If the “key” thought in Peter’s first letter is suffering, then the point of Christians enduring suffering lies in the commandment of 1 Peter 1:15-16 where Peter quotes Leviticus 20:7 and applies these words to Christians as a contrast to our former manner of life (1 Peter 1:14). In Leviticus, Mo- ses was commanding the children of Israel to avoid ANY participation in idolatry, and by referencing that commandment, Peter was effectively equating a life apart from God – where lust is allowed to rule our lives and dictate our choices – with living in idolatry. The word “holy” refers to something that is set apart from ordinary uses because it is dedicated to the Lord: Because Christians are the people who have been ransomed/purchased out of sin’s condemnation by the blood of Jesus, we are supposed to pattern our lives according to the values HE embodies. Therefore, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Many of our friends and neighbors who participate in the various denominations of Christendom have been taught to believe that they have been saved entirely by the grace of God, without ANY activity or obedience on their own part other than to believe in Him. Some denominational dogmas even go so far as to assert that any kind of obedient response to the Lord’s instructions constitutes “works” salvation in place of salvation by God’s grace, and they base this doctrine on a misuse of passage like Ephesians 2:5 & 8. Such denominational teachings often allege obedience to commands – that the idea that we must “do” anything in order to be saved (such as repent of sins or be baptized into Christ – cf. Acts 2:38 and Romans 6:3 -5) – somehow “cancels out God’s grace.” When we read 1 Peter 1:22, however, either obeying God’s instructions IS an essential part of our salvation, or we can be saved without having our souls purified! In fact, Peter’s commendation and in- struction here actually agree with every command- ment in the new testament (including Peter’s own instructions to the Jews in Acts 2) that relates to salvation. How we respond to the Holy Spirit’s instructions plays an incontrovertible part in our own salvation! No wonder, then, that we read in Acts 2:40, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation” (ASV, KJV, etc.).
The first ten verses of 1 Peter 2 push this idea of personal responsibility and personal action for- ward by emphasizing that spiritual growth is an absolutely essential part of the Christian’s life. Too often, Christians live as if the “entry point” to salva- tion – baptism – is the destination in our spiritual lives. Here, Peter shows that it is merely the beginning point for a lifelong process of learning and maturing in our spiritual lives! Verse 1 marks the start of spiritual life, when we “lay aside” (throw away) the attitudes and behaviors of a sin-filled, Godless existence by becoming Christians. Peter stresses in vv. 2-4 that a definite growth process that should follow that auspicious beginning, which begins – like our physical lives do – with (spiritual) infancy. We are not meant to remain in spiritual infancy, any more than we can remain in physical infancy; rather, we are to be “built up” (vs. 5) as God’s spiritual house, so that we can serve effectively as His chosen generation, His royal priesthood, His holy nation, and His own special people (vs. 9) who have obtained mercy as the people of God (vs. 10).