1:1-25 – On earth, we have ‘trials’. In ‘heaven’, we will have ‘salvation’ (3-9). In our journey from trials to salvation, from earth to heaven, we are to live a life of holiness and love. In this life of ‘obedience to the truth’, we must never forget that we have been ‘redeemed with the precious blood of Christ’ (15,22,18-19). We must never take pride in our obedience – ‘boasting is excluded’. All that can be said about ourselves is this: ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. What makes the difference? What is it that changes us? What is it that sets us on the pathway of holiness and love? We have received ‘the redemption which is in Christ Jesus’. Our ‘faith’ is in Him (Romans 3:27,23-25). He makes the difference. He changes us. He makes us holy. He fills us with His love.
2:1-25 – Being ‘God’s own people’ is a great privilege – ‘you have received mercy’. It is also a great responsibility – ‘declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (9-10). God’s people are described as ‘strangers in the world’ (11). We must not think of ourselves as ‘superior’ – ‘a cut above the rest’. We are not! In ourselves, we are ‘strangers’ – ‘without God in the world’. There’s nothing ‘special’ about us, There’s something very special about what God has done for us: ‘In Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ’ (Ephesians 2:12-13). As those who ‘have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls’, let’s point others to Him who ‘bore our sins…that we might die to sin and live to righteousness’ (24-25).
3:1-4:6 – The world is preoccupied with outward appearances. As Christians, we should be more concerned with our inward attitude. ‘In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord’. Pray for His ‘attitude’ – ‘a tender heart and a humble mind’ (8,15; 4:1). We believe the Gospel – ‘Christ died for our sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God’. Let’s share the Gospel – ‘Be always ready to give…a reason for the hope that is in you’. How are we to share the Gospel? – ‘with gentleness and respect’ (18,15). We must get the attitude right – ‘so that nothing will hinder our prayers’ (7). We need more than the ‘right’ prayers – words that sound good. We need the right attitude. The blessing will not come because our words sound good. It will only come when our attitude is right.
4:7-5:14 – In all the service we offer to God, there is to be the offering of worship: ‘To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever’ (4:11; 5:11). We will not learn to serve God unless we are learning to worship Him. There is a ‘form of religion’ which ‘denies the power’ of God – ‘These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me’ (2 Timothy 3:5; Matthew 15:8). They go through the motions – but their hearts are not in it! We must pray that God will deliver us from this kind of thing: ‘O for a heart to praise my God! A heart from sin set free; A heart that always feels Thy blood, so freely shed for me’ (Church Hymnary, 85). ‘Religion’ is about respectability. Salvation is about renewal: ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me’ (Psalm 51:10).