Monday, August 9, 2010

Unpretended Brotherly Love

From Sunday School lessons in 1Peter.

1 Peter 1:22-23 (New International Version)
22Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.


Once again as a reminder, Peter is writing to suffering Christians. His whole purpose up to this point seems to be a focus on the glorious salvation that these Believers have received. Although they are unloved and rejected by men; outcasts and dregs of society, they are accepted and loved by God. And Peter shows them just how loved they are by giving them a glimpse into greatness and glory of their salvation.
Now in these next two verses Peter takes them from the vertical love, between God and them, to the horizontal love that they should have for one another. There are several things to take note of in this passage.
First we see a purpose statement “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers.” The words “so that” has a purpose connected to it; God saves us for the purpose of loving one another.
Second we see the manner in which we are to love. We are to love one another sincerely and deeply from the heart.
Third we see that the love we do have for one another is grounded in the fact that we have been born again, which implies a unity with one another.

The Purpose Statement:

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers…”

The ESV says “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth…”

What does Peter mean when he says that being obedient to the truth purifies our souls? Is this something that happens after we are saved in that as we obey God’s truth, (His Word), our souls become more and more pure? Or is he talking about something else? In order to find out what Peter means by this statement we need to look at the context.

In the first 21 verse Peter is encouraging these Believers in a time of tremendous suffering. And how does he do that? He does that by showing them the preciousness of this glorious salvation that they inherited. First, they are elect. Second, each Person of the Trinity was involved in the salvation of their souls. Third, the value of their salvation far outweighs the “various trials” they are experiencing. Fourthly, this salvation that they have received is something that the prophets of old inquired about, and that “angels long to look” into. Fifthly they were purchased with an infinitely valuable price, “the precious blood of Christ.”

So as we examine the context, I think it’s easy to see that the phrase “obedience to the truth” and the precious salvation they have received are one and the same.

John Gill says:

in obeying the truth; of the Gospel, by receiving, believing, and embracing it in the love of it; which teaches outward purity, and is a means in the hand of the spirit of inward purity, and of directing to the purifying blood of Jesus, who sanctifies and cleanses by the word.

In chapter four Peter talks about those who do not “obey the gospel of God…”

1Pe 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Although the word “obey” is a different Greek word, I think the idea is still the same; “obedience to the truth refers to our being born again.

Now, this word “purified” in the Greek is in the perfect tense. According to Strong’s Greek Lexicon the perfect tense means: “The perfect tense in Greek corresponds to the perfect tense in English, and describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated.”

Strong’s gives an example of how this tense is used with Jesus and His cry “It is finished” at the cross: “Jesus’ last cry from the cross, TETELESTAI ("It is finished!") is a good example of the perfect tense used in this sense, namely "It [the atonement] has been accomplished, completely, once and for all time."

So once we are purified we no longer need to be purified again. Even here we can see that with the tense of this word the phrase “obedience to the truth” must be speaking of our initial salvation.

The manner in which we are to love:

We are to love “sincerely” and “deeply, from the heart.”

The purpose of our salvation, according to Peter is “so that,” we “have sincere love for the brothers.” Love for other Christians is evidence that we have genuinely been born again. The entire epistle of 1John deals with the assurance of the believer. The main evidence, according to John, that we have truly been saved is that we love other believers.

1Jn 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.

1Jn 3:17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

1Jn 4:8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1Jn 4:12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

1Jn 4:20 If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

1Jn 4:21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

We see then by these verses in 1John that love for the brothers gives us assurance of salvation. But notice how our love is to be. Peter says that our love is to be sincere. This means that it is to be without hypocrisy. A good example of what this words sincere means in the Greek is how the LITV, (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible), translate the verse.

1Pe 1:22 Having purified your souls in the obedience of the truth through the Spirit to unpretended brotherly love, love one another fervently out of a pure heart,

Our love for one another needs to be without hypocrisy. It needs to be “unpretended.” This means that we love each other, not for what we can get out of each other, but for the benefit of one another. The goal of our love should be to benefit the other person. Again, look at the example that John gives in his epistle:

1Jn 3:17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

We don’t just love with words but our love needs to be accompanied by action. When we see someone with a need, and we have the means to meet that particular need, we meet the need.
“Unpretended” love also confronts sin in another believer’s life. Unfortunately, many churches today have adopted the world’s philosophy thinking that to point out sin in another person’s life is being judgmental. It is true that it can be judgmental if it is not done in a Biblical way. The reason we don’t like to confront people is because we are afraid of the reaction of the other person. Maybe they wont be our friends anymore, or perhaps they will tell others that we are unloving and unkind. Whatever the reason we usually avoid confrontation out of fear. But if we truly love we will lovingly confront another believer about a particular sin area in their lives. However there are steps that need to be taken before we do this.

1. We need to do an inventory of our own lives. We need to examine ourselves to see if we are free from any known sin, otherwise we are hypocrites.

Matthew 7:3-5 (New International Version) 3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

2. We need to confront them gently with our purpose being restoration.

Gal 6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

3. We need to go through the proper steps of church discipline.

Matthew 18:15-17 (New International Version) 15"If your brother sins against you,[a] go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'[b] 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

We are also to love one another “deeply.” The word “deeply” has the idea of an intense love. The ESV translates the word as “earnestly.” And the LITV uses the word “fervently.” Again, referring to John’s epistle we see just how “deeply” we are to love one another:
1Jn 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

The ground of our love:

“for you have been born again…”

The whole reason we are to love is because we have been “born again.” We don’t need to say much about this since we covered it in the manner in which we are to love. However, this does imply a union we have with one another as believers. Paul talks much about our unity with Christ in his epistles. Now if we have been united with Christ through faith, then we are also united with one another. An example of this is how Paul describes the church. We are a body:

1 Corinthians 12:14-20 (New International Version) 14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.16And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.


I close with this exhortation:

1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

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