A sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church of Manhattan KS, for New Years 2015
(GNT) Διὸ ἀναζωσάμενοι τὰς ὀσφύας τῆς διανοίας ὑμῶν, νήφοντες, τελείως ἐλπίσατε ἐπὶ τὴν φερομένην ὑμῖν χάριν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
NAW: Therefore, after girding up the loins of y’all’s mind, being sober, perfectly start hoping upon the grace which is being brought to y’all in the revelation of Jesus Christ.
· The turn of the year is traditionally a time for planning ahead for the coming year and making resolutions, and I think that as we embark on the tenth year of our church’s existence, this is especially a time to consider the longer-term future of our church now that we are no longer preoccupied with start-up issues but are entering what may be an adolescent stage. But we need God to direct us.
· I have been feeling especially disoriented lately and in need of God to envision me. I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis’ book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, to my children, and I could identify with the sailors on the ship when they reached the “dark island” and tried to turn around and sail away from it. The darkness was so thick that they couldn’t figure out where they were or how to get out of the darkness. They knew they had been sailing into the dark fog for 10 minutes, but after more than 10 minutes of trying to row back out, they began to panic. Lucy, one of the main characters, began praying for help, and pretty soon, a white bird appeared and guided the ship out of the darkness. The Holy Spirit’s guidance is essential when we feel like we are in that darkness!
· Two Sundays ago, I was sitting in the worship service at First Presbyterian Church in Rome, GA, wondering what I was going to preach on next. The pastor read from 1 Peter chapter 1, and verse 13 jumped out at me with clarity as though the Holy Spirit was telling me, “This is the navigational instruction I want you to brand yourself with this New Year.” So that’s what I want to preach on this morning. I hope you will find this verse as envisioning as I have!
The first word in Greek is Διὸ “Therefore” (KJV Wherefore)
· And when you see a word like that, you’ve got to ask yourself, “What is the ‘therefore’ there for?” Otherwise, you can miss some important context.
· Verse 13 contains the first command in the book of 1 Peter. The “therefore” tells us that the command is predicated upon certain prior truths or conditions. What are they?
· The previous verse speaks of angels and Old Testament prophets who longed to understand more about the salvation that we experience in Jesus Christ.
· I think that Peter is saying that since the knowledge we have of salvation through Jesus Christ has been sought-after by so many throughout history, we should not take it for granted. We should treat our salvation like the special gift it is and repent of complacency about it.
· Now, this raises the question of whether you know that salvation.
o V. 8 tells us that if you love Jesus and trust Jesus and are full of joy, then you’ve got it.
o However, if joy and loving and trusting Jesus do not characterize you, then, then the command in v.13 won’t apply to you either. First Peter 2:8 would be more applicable: “they stumble because they are disobedient to the word,” and you will be held accountable for your disobedience when Jesus comes to judge the world.
o Does that describe you? Do you want that not to describe you? It is valid for you to suspect that God has chosen to give you a spiritual new birth. You can ask God to forgive your sins and save you, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” By God’s power you can begin a lifetime of walking in the obedience of faith in Jesus and carrying the heavenly treasure of salvation in your earthly body.
o Now we can move on to the command intended to guide God’s elect (v.1) whom He has chosen to save!
· There is only one imperative in this verse, and it is the word ἐλπίσατε “y’all start hoping.” That is God’s command to you as a believer: Hope! The rest of the verse describes what kind of hope this is and how to go about it.
· After the “therefore” that opens verse 13 comes a participle which indicates by its Aorist tense that it is the first step in how to hope:
ἀναζωσάμενοι τὰς ὀσφύας τῆς διανοίας ὑμῶν
“Preparing your minds for action,” or literally, as the KJV puts it, “gird up the loins of your mind.”
· This is the only time this verb anazwnnumi shows up in the Greek New Testament,
o but in the Old Testament, the Septuagint used this Greek verb to translate the Hebrew word in Proverbs 31:17 where the ideal wife “girds herself up with strength and makes her arms strong.”
o That Hebrew verb (חגר) was also used to describe putting on a belt around one’s waist – and often that belt had a sword attached to it.
o But this word “preparing/girding” in 1 Peter in Greek has the additional component of “upward” direction, and seems to fit best with a couple of times that the Hebrew word khagar is found in 2 Kings where a servant was told by his master to “gird up his loins” and run to do an errand swiftly (2 Kings 4:29 and 9:1).
o Since men in the Middle East would often wear a tunic which went below the knees, and since that would get in the way if he were to run, then, when he really wanted to achieve an all-out sprint, he would tuck the lower edges of his tunic up into his belt so that his legs would be completely free to move.
o Demonstrate with fouata. I am reminded of when I ran track and cross-country in High school. There was a Christian school that we would occasionally run against that outfitted all its female runners in long dresses, and while I appreciate the value of modesty, the girls on that team, as I recall, never placed all that well because the long dresses weren’t compatible with running.
· So this first step in fulfilling God’s command to be hopeful is to “gird up the loins of your mind.” About half the time this word “loins” (osphous) is used in the NT, it refers to sexual organs through which new children are born, but the other half of the time it seems to just generally refer to the waistline. Neither of these is literally applicable to the mind though, so I think it can be applied figuratively to the creative part of our thinking or simply to the center of our thinking (as the waist is the central point of the body). How do we do that? Let me suggest three ways:
o We can apply this by thinking of this “girding” first in terms of streamlining – removing things that could slow you down.
§ The first couple of times I went backpacking with my Dad, when I was in Jr. High school, he insisted on a shakedown hike. That’s where you pack your backpack just like you are going to for the real trip, and then you walk a mile or two with all that weight. Well, my Dad was wise to insist on that, because after a mile or two with that heavy backpack, my priorities changed from wanting to have all the luxuries possible while camping to instead travelling as light as possible. I decided I didn’t need that iron skillet to cook in or those canned vegetables to go with dinner, or that hammer to drive in the tent stakes after all!
§ Girding up the loins of your mind can mean saying “No” to things which are not necessarily wrong but which are just outside your calling. It may include declining respectable social conventions because they take too much time, or focusing on carrying out a special task rather than leisurely enjoying yourself, or it could even mean streamlining your assets, like Jesus said on one occasion, “start selling your possessions and giving to destitute men” (Matt. 19:21).
§ Are there any things that you need to let go of in your life that unnecessarily divert time and energy away from what God wants you to do? Any things that take up brainpower unnecessarily?
§ One area I have been grappling with personally has been what is the appropriate amount of time I should be spending on music. Back in the day, I amassed a formidable library of contemporary Christian music and spent tons of hours listening to Christian artists. Not only did this fill my brain with thousands of songs that we will probably never sing in church, but I filled my brain with other details about the different bands – Just yesterday, my kids were playing an old Randy Stonehill album, Celebrate This Heartbeat, and when the guitar solo came up, it suddenly occurred to me that Mark Heard must have played the electric guitar for that recording because it sounded just like his playing, and, of course, I knew that Mark had also engineered that album for Randy in his Fingerprint studio... Well, how much of that information was really worth learning? Or what I’ve been grappling with lately – how much time should I spend maintaining that collection of music so that I can keep listening to it? How can I gird up my mind by shaking off the unnecessary brain freight? Are there other things that I spend too much time thinking about fruitlessly?
o A second application of having a “prepared mind” is that the mind is “girded up” or equipped with truth in order to stand up to the lies of the world and the devil.
§ Ephesians 6:13-14 KJV “...take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.”
§ This can’t be literal language, because you can’t make a belt out of truth, but figuratively you can cinch the center of your mind up with truth like a belt so that your thinking stands strong when there is conflict.
§ How do you do that? By reading the Bible! Jesus said that God’s “word is truth” (John 17:17), and in Jeremiah 31:33, God even promised to take part in this truth-equipping process by putting His law into your minds (LXX= διάνοιαν) and writing it on your heart!
§ When the email hits your inbox that you’ve been nominated to the Global Who’s Who, that belt of truth can respond that you are already in the Lamb’s book of life, and if the Lamb of God thought you were important enough to die for, you don’t need pay any Who’s Who publisher to make you feel important.
§ When the email hits your inbox that a criminal has moved into your neighborhood and you need to pay to find out about it, that belt of truth can respond that there are more dangers out there than you can possibly protect yourself from, but God keeps track of every one of them, for not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from Him, every hair of your head is numbered by Him, and nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ. You can trust Him and not be afraid of what is beyond your control.
§ Or the advertisements that offer to help you hook you up with women or men on their network, promising excitement and love. God’s belt of truth around your mind says, “[Their] end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. [Their] feet go down to death and hell,” (Prov. 5:4-5) I don’t want what they have to offer!”
§ But you can’t stand in battles like that if you don’t know God’s word. It takes self-discipline to carve out five to thirty minutes of your day every morning or every evening or at break-time to read a chapter or memorize a verse from the Bible.
§ Gird up your mind not only by getting rid of junk information that you don’t need to be thinking about, but also by filling your mind with Bible truth which prepares your minds for action in spiritual battle!
o Thirdly, in addition to removing hindrances and filling your mind with the truth of God’s word, we can use the love of God to limit rebellion against God.
§ Jesus affirmed that the greatest commandment in God’s word is to “love the Lord your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind” (Matthew 22:37).
§ The “sons of disobedience,” on the other hand, according to Ephesians 2:3, “conduct themselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and are by nature children of wrath” (cf. Col. 1:21).
§ By loving God with the entirety of our mind, we curb the love of worldly things. Loving God wholeheartedly is like a belt that holds our mind to its proper place in relation to God.
§ Love is a cultivated relationship; the more we pursue the joys of that relationship the more we will love it. The more you pursue lusts of your flesh the less love you will have for God and the more ingrained your patterns will be of running to those lusts for fulfillment, but the more you pursue relationship with God through prayer and fellowship with His people the less love you will have for fleshly lusts.
§ I am told that smoking cigarettes can lead to wanting to smoke more often, but when a smoker wants to quit, they will generally find greater success at leaving the habit of smoking if they replace that habit with some other enjoyable pastime to fill their thoughts and their time, such as chewing gum or running for exercise.
§ Likewise, the more we invest in the love of God, the more prepared we will be to hope in Him, whereas the more we invest in loving other things besides God, the less prepared our minds will be to hope in Him.
o Well, there was a lot to that first participial phrase about girding the loins of your minds so that you can hope (including tightening your belt, surrounding your mind with truth, and restraining sinful indulgence with love), but the second participle in 1 Peter 1:13 is more brief:
It means to “be sober,” both in terms of not getting drunk or stoned on alcohol or drugs, and also in terms of being self-controlled emotionally, discrete, calm, circumspect.
· Neither zoning out (Eastern meditation style) nor unbuckling the processes of mental discipline with a drink at the bar are how God wants us to run our minds, nor does He want us to respond to problems on the other hand with panic, hysteria or hype. The Lord wants to be the “stability of your times” (Isa. 33:6).
· As I look out on the coming year and decade, I can so easily get tied up in knots as I see so many dangerous problems threatening me and my family and this church and our nation. What if my car dies? What if the economy crashes? What if the government tries to force me to perform a homosexual wedding? What if something bad happens to my children? What if there is another Islamic terrorist attack? What if this church fails? Oh how I need this sobriety to prepare for action moderately without anxiously wringing my hands.
· How do I do that? It comes back to faith, hope, and love: 1 Thessalonians 5:8 “let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation” (NKJV).
o Faith that God is working all things together for the good of them that love Him,
o love for God that seeks fellowship with him and drowns out the clamor of the world,
o and confident hope that I will be saved along with the church.
· The First epistle of Peter talks about sobriety more than any other book in the New Testament. He adds in chapter 4:7 “Now the end of all things is near; therefore be serious and sober for the purpose of prayer.” Calm faith makes for great prayer, and prayer is something God wants.
· Furthermore, Peter says that sobriety makes for good defense against the devil. 1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” You want to be successful in overcoming sin? Stay sober – on guard but not eaten up with anxiety either.
· All right, now with a girded and sober mind we can hope as God wants us to hope:
τελείως ἐλπίσατε ἐπὶ τὴν φερομένην ὑμῖν χάριν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ
perfectly start hoping upon the grace which is being brought to y’all in the revelation of Jesus Christ.
· The adverb “fully/completely” tells us how to hope. The Greek word behind that is telos – the endpoint where mature perfection is reached. Earlier in verse 9, Peter said that the telos – the fullness or completion – of our faith is salvation, and this may be why the KJV translated v.13 “hope to the end.”
· An incomplete hope is not a Biblical hope.
o A partial hope in your accomplishments and in the security of your society plus a partial hope in Jesus to make everything right is disobedience to God’s command here. He wants all or nothing.
o Don’t hope in your wealth - 1 Timothy 6:17 “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but rather [to trust] in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.”
o Don’t hope in yourself - 2 Cor. 1:9-10 “...we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver” (NKJV)
o Hope completely in Jesus.
· Furthermore, a fuzzy hope is not a Biblical hope.
o Barak Obama got a lot of mileage out of Shepard Fairey’s campaign piece which contained nothing more than a portrait of Obama’s face underlined with the single word “hope.” The hope promised by the Obama campaign was a vague sense that if a president was elected who was not Caucasian, somehow poor people would have a better life.
o But Biblical hope is very specific. There is a very clear object to Biblical hope. It is not some nebulous warm fuzzy feeling about the future; it is a specific expectation that when Jesus comes again He will bring to you –and apply to you – the consummation of His free and gracious salvation.
o That’s what Peter already said earlier in verse 5, it’s “the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” This is a salvation from the wrath of God which is coming against sin, a salvation by a personal appearance of Jesus returning from heaven, declaring that you are one of His sheep, taking you safely to live with Him in heaven, and destroying by fire everything and everyone that is bad so that there is nothing but good left. (2 Pet 3)
o Hope completely in Jesus. Hope concretely in Jesus. And thirdly, hope confidently in Jesus.
· A wishful hope is not a Biblical Hope.
o Although it is “unseen” (Rom. 8:24) it is not a wishful hope, such as that of Herod who “hoped” to get Jesus to perform a miracle to entertain him (Luke 23:8), or that of Felix, who “hoped” Paul’s friends could produce a bribe for him (Acts 24:26).
o The hope of salvation through Jesus “does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:5-6, NASB).
o Hope is related to faith too, for Hebrews 11 tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for,” and the words for “faith” and “hope” are interchangeable in passages like Matthew 12:21 and Isaiah 51:5 that say that “in His name [the name of Jesus, the LORD] gentiles will hope” (or “trust,” depending on the translation – hoping and believing are interchangeable in that verse).
· When Jesus returns, what do you hope will happen? What do you hope that He will recognize? What do you hope that He will do? Set your hope fully on that and let it guide you in what you do this year.
· Luke 12:35-37 “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and [He] will come and serve them.” (NKJV)
 It is also a recommended quality of elders - both men (1Tim. 3:2) and women (Titus 2:2).
 I don’t like the NKJV’s rendering of εις as “in” or the ESV’s addition of the word “your” here.
 “revealed” comes from the same Greek root that “revelation” – apocalypse does, literally meaning the removal of a covering