What is it that you hope for? What is your wildest dream? What is your vision of the good life? Some of us hope for better health. Others dream of getting married. Some have grand visions of a better country. While these are not bad hopes, dreams and visions, it’s important for us to acknowledge that “Hope deferred, makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12).
The reality is that the sudden loss of hope, the sudden crushing of a dream, a vision getting blurry, can have a deadly effect on any attempt to restore a man’s inner strength; any attempt to restore a man’s inner strength must first begin with showing him some future goal to find hope in.2
Do you feel week today? Is it because you’ve walked for so long with an unfulfilled hope? Do you feel weak because your dreams have been crushed over and over again? Are you struggling to see the purpose of your suffering? It’s possible that you have been living with a hope that has been deferred for so long that your soul has become sick with despair.
The kind of hope that the Bible speaks of is the kind of hope that is free from the shackles of past, present and future circumstances; biblical hope is settled on and anchored to the reality of the resurrection of Christ.3
Think about how badly a loss of hope can mess with your mind. Think about how badly a loss of hope can jack with your image of your Heavenly Father. Think about how a crushed dream can cause you to lose sight of Christ in a mere instant.
Hope deferred, definitely makes the heart sick but when your hope is set on Heaven, your mind will be set on obedience, your holiness will be set on your Heavenly Father and your motivation will be set on Christ. This is the argument that Peter lays out in the verses we are studying today.
1 PETER 1:13 – 21…
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Peter knows that the people he is writing to are believers who are living scattered as outcasts. He knows that the only thing that will motivate these believers is a vision of Christ crucified, risen and returning. He knows that the only way his friends will be enabled to live in holiness is if they can catch a picture of their Heavenly Father. He knows that true obedience flows out of a mind that has been transformed. He knows that only Heaven possesses the kind of hope that will fulfill their wildest dreams.
#1: GET OUR HOPE SET ON HEAVEN (VV. 3, 13, 21)
If you and I are going to get our hope set on Heaven, if we are going to do more than just merely survive while enduring the hopelessness of this world that we live in, if we are going to actually live purposefully and joyfully in this hopeless land, then we must possess a hope that is set on our living God.4
This is why Peter says, “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:13). But when he tells his readers to get their hope set on Heaven here, he’s telling them that they can do this if their “hope is set on God” (1:21) and if their hope is set on God then the kind of hope they have is “a living hope” in a living God(1:3); verses 3, 13, and 21 literally act as the center and foundational explanation of Biblical hope.5
Getting your hope set firmly on the grace that is to come, is the center of Peter’s previous proclamation of salvation (1:10 – 12) and it’s also the center of Peter’s future call to holiness because the reality is that no one walks in holiness and no one heeds the call of salvation unless they first realize their utter helplessness apart from Christ and their subsequent rock-solid hope that is found in Christ.6
Your best life now has nothing to do with social reform, political reform, marital health, vocational accomplishment, family unity, sexual pleasure, physical companionship, financial stability, emotional integrity, relational stability or any other thing you or I can pursue this side of heaven. What you and I need is to get our hope set on Heaven.
#2: GET OUR MIND SET ON OBEDIENCE (V. 13)
This is why Peter says, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:13). The picture we have here is of someone who sets their mind on obedience to God by preparing their thoughts for action and remaining sober-minded.
The problem is that we live in a culture of images instead of thoughts because we think with our eyes and we trade in a Biblical mindset for the downgraded model of earthly conquest and progress because we love earthly images more than we love biblical thinking but the truth here is that if God is going to have our hearts then he must have our minds as well.7
What has your mind been set upon? What has consumed your thought life? What images have you filled your mind with? What do you dream about the most? There’s no spouse sexy enough, no job exhilarating enough, no social reform good enough to satisfy your mind. This is why Peter says that we must get our minds set on obedience.
#3: GET OUR HOLINESS SET ON OUR HEAVENLY FATHER (VV. 14 – 17)
This is why Peter says, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile” (1:14 – 17). In other words, get your holiness set on your heavenly Father!
We have to remember this truth; namely that no true Christian, in his right mind, will desire anything other than true holiness and righteousness.8 The only reason we ever exchange a biblical mindset in regard to holiness is because we have traded the hope of the resurrection for the hope of earthly conquest and progress; by wallowing in the dirt of earthly pleasure, we say that we despise the cleansing water of our Heavenly Father.9
But, when we live our lives are modeled by our Father’s holy character, then we demonstrate that we have internalized the call to set our hope on our eternal inheritance as we grow in holiness (1:13 – 21), grow in our love for others inside and outside the church (1:22 – 2:12), grow in our willingness to submit to unjust rulers (2:13 – 3:7), grow in our willingness to suffer for Christ (3:8 – 4:6), and grow in our desire to serve God’s family (4:7 – 5:14).10
If God is your Father, then holy living will be more than possible because holy living is the mark of a member of God’s family; your identity as a child of God will only be as mature as your picture of God as your Heavenly Father.11 How often do you treat your Heavenly Father like a permissive friend instead of your holy Father? How often do you find yourself acting like God is just the friend that is along for the ride while you commit one sin after the next? We need to get our holiness set on our Heavenly Father.
#4: GET OUR MOTIVATION SET ON CHRIST (VV. 18 – 21)
If you have been listening to all of this and you are wondering how anyone ever gets their hope set on Heaven, gets their mind set on obedience and gets their holiness set on their Heavenly Father, the answer is found in Christ. We need to get our motivation set on Christ.
The only reason a man ever sets restrictions on his devices to overcome the promise of pornography is because of the motivation of Christ. The only reason a woman ever starts getting out of bed early in the morning before her family wakes up to read her Bible is because of the motivation of Christ. The only reason a person quits walking around in grumbling defeat due to the social and political stupidness in this world is because of the motivation of Christ. Transformation happens when we get our motivation reoriented by Jesus.
This is why Peter says that his readers can set their hope on Heaven, set their minds on obedience and set their holiness on their Heavenly Father “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1:18 – 21). You and I need to get our motivations set on Christ.
The work of Jesus at the cross is what pays the price for all of the stupid and sinful ways we have lived. The blood of Christ, more valuable than all of the gold or silver in the world, paid the price so that we could stand before our Father in Heaven without any spot, wrinkle or stain of sin.
He existed in perfection before the foundation of the world and yet he came in the flesh to die in our place so that we could become children of God. And more than that, he left the tomb empty on the third day so that we could catch a vision of the true hope that we have in his promise of eternity.
Have you been trying to motivate yourself with guilt and shame lately? Trying to motivate yourself by wanting to look better in front of others? Trying to motivate yourself to do more good things to get into God’s good graces? Trying to motivate yourself to be a better husband, a better daughter, a better son, a better wife, a better employee or a better employer? What if you started striving to spend more time at the foot of the bloody cross, in the doorway of the empty tomb in light of the hope of Heaven? You and I need to get our motivations set on Christ!
So, what is it that you hope for? What is your wildest dream? What is your vision of the good life? Some of us hope for better health. Others dream of getting married. Some of us have grand visions of a better country. Some of us hope for a better marriage, a better financial situation or a better job.
While these hopes, dreams and visions are not bad, it’s important for us to acknowledge how sick we can become when our hopes get dashed against the rocks of despair and disappointment. We need to acknowledge how badly a loss of hope can mess with our minds, how badly a loss of hope can jack with our image of our Heavenly Father, how a crushed dream can cause us to lose sight of Christ in a mere instant.
Hope deferred, definitely makes the heart sick. But when your hope is set on the promise of Heaven, your mind will be set on obedience, your holiness will be set on your Heavenly Father and your motivation will be set on the finished work of Christ at the cross and the empty tomb in light of the hope of eternity. – Amen!
1 Unless otherwise specified, all Bible references in this paper are to the English Standard Version Bible, The New Classic Reference Edition (ESV) (Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, 2001).
2 David R. Helm, 1 and 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christ’s Sufferings (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, ESV Edition, 2008), 55.
3 Ibid., 56.
4 Ibid., 57.
6 Ibid., 56.
7 Ibid., 58 – 59.
8 Ibid., 59.
10 Ibid., 60.