Study Notes

1Peter 1:17-21


Peter has just made the very strong point to us that our minds need to be girded, that we need to be sober and living holy lives. Maybe when we discussed those things last week, you thought something like, "Why bother trying to be holy?" or "That sure sounds like legalism to me," or "I'm not gonna give up my passion for football just because of a few lingerie commercials."

But now Peter is getting even more pointed in his letter, showing us why we must have girded and sober minds, and holy lives...

1:17 Addressing As Father

It is interesting that so many people call God, "Father," and yet don't view Him as a father. When I was a boy, I knew that my dad loved me, but I also knew that the belt would come down if I stepped too far out of line. Many people grow up with a mixture of love and fear of their fathers.

Our father in heaven is the same way - He loves us completely, yet disciplines us justly. And so I wonder how some people can call God, "Father," and not be afraid?


Lately, I have heard preachers say that the fear of the Lord isn't really about fear. It's about respect and reverence. However, the word Peter uses here is "PHOB-os," which does in fact mean "fear, dread, and terror," not "a healthy respect or reverence."

Still not convinced? Jesus used the same word for fear when He said,

Luke 12:4-5 "I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!"

This is real fear.

According To Each One's Work

Jesus told us to have fear of the Father. And why shouldn't we? After all, He has promised to impartially judge each of us according to our work.

Prov. 24:12 ...will He not render to man according to his work?

Is. 59:18 According to their deeds, so He will repay...

Jer. 17:10 "I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.

Now, you might be thinking, "That's Old Testament. We're under a different system in the New Testament." But don't forget that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus said,

Matt. 16:27 "...the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS."

The apostle Paul said that God...


2Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

It is true that we are not saved according to our deeds (2Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5; etc), but God is still He...

1Pet. 1:17 ...who impartially judges according to each one’s work...

If I realize that I'm going to be judged according to my work, then I'm going to watch what I do. I'm going to be afraid to do evil. I'm going to be afraid not to do good. Because someday, I'm going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for my work.

Holiness And Fear

Paul wrote to the Corinthians,

2Cor. 7:1 ...let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Peter has just told us that we need to be holy (1Pet. 1:15). Holiness is only perfected in the fear of God .If you're not living a holy life today, it is because of one thing: you don't have a fear of God.

The Bible says that the fear of the Lord is wisdom, knowledge, instruction, understanding, that it prolongs life, and is strong confidence. And ultimately,

Prov. 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil...

Fearing God will keep you away from evil. Your strongest defense against the flesh, against evil, against sin, is to fear the Lord. If you fear God, you will live in holiness.

1:18-21 Redeemed With The Blood Of Christ

Now, if the fear of the Lord doesn't motivate you this morning, can I appeal to your heart? Think about Jesus being tortured and crucified. The Father...

2Cor. 5:21 ...made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf...

That is what it looks like when God judges sin. And instead of judging us, God placed our sin upon His Son and judged Him. He came to earth for our sake.

You know, after years of sacrificing animals, the Jews became immune to the effects of spilled blood. Are we becoming the same way? Does the blood of Jesus Christ really not mean anything to us anymore?

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