“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16)
The natural outflow of looking toward our blessed hope is a life of holiness. “Outlook determines outcome; attitude determines action.” When the soon return of Christ is in our view our attitudes are molded in such a way that it prompts action. The hope of our faith that is built upon the foundation of our faith helps us to endure the trial of our faith which produces holiness. As we go through the fire of trials and persecution, God is shaping our lives in such a way that holiness becomes an automatic outflow of our sanctification.
After Peter deals with the foundation of our faith, the hope of our faith, the trail of our faith, and the mystery of our faith; he then proceeds to instruct us in how we should live out our faith in an anti-Christian world. In our passage at hand we find three key commands: gird up, sober up, and clean up. Obedience to these commands are the key elements in being holy as He is holy.
Gird up. To gird up is to ready oneself. In Bible times to gird up your loins is to pull up and tuck in your outer garment so that nothing would impede your movement. When Peter said to ‘gird up the loins of your mind’ he was saying that we should get ready and prepare ourselves for action. It’s like a runner in a ready position waiting for the race to begin. In light of our future inheritance and glorious hope, in light of the trails of life, and in light of our responsibility to carry the torch of the Gospel that has been passed down to us; we are to gird up our minds with an outlook that will produce an outflow of attitudes that drives action. The practical way in which we gird up our minds is through mediation and prayer. We are to think on the things that we have been taught. We should contemplate the truths concerning our faith. As we do, we should pray, seeking the Lord’s guidance and wisdom as we follow His will.
Sober up. The word ‘sober’ in Greek is ‘nepho’. In its most literal sense, it means to have self-control. To be sober is to be free from the influences of substances such as alcohol. It also means to be serious or thoughtful. In a spiritual sense, to be sober is to be free from the influences of the world and to be serious about the things of God. I am afraid that many believers in America today have become so caught up in the world that we do not take things seriously anymore. We tend to shrug things off as if it is no big deal. The warning signs are all around us. This nation has fallen away from God. We as Christians are on the brink of severe persecution here in America, yet we just go about our lives as if there is nothing wrong. America is morally bankrupt yet we do nothing. It is time that we as believers get serious about the state of our nation and our church. It is time that we wake up, sober up, and realize that we live in very serious times. It is time that we get serious about the things of God. We have become spiritually lazy and complacent. Apathy has set in. The world around us is hanging over the pits of hell by a thread, yet we are too busy taking care of ourselves and our possessions to care. How did we get here? How did we get to such a state? It was a slow process. Such a slow process that it went unnoticed. If we do not repent and get serious about the things of God again, eventually the church will die. When a church dies there is a slow and methodical downward cycle. It bleeds from within. The symptoms go unnoticed. Before you know it, it’s too late. That downward cycle is as follows:
- Loss of powerful prayer (the death of the prayer meeting)
- Soften stance on the authority of God’s Word (questioning God’s Word)
- Decline in faithful church attendance (other things take priority)
- Loss of parental example (children will adopt the patterns of their parents)
- Compromise on social issues (greater acceptance and tolerance of immorality)
Sadly, many churches find themselves somewhere around the third and fourth step of the downward cycle. Many churches will still say they hold to the authority of God’s Word, yet they do not practice it. The admonition given by Peter is that we need to get with it. We need to sober up. We need to get serious.
Clean up. We are instructed to gird up and sober up as we hold on to the hope that we have in Christ. In doing this we are to also clean up. The scripture tells us to not ‘fashion’ ourselves according to the things of the world. This means that we are to not slip back into our old ways. In other words, do not fall back into your sinful habits and worldliness. Then it mentions that we are to be holy as God is holy. Peter says that we are called to be holy. Part of our calling as believers in Christ is to live holy lives. The text takes it a step further when it says that we are to be holy in all manner of conversations. This means that we are to be holy in every area of our life. There are too many things in our lives that hinder us in our walk with God. We need to remove those things from our lives. We have idols that we need to tear down. We have immoral thoughts and actions that we need to repent of. We have attitudes that need to be changed. We have mouths that need to be washed. We have hearts that need to be broken. Our world is in desperate need. The world needs a church that is a perfect testimony of Christ and His righteousness. How can God use the church to make a difference in this world when there is so much wrong with the church? How can God use a dirty church? The answer to that question is simple: He can’t. God cannot and will not use a dirty church. If we are going to be salt and light to the world we must clean up our act. We must repent of our sins and return to a life of holiness.
Peter is preparing believers for coming persecution. The church today is suffering persecution around the world. Severe persecution that we see across the oceans will soon be on our shores. If we are not ready, if we are not sober, and if we are not clean; our faith will not be strong enough to face the dangers the lies ahead. If terrorist began to target Christians in America. If they start kidnapping our children and beheading our leaders, I am afraid that many Christians in America will coward to the demands of the persecutors. Why? Because we are not ready. We are not taking things seriously enough. We are too stained by the world. A call is going out to Christians in America: Be ye holy!
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 396). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.