Conduct Suited to Christian Relationships: 1 Peter 1:14-2:17

1 Peter 1:14‑2:17  •  17 min. read  •  grade level: 9
1 Peter 1:14-2:1714As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. 1Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 1:14‑2:17). Having in the introductory verses set before us the position and portion of the believer, now and hereafter, the apostle exhorts us as to the practical conduct that flows from this position and is suited to the different relationships in which the Christian is found. Believers are viewed in a sevenfold connection:-
First, as children in relation to the Father (1:14-17): Secondly, as redeemed in relation to the work of Christ (1:18-21):
Thirdly, as brethren in relation to one another (1:22-2:1): Fourthly, as new-born babes in relation to the word (2:2, 3): Fifthly, as living stones in relation to Christ in glory (2:8):
Sixthly, as a chosen race in relation to God (2:9-10):
Seventhly, as strangers and pilgrims in reference to the world (2:11-17).
1. Our practical life as children.
1 Peter 1:14-1714As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: (1 Peter 1:14‑17). The first mark of the child in relation to the Father is obedience. This obedience, as we have seen, is the obedience set forth in all its perfection in Jesus Christ. His path on earth was one of continual obedience to the Father. He could say, "As my Father hath taught me, I speak"; and again, "I do always those things that please Him" (John 8:28-2928Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. (John 8:28‑29)). In the days of our ignorance of God we carried out our own wills, gratifying unholy lusts; now, as children, we are exhorted to holiness, or separation from evil. The apostle quotes the law to insist upon holiness (Lev. 11:4444For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Leviticus 11:44)). However much the character of the dispensation may alter, the nature of God cannot change. It was true under law, it is still true under grace, that God is absolute in holiness; therefore those in relationship with God, whether under law or grace, must be holy.
If, as believers, we fail in holiness, the very relationship in which we stand to God will bring us under the holy discipline of the Father. Because we are sons the Father will chasten and discipline us as sons in order that we may be partakers of His holiness. This righteous government of the Father will be according to our deeds, and carried out without respect of persons. Let us therefore pass the time of our pilgrimage in holy fear. As children, then, our practical lives are to be consistent with the holiness of the One who has called us, and upon whom we call, and marked by obedience, holiness and godly fear. Do we call upon the Father for protection, guidance and blessing? Let us see that we do not hinder our prayers, and bring discipline upon ourselves, by self-will or unholiness.
2. Our practical life as redeemed.
1 Peter 1:18-2118Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:18‑21). In our unregenerate days we were far from God, living the vain life of fallen generations before us. From this condition we have been redeemed; and the value God has set upon us, as well as God's horror of that fallen condition, has been set forth by the immense cost of our redemption. We are not redeemed by corruptible things as silver and gold, but by "the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot". The Lamb was fore-known by God before the foundation of the world, but manifested in time for believers, that through Him we might be brought to God and walk before Him in faith and hope, knowing that God has raised Christ from the dead and given Him glory. Our faith is in the God that can raise the dead, our hope in a God that can give glory. As the redeemed, we are to be marked by faith and hope in God.
3. Our practical life as brethren.
1 Peter 1:2222Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: (1 Peter 1:22). In relation to the Father we are children; in relation to the work of Christ we are redeemed; in relation to one another we are brethren. As brethren we are exhorted to "love one another with a pure heart fervently". The "pure heart" is obtained by the soul being purified from all evil and selfish motives that would hinder the outflow of love through obeying the truth.
1 Peter 1:23-2523Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. (1 Peter 1:23‑25). Our relationship as brethren is not traced back to natural birth, as with Israel, but to a spiritual birth, when we were "born again... by the word of God". By this new birth we received a new nature, the very essence of which is love, so that, in spite of many social differences, we are capable of loving one another. The life and relationships that flow from this new birth are as lasting as the word of God by which the soul is born again. The word of God "liveth" and "abideth forever", so that the one born again enters into a life and into relationships which death cannot touch or time end. The natural man is indeed like the grass that withereth, and his glory like the flowers that quickly fall away even before the plant is withered.
1 Peter 2:11Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, (1 Peter 2:1). Having been born of the word, and thus having a new nature with new desires, and having the truth whereby we can purify our souls, the apostle warns us against some of the evils of the old nature which would hinder love to one another, as well as our spiritual growth. We are to lay aside malice that entertains evil thoughts of others, guile that seeks to hide what we are, hypocrisy that pretends to be what we are not, and envy that leads to slandering the one of whom we are envious. Guile and hypocrisy ever accompany malice. The one speaking maliciously of his brother may seek to hide his malice under the plea that he is acting for the good of his brother—this is guile; further, he may profess that he has nothing in his heart but love for his brother—this is hypocrisy. Behind malicious words there is envy, which is the real motive for evil speaking. Truly the wise man says, "Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?" (Prov. 27:44Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy? (Proverbs 27:4)).
4. Our practical life in relation to the word of God.
1 Peter 2:2-32As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (1 Peter 2:2‑3). In relation to the word of God we are exhorted ever to retain the spirit of a newborn babe that craves and enjoys the milk by which it grows. The word, which is the seed of life, is also the means provided by God to sustain the life. All true desire for the word is the outcome of having tasted that the Lord is gracious. The more we enjoy the company of the Lord the more eager shall we be to sit at His feet and hear His word. To seek Christ in all the Scriptures will sustain loving interest in the word of God, and make many a difficult passage plain and simple. One has said, "The Bible is intended for a child's book...From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures', which are able to make wise unto salvation, and to furnish the man of God unto all good works. He reveals Himself unto babes, because the wise and prudent will not listen to Him".
Mary of Bethany is a striking example of one who tasted that the Lord is gracious, with the result that she delighted to sit at His feet and hear His word. Had we a deeper sense of the goodness of the Lord we should ever retain the babe's delight in the word, welcome every occasion to feed upon the word, and come together to read the word. The result would be that we should "grow up to salvation". We should increasingly be saved from everything that hinders our spiritual progress, until at last we are completely saved at the coming of Christ, when the body of humiliation will be changed into the likeness of His body of glory.
The desire for food is the proof of vitality in a babe. Spiritual vitality thus manifests itself in the desire for the spiritual food of the word, not simply the desire for intelligence in truth, but the desire for the word as that which feeds the soul by presenting Christ, and as making Him more precious to the soul.
5. Our practical life as living stones.
Hitherto the apostle has spoken of individual blessings, and the practice consistent with these blessings. Now he passes on to speak of collective blessings, and the practical united testimony that should flow from believers as a whole.
1 Peter 2:44To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, (1 Peter 2:4). Here believers are viewed as "living stones" in relation to Christ, the "living Stone", and, as such, forming a spiritual house. Writing to believers from amongst the Jews, the apostle constantly alludes to material things connected with the nation of Israel. He shows that the material foreshadowed the spiritual; and that, if through the failure of Israel the material things had lapsed, yet the spiritual reality of these things remained. In the rust chapter we learn that, if Israel's earthly inheritance in the Land had been lost, yet in Christianity believers have an inheritance reserved in heaven. In this second chapter we learn that, though the material house at Jerusalem had been set aside, yet God has a spiritual house composed of living stones, in which "spiritual sacrifices" are offered up by "an holy priesthood".
Israel of old was distinguished from all nations by the fact that God's house was in their midst. There God dwelt. From that house praise was to ascend to God, and testimony flow out to the world. That house was material—"a house... made with hands". Men, as we know, corrupted the house, turning the house of praise into a house of merchandise and a den of thieves. The Father's house was turned into the house of corrupt Israel, and, as such, God forsook the house, leaving it desolate, to be thrown down by the Gentiles, so that not a stone was left upon a stone (Matt. 23:38; 24:238Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. (Matthew 23:38)
2And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. (Matthew 24:2)
).
Nevertheless, the wickedness and failure of man cannot frustrate the purpose of God. Christ, on earth, becomes the temple of God, the One in whom God dwelt, in whom God was glorified, and through whom God in all His love and holiness was set forth before men (John 2:18-2118Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21But he spake of the temple of his body. (John 2:18‑21)). Alas! men rejected Christ. To have God dwelling in the midst is intolerable to man, even if present in blessing. As the nation of Israel had corrupted the temple at Jerusalem, so they destroyed the temple when set forth in Christ by nailing Him to the cross. But again we see that God does not give up His purpose to dwell among men. Christ, though rejected by men, is exalted by God, and from the place of His exaltation the Holy Spirit comes to build a habitation for God, a spiritual house composed of all believers.
The coming formation of this spiritual house was revealed to Peter by the Lord, when He said, "Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:1818And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)). Christ is the living Stone, the foundation of this spiritual house. As the living Stone He is rejected of men, but chosen of God, and precious. Coming to Christ as the living Stone, believers as living stones are built up "a spiritual house". It is true that the Christ to whom we come is the living Stone, rejected of men; but we may ask, How many have come to Christ in the realization that He is rejected by man and in reproach? Coming to Him in the consciousness that He is in rejection will of necessity involve that we leave behind the corrupt religious world that in practice denies His rejection. We go forth unto Him, bearing His reproach.
1 Peter 2:55Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5). Having spoken of the character of Christ as the living Stone, the apostle passes on to speak of the character of believers viewed as stones in God's house. They are "living", partaking of the life of Christ, the living Stone, a life that death cannot touch. They are formed into "a spiritual house", of which we know from the Gospel of Matthew that Christ is the builder. Nothing unreal enters into that which He builds. The Builder is perfect; His work is perfect; the stones are living. Throughout the Christian period the building grows, apart from all human instrumentality.
Then we learn that God's great object in forming a spiritual house is to have an holy priesthood offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Believers, in contrast to an earthly and carnal order of priesthood, form "an holy priesthood". It is not only that they are priests, which might imply praising individuals; they are a priesthood, involving a praising company.
1 Peter 2:66Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. (1 Peter 2:6). The apostle quotes the prophet Isaiah to show that it was ever God's purpose that Christ should be the sure foundation for all blessing for His people. He is the chief corner Stone that carries the whole weight of the superstructure. As He is chosen of God and precious, we may be sure that none that believe in Him will be confounded.
1 Peter 2:7-87Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. (1 Peter 2:7‑8). This leads the apostle to draw a contrast between believers and rejectors of the living Stone. Unto those who believe is the preciousness; all the preciousness of Christ, all the blessing He secures, is made good to the believer. Alas! there are those who are disobedient, and, being such, they cast away as worthless the One who has been exalted by God as the Head of the corner. To such He becomes a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. Men stumbled at His word. They would not believe the truth, and therefore to this end they were appointed. They were not appointed to sin or to disobey, but being rebellious and disobedient they were destined by their unbelief to stumble at the humiliation of Christ.
6. Our practical life as a chosen race.
1 Peter 2:9-109But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9‑10). Had Israel obeyed the voice of God and kept His covenant they would have been to God "a peculiar treasure", a kingdom of priests and an holy nation (Ex. 19:5,65Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:5‑6)). They failed, and, the nation having been set aside, believers are now viewed as taking the place of Israel as a witness to God before the world. The apostle quotes the prophecy of Hosea, which tells us that in a day to come Israel will again be taken up. In the meantime, the prophet's words are applied to the believing remnant of the Jews. Such, under the eye of God, form a royal priesthood, a kingdom of priests, to show forth the excellencies of God, who hath called us out of darkness into the marvelous light of the full revelation of Himself.
We have thus a beautiful picture of the Christian circle composed of all believers drawn to Christ, the One whom the world has rejected. In the outside place of reproach they are formed into a spiritual house for the dwelling place of God, constituted an holy priesthood to offer up the sacrifices of praise, and formed into a kingdom of priests to set forth the excellencies of God before the world.
Christendom, entirely failing to answer to the picture, proceeds on the false assumption that Christ is in honor in the world. Men have again erected magnificent temples after the pattern of the material temple, and have lost the truth of the spiritual house. A humanly-ordained priestly class has been instituted in contrast to the holy priesthood composed of all true believers; worship has become ritualistic, in place of worship in spirit; and again Christendom has set up so-called Christian nations in contrast to a chosen race of believers.
It is difficult, if not impossible, in this day of ruin to find any collective setting forth of the Christian company as described in these verses. Nevertheless, the truth still remains in the Word, set forth in all its beauty; and it is still our privilege and responsibility to obey the Word. Obeying the Word, we should be set free from all the great religious systems of men that, in their constitution and practice, are a total denial of the truth. Those set free could not claim to be the "holy priesthood", nor the "royal priesthood", but in simple faith they could follow righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart, seeking to walk in the light of these great truths.
7. Our practical life as strangers and pilgrims.
1 Peter 2:1111Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; (1 Peter 2:11). In the first verse of the Epistle the believing Jews are addressed as strangers, as they are outcast from the land of Israel, and scattered among the Gentiles. Here, in common with all believers, they are viewed as strangers and pilgrims because they belong to heaven. In one case, they are strangers as the result of the judgment of God that had driven them out of their earthly inheritance; in the other, they are strangers as the result of the grace of God that had called them from earth to heaven. The man of the world is a stranger to heaven because he knows not the Father and the Son. The believer is a stranger in heart to the world because he knows the Father and the Son. He is a stranger, out of touch with this world, and a pilgrim going on to another world. Nevertheless, the flesh in the believer wars against the spiritual progress of the soul. We are therefore exhorted to "abstain from fleshly lusts". We are not called to "war" against these lusts, but rather to abstain from them. It is hardly our business to wage war against drink or impurity or other evils in the world, but rather to show forth the excellencies of Him who hath called us out of darkness into light.
1 Peter 2:1212Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:12). Having warned us against fleshly lusts within, the apostle proceeds to exhort us as to our outward conduct before the world. We are to be careful to act in all honesty, so that by our good works we may give the lie to hard words, by which we are spoken against as evildoers.
The day of visitation refers to God's present dealings with the world. Men may speak evil of the Christian, but when trouble overtakes them, through yielding to their lusts, they will have to admit that God blesses those who quietly and patiently pursue a life of good works.
1 Peter 2:13-1413Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. (1 Peter 2:13‑14). The following exhortations view the believer in relation to the institutions and authorities of this world. It would be wholly inconsistent for those who take the place of strangers in this world to attempt to form these institutions or appoint the authorities. We are, however, to be subject to them, and this with the highest motive, for the Lord's sake. We are to be subject to subordinate as well as to supreme authorities, and, again, for the reason that we view them all in relation to the Lord. Whether they exercise their authority in the fear of God or fail to do so, we are definitely to view them as sent by God for the maintenance of the government of the world.
1 Peter 2:1717Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 2:17). As to the social positions of the world, we are to be careful not to treat men with contempt or disdain. We are not to treat a poor man with disdain, nor a rich man with servility. We are to honor both. Very specially are we to honor all in that circle in which our happy lot is cast, the brotherhood which binds us together in Christian bonds. In this circle we can do more than honor, we can love one another.
Other Scriptures clearly show that the only limitation to our subjection to men is the fear of God. When men insist upon direct disobedience to God, we must set God first (Acts 4:1919But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. (Acts 4:19)). So here the order is, "Fear God. Honor the king".