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. 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. – 1 Peter 1:22-25 ESV
Peter wanted his readers to understand that they had already been purified by the blood of Christ because of their “obedience to the truth.” The author of Hebrews told his Jewish audience something very similar. “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:13-14 ESV). It is the purifying nature of the blood of Christ that enables us to live obediently. Because of Christ’s sacrificial and substitutionary death on the cross, we have received new natures. We have been set apart by God for His use and equipped to live in willing submission to His will. And as the author of Hebrews says, “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10 ESV).
As a result of our new standing with God, we are to love one another from a pure heart. That is the key. Those who have placed their faith in Christ have had their hearts purified. We have a capacity to love like we never did before. We have been born again. We have experienced what Jesus described as a second birth. He told Nicodemus, the Pharisee, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 ESV). When Nicodemus revealed his confusion and consternation over this statement, Jesus replied, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6 ESV). It is our new birth, our second birth, that makes new life possible. The work of God in our lives, through His Spirit and His Word, is imperishable. It is eternal, not temporal. It is spiritual, not fleshly. It is of heaven, not of this earth. The Word of the Lord, which reveals the good news concerning Jesus Christ, is powerful and eternal. It’s transformative influence on our lives is not dependent upon our flesh. Which is great news, because Peter reminds us that our human flesh is transitory and temporal. It will fade away. It is destined to decay and die with time. But the Word of God lasts forever. It is eternal and its impact on our lives is everlasting.
We have been born again. And Paul reminds us, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11 ESV). In the very next chapter of his letter, Peter writes, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24 ESV). Our new standing before God as His sons and daughters should prompt us to live our lives in such a way that they bring glory and honor to Him. And we are not left to depend upon our own human strength to pull it off. We have been given the Spirit of God and the Word of God to make our obedience possible. We can and should live differently because we are different.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:4 ESV
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. – Galatians 5:24-25 ESV
Living for Christ is possible only because we died with Christ. We are now dead to sin and alive to Christ. So our lives should reflect our new identity and expose our new capacity to live and love like Jesus did. We now are able to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”