In verse 13 of the first chapter of First Peter, the apostle begins to apply the glorious doctrinal truths of salvation to the practical lives of his readers. This application requires preparation, seen in the metaphor of men tucking the hem of their robe skirts into their belts, allowing their legs to move freely. This figure is applied to our minds. We are to have a mindset of sober or serious and clear thinking that leads to sound judgment. Something with respect to the salvation we claim to possess must shape and control our thoughts and resultant actions.
With this caution, Peter commands us to fix our hope completely on this salvific grace that we do not yet fully possess. It will be conferred on us as the reward of obedience when Jesus returns. What we now possess is hope or better, living hope (v. 3) in what is promised. But what is promised? Peter calls it an inheritance reserved for us (v. 4). It is an expectation ministered to us by the prophets, announcing the good news to us through the Spirit (vv. 10–12). What is promised is unqualified acceptance with God with full forgiveness of all sin and everlasting life (Jer. 33:8–11; Rom. 3:23–26).
We possess this hope, not by wishful thinking; we experience it with confidence. It is a reality now though not fully realized (vv. 8, 9). The evidence of true faith is seen in our rejoicing in the unseen even while we may suffer (v. 6). God’s purpose in this suffering is to test our faith, not prove it false, but to purify it and, thus, demonstrate its genuineness (v. 7).
Peter addresses our responsibility (v. 13). First, we must not see responsibility as an effort to earn grace by doing something. Our obedience is not to provoke a response from God. Rather, we obey in order to demonstrate grace already at work in us (Phil. 2:13). Neither is our responsibility automatic. We are to learn obedience by trusting God as we struggle to keep His commandments and exhortations (Heb. 5:8). That is our goal, and we will not deviate from the course or compromise in our pursuit of it.
To encourage obedience, Peter cites one issue that we must overcome and two behavioral modifications to help us to govern obedience (vv. 14–17). First, our new position, as “obedient children” requires that we overcome and abandon worldly “conformity” due to former patterns of desiring. These deeply ingrained desires produce habits of sinning established through long practice. We fail to take them into accountable and deal with them because they come so naturally. Second, in order to establish new patterns of right conduct, we need to establish habits of holiness in the fear of God (vv. 15–17). Holiness refers to how we are to present ourselves to God in His service (Rom. 12:1, 2; 1 Pet. 2:9, 10). The fear of God is the conscious awareness that God really does see us and will impartially judge our works according to His established standards, not ours (Isa. 40:10).