1 Peter and the Hope we Celebrated on Easter
As the baskets and candy are put away and I take a moment to let the emotions of Easter Sunday wash over me, I am filled with a renewed HOPE. What a beautiful day to reflect upon the time spent in 1 Peter these past weeks.
The message to the early Christians in 1 Peter was one of HOPE. Many refer to Peter as “the apostle of hope”. His encouragement and reminder to us is that we are promised a NEW LIFE, both now and into eternity.
“In His great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” 1 Peter 1:3-4
Before I was a Christian, I was DEAD in my sin. My sin separated me from God. The consequence for my sin was eternal separation from God. I was destined for Hell.
Sin is not something I like to look at. Yet it is imperative that I understand my depravity and imperfection to understand my NEED for a perfect and blameless Savior.
Julie shared about confession last week. Confession can be an area in MY spiritual walk that I struggle with, for several reasons. Here are just a few:
1) If I think about my sin, I am reminded that it was ME (and my sin) that nailed my Savior to a cross.
2) If I acknowledge my sin, I am tempted to feel guilt and shame.
3) Pride can deceive me into believing I don’t have any sin to repent of.
4) I want to continue in my sin.
5) I wait until my daily quiet time to confess, when I could confess and repent as I connect with God throughout the day.
6) Conviction of the Holy Spirit requires intimacy with the Father.
7) I don’t always embrace the gift of healing and freedom in Christ.
Let me expound on each of the above and how they look in my life.
It was me and my sin that crucified my Lord
I sincerely love Jesus. I have ever since I was a little girl. He is the most beautiful and constant part of my life. I am deeply grieved when I think of His suffering on the cross. It is PAINFUL for me to envision His suffering, and even more painful to acknowledge that it is my sin that put Him there. So for me, choosing to avoid confession is also choosing to avoid PAIN. It doesn’t make me feel good to do it, therefore the root struggle here is avoidance of pain in pursuit of feeling good.
I am tempted to feel guilt and shame
Again, I WANT TO FEEL GOOD. When I verbalize my sin, I feel bad. I don’t want to do the things that I do.
Some of the things I do are the things I have prayed NOT TO DO, over and over. For example, being short with my children. I pray almost EVERY night for peace and joy and patience with my kids the following day. I pray again in the morning for the same. I pray for that almost CONSTANTLY throughout the day. And guess what: I am impatient with them at some point EVERY DAY. Something comes out of my mouth that is not filled with love and grace EVERY DAY. And I HATE IT. I feel terrible each and every time. And when I go to repent, I can sometimes struggle with guilt and shame. I struggle with letting one mistake define who I am.
Pride deceives me into believing I didn’t sin today
So as I was typing that one out I was thinking… “Is that pride?”… “It really looks like stupidity. Or a REALLY bad case of denial. Of course I know I sinned today!” I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years. Cognitively I know I sin each and every day. Probably every hour.
It is tempting to look around at others and compare my life to their life. My sin to their sin. Many times, my sin can look much prettier than my neighbor’s sin, so I minimize mine. But in reality, the hate in my heart or the cruelty in my words is no less sin than murder or adultery.
I want to continue to sin
Quite frankly, I can convince myself that if I don’t say it out loud, that it isn’t a problem. It’s not really happening. This part is denial. When the healthy me kicks in and knows I can’t deny it, the sinful part of me can just be plain rebellious. My friends and I had a deep discussion last week about wanting to continue to sin. For the most part, sin makes me feel terrible. It separates me from God and others. I don’t want to sin because I love God and want to walk in obedience with Him. When I hurt others, I don’t want to continue in it. But Satan can be tricky. What about when I choose to sit in anger instead of forgiveness, to protect myself? Or I want to do things my own way despite hearing God’s voice clearly. When I choose comfort over obedience. When I want to gain power by speaking loudly and unkindly.
I wait to confess
At the end of the day I honestly can’t remember everything I should repent of. Why not cry out to God when I realize I have sinned? The perfectionist in me wants to have a little list ready for God at my planned-out prayer time or when the kids are quiet. This usually leads to procrastination and no action at all. It doesn’t have to be perfect, God just wants to hear from me.
Confession requires intimacy
Intimacy requires vulnerability and vulnerability can be scary. Intimacy can lead to pain. And here again, I avoid pain. I want to feel good. Sometimes I don’t confess because I don’t want to connect with anyone. Even God. Sometimes, ESPECIALLY God. I want to go solo.
I don’t embrace healing and freedom
Confession leads to healing and freedom. And it’s easy for me to forget those gifts that God gives to me after a time of repentance. My flesh can choose to stay in bondage and live as an orphan, or I can embrace the freedom I have in Christ and surrender myself and my sin daily. Peter reminds me in Chapter 2, verse 24:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;
by His wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
This is the message of HOPE. My sin was paid for on the cross. I can live in freedom because as a child of God, there is nothing I can do to UN-DO what Christ accomplished.
It is finished.
I am healed.
I don’t have to listen to the voice of GUILT and SHAME because that is not the voice of God. While I am guilty of sin, God doesn’t condemn me, he convicts me. And out of this loving conviction, I can have a response of repentance which leads to healing. I am then able to freely WORSHIP my Savior and experience transformation and life.
So while it’ so important to acknowledge the problem of sin and be aware of our attitudes and actions, please don’t be tempted to get discouraged and paralyzed by it! God’s Word defines the PROBLEM, but it also gives the SOLUTION!
First Peter invites us to appreciate what the death and resurrection of Christ did for us!
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed for the empty way of life, handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19
For you have been born again not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. A people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
Though you have not seen Him, you love him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 1 Peter 1:8-9
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, and the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. Galations 4:6-7
As Christians, we receive restoration IN THIS LIFE as God restores us to who He created us to be. He imparts upon us the gifts of the Fruits of the Spirit and the power and beauty of Himself. We get to experience and relate to God now. We are heirs to His Kingdom and His righteousness. We can confess our sins and receive the blessings we have been promised.
While sin separates us, confession connects us.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no man should boast.
In His Grace,