Sermon: Living In Hope And Holiness

Text: 1 Peter 1:13-25
Third Sunday of Easter
Listen to the Sermon here.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

A man went into a junk shop in a nearby town. He was searching for a specific item, and after searching for some time, he found a bowl. It had been used to hold flowers and was covered in dirt and leaves. What’s more, it seemed to be broken into several pieces. The store owner had not given it much thought, as it was stained, fractured, and seemingly useless. But the man saw something special in the bowl and carefully fished out its pieces, hiding his excitement as he purchased it at the till. He took it home and cleaned it with great care, realizing it was made of costly porcelain. He gradually cleaned each piece until they were as good as new. But the man didn’t stop there – he also used his skill to put the bowl back together. Ultimately, the man turned the restored bowl into a piece of art. He put it a place of honor in his home, showing off its priceless artwork perfectly. This tale, my friends, reminds us of ourselves. We are like that bowl. Peter wants to make clear in our Epistle lesson that we are like a broken bowl, stained and fractured, yet not without hope.

Hope in God

Peter describes the way we used to be. Our Creator God has made us for specific purposes and intended our lives to follow a particular pattern. But instead, we have formed our lives around purposes other than those we were made for. When God is not acknowledged, there is a gaping hole at the heart of life (v. 18). It is a God-shaped hole. People fill that hole with all sorts of things that are not God, things like power, money, sex, recognition, comfort, independence, and equality. We yearn for the wrong things. Our appetite for sin actually enslaves us. Sin affects our choices and binds us with the iron chains of habit. ‘Futile ways,’ Peter calls them. These are the ways that characterize all of us apart from Christ. These “futile ways” lead to a dead end, where we end up broken and in a junk heap. And so, we’re like that bowl in the junk shop: we’re broken, covered with the stain of sin, no longer able to serve the function for which we were created.

Stop choosing sin over God. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life. If you stay in your sin, you die. If you put your hope in God, you live. Peter wants you to have unshakable hope. The call for struggling Christians is this: set your hope fully on the future coming of Christ. When Jesus returns, everything will be set right again. Our hope is sure and we can bank on it. Our faith and hope are in God. It is our response to God’s work. We look to God, hear his word of promise, see his salvation in Christ, and fix our hope on him, no matter what happens. Our present hope will be exchanged for joy when Christ comes again. You can live each day knowing that this world is temporary and our true home is in the future.

And your hope is grounded in the fact that Christ ransomed you with his precious and lasting blood, and it’s also grounded in the reality that God raised him from the dead so that your hope would be in God. We cannot redeem ourselves. At best, we could offer only corruptible silver or gold. It is God who pays. This means that forgiveness from God is very costly. Nothing but the blood of Jesus was a sufficient price for ransoming you from your slavery to sin. God has paid that price with the blood of Christ offered up for you. But the Father who sacrificed his Son also approved and accepted this sacrifice. He glorified him by raising him from the dead. Because of Christ’s work for you on the Cross, you have reason to hope in God and what he can do for you. The God who raised Jesus from the dead and gave him glory can and will do great things and similar things for you. God has done everything through Jesus, so you might put your faith and hope in God. He knew and chose his Son, sent his Son, put his Son to death, raised his Son from death, and gave his Son glory—Why? For this reason: so that you would hope in God and forsake sin. So that you would trust what God can do for you rather than what you can do for yourself.

Live in Holiness

The certainty of our hope should have a discernable effect on our lives. Christians cannot live in sin. “Be holy,” says Peter. Why? “Because God is holy.” The people of a holy God are called to a life radically different from how people normally behave. They are called to reflect God’s own character. You are the bowl, bought in the shop, and now cleaned up and restored. The bowl used to be used for flowers, but after it was restored, it was set apart from ordinary use. That’s what ‘holiness’ means: being separated from what is defective and evil and separated for God. A thing is holy by setting it apart from ordinary use and dedicating them for God’s use. God has set you apart for to serve God. Christians are different from the world around them, wonderfully different. They have a different God and a new and different life, purpose, and destination through Him.

Peter is reminding you of this so that you don’t let any previous owners come up and try to force you back into the life you once had (v. 14). Don’t let your old self squeeze you back into its mold. In Holy Baptism, that old self is dead, crucified, buried, and raised with Christ. We no longer follow the world’s ways but always seek to follow the path God has set out for us in the Ten Commandments. Don’t return to slavery and death. Stay away from the practices and behaviors you know are contrary to what God wants. You have to put those sinful desires to death daily. Holiness involves daily dying to sin. Saying no to yourself. Return to your Baptism daily, drowning that old self with all its sin and lusts so that a new you may arise. The sinful desires are drowned, and the new creation rises. Each day is a resurrection day, with the Gospel raising us to life, renewing us, and lifting us up from the death of sin to life in Christ.

By the Good News

What connects these two is the Word of God, the Gospel. There is power in the Good News. It’s the basis of our hope and the source of our holiness. The Gospel is the good news about Jesus the Messiah, about God sending His Son so that through his sacrificial death, you might be ransomed from your previous life and given a whole new life and purpose in God’s service. How does this work? God’s word is creative: he speaks, and it is done. When we tell people about Jesus, something happens. The Gospel carries an energy, a power, beyond mere ‘words.’ The word of the Good News is God’s call; it communicates, converts, and sanctifies. When the Gospel is proclaimed, people find themselves gripped, transformed, and given new life through it. It is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.

The Gospels leads God’s people into holiness and transforms them to reflect more and more of God’s character in their lives. Through the Word of the Gospel, you are sanctified. God’s word creates new life in you. It offers you forgiveness of sins, and enables you to love your brothers and sisters with the same undeserved love shown to you. Through that life-giving, transforming word, the blood of Jesus releases you from your slavery to your own sinful desires. God’s redemption breaks not only the chain that binds us to future doom but also the chain of our sinful past. Pursuing holiness is not the basis of our salvation; instead, it the ongoing result of salvation in our lives.

You were like that broken, dirty pot in the junk shop. We were born enslaved to sin. Yet, Jesus Christ “has redeemed you, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won you from all sins … not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.” Hope in God, hear his word of promise, and see his salvation in Christ. Fix your hope on him. Because we have been given hope, we are called to live in it. His Word gave us new life, and His Word will also enable us to live the life He calls us to. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He is the one who has bought you back. He is the one who has cleaned you up and has already begun to put into God’s serve. He has promised to complete this work when he comes again.

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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