“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.”
For the grace that is being brought unto you!
It is the grace that the prophets have prophesied should come unto you. It is the grace of salvation into which they have enquired and searched diligently. It is the grace of the angels desire to look into. It is the grace of salvation which is now reported unto you by them that have preaching the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.
It is the grace that is being brought unto you in the revelation of Jesus Christ!
Not all at once is this grace brought unto you, but in ever increasing measure. It was brought unto you in the first revelation of Jesus Christ, when the Son of God became the Son of Man; when the God of all grace in the Person of His Son united Himself in the incarnation to our flesh, when He entered into our state of misery and death, and carried in His own flesh our sin and guilt to the accursed tree; when He died on the cross, and suffered the pains of hell in our stead, and rose again for our justification, and ascended up on high to the right hand of His Father. It was brought unto you in the revelation of the exalted Christ on the day of Pentecost, when the Lord returned in the Spirit to pour upon His beloved all the graces He had merited through the way of His perfect obedience; when He applies in principle the grace of salvation unto our hearts, regenerating them, speaking to them of justification and peace, comforting them with the assurance of forgiveness of sins and the right of eternal life, implanting in our hearts the true and living faith whereby we appropriate Him and all His benefits, and quickening in us the living hope that longingly, expectantly looks forward to His final and glorious revelation in the Parousia when that grace shall be brought unto us in all its fulness and beauty.
In the revelation of Jesus Christ, in the apocalypse of His glory, shall be brought unto us the final dispensation of grace. Then the world with all its sin and corruption and evil workers shall pass away forever, then our bodies shall be raised from the dead and those living shall be changed in a moment, then we shall stand in a new world in which righteousness shall dwell, and we shall see God and dwell in His tabernacle forever.
The God of all grace!
Who in Himself is the beautiful, merciful, gracious God!
Who has purposed that a people should be formed who shall forever reflect His own beauty and perfection of goodness.
That is the grace that is to be brought unto us in the revelation of Jesus Christ!
And for that grace we are exhorted to hope perfectly!
O, indeed, if we already possessed all the grace that is to be given unto us there would be no need to hope, for it. As the apostle Paul expresses it: “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”
And hope, as we have seen before, is begotten in us through the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit Who implants the resurrection life of Christ in us, in our hearts. Hope is that gracious activity of the regenerated child of God according to which he expects, looks forward to, and confidently waits for the incorruptible inheritance that is reserved in heaven and which is ready to be revealed in the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is precisely this hope that distinguishes the children of God from the children of this world, and sets them apart as strangers and pilgrims in the earth.
That the apostle exhorts us to hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto us in the revelation of Jesus Christ, is due to the fact that often this hope falters. The child of God often finds himself in tension. There is a drawing power that pulls him toward heaven and the things above, but at the same time there is a power of the flesh and of the world that draws him down to the things which are below. And when the latter power appears to be stronger than the former, his hope grows dim. Then the object of his hope, namely, the grace that is to be brought unto him also becomes strangely dim. And the apostle would not have it so. Therefore he urges that we hope to the end: Literally, he says, hope perfectly!
To hope perfectly means, first of all, that we hope with our whole being, with body and soul, with mind and heart. Never should we allow room for doubting, or halting between two opinions. It means, in the second place, that we hope exclusively; and that means that our hope is never fixed on the earthly, but on the heavenly things. O, surely, this cannot mean that we ignore and shun the things of the world. Nor does it mean that we isolate ourselves from the world and dwell on some mountain top waiting for our Lord to appear. This would be sinful indeed, as sinful as it would be to doubt the grace of God. It would be contrary to the will of God for our lives that we should be strangers and pilgrims in the world. But it does mean that in all our relation to the world and its things we are not captivated but captors who are controlled by the goal of heavenly things and our life is principled from above where our citizenship is. And in the third place, this means that we hope to the end—never stop hoping; but each day of our lives and unto the end of our pilgrimage we live out of the principle of hope.
There is therefore, as you can plainly see, a connection, a reciprocal relation between hope and sanctification. On the one hand, sanctification is conducive to hope. It leads to hope. Unless we walk in sanctification hope will never flourish. On the other hand, the hope naturally is conducive to sanctification. This is the point which the apostle stresses here. If anyone hope the true hope, he will walk in sanctification of life. This is also precisely what the apostle John writes in his first epistle: “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” To be like unto God, and to enjoy His perfect fellowship—that is the Christian’s hope. To be delivered completely from sin and corruption, and to be perfect as God is perfect—that is the believer’s hope. He therefore that has the true hope in him will purify himself even as He is pure.
Hope then becomes a power!
A power that moves us to walk in the way of sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord!
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober!
Beautiful figure the apostle uses, though perhaps for us occidentals a little difficult to understand. The figure is taken from the orient where they wear long, ankle-length robes both for appearance and comfort. Such garments, however, because of their length and looseness, would be a hindrance to one who had to work in the field or to walk a great distance or run swiftly. To overcome this handicap, one would be required either to remove this garment, or to tie it up tightly about the waist with a girdle or a belt.
Strikingly, however, the apostle applies the figure to the mind. This would imply that the chief hindrance to the exercise of our Christian hope is to be found within us, in our inner man, in the thoughts and intents of the mind and heart. And this implication rests upon the Scriptural presupposition that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he; and, out of the heart are all the issues of life. Though the robe in the figure would of necessity cover the whole body, the apostle limits its coverage here only to the mind, undoubtedly for the reason that as a man is in respect to his mind, so he will be in respect to his whole being. Undoubtedly, too, the Word of God here means to say that when the loins of our mind are girded up then our inner man which controls our outer man will also be ready and able to function properly. In one word, nothing may cover the mind and heart of the pilgrim so as to obstruct his vision of hope. And if in mind and heart he sees clearly the object of his hope, his whole life and walk will respond accordingly.
O, make no mistake about it!
This admonition to gird up the loins of our mind and to be sober is necessary!
Is it not your and my lament that what is supposed to distinguish us from the world is not so clearly seen as it ought to be? Isn’t it precisely this thought that saddens our hearts, that in our affluent society there is so little difference between us and the children of this world? Isn’t it true of us that we become not a little spiritually intoxicated with our material abundance? And wouldn’t you agree that because of our enjoyment of the things below, the longing; the expectancy of our heavenly inheritance often grows weak and negligible?
The trouble is that the skirts of our robe are covering our mind’s eye, and we have become spiritually drunken with the things of our natural sight.
What then is the solution to the problem? Is it perhaps that we should forsake the things of the world, and flee out of the world to some desert place or some island in the seas? History shows there have been those who have tried this and they failed utterly. And as we have before suggested, this would be contrary to the will of God for our lives.
No, the solution is not to be found in that direction; but in heeding the Word of God in our text!
And that means that we learn by the grace of God to live temperately, spiritually, sensitively, and be alert to the reality of the object of our hope. And this means that we walk in sanctification of life which should bring us to that object. The one who is spiritually sober has all his senses contained, controlled, and utilized properly. The sober pilgrim knows his way home, and is able by the grace of God to walk directly to it. A drunken pilgrim is a contradiction in terms.
It means, too, that the child of God lives antithetically. He is not like the children of this world who stand in the midst of God’s creation and take over as if it were their own. But the pilgrim uses his Father’s world only as a means to attain unto a better.
Always he lives out of the expectation of the grace that is to be brought unto him, when his faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ, shall be revealed.
And glorious revelation!