“And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”
Our text tells us that we are to pass our time on this earth in fear. Who are we to fear? What does it mean to fear? The answer to the first question is very obvious and simple. However, the answer to the second question is a little more complicate. The one whom we are to fear is God. But, what does it mean to fear God? To answer this question we must consider the context of our text at hand.
Verse 13 of First Peter 1 began a paragraph that stated how believers should live in response to the previous information given. Peter instructed his readers in the areas of our faith. It is with the understanding of the foundation of our faith, the hope of our faith, the trial of our faith, and the mystery of our faith; that we are to respond with holy living. Verse 17 is another paragraph that continues the same thought that began in the previous paragraph in verse 13. Not only are we to live a holy life, but we are also to live with a reverent fear of God. While we are waiting and anticipating the hope of our faith, we are to pass our time on this earth in holiness and fear.
This fear that we have of God is to be a cross between reverence and terror. We are not to be horrified of God, yet, we are to be fearful of His judgment and power. We are to reverence God, yet, not in a soft way as to overlook His might. So, how or why are we to fear God? Our text reveals this to us.
Fear God for who He is. Verse 13 mentions that God judges according to every man’s work and He does so without any partiality. There are a couple of things to clear up here. (1) Peter is talking to believers. In the context of this passage, Peter is speaking to those who call God their Father. Only those who are born-again can call God their Father. (2) We are judged according to our works not according to our sin nature. Our sins have been paid for on the cross of Calvary. We have been redeemed and justified. We have been pardoned for our sins. We have been set free from the eternal penalty of sin. We are free from condemnation. We are free from hell. However, as believers in Christ, we are judged according to our works. There are disciplinary measures that God will take when our works do not match up with who we are. Holy living is a part of those works. Though, all sin is paid for and the eternal penalty of sin is removed, we are held accountable to living a holy life. Therefore, when we live a life that is not consistent with a life of holiness, there are consequences. Therefore, we fear God while we are on this earth because we know that God will judge us according to how we live. (3) Consequences of God’s judgements are limited to the present age. Peter mentions that we live in fear while we sojourn on this earth. The consequences for our lack of holiness is experienced by us in this life. Such consequences does not carry over into eternity. Our eternal destination has already been settled. It was settled the moment we came to faith in Christ. Thank God for His grace and mercy! However, while we live on this earth, there are consequences and judgments issued according to how we live. Therefore, we fear God for who is; the righteous judge. Such fear of God is a motivating factor for holy living. We desire to please God and to bring Him glory. We are careful with how we live because we know that there are consequences for our actions in this life.
Fear God for what He has done. We should live with a reverent fear of God not only because of who He is but also because of what He has done. We should be in awe of what God has done for us. Our text shows us two things that God has done for us.
Redeemed us. Verse 18 mentions that we have been redeemed. This redemption is given to those who have come to Christ by faith. To be redeemed is to be ‘bought out.’ Before we come to faith in Christ we are bound to sin and the eternal penalty of sin. When we accept God’s free gift of grace given to us through the death of Christ, we are set free from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin, and as a part of our future hope we are set free from the presence of sin. This redemption could not be paid for with silver and gold or with futile things that have been passed down to us as tradition. However, the redemption we receive is made possible by the blood of Jesus Christ. The redemption of our souls came at the highest price. The blood of Jesus is precious because it is a perfect blood. It is not contaminated with sin. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for sin. This sacrifice that Jesus made was conceived in the mind of God even before the world was created. It was God’s foreordained plan which He elected according to His foreknowledge. This elected plan of God has been revealed to us in this dispensation of grace. All who follow God’s plan, repenting of their sin and believing on the Lord Jesus, are redeemed and given a glorious inheritance.
Gave us hope. We have a reverent fear of God not only because He has redeemed us, but also because He has given us hope. The hope that we have in God is made possible by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God the Father raised God the Son up from the dead giving Him all glory and power. Because of this single act of God, with have a real hope that we receive by faith.
As believers in Christ living in a post-Christian and an anti-Christian society, we live in holiness and in fear. We fear God for who He is as our righteous judge and we fear God for what He has done for us by redeeming us and giving us hope. May our fear of Him be our motivation to live as He would live.