“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
1 Peter 2:9 (NET)
So far in our study of 1 Peter, we have focused on the beauty that comes from faith, from trials and from God’s Word. This week we will look at holiness and the beauty that comes into our lives as we seek to have a lifestyle that honors the God who called us to be His and to be holy. I hope that you are able to work daily on these lessons and allow God to speak to you personally. I know that when I rush through questions just to get answers, I am not allowing God to do His work in me, to use His Word in a powerful way as we saw last week. Before you begin reading and answering questions, take the time to quiet your heart before God and ask Him to speak to you in a very personal and practical way as you open His Word.
Read 1 Peter 1:13-2:10.
We are going to backtrack just a bit today into Chapter 1. You have read it several times already. It is a rich chapter, full of so many wonderful truths that we can’t cover them all in depth, despite all the homework I am giving youJ Today we are going to focus on 1:13-21. They will relate to some verses in Chapter Two that we will pick up later this week.
1. There are a number of instructions given in 1:13-21. List them just as they are written. Some of them are accompanied by phrases that tell us “why” we are to obey them. If you see any of those, list them with the instruction, beginning it with the question “why?” I have given you the first one.
1. Prepare your minds for action Why? (Therefore refers back to vv. 10-12)
Because of our great salvation about which the prophets & angels wondered
These instructions involve some specific actions that we are to take as believers. It is so easy to just read them quickly and dismiss them by thinking, “Oh, I do that.” But do we really do what we are instructed to do here? I have to admit that I come up short. For one thing, I am not completely focused on my ultimate salvation. I am way too distracted by the here and the now.
2. Sharing question: Go back through your list of instructions and meditate upon each one. Consider whether you are really obeying them. Are you really preparing your mind for action? What would that look like? Write down your responses to each one.
3. There seems to be a contrast in vv. 14-15 in the instructions. We are told not to do one thing but instead to do the other. How does this help you better understand what holiness involves?
The words holy and sanctified are the same in the Greek, which means separated or set apart. When used of God, holiness reflects His essential character, which is separate from that of people. When used of believers, it involves “a sense of belonging to God, a people marked off and separate from the world by their way of life.”3
4. Sharing question: Do people know that you are a Christian by your lifestyle? Are you any different from anyone else? I am not suggesting a holier-than-thou attitude where you are known more for what you don’t do than for your love and godliness. Spend some time evaluating your attitudes as well as your actions. How godly are they? Share one area in your life where you need God to change you to be more like Him.
5. Responding to God: Respond to God with a prayer, poem, etc. Confess the ungodliness you see, the area where you are not holy as He is holy. Thank Him for the cleansing He gives through the washing of His Word and the conviction of His Spirit.
Read 1 Peter 2:4-10.
6. In vv. 4-8 Peter uses the analogy of a stone for Jesus. List the various adjectives or phrases that he uses to describe this Stone. I have given you the first example.
7. Look up in the notes in your study Bible, or even in a regular English dictionary, and write down what you learn about cornerstones.
8. Who does Jesus indicate has rejected Him? Why would they be similar to builders? How does the parable relate to Jesus’ being a rejected stone?
9. Sharing question: Describe a time when your friends or those whom you were trying to help rejected you. Describe your feelings.
10. Explain how the metaphor of the stone enables you to understand more about Jesus. Write down personal insights from your list of adjectives in #6.
11. Responding to God: Are you among those who disbelieve and reject the Stone, stumbling over Him? Or is Jesus a Stone of precious value for you? Write a letter or a prayer to Jesus. Tell Him how valuable He is in your life.
Reread 1 Peter 2:1-10.
12. List all the descriptions that Peter uses for believers in vv. 5-10.
13. Sharing question: Which one of these descriptions is most meaningful to you? Why?
It is a major truth in the New Testament that the Gentiles were once not part of God’s people but in Jesus Christ, they are. In the Old Testament it was only the Jews who were God’s people; they were His holy nation, set apart for Him. Read Ephesians 2:11-22.
14. What metaphors does Paul use here that we also see 1 Peter 2?
15. Are there any barriers left between the Jews and the Gentiles when we believe in Christ? Support your conclusion from this passage.
16. What privileges does Paul mention that we have as God’s children?
17. Sharing question: What do these privileges mean to you personally and why?
The Jews were given wonderful privileges in the Old Covenant, which came to them under Moses. However, they began to believe that they were better than other nations. They had God’s favor and it went to their heads. Rather than living gratefully, knowing that it was only by the mercy of God that they were brought into His family, they began to think they deserved His favor. You can see this particularly in the lives of the Pharisees.
Do you ever begin to believe that you have somehow deserved the mercy of God because you are so holy? Do you begin to look around you at the world and think that you are so much better than everyone else? It’s easy in our culture to look pretty good compared to someone else. However, it is a lie. We are what we are solely because of God’s grace, which we don’t deserve. It is only His work in us that makes us holy, not because we have done it ourselves.
18. Responding to God: Write a response to God concerning any self-righteousness that you see in your life.
In both 1 Peter 2:5 and 2:9 believers are called a priesthood. You may have heard of the doctrine of “the priesthood of the believer.” Today we are going to look at what it means to be a priest before our God.
Dr. D. Edmond Hiebert explains the priesthood of the believer: “Since all believers constitute a priesthood, there is no longer any place for a special office of priests to mediate between individual believers and God; each believer has direct access to God Himself.”4 This is why in our Protestant churches our leaders are not priests but ministers and pastors and why we do not go to them for confession but directly before God Himself.
19. Read 1 Tim. 2:5. Why do we no longer need someone else, a priest, to go to God on our behalf?
20. Read Heb. 4:14-16. What do you learn here about our situation in prayer as believers in Jesus.
21. Read these verses and identify the kinds of spiritual sacrifices we make as priests:
22. Sharing question: Look back over your list of spiritual sacrifices. As a priest, are you presenting these kinds of sacrifices to God consistently? Write down one area where you can improve and a specific action you can take this week in that area.
23. Responding to God: Respond to God in any way you like - a prayer, a poem, a drawing, or a song. Tell Him what it means to you to be able to come directly before His throne of grace without needing anyone else except Jesus. Keep in mind that as a priest, you are to be holy as you come before Him.
Our “Precious Word from God” this week is 1 Peter 2:9. Reread it.
24. The first part of this verse deals with our identity and lifestyle. What does a holy life enable us to do according to the end of the verse? Are they necessarily related? Why or why not?
25. If you were to proclaim God’s excellencies, what would you say?
26. Copy this verse below and work on memorizing it.
For this lesson I received two really good stories about how a woman’s lifestyle was a witness to Christ. Rather than choosing one, I am going to let you read them both.
When our children were young we had our next-door neighbor's teenage daughter baby-sit for us from time to time. She was a sweet young girl and we enjoyed having her in our home whenever she wanted to come over. One day she asked me "Why is your family so different? You all don't argue and fuss and you seem to have such love for each other." I told her that we loved the Lord and that He is the one that made the difference in our home. It was His love that she saw and was drawn to. We talked and I shared Christ with her but she didn't seem to really understand what I was telling her.
She went off to Baylor for college and one of the first times she was home she came over and said. "Now I know what you were trying to tell me. You all have a personal relationship with God through Christ." She had become a Christian and was so excited to share her new faith with us. I am thankful for the seeds that were sown in her life and for the ultimate new life in Christ that she was given.
I met a wonderful young mom, and we quickly became friends. We talked on the phone and occasionally got together since we had kids the same age. I also gave her kids Bible related gifts for their birthdays - Veggie Tales videos and kids sing-a-long Praises tapes. This was one of those “intentional relationships” that our pastor encourages us to cultivate with others. We had conversations about church, but I could tell that she did not have a personal relationship with Christ. She did not rely on Him to direct her daily decisions, and I’m not sure she even owned a Bible.
One day, she called me crying and said she just caught her husband in an affair that had been going on for a year. Once the affair was in the open, he had a decision to make. Did he want his marriage and his children, or did he want this other woman? He was convinced he was in love with this other woman, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to make his marriage work. She desperately wanted to keep her marriage together but wasn’t sure that she could move past this hurt.
I invited her to my home so I could visit with her. We sat on my couch, and she poured her heart out. God gave me the ability to listen, and He also gave me the words to soothe her. She looked at me and said, “I want what you have.” I think I've waited my whole life to hear those words. I knew my life was different, but didn’t realize that others saw it! She recognized that God was in control of my life, and I had Him to lean on in times of crisis. I had witnessed to her by my lifestyle. I was able to tell her what was missing from her life by clearly sharing the gospel. She didn’t pray to receive Christ at that moment, but I gave her a Bible, hugged her, and prayed with her.
God urged me to call her husband and visit with him after she left. I really didn’t know him that well, but when I called him, I was not judgmental. I knew that he was having a hard time, too. Since he was waffling between staying and leaving, I encouraged him to stay. He said the marriage was dead - that they had no marriage at all - that they were just friends. I told him that that was something! I asked about his kids and if he was willing to give them up. He said he couldn’t stay together just for the kids - that that wouldn’t be any life for any of them. I told him that God could make it work. If he stayed now even if just for the kids, God could put this back together. I told him that if Christ became the center of their marriage, it wouldn’t fail. He asked me if God hated him. I told him no - he hates the sin, but not you. I also reminded him how wonderful his wife was and that he was crazy to consider anyone else. Life with this other girl wouldn’t always feel this way. I told him that he was in the early stages of “love” and that those feelings would go away with her, too. Marriage is a choice and it has to be worked on. We ended the conversation, and he still didn’t know what he wanted.
She left town for one week with her kids. I sent her a card every day explaining why she was wonderful. (She felt like she wasn’t because her husband didn’t want her.) She took her Bible with her. She later told me that she read it every day and that she decided to let the Lord lead her life!
The whole time she was gone I prayed that her husband would miss them. He had a choice: he could have gone to be with that other woman, but he didn’t. He stayed at home, alone, missing his family. Before the week was up, he drove to get her.
This was far from over because my friend had entered another phase of the grieving cycle. Now she was angry. She came home with him, but wasn’t sure she was going to be able to forgive him. And, with all of the fighting, he wasn’t sure this was going to work out - other woman or not. I had run out of things to say and knew I was in over my head. She went with me to talk with one of our ministers. The minister asked her if she was willing to serve her husband - regardless of how he treated her. She decided at that moment that God was calling her to stay in her marriage, forgive her husband and serve him!
She went home and served her husband. That made such a difference. She read her Bible; she started listening to Christian radio stations; and she served him. He has said that her attitude toward him, even though he wasn’t treating her nicely, is what ultimately made him stay. What a witness she was to him!
They attend church regularly at a Bible teaching church, so seeds are being planted if not cultivated and growing. Their marriage is better today than it ever has been. I love seeing them together! They are so happy. They worked out some underlying issues in their marriage that they didn’t realize needed to be worked on. Praise the Lord. He put me in the right place at the right time and gave me the opportunity to witness through my lifestyle. This is an experience that I’ll never forget.
You can see that others were able to see the beauty of the Lord in the lives of these women, and that beauty was an attraction. Those who didn’t know Christ asked about the difference for they recognized something beautiful. As we grow in holiness, we become more beautiful because we are more like Jesus.
27. Sharing question: Share a story from your own life in which your lifestyle impacted someone else in a similar way.
3I. Howard Marshall, 1 Peter, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, Grant R. Osborne, ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991), 53.
4D. Edmond Hiebert, First Peter: An Expositional Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1984), 123-124.