First Peter with Andy Murray

Equipped to Love

1 Peter 1:22

“…love one another earnestly from a pure heart…” (ESV)

Expostion

Andrew Murray

Sin in the Body

Peter says, Love one another earnestly from a pure heart.

Each of us is to have earnest love for one another which come out of a pure heart.

Does this love characterize our lives? Does love characterize our marriages and our parenting and our being children to parents? Does love characterize our relationships in this church? Are we a people who really love one another?

Lets just make sure we are hearing Peter. The love he is talking about here is the same love our Lord Jesus Christ called us to.

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Do you love as Christ loved you? Do you pursue the good of others at great cost to yourself, at great cost to your reputation and praise, your time and your resources, your comfort and ease? Do you love as Christ loved as He gave Himself up for us?

Or are our families and relationships, like so many in the church, pretty burned over? Have we been shot enough times and been stabled enough times to know that people are pretty untrustworthy?

The truth is, as long as we live in this world there will be sin and relationships which are difficult and painful. Yes, even in the church. Even in the church devastating sins are committed against others – from angry outbursts and destructive unkind words to deception and lying, from sexual immorality to gossip and slander. All in the body of Christ! I am sure you could add many stories of destructive sin that has been committed within the body of Christ.

And in too many congregations those who should be known for their love for one another are marked by contentions and division. A root of bitterness grows deep like a steel cord and takes hold among the people of God and it chokes the fellowship of the saints. Relationships are broken and torn apart. The new commandment of Christ to love one another is abandoned and christians swear never to be a part of any local church again because the experience was just too painful. And so they cut themselves off from others.

And yet the voice of our Lord rings our clearly this morning. The commandment hasn’t changed: You love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another! and Peter joins the Lord Jesus, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.

Now lets be clear, Christians are not immune to sinning and stumbling, which is why so much of the Bible was written! The Scriptures remind and encourage and reorient and exhort our hearts to cling again wholly to Christ.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it;

Seal it for Thy courts above (Robert Robinson penned these words at age 22 in the year 1757).

And therefore, you get Christians together for long enough and there will likely be a mutual giving and receiving of sinful behavior toward one another. Especially as there will always be varying levels of maturity and varying degrees of sober warfare against remaining corruption in the Body of Christ.

So the question is not if there will be difficult circumstances, the question is how long those difficult circumstance will be allowed to fester and grow and (here is Peters point) the question is whether Gods people will set their hope completely on Christ and recognize who they are in Him even as we continue to struggle with sin.

Here is the significant thing, if a local body of believers grasps what Peter is saying in our passage this morning, if they see Jesus Christ as infinitely valuable and therefore set their hope on Him and love Him and live on Him and believe in Him – those people will be marked by love for one another. As I said the question is not if we will hurt one another, but if we will be a people tenaciously seeking to set our hope on Christ. No matter how deep a wound inflicted may be – if Christ is our hope – we can love one another.

An Argument

So lets look at the text and see what Peter is doing.

What Im going to do is read through our passage and Id like you to be listening for the structure of Peters argument. Peter is making a case for why you and I should earnestly love one another from a pure heart. So let me read these verses and you listen to how he makes his case.

1 Peter 1:22-25

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for

All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
T
he grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

The Olympian

Now, what Id like to do is use the structure of Peters argument and show you how the arguments works in a different context and I hope that this will help us get at the way Peter is thinking about the practice of earnest love from a pure heart in our lives. So I am going to take Peters argument and the structure of that argument and use it in a gymnastics context.

So here is the situation: you have a gymnastics coach speaking to his olympic athlete and this olympic athlete is scheduled to compete in an olympic competition and is nervous and hesitant. And this argument is something a gymnastics coach might say to strengthen and encourage his olympic athlete just before the olympic competition. So, using Peters argument, the coach might say,

Having – prepared your body and mind

by your – completion of the best gymnastics program in the world

for – an olympic level performance,

– perform at an olympic level

from – a fully prepared body and mind

since – you have completed,

not – a second rate program

but – the best program in the world

through – the tested and proved instruction of the top olympians ever to compete;

for

Ever other gymnastic program has failed and will fail)

but

– this program is the best in the world and had never failed.

And this – program is the very one you sat under and completed.

This is the logic Peter is using. The Christians soul has been equipped by their obedience to the truth with new capacities to love. They have been radically changed and made radically new by their participation in the gospel and this gives them all they need to love each other.

Walking Through the Text

So lets go through Peters words more slowly and unpack exactly what has happened to make you new, this is to make you an olympian, a Christian, capable of genuine love. There are two halves to this argument. One comes before the command and one comes after.

First Half

(v 22) Having purified your souls

Peter claims that a Christian is one whose soul has been purified. Just as the coach claims that the gymnast has a body and mind that is fit and prepared, so Peter tells us that Christians have souls that are fit and prepared to love – they have been purified.

We will come back to this.

But how was it that our souls became fit and prepared, that is purified?

(v 22) by your obedience to the truth

It was by our obedience to the truththat we purified our souls. It becomes abundantly clear at the end of this section that the truthPeter is referring to is none other than the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ (verse 25). And this obedienceto the truth of the gospel is none other than the obedience of faith (Pauls phrase in Romans 1:5 and 16:26).

The gospel commands: believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved (Acts 16:31; Romans 3:22; 4:24; 10:10; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Ephesians 1:19; 2:8-9). And so obedience to this command is the obedience of faith. Look to the Lord Jesus and trust Him.

So Peter says that we purify our souls when we cling to Jesus. Our souls are prepared, equipped, made ready, by trusting in Jesus. Just as an athlete is made ready to compete by completing a gymnastics training program, so we are made ready by believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well come back to this.

But made ready for what?

(v 22) for a sincere brotherly love

Just like an athlete is equipped by the completion of an olympic level training program for an olympic level performance so we are equipped by faith in Christ for a sincere brotherly love. This word sinceremeans genuine, not fake, pasted on, or shallow. We have are ready for a genuine brotherly love by our faith in Jesus.

Therefore, here comes Peters command, because you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love

(v 22) love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

Just as the coach says to his prepared athlete who has trained his body and mind to compete at an olympic level, youre ready. Youre able. Youre fully equipped. There is nothing you lack. Get out there and be the olympian you are.Peter says to us, youre ready, Youre able. Get out there and love one another earnestly from a pure heart.

This word translated earnestlycould also be translated as eagerly or continuously. And in light of the imperishable and abiding idea that will introduced in the next verse it seems perhaps Peter was saying love one another without ceasing that is love one another tenaciously. Love one another when difficulties come. You have been equipped to love each other even as Christ has loved you.

So before we look at the second half of Peters argument lets make sure we get the heart of the matter.

Hope Purifies for Love

How does our embracing of the gospel impact our everyday relationships? Peter claims that it is obedience to the truth,it is faith in Christ, it is hoping completely in Christ for forgiveness and life and joy which purifies us and equips us for genuine love. Why?

Why does hoping in Christ purify us and how does that purify equip us to love?

Well, first of all, I dont think Peter has in mind here, that we have been made pure positionally. That is true. We are pure in that sense. We have been washed clean, forgiven, reckoned righteous, clothed with the white robes of Christ. All true and all precious.

But here I think Peter has something else in mind because the result of this purified soul is a pure heart producing earnest and sincere love. That is, our souls, our hearts, what motivates us and moves us has been cleansed. The filth and grime of sinful motivations has been cleaned out. To say it another way, our hearts are no longer clinging to sin for life and joy and meaning. Instead, the eyes of our hearts have been opened to see Christ as our hope and joy and peace.

So, here is Peters point: looking to Jesus as your souls satisfaction cleanses your soul from clinging to other things. What is the cure for loving the passing pleasures of sin? What is the cure for hoping in the praise of man or hoping in the safety money can secure? The cure is to see Jesus as far superior to anything man or money can give you. You will only be freed from sin when you truly believe that to know Him is eternal life, to be with Him is joy to the full and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

Peter is telling us that obedience to the truth,that is coming to set our hope fully upon Christ, cleanses our hearts. It cleanses our hearts from hoping in our marriages, our children, our friends, our financial success, our reputation, our career, our schedules, our life plans.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
   In the light of His glory and grace (Helen H. Lemmel, 1922).

Lets get really practical.

When are you unloving? When are you impatient, grumbling, nasty, irritable, thoughtless, unsubmissive, unyielding, ungentle, unkind, swollen with pride? If we were to bore down into the heart of those sinful attitudes we would find a heart clinging to, my kingdom come, my will be done,a heart hoping in praise from man or earthly success or earthy ease, a heart that is unwilling to agree with God that, its me, oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer!Its me oh Lord who needs forgiveness and grace! You bore down into the heart of these sins and there you find a heart that is not hoping fully in Christ for joy and life and meaning, but clinging to self or some other savior.

Can you see how hoping in Christ purifies the soul for a sincere brotherly love? If you have genuine faith in Christ you are equipped to love as Christ loved you.

So set your hope fully upon Jesus Christ and love tenaciously and dont give up. If you know that you have been loved, and that your joy is secure, and you are filled with Christ – than from that love, from that hope, from that fullness, you will overflow in love toward one another. We will stop using each other when Christ our all. We will stop keeping a record of wrongs when Christ is our all. We stop tearing one another down when Christ is our all. We will pursue peace and the progress and joy of others in Christ when Christ is our all.

Second Half

SoThats the first half. But Peters argument isnt done. There is still the second half. He says, love one another earnestly or tenaciously from a pure heart

(v 23)since you have been born again,
This is a concept we have seen before in Peter. Christians are people who have been born again, that is born of Gods Spirit, born from above. Christians are a new creation. We are not simply flesh anymore, we are born, as Peter says in the next phrase
(v 23)not of perishable seed but of imperishable,

The image here is powerful. We have been begotten of God, by His imperishable seed. We truly are sons and daughters of God. We are a new creation with God in us and written upon our hearts and so we have a bond of brotherhood that cannot be broken. Before we came to Christ we were born of flesh and alienated from God. When we were born again we become spiritual people led by God as heirs and members of His household.

And how did this happen? Peter says it happened

(v 23)through the living and abiding word of God;

If you drop your eyes down to verse 25 Peter makes it explicit, this word is the good news that was preached to you. We are born again – made new creatures – through the Word of the gospel of Jesus Christ which we have obeyed. But Peter is emphasizing that this is the living and abiding word of God. This word is, in fact, as he says in verse 24 the word that remains forever.

So to use the gymnastics illustration again, the program you have completed is the best in the world. It is proven and tested and sure. It does not fail. It produces olympic athletes. So Peter is emphasizing the enduring quality of the word of the gospel which creates a new people equipped to love genuinely and tenaciously. And so as Peter quotes Isaiah 40. He is emphasizing the contrast between what we have as those who have trusted Christ and what others have as those without Christ. So, he says,

All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.

And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Before we came to Christ all we could produce was dust and ashes – grass that withers. But having come to Christ we are a new people whose hearts have been radically changed, equipped and prepared, cleansed from sin and ready to love.

The One you and I have come to set all our hope on is the only enduring thing. All other things are like grass and will wither and fail and fall, but Christ, held forth in the gospel, will not fail. And we, who are clinging to Christ are made forever alive in Him and will endure as all other things and all those outside of Christ will wither and fail and be blown away.

So in this second half Peter is simply describing what he said in the first half but emphasizing the permanence and strength of Christ and His work and the permanence and strength of those in Christ.

Christians are equipped to love one another earnestly and genuinely because Christ is their permanent and sure and immovable hope and they are alive and new and secure forever by faith in Him.

That is the second half of Peters argument.

Christian Love

So lets think again about love in our midst. In our homes and in our church. How has Peter helped us to think rightly about our relationships and about loving others? The issue is not whether or not people are difficult or circumstances are painful. People are difficult and circumstances will be painful.

The issue is whether each one here is cherishing Christ as our all in all. The issue is if our hearts are clinging to grass, our agendas, our glory, our way, our kingdoms, or clinging to Christ and seeking His kingdom. When our hearts are filled with Christ we are purified from sin and equipped to love. It is as Christ is exalted in our hearts that holiness and genuine love for one another will grow.

Do you have a hard relationship with someone in your life? Do you have a history of hurting one another? Are there deep roots of bitterness in your heart? I challenge you to bore down into your own heart and motivations in that relationship. There is a gospel issue there. Are you satisfied with Christ as your all in all? Are you filled and complete and hoping only in Him? Or are you setting your hope on someone or something else? Jesus said

John 6:35

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

The question is do we believe Him? Do we believe He will satisfy all our needs to full and overflowing?

Conclusion

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Disciples of Christ, that is those who come to Him as the satisfaction of their souls, will be known for their love for one another. If we do not love each other, are we still searching for bread and drink that will satisfy?

Let each of us who claim to hope in Christ consider anew how glorious and valuable Christ is and let us glorify God for His mercy!! Let us set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ and love one another.

What needs to change in your life?

Jesus tells a parable about a man who found a treasure in a field and covered up. And in his joy he went and sold all that he had and bought that field. Jesus is the treasure. Are you the man?

Do you need to spend more time seeing and savoring Jesus Christ and what He has done?

There is no greater need in your life than to know Christ Jesus. Let us grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and love one another from a pure heart.

~ Andy

About Andrew Murray
Andrew “Andy” Murray was born and raised in New Hampshire. His father, pastor Loren Murray, served Fellowship Bible Church in Chester, NH. At six years of age Andy trusted in Jesus Christ and was baptized. He was brought up “acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” At the age of 12 his father was in a fatal car accident. Reflecting on the loss of his dad Andy writes; “I see now the wise and loving hand of Christ in my life, as He used this event to, shape, mold and press me toward Himself. It was this event that sparked in me an earnest desire to know God from His Word. By His grace, this desire has continued to grow.” Andy met his wife, Elizabeth, at Philadelphia Biblical University (now Cairn University). They have four wonderful boys. Visit Windham Bible Chapel.