The letter of 1 Peter reminds us God has provided us with new lives filled with hope and characterized by our souls being cleansed. Yet, the new birth is not just about what we receive. In the ancient world and within the New Testament, it was understood that progeny exhibit the qualities of their parents. God expects particular behaviors from us.
We remember well John the Baptist as well as Jesus denouncing the crowds or specific groups with, “you offspring of vipers” (Matthew 3:7; 12:34; 23:33). This was not just a mean-spirited attack. It was the verbal recognition that children display their parents’ characteristics, and in this case their behaviors revealed they came from a hostile and poisonous source.
Conversely, how might we expect children of God to act? While not exhaustive, Peter describes some of the ways those who have experienced the new birth should act. God has inducted us into a life that is to be characterized by love – and not unsurprisingly we are called to live out that love.
Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth into a genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.” 1 Peter 1:22
With the new beginning, God also informs us to get rid of the old life.
So get rid of all evil and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” 1 Peter 2:1
Peter reminds us of the proper response to God who granted us a new beginning. We are called to learn more about God’s ways by studying his word.
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Peter 2:2-3
Furthermore, this new life is characterized by new purposes and goals. God provides his newly born people with meaningful service.
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9
These are not all of the ways we are called to action. These are three of Peter’s instructions for those reading his letter who have experienced the new birth.
All of us are or have been broken. Jesus says that he came to help people who know they are broken to discover wholeness. In his words, he came to help the blind to see.
On account of Jesus, God can give us a new beginning.
- That new beginning comes with an expectation of an indestructible inheritance in heaven.
- That new beginning comes with cleansing – that our souls may be forgiven, pure and holy.
- That new beginning comes with a call to action.
Previous article in this series: The God Of New Beginnings: The New Birth’s Cleansing