Introduction Peter deals with five qualities that should characterise the Christian life.

(1) Holiness.

We are holy when our words and deeds mark us out as different from the average man. We are distinct in not conforming to the ways of the world. Christians do not adopt worldly values or give in to worldly desires. Instead the Christian adopts values promoted by Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life.

Let us take two examples. There is a tendency for us to admire a self-made man who has succeeded in life and acquired great wealth. Jesus on the other hand taught: "Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Mt6v20. See: Matthew6v19to24.

Jesus taught: "You have heard it was said: 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

The worldly man will at best operate on the revenge principal, 'an eye for an eye' but Christians will not look to avenge themselves of an injury but forgive. This is easier said than done. See: Matthew5v38.

(2) Reverent fear.

If we have an earthly father who is anxious for our welfare and has our best interest at heart we might well revere that father and treat him with respect - especially if he has other admirable qualities. I think Peter is calling upon all those who have been adopted into God's family and call him Father, to revere and respect Him.

Peter gives two reasons why we should have a reverential attitude:

(a) A day will dawn when God, our Father, will judge the quality of our work for Him. God's judgment will be impartial. It will be fair. God will take into account the opportunities we were given, the difficulties we faced, the encouragements along the way and our motivation for serving Him.

(b) Christians should live in daily awareness of what it cost God to redeem us. Jesus paid the price of our redemption - not with gold from a thousand mines but with his own precious shed blood.

Jesus shed blood is an indication that on the cross Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice for sin. Jesus was the ultimate, perfect sacrificial lamb. He was a lamb without defect or blemish. So Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice of himself, the ultimate token payment to atone for our sin.

There was nothing opportunistic about Jesus' sacrifice. It was planned before the creation of the world. Christians should NEVER forget that the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice depends on the grace of the one to whom it was offered. God graciously accepted the token payment of Jesus to set us free from the consequences of sin.

(3) Belief in God.

The Christian's belief in God is informed by and coloured by the FACT that He raised Jesus from the dead and glorified him.

What God did for Jesus, his obedient Son, he will do for Christians, his adopted sons, who trust in the finished, redemptive work of the Saviour.

We have faith in God to keep the promises made by Jesus our blessed redeemer, to his followers. Christians live in the hope of one glorious day seeing Jesus, of being like him and living with him forever and ever.

(4) Obeying the truth.

In order to qualify as genuine followers of Jesus we, like a metallic ore, need to be refined.

Gold ore contains many impurities and a range of processes are needed to produce the pure metal.

The Christian's behaviour must conform to the teaching of Jesus. From time to time this will invariably result in even the least aggressive Christian feeling the heat. A Christian lady might experience much opposition from her family for spending so much of her time in church activities.

I have a friend whose unbelieving son enjoys stirring up his mother by using foul language in her hearing.

One of the great characteristics of pure gold is its lustre - it shines, indeed, sometimes it positively glows.

Peter says that one of the great characteristics of Christians is their love for one another. This is what makes them shine like burnished gold. There is nothing insincere about it - the love I have for my fellow Christians is from the heart.

(5) Born again.

Christians experience a kind of rebirth when they believe in Jesus for salvation. This is clearly stated at the beginning of John's gospel. Yet to all who received him (Jesus), to all who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of a human decision, but born of God. Jn1v12.

Peter reaffirms this wonderful truth as chapter one closes. He writes: For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but imperishable.

The believer's rebirth has been decided, declared and done by God. The believer is born again through the living and enduring word of God.

Men make pronouncements and promises. They have their policies and programs, but as Peter emphasises: All men are like grass. They are like the arable weeds in the wheat fields of a Mediterranean country. As the summer progresses, the grass withers and the flowers fall. But, affirms Peter: the word of the Lord stands for ever.

God never dies, his word never dies - it is the living and enduring word - as true now as when God uttered it. How can it change, let alone perish. God is eternal and his word is eternal -forever true.

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