Whenever we read a ‘therefore’, we should be in the habit of reading back to see to what the ‘therefore’ is referring to, or following on from. We saw yesterday that Peter has reminded us of our assured hope in Christ; that God is with us; that we have an imperishable inheritance; and to try and see our present life, including suffering and difficulties, from a heavenly perspective. An important theme to Peter is that our hope is centred on Heaven, and not on Earth.
Therefore, Peter urges us in response to ‘rid yourselves….’ (v.1-3). The language used here makes it clear this is a conscious decision that we need to make (daily) to rid ourselves of sin, and eagerly desire to mature in our salvation.
Peter goes on to remind us that we are ‘living stones’ in a spiritual temple that God is building on the foundation of Jesus (v. 4-8). The ‘stone’ here is a gem of great value, a symbol in the O.T. and Jewish thought of the Messiah.
Have you ever watched the construction of a building? Two types of stone are mentioned by Peter:
Corner Stone: When building a house, you start with the corners, setting out your lines to get the right angles for the rest of the building to follow. With Jesus as the cornerstone, our lives can set off in the right direction (Proverbs 3: 5-6).
Capstone: Either the finishing touch (coping stone for a wall to ‘complete the work’), or a keystone in an arch that ‘locks’ all the other stones in place to maintain the structure. Jesus is the completion of God’s work of salvation and is the one that holds our life ‘together’.
Peter reminds us that we are a ‘royal priesthood, chosen by God’ and as such, we are to offer spiritual sacrifices and worship to God (v.5, v.9-11). But then comes the challenge – submission!
Paul says in his letter to the Roman Christians, ‘Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities ……’ (Romans 13: 1-7). Peter says the same. We do not use our ‘spiritual freedom’ to do whatever we like, that is hedonism. Instead, we are encouraged to live a right life before others, committing to doing what is right according the norms of one’s own culture, assuming of course that what society calls ‘right’ does not require a direct violation of God’s commands.
Finally, Peter reminds us to follow Christ’s attitude and response to injustice (v. 20-25).
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Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me to grasp more fully the truth that I am part of a royal priesthood, so that I might lead a right life among those with whom I live. To your glory. Amen.