Rev. John Marcus, pastor of Peace PRC in Dyer, Indiana

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. I Peter 1:13-16

Every child of God who hopes for heaven will also strive for holiness.

Not because we have to do something to earn our way into heaven, but because God always works in a certain order. Whenever He works to give us the hope of heaven, He also gives us the desire for holiness.

By God’s grace we have been begotten unto a lively hope. God is reserving a glorious inheritance for us in heaven and He is preserving us until He brings us there. What a glorious hope we have in Jesus Christ!

Is our hope evident to others? Does our hope manifest itself in holiness of life?

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The text begins with an urgent call for us to hope for the gracious gift that God will give us when Christ returns.

Though we live in a valley of tears, we look forward to the glories of heaven. God’s word to us is “hope to the end” (v. 13). Hope completely, or hope perfectly, for the full realization of our salvation. Expect the glory of heaven with absolute confidence. Do not allow even the smallest doubt to creep into your minds.

When the inspired writer says “hope…for the grace” (v. 13), he is talking about the grace that God will give when He takes us to glory. The most basic idea of grace is beauty according to God’s standards. Secondly, God’s grace is His favor towards us. Thirdly, grace is undeserved favor manifested to us who are sinful rebels by nature. Lastly, and on the foreground in the text, grace is God’s power that transforms us and makes us spiritually beautiful.

God by His gracious power regenerates us and sanctifies us so that we begin to be spiritually beautiful in this life. But the text is especially concerned with the grace that will transform us when Jesus Christ appears at the time of His second coming. That is why Peter talks about the grace we will experience “at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (v. 13). When Jesus comes again, God will transform us by a mighty power so that we are perfectly beautiful according to the image of Christ.

The Holy Spirit calls us to hope for that grace. We must not set our hope upon fading beauty, earthly treasure, popularity, or pleasure. We must not set our hope on things here below. Rather, we must hope completely for that glorious day when we will reflect the beautiful image of Christ in glory.

What will it look like when we hope as God calls us to do? We will have girded up the loins of our minds and we will be sober (v. 13). The main exhortation of the text calls us to hope to the end. But, in order to do that we first need to gird up the loins of our minds and then be continually sober.

The picture of girding up the loins was familiar to the first readers of Peter’s epistle. Long-flowing robes would get in the way if one wanted to work or run or fight. In order to prepare himself for the task at hand, he would gather up his robe and tie it up around his waist.

To gird up the loins of our minds has the idea of giving effort so that our minds are prepared for the task at hand. We need to be prepared to do what God calls us to do, to endure the trials He sends, and to do battle against temptations. We gird up the loins of our minds by living in the light of God’s Word, taking heed to the warnings, dwelling upon His promises and faithfulness. If the loins of our minds are not girded up and our minds are allowed to wander, it will be difficult to hope perfectly as we are called to do. Dear reader, have you girded up the loins of your mind?

If we want to hope perfectly, not only must we have our minds prepared, but we also need to be sober. Being sober is the opposite of being intoxicated. Some get intoxicated with alcohol or pain medication or other drugs, perhaps to escape some kind of emotional pain. But we can also be intoxicated with worldly goals, ideas, or habits that affect our walk. The desire for riches, pleasure, power, or other fleshly desires can easily intoxicate us, drawing us away or distracting us from our hope of glory.

Therefore, God calls us to gird up the loins of our minds and to be sober so that we hope perfectly for that grace that is to come.

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The result of having a lively hope is that we will follow after holiness, looking forward to glory.

If we confidently expect that God will make us spiritually beautiful when Christ returns again, we will want to be holy in two respects: 1) We will avoid walking in sin, and 2) we will seek to walk in consecration to God.

In the first place, if we “hope to the end,” we will avoid fashioning ourselves “according to the former lusts in [our] ignorance.” God has worked in our hearts the hope of future glory, in which glory He will take away all that is spiritually ugly and stained with sin. We long for the day when we are finally sinless.

Having such a glorious hope, it makes no sense that we would want to keep walking in sin. Why would we allow ourselves to enjoy sin in any shape or form? Having the hope of glory, why would we allow ourselves to follow any of the fleshly desires of our old man? The hope of glory should lead us to hate our sin and flee from it, even the most seemingly insignificant sin. As obedient children, we will not want to fashion ourselves according to the lusts that characterize those who are ignorant of God.

In the second place, hoping to the end will involve a positive consecration to God. If we are hoping for the day when Christ returns and makes us perfectly holy, it makes sense that we would want to be holy in this life. That is why verse 15 adds, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.”

Of course, there is a sense in which God has already made us holy. God set us apart to Himself when He elected us in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world. He set us apart to Himself when He purchased us with the precious blood of His only begotten Son. God set us apart from those who are spiritually dead when He regenerated us by His Spirit. But the text is not speaking of being holy in any of these senses.

Rather, the inspired apostle is exhorting us to be holy in the sense of striving for holiness of life. The same thought is expressed in I John 3:3: “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” This striving for holiness is expressed as well in Q&A 115 of the Heidelberg Catechism when it says, “Likewise that we constantly endeavor, and pray to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, that we may become more and more conformable to the image of God, till we arrive at the perfection proposed to us in a life to come.” By God’s grace, we endeavor to become more and more conformable to the image of God; that is, we endeavor to be holy, praying for grace day by day.

We are called to strive for holiness “in all manner of conversation.” Be holy in every square inch of our lives. Be holy in our personal and family devotions as well as in our worship on the Sabbath. Be holy in the way we speak and act in our family and marriage. Be holy in how we deal with conflict. Be holy even with regard to our eating and drinking (cf. I Cor. 10:31).

Does our hope of glory manifest itself in a life of holiness? Anyone who thinks he is on his way to heaven but has no desire for holiness is fooling himself.

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The reason our hope of glory manifests itself in holiness is that God Himself is holy. Quoting from Leviticus 19, the inspired apostle records God’s word to His people: “Be ye holy for I am holy.”

That God is holy means He is perfectly consecrated to Himself, seeking for Himself the glory He deserves in everything He does. In His holiness, He enjoys perfect covenant fellowship with Himself. Wonderfully, the thrice-holy God brings us into His covenant fellowship, graciously making us His people and making Himself our God.

When we know that grace of God, then it is not burdensome to hear the command, “Be ye holy.” Rather, we delight in the command because we want to be holy as our God is holy. We want to be holy out of thankfulness for who God is and what He has done for us in Jesus Christ. Thankfulness to our God impels us His people to be holy. Dear reader, does thankfulness motivate you to be holy?

Even more fundamental than thankfulness, the reason that hope manifests itself in holiness lies in God’s efficacious calling.

The holy God has efficaciously called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. This very God “which hath called you” (v. 15) always carries on and finishes the work He started. He will not allow His work to go to waste, but will surely carry His work all the way to completion. The God who called us, will also justify us, sanctify us, and will surely glorify us (cf. Rom. 8:30). By His powerful call, God puts us on the way that assuredly leads to glory.

Surely, if God has given us the hope of glory, He will also work in us a beginning of holiness in this life. More and more we will hate our sins and flee from them. More and more we will love God and seek His glory. And then one day, when Jesus Christ is revealed from heaven, He will give us the grace that He has promised. God will make us perfectly holy in glory.

May God grant that our hope of glory manifests itself in holiness of life to the glory of His holy name.