1 Peter 1:10-13
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober- minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ESV
Once again we begin where we left off in 1 Peter chapter 1.
Let us once again consider what verse 13 is saying to us.
We are in the process of considering three simple questions: WHY, WHAT and HOW?
WHY do we have this imperative or command?
What is the basis for it? WHAT is the imperative or command in verse 13?
HOW are we to obey the command?
As I have previously said, there are some “chicken and egg” situations where we can go round and round in circles trying to work out what came first – “the chicken or the egg”. That is not the case with God’s grace and our obedience to His commands. It is always God’s grace that comes first. Now the last thing to notice about this hope is that we are not merely to set it upon the grace to be given to us but that we are to do so fully. Peter says: “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”.
We are to “hope fully” or “fix our hope completely” on the grace that Jesus will bring when He comes again. Remember, the command is to “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”.
Now the third and last question is:
It’s all well and good saying “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” but what does that really mean? How do you do that? The answer Peter gives to that question lies in the two instrumental participles in this verse.
The first one is: “preparing your minds for action”.
Peter is saying “preparing your minds for action…. set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you”. Or, you could put it: “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you by preparing your minds for action”.
Now a more literal translation of the Greek that has been translated as “preparing your minds for action” would be something like “girding up the loins of your mind”. To our twenty first century ears that sounds quaintly antiquated but in Peter’s day it would have provided quite a vivid illustration. In those days men would wear long, flowing robes which were not very practical for running in or for doing hard physical work. So, when the need arose they would hoist up their robes and hold them in place with a belt – hence “girding up the loins”. So, if someone girded up their loins it showed that they meant business. They were going to be busy. They were prepared for action. In saying “girding up the loins of your mind” Peter was saying “getting your mind ready for action or making your mind ready to be busy”. John Piper modernises it by saying “Turning the robes of your mind into running shorts”. Instead of a laid back, lazy mind have a busy hard working mind. This immediately tells us that “setting your hope fully on the grace” that is to come involves our minds.
It involves thought!
Furthermore, this hoping fully doesn’t come about by using our minds in a vague, dreamy, sentimental sense – “won’t it be lovely to be in heaven”. Hoping fully won’t come about by mentally taking it easy. It requires our minds to be busy and active. What are our minds to be actively engaged in or what are our minds to be running after?
To try to answer that question it’s worth looking at Ephesians 6v14 because, in that verse, we find that Paul used exactly the same metaphor of girding loins. We read: “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth”. More literally that would be “Having girded your loins with truth”. Paul was taking the typical Roman soldier as the basis for his illustration. When fully equipped for action the Roman soldier’s loins were girded with a belt. Girding the loins meant taking hold of the belt and fastening it around the hips or waist.
Well, for the Christian, according to Paul, that belt is the TRUTH.
So, when Peter says “girding up the loins of your mind” it suggests that we need to take hold of the truth and apply it to our minds. Our minds need to be busily engaged in thinking about the truth and applying the truth. That seems to be borne out by the context because Peter continues in verse 14 by saying: “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance”. He’s saying that they were once ignorant. But, it’s “former ignorance” because they now know the TRUTH. Previously, by nature, we had no time for the truth. As Paul puts it in Romans 1v13: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth”. We didn’t want to hear it or know it or understand it or face up to it. We suppressed it. Consequently, we were without hope. We were under the wrath of God. But now we know and love the TRUTH and that is what we are to be thinking about if we are to “hope fully on the grace” to come.
What is that truth?
It is surely the truth of the gospel of God’s grace in Christ. It’s the truth that is revealed throughout the Word of God. Last time we referred to Romans 15v4 where we read: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope”. We quoted that previously to show how the prophets of old were actually serving us as New Covenant believers today. What they wrote then is for our instruction now. Notice too that the verse tells us the purpose of that instruction from the Scriptures. It is “that we might have hope”. If we are to “hope fully on the grace” to come we must be continually working hard at understanding the Word of God, applying the Word of God and resting upon the Word of God.
The second instrumental participle is: “being sober-minded”.
If we are to “prepare our minds for action” in order to hope fully we need to “be sober-minded”. A literal translation would simply be: “being sober” which sounds like a text that your temperance movement forbears might have appropriated. It could be construed to be saying “be sober as opposed to being drunk with alcohol”. Now, although I have no doubt that this does include the notion on not being physically intoxicated with alcohol, in this context it must be understood in a wider, more spiritual sense which is why the ESV helpfully has “being sober-minded”.
The NIV is perhaps not quite so good in saying “be self-controlled” but it is also trying to point us beyond mere alcoholic inebriation. The idea is of avoiding any mental or spiritual intoxication so that our spiritual thinking is clear and balanced and controlled. Just as someone who is drunk is in no fit state to work so a Christian who allows themselves to be spiritually intoxicated is unable to use their mind to set their hope fully on the grace of God that is to come.
So, Peter is saying “having a clear, balanced, controlled mind you can use it to set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you”. Or, you could put it: “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you by having a clear, balanced, controlled mind that you can use for action”.
This means that, if you want to obey the command to hope fully in God’s grace, you mustn’t drink in things that numb your heart and mind to the reality of God’s grace. You must avoid spiritual intoxication. Just as drunkenness brought about by alcohol distorts reality by making the mind insensitive to what is true and real and valuable so there are things that we can drink in that distort our appreciation of the spiritual reality of the grace of God and our standing in Christ. That eats away at our hope and undermines it. If we are to hope fully our minds must be clear and controlled and not cluttered up with worldly distractions.
What must we avoid drinking in?
Well, obviously we must avoid anything that is sinful. That is sure to dull and distort our spiritual senses. There are also plenty of things that are not inherently evil that can have a similar intoxicating effect. Many people would like to have a definitive list of dos and don’ts but the fact is that you must be the judge of what you need to avoid. You must recognise what has a spiritually desensitising or intoxicating effect on you. Just as some Christians recognise that for them it’s best to completely abstain from alcohol while others can drink in moderation with a clear conscience and have no ill effects whatsoever, so it is with what sort of things numb your mind to spiritual reality. For some it could be money or career progression. It could romantic novels or soap operas on TV. It could be perfectly wholesome hobbies. It could be unwholesome TV programmes or internet surfing.
You must recognise the things that numb your mind to God’s grace and avoid them. Stay spiritually sober so that your mind is fit to work at grasping the truth of the gospel. Then you will be able to “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”.
Dr. Steve Orr
Dr Orr has served the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom for many years and in various capacities (preaching, teaching, etc.,). Steve is a regular contributor to the pages of Christ My Covenant. His insights into the Word of God will serve you in your personal study of God’s Word. Learn of Christ!