principle that it’s better to know than to be ignorant.

Application comes by welcoming holiness in order to live worthy of Christ day- by-day.  Holiness is based on the character of Christ, but it expresses that character in outward behavior.  From His nature, the Holy Spirit does holy things, so through the holy nature He gives us, we should do holy things (1:15).  My working definition of holiness is “that predominant quality of purity and consecration in the nature of God that He willingly and compellingly offers to His faithful people.”  Since Christ is the only sure hope, it stands to reason that how you conduct yourself should be determined by God – particularly God in His divine purpose, His holiness.  Peter then shares an eternal principle of divine nature: “The very nature of God is determinative for His people” (1:16).  The new nature in Christ calls Christians to be “like” Him in holy character and in the way we express that holy character in living day-by-day.

Dr. David Moore is a university online Bible and theology instructor.  Email: dm5867se@outlook.com