Thursday, 10 October 2019
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 1 Peter 1:22
Peter now relays a word of exhortation concerning the treatment of the brethren because of the state in which the believer in Christ exists. He begins with, “Since you have purified your souls.”
Here is a word, translated as “purifying,” which speaks of purification from defilement. It can be either ceremonial or moral purification. In the Old Testament, it was the type of purification Nazirites would take upon themselves, setting themselves apart to God. It is used in John 11:55 when speaking of being purified for the Passover.
Peter says that believers have purified their “souls in obeying the truth.” In other words, by faith in Christ, a person is so purified. This is a marvelous parallel to the thought of what Paul said in the book of 1 Corinthians –
“For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:7, 8
Paul, writing to Gentiles, has said that Christ is “our Passover.” The purification spoken of by Peter, like that in John 11 (noted above), is accomplished in both Jew and Gentile in order that they may both be acceptable for the true Passover, and indeed for every spiritual application of which Christ has fulfilled through His work. This purification, Peter says, is “in obeying the truth through the Spirit.”
This follows logically with what Paul says in Ephesians 1. When a person believes, they are – at that time – sealed with the Spirit. The harmony between what Paul says and what Peter says is to be noted. They both speak concerning the same salvation and the same purification.
The NKJV then cites Peter as saying, “in sincere love of the brethren.” By using the word “in,” this can be misinterpreted as signifying that the action is tied to the sincere love of the brethren. This is not the intent. Rather, it should read “to,” or “into,” “for,” or so on. The NIV, which is somewhat of a paraphrase, reveals the intent –
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other…”
The sincere love is a result of the purification, not a part of it coming about. Because this occurs, Peter then says that believers are to “love one another fervently with a pure heart.” As we have been so purified, we are to then express that purification appropriately in our actions. What we do is to correspond to the state to which we have been brought.
The word translated as “fervently” is one found only here and in Acts 12:5. It literally means, “fully stretched.” It is as if a rope is pulled so that it is fully taut and there is no slack at all in it. The slackness would be equated to a less-than-expected treatment of others. Therefore, our love of the brothers is to be fully stretched out, without such slack. It is also to be “with a pure heart.”
The heart in the Bible speaks of the seat of reasoning. Thus, our minds are to be in a state which conveys only pure and fully expressed love for the brethren. There should be nothing that causes a deviation from a positive mental attitude which is fully expressed in sincere love.
Life application: Again, as for the umpteen millionth time in the epistles, we have a verse that proclaims eternal salvation. If our souls are purified, then we are cleansed and now acceptable to God who loved us enough to send Jesus. Peter’s words show that the purification is done, and then he expresses our need to work it out in a certain way. In other words, the purification is complete, even if our performance in that state is not.
Why is this so important to understand? It is because failing to comprehend this leads people into bondage, and they become easily directed by the whims of their spiritual leaders. It also leads to the financial gain of those leaders because their followers are bound into works-based religion. But, if our souls are purified through faith in Jesus Christ, then we are at liberty in and through Christ.
Ephesians says that when we believe we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. This is a deposit or guarantee which will never be revoked. Once sealed, we can repeatedly pray for and receive His filling which allows us to obey the truth. This leads us, as Peter says, into sincere love of the brethren – a love which is fervent and with a pure heart.
Yes, we will have conflicts with fellow believers. Yes, they will often irk us with their peculiarities just as we will irk them (make sure you look in the mirror and evaluate the irk-factor in yourself instead of always pointing it out in others). But an irksome person can still be loved.
This is the bond we need to work on. Liking or not-liking to be with someone is much different than loving them unconditionally. If you are having trouble loving someone in your congregation because he is so annoying, irritating, weird, or whatever, then pray that the Spirit will give you the grace to bear with him, despite his peculiarities.
True change comes from the heart in each of us, not in merely changing the world and its people who are around us.
Heavenly Father, grant us the ability to love those that we find so vastly different than us. Help us to remember that they are who they are because of their own makeup and life experiences. As these have shaped them and define them, may we learn to accept them as long as they are otherwise living in accord with what You expect of Your people. To Your glory, O God. Amen.