After offering the good news of hope in Jesus, Peter tells his readers that they have a part to play in their new life in Christ. That’s why in verse 13, the very first word is THEREFORE. And, as I’ve told you this a million times, whenever you see the word “therefore” in the Bible, you need to always ask, “what is it there for?”. And in this case, Peter writes “therefore” to tell his readers that based on the “new birth that they have received into a living hope because of the resurrection of Jesus (v. 3),” they need to respond in an appropriate way.
Take a look at verse 13. Peter writes…
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.
The first thing we need to do is prepare our minds for action. This phrase literally means that we are to “gird up our minds.” We need to roll up our spiritual sleeves and get ready to work. The image is of the people’s cloaks that they wore during this time (and even in the Old Testament). Whenever they would have to run or go into battle, they would gather up their robe and tuck it into their belt so they could move more quickly. They didn’t want to be tripping over their robe.
This image finds its way all the way back into the Old Testament where the Lord tells the Israelites how to prepare to leave Egypt… even while they’re gathered to eat the Passover meal. Listen to this from Exodus 12:11…
This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.
Thus, even while they’re eating… they’re to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice; Cloak or robe tucked in belt; sandals on feet; staff in hand. We also need to be doing the hard and preparatory work of thinking the way that God wants us to think. Our minds are to reflect God’s character and what he’s revealed to us in and through his Word.
An obvious New Testament reference to this is Romans 12:2. There Paul says…
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…
The only other time in the New Testament that the word “conform” is used in this way is in verse 14 of our text. Peter writes…
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
Peter’s telling us the same thing as Paul. We aren’t to conform – that is, we’re not to fall into the same sorts of patterns of our world, of our culture – in our thinking, in our speaking, in our living, in our daily relationships, in our attitudes… you name it.
And that takes hard work. That’s why Peter calls us to “prepare our minds for action.” He also says in verse 13 that we need to be “self-controlled.” Again, it’s the same idea. Living the Christian life takes self-control. It takes discipline. Just like any other aspect of life, to become good, or effective, or accomplished at it, it takes skill developed through disciplined practice. We don’t become stronger in our faith simply by crossing our fingers, “letting go and letting God,” or merely saying that we want to. We have to pursue it for all we’re worth.
Stayed tuned for Part 3 of Your Call to Holiness.
Grace and Truth,