Holy Gospel Moms
Holy gospel moms show love for one another by living based on the good news of the eternal Word of God with others.
We are going to look this morning at 1 Peter 1:13–25. Now, this section is an admonition for all believers. 1 Peter talks about applying the gospel in the dailyness of our lives. All the spheres of connections we have, whether they be with other people or with government or at home or with our children or in the church, and it works through all of those things. This section applies to everyone, but we are going to apply it specifically this morning through the lens of how a mother should embrace the vision as a Christian given here. Because like everybody else, 1 Peter talks about how mothers are to live as missionaries in their daily lives and live for the sake of the gospel. So I want to talk to you today about holy gospel moms.
[Read 1 Peter 1:13–25]
“Mom, are you holy?” Now, there is one problem with that question, and that is that holy in the Bible does not mean at all what most of us think of today. At worst today, holy signifies in somebody’s mind someone who is inaccessible or proud. You hear the phrase that that person is holier than thou. It is sort of used as a synonym with some people for self-righteousness or being condescending. That’s at worst. At best, holiness is often used today to refer to outward behavior. Often it is associated with rule keeping. That person is a part of a holiness group, so they wear their dress a certain length or whatever else. Or to use a sort of a person who has that big spiritual resume: They teach this, and they speak here. So that person is holy. Someone who is busy in doing very public things, high profile things in the name of Christ.
But none of those things are what the Bible is talking about when it talks about being holy. Holy in its most basic sense means to be set apart, and here it means to be set apart for God. If you’re looking at information that you want to use later, you may find an article, you take that article and copy it, and put it somewhere because you have set it apart to use it at some point. The idea here with holiness is a life that is set apart for God, but the key is how a life is set apart for God. A life is not set apart for God by external rule keeping; it’s not set apart for God by a spiritual resume; it’s not set apart for God by high-profile positions or outward things. And 1 Peter wants to make that very clear to us. You see, 1 Peter is dealing with life in the everyday dailyness of the nitty-gritty world that most of us live in. It’s not dealing with big positions and powerful positions; it’s dealing with the reality that most of us face.
The Command to Be Holy
In chapter 1, verses 1–12, there is an explosive section that is all about the believers’ privileged position. Now, it’s very important that it begins with this because this is a people who are suffering. They are going through difficulty. They are paying a cost for their faith. They’re a scattered people and often isolated with few believers around them, and they’re facing consequences for their faith. The tendency when our circumstances are difficult is to think that somehow we are not privileged, but he says that is not true. He says you are elect exiles.
Then verses 3–12 of 1 Peter 1 is one long run-on sentence, similar to what Paul does in Ephesians 1, about what God has done for us in Christ. The grammatical term is it’s all about the gospel indicative. The gospel statement of reality. It is not about what we do; it’s about what God has done for us in Christ. We see that Christ faces suffering that leads to glory, and in Christ we face sufferings that lead to glory. So we are to see our lives, no matter what we are facing, as the most privileged people in the history of the world. Well, that reality, that we must fight to believe and remember, rather than the sort of self-pity we often embrace because of our circumstances, ought to be worked out in our lives.
So the gospel indicative, the statement of gospel reality of our privileged position, is also consequentially followed by certain ways we ought to live, certain commands. But those commands are not foundational, the gospel is. You see, the idea here is that the believer who is in this privileged position, when the believer embraces the privilege that they have in the gospel, and they live internally motivated by the gospel, that affects the way they think about their life and the way they see the things that they do. So verses 13 and following talk about the believer appropriating the privileged position of being a people who have been redeemed by Christ, and the people who know the gospel. So the very first thing it talks about in relation to that is the command to be holy.
But then it goes on to talk about identity in Christ. It talks about how you relate to others, it talks about how you relate to the government, it talks about how you relate to your spouse, it talks about how you relate at work or when you’re in a subordinate role, it talks about how you relate to circumstances, and it talks about how you relate at church. In other words, life. All of life. And what is to be central in all of life is the gospel.
Now, the wrong definitions of holiness are actually the opposite of holiness. If someone thinks that holiness is about external rule keeping, no. External rule keeping is worldliness. It’s the way the world measures value. I do this, I do this, I do this. That’s not the way value is measured in Christianity. Christianity is not about a spiritual resume. It’s not about your outward actions. It’s fundamentally the value that you have in Christ. So when we get the definition wrong, instead of advocating holiness, we’re actually often advocating worldliness because when we tie our value to the external things that we accomplish or do, that is a form of pride. That is self-referential. You see, our answer to the question of “why is your life valuable” is Jesus Christ. The answer to the question as to why you are not going to face judgment and damnation for your sins is Jesus Christ. It’s not because I’ve done this, this, and this. It’s not because I’ve kept these rules. The external focus which equates your value with the applause of men is what it means to be worldly. That is the way everybody functions outside of the gospel. But when the gospel comes in, it changes your focus, it changes where you get your identity, and it changes what you live for.
The Gospel Motivation
Now, this is so vital because moms must be motivated by the gospel. Most of the things that make a mom great in the sight of God or godly in the sight of God or holy in the sight of God do not receive any applause from the world. Conversations at the dinner table, the meals of care that are made day by day, diapers that are changed, the correction that happens, the grind of continually correcting sin, calling it sin, and pointing to the gospel. All of those things nobody shows up and applauds. Nobody shows up and puts it on the evening news. Nobody invites you to speak at events because of the things that in God’s sight make a mom a godly mom, a righteous mom, a holy mom. So it’s very easy to get trapped in what you do as a mother and to not see value in it, because even though you are naming the name of Christ, you’re really functioning basically the way everybody else does, wanting the applause that is external.
All of our lives are a call to humility, self-sacrifice, and behind the scenes work. But in most of our lives, even though we have the responsibility to live with humility, self-sacrifice, and do behind the scenes work, there are avenues in which we get applause for the things that we do. Not often so with the things a mother does. Do you see the battleground? The spiritual war? The reality that moms often face? Nobody is saying the nitty-gritty stuff of your daily life that you do with your children is worthy of applause. It’s something to be valued outside of, hopefully, the church. Outside of, hopefully, the network of moms that are encouraging one another, it’s easy for moms to lose focus and to think that their lives do not matter because they do not get worldly affirmation. Or to be honest with you, feel like a failure because they don’t meet a certain standard. Either a standard which is being imposed upon them or a standard that they are imposing upon themselves that they should not be. They click the next Facebook page and say, “Oh, look at what she’s doing. I should be doing that. I must be failing.” And it is a dead-end road. Moms, you need the message desperately in this section. Grandmoms, you need it too. Future to-be moms, you need it too. Well, we all need it, but let’s think about it in relation specifically this morning to moms.
The first thing I want you to see in verses 13–16 is a holy gospel mom shows the hope that has been given to you. In all of the sections we are going to look at today there is a pattern, there is a command, an imperative given. There is a gospel motivation attached to it, and then there is a warning about how you can get off track and walk out of line with the gospel. In verse 13, we see the command of the gospel motivation.
“Therefore …”—That is referring back to the believers’ privileged position because of what Christ has done. “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 the gospel.”
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action.” Or more literally, girding up the loins of your minds. The flowing robe would be brought up and tucked in so you could move agily. This is called a specific action, not something that just happens passively, but a specific action. And it says, verse 13, “Being sober-minded.” The word means not being controlled externally but being self-controlled, and here the control is to be gospel hope. “Being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” That’s the gospel motivation. So you have to do something. It doesn’t just happen; you have to be active in setting your mind fully on the hope that comes to you at the Revelation of Christ. The Christ that’s come to you in the word and that will one day be consummated when he returns to consummate his kingdom. Fix your hope there. Hope fully means hope there to the end.
Now, notice here clearly that the hope is motivated by Jesus Christ. It’s motivated by the gospel. It’s motivated by grace. Look at verse 13 through 16. “As obedient children, do not—” here’s the warning about walking out of line with the gospel “—be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,” meaning do not be squeezed into the mold of the things that you desired before you embraced the gospel. Don’t long for the things that you longed for apart from the gospel. This is holiness. Holiness means that I am now motivated by the gospel, so I don’t long for the things that I longed for outside of the gospel. It continues, verse 15. “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy.”
Now, the commands in this section are to set your hope fully on the grace and now the command to be holy in all of your conduct since it is written, “You shall be holy for I am holy.” In other words, the person who embraces the gospel is being reshaped by the character of God. And the holiness, the set apart to God that they now embrace, is built on living and being motivated by the gospel. Not being motivated by their former ignorance, their desires that they had according to their life apart from the gospel. That is worldliness. Worldliness is evaluating life with the gospel left out.
So what do we tend to do? We tend to be motived by power, high profile, applause, position, recognition, money, being known as a successful person, being known for our intelligence or our credentials. He says that the gospel is to remove those motivations because those motivations can be held to apart from the gospel. In other words, without the gospel you can be applauded for power, high position, recognition, your money. You can be applauded for your possessions; you can be applauded for being a successful person. Those can all be embraced, and you can achieve that without the gospel. But with the gospel, you don’t need that applause for those things because they no longer matter the way they did.
By the way, you can even pursue Christian ministry for worldly reasons. Someone can want to be a teacher or be known as active and busy in church ministry and teaching because they are craving the applause of people, the pats on the back. It’s a danger on the motivation of what drives us. So here we see it clearly: A holy gospel mom shows the hope that has been given to her by not serving worldly desires.
What’s the root of pride? The very root of pride is to want yourself to be made much of. The Bible says the proud person is puffed up; they want to be known as somebody. The prideful person feeds on recognition and applause, or the prideful person doesn’t get it and they rage because they do not get recognition and applause. What is humility? Humility is not having the need for yourself to be made much of, to be puffed up. Humility is let me decrease that Christ may increase. Humility is my motivation is the gospel. Or, as it says here, is fixing your hope on the grace of Jesus to the very end. That’s what it means to be holy. You show the gospel hope that has been given to you by the way you order your life, and to do that, you don’t have to have credentials. And to do that, you don’t have to have a position of power and authority. And to do that, you don’t have to have certain pristine circumstances. All you have to have is a life. And in fact, it is best demonstrated in the daily grind of routine life. If someone in the daily grind of routine life where no one is applauding is so evidently hoping in the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is powerful; it is attractional. Why are they so full of hope when nobody is applauding them? Because they want Jesus applauded rather than them. It’s why moms who are hope-filled have so much influence on forming and shaping the lives of their children, because it’s day in/day out. And it’s usually not until later that the children realize the way they were shaped by a mom hoping in Jesus.
A holy gospel mom shows reverence for Christ in daily life. Look with me at verse 17: “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear.” That’s the command in this section. With fear, meaning fear of God or fear of Christ, reverence of God, reverence of Christ. Throughout the time of your exile—you are elect exiles in this world—it is not your home, but you are here now and you are to be good stewards who bow before King Jesus. In other words, you conduct yourselves with reverence in the sight of God in Christ or fear in the sight of God in Christ. Verse 18, you do this because you know that you were ransomed. That is, redeemed. You were set free. Well, set free from what? He goes on to talk about that. “From the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold.” Do you see what he does there? He says you’ve been redeemed, you’ve been ransomed, you’ve been saved, and a part of what you were saved from is living for the futile, the empty ways of your forefathers. Apart from Christ, everybody lives on some sort of self-justification, climbing some ladder to get their identity and worth, but you’re saved from that, and you have been saved not with perishable things such as silver and gold, so your status determined by your bank account or your identity determined by your possessions are what you’ve been set free from. Those are chains and bonds. But notice what it also says: “But—” verse 19 “—with the precious blood of Christ.” Knowing that you were ransomed, redeemed, set free with the precious blood of Christ.
Why does your life have value? You were set free. What was the price? The blood of the sinless Son of God. Does your life have value? As much value as the blood of Christ, and silver and gold pale in comparison. The futile ways of your forefathers, the letterer of righteousness pales in comparison. So the command is to conduct yourselves with fear of God in Christ; the motivation is knowing that you were ransomed with the blood of Christ. The warning about walking out of line with the gospel is that it’s easy not to focus on being ransomed with the blood of Christ but to be focused on the futile ways that your life had been rooted in and focused on silver and gold. So powerful. The contrast is between the blood of Christ which has eternal value, and perishable things which have temporary value.
The end of verse 19 says, “like that of a lamb without blemish or without spot.” Christ is perfect in his righteousness. You are to show reverence for Christ in your daily life by having your identity in Jesus, set free from worldly forms of self-validation. Your identity is not in your family name. Your identity is not in your possessions. Your identity is not in your bank account. Your identity is not in your career success. Your identity is not in your rule keeping. All of those are rooted in fear of man. But in the gospel, you fear God alone, you reverence God alone. The shadow of his grace is cast over your life and you understand that your value is in him, and that means everything that you do in your life that is acceptable in his sight is valuable, eternally so. There are no mundane moments for the believer. Why can’t we get that? We read our Bibles and the significant events are a woman walking to a well, but somehow we convince ourselves that we are able to determine what’s important, so we need to be like somebody else and we need to have a position of high profile; we need to have this gift or that gift. Repent of that.
When we have Christ, when we are set apart for him to use us, there is value even in things like helping with homework. The conversations that you have in the routine of life, the confronting of sin in your home, moms. You are dealing as a mother with a human being created in the image of God. You are entrusted with pointing that image bearer to Christ. That child has an eternal soul. The money that you and I have in our pockets will one day be burned up on a trash heap. The righteous deeds that we so often point to for our value are as filthy rags, God says. So all of the things that you do in your role as a mother that you never receive any applause for have value because you are set apart to God in that role.
Look with me at verse 20, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world—” the he is Christ “—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.” All things are to be summed up in Christ. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world. He was made manifest. He was revealed. He was made clear in time and space. He went to a cross. He was raised from the dead. In him, you are redeemed and set free, and all of this was the eternal plan of God. For who? For the sake of you. You live in the last times because you live on this side of the cross. How can we devalue our life and where God has placed us by his providence? How can we do that? The eternal plan of God has been unfolded for your sake. That is the truth that must frame your life and all of your actions, and your calling as a mom.
Let’s put it like this: My life matters because of Jesus, and I want my children to see that their life matters because of Jesus. I don’t want them to live for things that will perish. I want them to live for what is eternal. I do not have to manufacture value for my life. My life is valuable because the eternal plan of God is unfolded and Jesus shed his precious blood for me and he set me free to not have to strive outside of that. By the way, that’s true whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home mom. It’s true whether you’re a mom with a lot of kids or a few kids. It’s true whether you’re married or single. It’s true. And Mom, it is vital and important work that will matter for eternity. You are to show the hope that has been given to you, you’re to show reverence for Christ in your daily life, and then verses 22–25: Holy gospel moms show love for one another.
This is really important, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth—” that is, obedience to the truth of the gospel, this is not works “—for a sincere brotherly love, love one another.” This is a fraternal love, a spiritual love. Doesn’t just apply to men, though it uses the words brotherly love. It’s the love of Christians who are now family because they are bound together and particularly in the church. “Love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” In other words, loving one another as he is calling us to isn’t feigning niceties. It isn’t patting each other on the back.
It is something you were not even capable of before you were set free, before you were born again, as it says in verse 23: “Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God.” The Word of God that is living and abiding and eternal has communicated the gospel to you in Christ. Your new birth is imperishable. You were born by imperishable seed. Your life apart from Christ is perishable, he says, so love one another.
How does all that fit together? Well, when you think about your life only based in this life, you don’t think about loving one another; you think about competing with one another. You think about judging one another. You think about getting your identity as being seen as superior to one another. One commentator I was reading says there’s always a danger of even embellishing our own thinking as some sort of spiritual standard. In other words, we create a spirituality outside of the Bible and say, “I’m spiritual because I do this.” That’s what the Pharisees did. We’re all in danger of doing that.
To the degree that you get your value on being superior to someone else, you can’t love them. Because to love them would be to help them. If you help them, you may lose your value because you may not feel as superior to them because you may help them do better. He’s saying it should not be so. The command is love one another earnestly. The gospel motivation is you’re born again; you’re imperishable. You don’t have anything else to earn. You just have to show Christ. How do you show Christ? He loved you though you were unlovable. Love one another. What is the warning about what is out of line with the gospel? Those who just simply focused on perishable seed, those who live for the temporal, those who live for what will pass away.
So we put it together like this: Holy gospel moms show love for one another by living based on the good news of the eternal Word of God with others. Look at the next part in verse 24, 25: “For all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” Quoted out of Isaiah 40:6, 8. “The word of the Lord remains forever,” and then notice the last phrase: “And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” The good news that is the eternal good news. So you don’t have to manufacture something that’s not there because your life is already rooted in news that is good for all eternity. It’s rooted in the grace of God. You have the words that are eternal. You don’t have to look outside of the eternal Word of God. You don’t live for the temporal; you live for the eternal. Applied, that means that you’re not comparing, you’re not performing, but rather you’re sharing, encouraging, and celebrating in one another’s lives.
Let me give you an example. I’ve never known a parent to have their child accomplish something good and the parent said, “Oh man, makes me feel terrible.” You say, “What do you mean?” They say, “Well, I can’t do that. I wish I could do that. The fact that good things are happening to them makes me feel bad.” Why don’t you do that? Because you love your child and you’re committed to your child. When your child out-achieves you, that doesn’t diminish you; it expands your joy. You want good for them. So what does it mean when somebody else around you—let’s say another mom—is doing something good and you process it by feeling like it diminishes you? You’re less valuable because they’re doing something you’re not doing. It’s a lack of love. Because you’re still trying to perform. To the degree that you perform and get your identity by comparing yourself to others, you cannot love them. The gospel redeems you from having to do that. Your value is in Jesus Christ. When you love somebody, the fact that good happens with them expands your joy.
And by the way, this is how moms should be with one another. A spiritual fraternity of people who are involved in the trenches of spiritual warfare, doing something very difficult but eternally important, and they need and support one another and they celebrate the victories and they weep together in the challenges, and they pray with one another. And nobody says, “Look how I’m better than anybody else,” because you’re not. You deserve judgment in hell. Oh, I want so badly for this message to get across. Hope, reverence, love. Rooted in the gospel.
You see, holy is being motivated and compelled by the gospel. It’s the internal that is important, that works its way out in the external. It is living based on the grace found in Jesus Christ. It’s living based on being ransomed and redeemed with the blood of Christ. It’s living having your identity and being born again in Christ, knowing it’s imperishable seed and that God has given you the eternal Word. What is the warning? The warnings are not holy but worldly because they’re based on external performance and things that can be valued apart from the gospel. So the passions of your former life, what you could have received apart from Christ, the futile ways and perishable things, the status, the resume, the possessions, the perishable seed, the temporary stuff, all of which you can do and receive and gain apart from Christ.
Mom, you don’t have to live according to somebody else’s arbitrary standards of motherhood. You just have to be holy. And you don’t need any special credentials to do it. In fact, many of the most godly people I’ve ever met, including mothers, have been women that nobody would have ever put on a platform. Some were bedridden and told me that thank God that they were bedridden because it turned them into prayer warriors and they accomplished more praying in that bed than they would have ever done because they were distracted in their lives. I can tell you countless stories. I can tell you a story of a woman who couldn’t leave her home, and she shared the gospel with every person who walked through her doors because that was her ministry. She saw everybody from cable TV workers to repairmen coming to faith in Christ. I think she would tear cords out from her refrigerator just so she could get a repairman to come over there and tell them about Jesus. Set apart to God. That’s what it means to be holy. Focus on being holy. God, use me where I am, being motivated and compelled by the gospel. And it’s not enough to say that is enough, but actually it’s all that matters eternally.
David Prince is Pastor of Preaching and Vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, KY. He also serves as Assistant Professor of Christian Preaching at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He is the author of In the Arena: The Promise of Sports for Christian Discipleship and he blogs at www.davidprince.com.