Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. -1 Peter 1:8-9
They say that true love is blind because it does not see with the eyes but the heart; that when love is true it cares nothing for appearances– it sees the other person as beautiful regardless of how they look. I remember reading this verse 4 or 5 years ago and thinking to myself “I cannot honestly say I love God as much as this verse is saying but I know that someday I will”. In reading this verse today I noticed that my heart was able to honestly say that what this verse says is true for me. Though I have never seen God I love Him and I rejoice that He has saved my soul.
In the context of this verse you will see that before it Peter the Apostle speaks about suffering through all kinds of trials and how it was necessary to refine the elect’s faith. Looking back over my walk with God for the last 5 years or so it is marked with one trial, one battle, after the next. Each time my faith has been refined– purified by the fires of grief. When I say my faith has been purified don’t get the wrong idea. It doesn’t mean I always felt like I had a victory in my walk with God over sin or over temptations. No, actually I have fallen many times. The thing that showed my faith in Jesus true though is that I would call out to Him to save me, and He would, and I would move forward. Having your faith purified by trial does not mean you are some super spiritual giant, never doubting. It means even after failure or doubting that you in the end put your trust in God and He moves you forward. You may not even appear to be moving forward to anyone else, but God knows your heart and He is working to purify it.
All of this work of God’s grace and purification by trial in our hearts can produce only two things– love for God and joy at His salvation. We see how He has constantly been there for us through the trials and how He has used it to bring good about in our life. We see how much grace He showed to us even in our failures and we cannot help but love Him for it even though we cannot physically see Him. We know that God is there because He has shown Himself in a million, almost unnoticeable, ways. We rejoice because eventually He brings us out of those trials and we know how much more valuable our salvation is.
The following context of that verse teaches what to do with that love for God and joy at His salvation of our souls. Peter says “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” -1 Peter 1:13-16
“…Be holy, because I am holy.”
Therefore, based on the love that we have for God, lets get our minds ready for action. Every action starts in the mind, with a choice and some preparation. If you want to start changing then you are going to have to prepare your mind for it. Think about how you want to change and how you can do it, then with God’s help do it. First, we need to be self-controlled. This is actually one of the hardest things for me to do. To control yourself, to control your thoughts, your actions, your words and your feelings. That isn’t easy, but being holy comes down to being able to control yourself. Then, put your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Jesus Christ comes back. Your hope, your one and only hope, for being saved or for changing comes down to Jesus. That is good news if you are like me and have tried for a long time to control yourself and have met only failure. In the end, try as we might to do good, we are going to fail. But our hope is not in our efforts, it is in the grace that Jesus will bring to us when He comes back as our savior. I am glad that Peter mentions this hope after he tells us to set our mind on change and be self-controlled instead of before. It is almost like “OK, now do this and then when you fail don’t worry because your hope is on the grace of Christ”. Lastly, be holy in all that we do. Based on loving God we need to try to live holy because He is holy. It is not that we have to, or that we fear judgement if we don’t. No, it is because we love God that we want to be like Him- and He is holy. We need to live in way that is pure, sinless and upright because that is who God is. This is not easy, and you will spend a lot of time failing as we all have, but it is our goal once we love God. Thankfully you will have the help of the Holy Spirit to produce this holiness in your life, you won’t have to do it alone.
Maybe you are asking, why? Why should I have to live holy if I am saved by God’s grace anyway? Well, simply put, being holy is how you make an unseen God seen to others (Hebrews 12:14). True love is blind, this is as much true for the love that we experience with others here on this earth as it is true for our love with God. Thankfully though it will not always be a blind love; for there will come a day when you will see nothing else but the face of Him whom you have loved– and oh, what an amazing day that will be.