In this sermon, Pastor Neil continues his discussion on imperatives for holy living in a post 9/11 world. Here are some excerpts.
Last Sunday we began to think together about Holy Living in a Post-9/11 World. We saw what Peter wrote to 1st-century followers of Christ scattered throughout the Roman province of Asia Minor (Turkey), urging them to live holy lives in an often-hostile world. Of the seven imperatives Peter gives in this passage, we highlighted the first three, all of which are found in verse 13:
These imperatives are as relevant, as timely, and as greatly needed as much today, in our post-9/11 world, as they ever were. As are the remaining four imperatives for holy living in such a time as this.
So, let’s look together at these imperatives. The first is this:
Notice how Peter begins verse 14: “As obedient children …” Let’s stop right there for just a moment. “Obedient children.” Obedient to whom? To God. Children of whom? Children of God, our Heavenly Father, who loves us with an everlasting love. We do not obey God in order to merit His love. And not in order to make ourselves acceptable to Him. We obey God because He has loved us first. Because He has accepted us and adopted us as His sons and daughters through the saving work of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Obedience to God is not a prerequisite to be loved by God and accepted by Him. Obedience to God is the grateful, loving response of children who know we are loved and accepted by our Heavenly Father.
Do you see that? God’s love for you and His acceptance of you do not depend on your performance. It is all about grace that comes free of charge to people who don’t deserve it and never will.
Here is #2:
… For us, the call to be holy involves being set apart by God and for God to serve God’s purposes. Holiness involves being different from the world around us in our values, attitudes, and priorities in life. It involves being different from people around us in the way we think and speak and act. Not for the sake of being different, as if just being different is the point. It is not. And not for the sake of calling attention to ourselves. The different-ness to which Jesus calls us as His followers is not for the purpose of saying to others: “Hey, look at me! Look at us!”
No. We are to be different, yes. For the sake of Jesus, for the spreading of His fame, the glory of God, and for the honor of His name; The. For cause of the gospel, which is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).
Holiness, as Mother Teresa said, is “conforming to the character of God.” That is what holiness looks like. It looks like the character of God reflected in the lives of ordinary saints like you and me. Will we ever attain holiness? Not in this life. But still God calls us to live a holy life, and He gives us the grace and power to do it through the saving work of His Son and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, who comes to take up residence in the life of every believer. If you belong to Jesus through faith in Him, the Holy Spirit is not only with you, He lives in you.
To “be holy in all you do” is to recognize that your whole life belongs to God. To “be holy” is to live your life in a way that reflects the life and character of God, by letting God have His way in you. As it says in The Message: “Let your life be shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness.”
On to principle #3.
It is found in verse 17, where Peter says: “Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.”
As attractive and enticing as this world is, with all the pleasure and enjoyment it offers, as attached as we become to it, this world is not our home. Our life here is temporary. It is a temporary assignment, but it has implications for all eternity. Like Abraham among others, we are “aliens and strangers on earth … longing for a better country – a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:13, 16).
Peter emphasizes this idea of being aliens and strangers in this world. He mentions it in the very first verse of this letter (1:1), in 1:17, and in 2:11, where he says: “Dearly beloved, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” It is reminiscent of what he has already said in verse 14, in urging his readers then and now not to give in to the evil desires that once ruled our lives. Instead, as he goes on to say in 2:12, as followers of Jesus, we are to “live such good lives among unbelievers that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of His visitation.”
…This world is not our home. It is not our final destination. I am grateful to be a citizen of the USA, as flawed as our nation is. But my highest allegiance and loyalty in life are to a King and a kingdom greater than the USA or any nation on the face of the earth. Paul speaks to this in Philippians 3:20, where he says that our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly await the coming again of our Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ. We long for the day to come when, as Paul says in Philippians 2:10-11, every knee everywhere in the whole creation will bow before Him, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Lord, let it be so! Bring it on!
The fourth and final imperative is in verse 22:
Holy living in a post-9/11 world – holy living in any age – requires that we love one another. Our model in loving one another is Jesus Himself, who said: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). How did Jesus love? Selflessly. Sacrificially. Generously. Extravagantly. Unconditionally.
This imperative to love is so basic, so foundational, so necessary that Peter repeats it in 4:8: “Above all,” he says, “love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” Once again, we see that Peter and Paul are on the same page. With each other and with Jesus. Paul says in Romans 12:9: “Love must be sincere.” In The Message, it says:“Love from the center of who you are.” No hypocrisy, phoniness, or pretending. No just for show. Like the love of Jesus for us, our love for one another is to be the real thing.
Peter is saying we must “love one another as if (our) lives depended on it” (1 Peter 1:22; 4:8, MSG). Because maybe, just maybe, they do. In these extraordinary times, we need each other. We need love and support and encouragement and patience and forgiveness and grace from one another.
So let’s renew our commitment to love each other deeply, from the heart. Let’s love each other with a love that is genuine, caring, forbearing, forgiving, gracious, even sacrificial. Like the love of Jesus for us. Not just with words (though words do matter) but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18).
Imperatives for holy living in a post 9/11 world. Pastor Neil has a lot to say about this topic. Please click on the link below to hear this sermon in its entirety.