Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (NIV)
I re-read the passages that precede this since Peter started it off with “therefore.” He really packed a lot of theology into those first 12 verses. Most of it relates to salvation, how God has brought it about, and what we can expect in the world. Therefore – my response is to be mentally prepared and to be holy.
When I wrote about persecutions I emphasized that what I have decided ahead of time helps me to be prepared for to react in a godly manner when life presents difficult choices. Peter affirms that this is exactly what I need to do. Because of all he has written, I am to prepare my mind for action. An example of this is found in Job 31:1 "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” ( New Living Translation ®) Job knew that if he didn’t make up his mind to control his thoughts when he saw a beautiful young woman, he would be in trouble. The verse suggests he did this by averting his eyes so that he would not be tempted.
I remember going to a conference about family behavior. The speaker went to this verse in Job and explained how children watch their parents. When Dad takes that long or second look at a woman as she walks past, both sons and daughters notice. The daughter sees how the scantily clad woman pleases her dad and consciously or subconsciously decides to dress that way when she is allowed. The son watches and sees that this is the way men behave and emulates his dad’s behavior leading into a life immersed in pornography and lust. With only his eyes Dad has led his children into behavior that easily leads them into sexual sin. Mom? She feels betrayed and certainly not the only woman in her husband’s life.
I watch old re-runs of “Emergency.” In nearly every episode, and more than once in most, Johnny turns half way around and gives a nurse the “look over.” I’m sure that the message is clear that this is natural and normal behavior for a single man. But it isn’t what Peter is telling me. Peter is telling me to be self-controlled. I can’t be self-controlled until I have prepared my mind. I need to know where the battle is and take my thoughts captive to make them obedient to Christ,(2 Cor 10:5) not to Hollywood, not even to conservative talk show host. The way I look at a woman is a good example of the way I should order my life and be prepared to combat sinful desires.
My motivation is the grace to be given to me when Jesus is revealed. When I stand before Jesus, He will present me without fault and with great joy before His Father. He has cleansed me and forgiven me but I don’t want to be presumptuous about that and think that I can do whatever I want.
Out of gratitude to that wonderful salvation I want to obey Jesus. Peter encourages this obedience to Jesus. He tells me that I should not be living my life the way I did before I came to Christ. Back then I was ignorant about what was right and wrong. I shouldn’t be now. Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. (RSV) If I want to know right from wrong, I need to understand it from God’s Word and put it into practice. I need to leave those old habits behind and form new, godly habits formed on the sure Word of God.
The final reason for being prepared and leaving the old, sinful habits behinds is that God is Holy. He wants me to be holy just as He is. Will that happen today? No. Does that give me an excuse for not working on it? No. Ultimately, I want to be Holy because my Father is holy. I want to be like Him.