Prepare Your Mind – 1 Peter 1:13-15

In 1 Peter 1:16, Peter stated that the believer is to be holy. But how do we “become holy”? In the previous post I alluded to the classic scene of a monk living in the cave. He is physically separate from the world, but his mind might remain there! He might be thinking about some women he met on the way to his cave, or wondering about how is life might have gone if he stayed at home, or he might be jealous of his brother who got rich and is living a good life, or ne might be smugly thinking how spiritual he is in comparison to all the other less-monkish Christians who do not live in caves, etc. Appearing to be holy should never be confused with actual holiness.

Peter’s main point in verses 13-15 is that a life of physical holiness and separation is of no value if one’s mind remains unrestrained. Holiness begins with control our thoughts.

First, we are to prepare our minds for action. This is the first word of the paragraph (and is an aorist participle) and it emphasizes the fact that Peter thinks that preparing your mind for action precedes holiness. The verb ἀναζώννυμι is literally “gird up,” and the phrase is in fact “gird up the loins of your mind (ὀσφυς).” To “gird up one’s loins” refers to the practice of wearing a belt and tucking your robe into the belt in order to move more freely, perhaps to walk or run. This is a similar metaphor to Paul’s “belt of truth” in Eph 6:14. In the parable in Luke 12:35-40 Jesus teaches that the disciple must be “dressed and ready” for the return of the Master at any time.

Homer BrainSecond, we are to prepare our minds by being “sober-minded.” This verb (νήφω) can refer to “not being drunk,” but it is often used for reasonableness, clear thinking. Think of this as the sort of self-discipline required of an athlete, they have to be completely focused on the game in order to win (or, think of the lack of focus of the five-year-old soccer league). Perhaps we can think of this word as referring to absolute focus on the task of “being holy.”

This is a very difficult thing for the typical twenty-first century person to practice since we are bombarded with so many ideas and distractions at any given time. For a twenty-something, it is difficult to sit quietly and think (they go into cell-phone deprivation). People were just as easily distracted in the first century, so Peter gives his readers a specific thing to focus on as they live out this new life in Christ.

Third, we are to fully set our hope on the grace that will be revealed at the return of Jesus. Peter offers his readers something to help them focus their attention – the hope of the soon return of Jesus. Hope in the Bible is not like hope in modern English, which is often a kind of hope for something that is unlikely (“I hope I win the lottery.”) Instead, hope is in something that is certain to happen in the future and it gives a person some motivation to act in the present.

Our hope in the soon-return of Jesus ought to have an impact on how we live right now (mentally and spiritually prepared and sober-minded, leading to a kind of holiness that sets us apart from the world). This is not a prediction that Jesus will return in a particular date, nor does Peter look at contemporary events and claim that they are fulfilling prophecy; rather, he is making the simple observation that the return of Jesus is very close and could happen soon, therefore the believer ought to be motivated toward increasing holiness.

Last, if we allow our minds to be guided by holiness, we will not be conformed to childish passions. The more we yield to the Spirit of God and become more mature in Christ, the less we are “conformed” to the passions of this world. To conform is to be “guided by” something, to follow the instructions for example. (This is the same word Paul used in Romans 12:2, συσχηματίζω, with virtually the same point.)

It is significant that Peter does not give a list of spiritual, religions acts that will result in holiness. He does not give a special prayer, or a set of magic rituals that, if preformed correctly, will result in holiness. He simply says, “change the way you think!” The problem is that changing the was we think is far more difficult than a set of rituals, and that alone explains the practices of most religions.

13 thoughts on “Prepare Your Mind – 1 Peter 1:13-15

  1. You are absolutely right about the fact that it is far more difficult to change the way we think rather than a set of rituals. “Rituals” in this sense are like something we basically just do on a repetitive basis. It is kind of like the saying “going through the motions”. I like how you mentioned how Peter made it simple and clear in that he suggests we change the way we think. Now yes, this can be quite a difficult task, but nothing in this life should be that easy. It says in Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” In this sense looking at this verse, our own understanding would be considered rituals. The verse said it too that we need to be more trusting in our Lord with the mindset that once we do so we will be able to change the way we all think on a daily basis and trust in Christ a lot more!

    -Chris

  2. A person’s mind is the most important aspect to their body. They cannot achieve anything without the use of their brain. Our thoughts can be holy or unholy and we need to do our best to control them our wicked thoughts in order to grow with God. I appreciated the example you gave in the third paragraph in regard to an athlete. As Christians we need to focus on making our minds right. In a game, most athletes focus is on the task as hand. How will they win this game? It’s a focus that takes over a person and leads them to forget everything else around them and going on. Like you said, both then and now people dealt with distractions. It can be difficult for a younger generation now with all the cell phones and constant distractions society deals with. I believe it is very important for Christians to realize that the center of our faith begins with our minds. We must train our minds to be ready for the return of Jesus. For instance, Matthew 5:28 states, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Meaning, sin is not only a physical action. It can be committed in our minds as well. In order to prepare for the return of Christ we have to prepare our minds in the hope that they are pleasing to Him. With a mind that is strengthened by God, the physical act of Christ like behavior will be exhibited as well.

  3. Transforming one’s life into a life of holiness is a process and a journey, not a sprint. I agree with your three points of preparing the mind in actions, being ‘sober-minded’, and preparation for the return of Jesus. It is interesting to think about the reality of the mindset and desires of the world being changed through the transformation of living a Christian life being holy. I agree that conforming to the patterns of the world (Romans 12:2) and the struggles of desiring worldly possession would pass away and leave the desires of the mind and heart to be for Jesus and a stronger relationship with Him. The process of becoming holy may be long and difficult, but the destination sounds like a life of peace and restoration. Karen Jobes in the book “Letters to the Church” writes about how God does not desire for His children to have divine holiness, but human holiness. God is the only one who can possess divine holiness, whereas believers can step into holiness in a different way. Jobes points out that Jesus Christ, on earth, was the perfect example of what living a life of human holiness looks like (Jobes, 2011). Peter reference the perfection of Jesus and Him setting an example for believers in 1 Peter 2:21 and states that Christians are to follow in Jesus footsteps to truly follow Him.

  4. “set your mind on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:2). Peter writes to tell is readers to prepare their minds for the coming of Jesus Christ. As we live out our life in Christ, we must control our thoughts. To grow with we need start trying to have holy thoughts. Peter simply states that we need to change the way we think. Our thoughts can lead us into sin, just as David’s thoughts about Bathsheba (2 Sam 2:11) caused him to sin in his mind and heart. It is very difficult to prepare our minds for action and to be “sober-minded”. This is the only way to fully “set our hope on the grace that will be revealed at the return of Jesus” (Phillip Long). Listening to the Holy Spirit and diving into the Bible will help us become more mature and ready to set our mind on “things above”. We don’t have to give excuses for our thoughts or be conformed to the passions of this world if we are guiding our minds by holiness.

  5. Many times, there is the assumption that we should jump right into Paul’s apparent teaching of the same thing in Colossians 3. However, Peter and Paul address very different subjects when talking about the sin problems their corresponding audiences are having. Paul writes to a Gentile audience struggling with living for things of the flesh, where Peter’s audience is struggling with clarity and reasoning for living for God.
    Peter’s argument is simple – you have the salvation and grace which comes through Christ, so now you should desire to live differently than the world (Jobes, 303). What Peter says is that our minds should be aware and clear on the things of Christ, rather than that of the world. Peter even makes the assumption that the minds of his reads will be “alert and fully sober” when he commands them to “set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming” (1 Peter 1:13).
    In self-examination of our own lives as 21st century believers, the question that we need to be asking ourselves is where we have this hope or not. Peter is writing to a group of people facing persecution, but yet to us who live in comfortably and, compared to the rest of the world, wealthy America, what do we know of this? Our ability to be “alert and fully sober” is rather lacking and it shows in the lifestyles of many people who make the claim to be believers. There is a reason why Peter makes this assumption from his readers – many would have likely desired to themselves alert – and he provides where that alertness should lead them in their lives.

  6. First and foremost, this post makes a very substantial and noteworthy statement about living a holy Christian life; the statement reads: “Appearing to be holy should never be confused with actual holiness.” This is a remarkable statement, and it is one that I feel as if us Christians avoid or ignore at times in our faith walks. Today’s society has become very much about outward appearance. It was like that in Bible times as well. For instance, Jesus’ disciple, Matthew, writes in Matthew 6:5-6 teaches Christians to not be like the hypocrites of these Bible times, but rather, he encourages believers to pray in private. The fact that Matthew included this teaching point in his gospel highlights the fact that it was an issue of the time. One could argue that it is an issue of today’s society as well. The goal of living a life that honors God is not to appear to honor God, but it is to actually honor God. It is not about appearing to be holy, but it is to live a life of holiness. Far too often, Christians are worried about how we look to those around us. Rather, we should be more concerned with striving to live as holy of lives as possible.

    One thing that I would like to note about this topic is that it is important how others view Christians. Many non-believers and people outside the church view the people inside the church as hypocrites. They believe that these people do not “walk the walk” but they “talk the talk.” This means that people view believers as people who do not practice what they preach. Because we are all sinners, no one would deny that Christians and believers fall short of living out the teachings of the Bible. However, it is a glaring problem of Christianity when Christians have earned this bad of a reputation. According to Jones (2008), 72% of people believe that the church is filled with hypocritical members and hypocrisy itself. This is a staggering number. It is nearly three in every four people who believe this! Though looking good to the public is not the end goal, it is important that Christians understand that it makes evangelism and bringing others to faith that much more difficult when people view Christians as people who do not practice what they preach.

    Preparing our minds is an excellent source of living a holy lifestyle. Our mind is the source of our actions and beliefs, so it is incredibly important that our mind is prepared and placed in the right position/place. One way to prepare your mind is to be alert and clear-minded. We cannot let down our guard as Christians, or our mind may go in the wrong direction. Similarly, we must be clear-minded because a foggy mind will lead us in the wrong direction as well. Changing how we think can be a very difficult process. Reading appropriate literature can help with this, listening to appropriate music can help with this, and meditation can help with this. There are many practices that lead to a more holy mind, which then leads to a more holy lifestyle.

    Jones, S. B. (2008). 72% Say Church is Full of Hypocrites. Retrieved from: https://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/DA/20080119/News/606100924/TL

  7. I really like your analogy of the monk living in the cave. Everyone has “What if?” questions that cause them to be distracted from pursuing something wholehearted. I also appreciate the fact that controlling our thoughts is the first step of becoming holy. Peter does tell believers to prepare their minds for action as they do not know what will happen in their future. As Professor Long points out, Peter seems to find preparation to be the step before holiness. Like the analogy of the monk, I agree with Peter that it helps to be prepared before becoming holy. By preparing our minds to focus on Jesus without being distracted by the world around us. The second part of preparation is by having “sober minds.” In this passage, it does not appear that Peter is saying that the believers are drinking. But instead, Peter tells to think clearly. This takes a lot of discipline because the world gives us a lot of distractions that leave believers’ minds confused and disoriented. Third, Peter tells the believers that they should focus on having hope that Jesus will return. There was no doubt that Jesus was coming back and as a result that gave the believers hope. Finally, Peter tells the believers to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them and help them grow more in Jesus. The more they grew the more likely they would not be distracted or influenced by the world. These three instructions helped the believers achieve holiness in Jesus.

  8. I like the reference that you made in your post about being sober minded is to have self-discipline is a lot like comparing to an athlete completely focused on the game in order to win. It weird that I am reading this post while I am away on a trip for basketball to hopefully win a national championship. You have to have complete focus on being holy, otherwise your mind will be in other places and you won’t be able to focus on becoming completely holy, if you are not sober minded. I think in today’s society we have a ton of distractions that cause us to stop focusing on becoming holy. We have social media, and sin all around us. As a girl we have thought that come to our mind when we see girls that are prettier and skinnier, and we begin to think about become just like them instead of focusing on our selves and becoming and staying holy.
    It struck me personally when you point our that we should be hoping that God returns soon instead of hoping to win the lottery, because it will have an impact on how we live right now. I say this because I find myself struggling mentally and financially in life and I have wished to win the lottery, which has caused me to lose focus on what is really important. One important thing I received out of this article is to change the way you’re thinking because is causes you from focusing on the most important thing, being Holy.

  9. It can be daunting to read the command given in 1 Peter 1:16 of “Be holy, because I am holy”, because we know that we can never achieve the high moral purity and perfection like that of God himself. “ But God expects not divine holiness of his children, but human holiness, and he sent his Son into the human race to exemplify what holiness looks like” (Jobes 417). This is encouraging because it recognizes our human imperfections while giving us hope in the power of Christ to transform our hearts and minds in a way that honors and reflects God. Verse 13 (ESV) tells us to put our “…hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. I personally find it difficult to fully commit to anything in my spiritual life because I have so much doubt or anxiety and want to see logic and proof of future things before I go all in during the present. I was challenged when P.Long (2018) said, “Instead, hope is in something that is certain to happen in the future and it gives a person some motivation to act in the present”. How can we tell if we truly have hope in this manner?

  10. Several points I like to refresh based on this blog, appearance of holiness is not transformed holiness, mind for action as to sober-minded, and focus towards holy grace. I thought these points were important to highlight as to preparing the mind and transforming towards holiness. It is true, in our society, we are easily distracted and it’s a challenge to focus on with is right and good. Jobes states that Jesus is a normative pattern can be creatively applied in different circumstances (344), Jesus has the answers to anything from simple to complexity in how we should live our lives with him. It should be our journey to want to walk the path towards his true being and eternal life. Jesus should be our center focus in motivating us towards increase holiness of changing our way of thinking. In Matthew 7:16 says, “by their fruit you will recognize them,” this implies how their actions perceive in the ways of their thinking. I say this, due to so much confusion within the body of Christ, how many have mixed with new age movements, and professing they are Christians because they only attend Sunday service. Preparing our minds is to daily read the Word of God, meditate on it, pray consistently, never to cease to give up or go astray. We may need to do a spiritual cleansing of our minds by fasting and praying with the instructions given by the Holy Spirit. Every person is different in how they process through change.

  11. P. Long’s blog brings to attention several aspects of what we as Christians today ought to be living out according to what Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:13-15. P. Long gives a in depth reflection upon each of Peters commands including to prepare our minds for action, being sober minded, set our hope in in God’s grace, and allowing our minds to be lead by holiness.

    I wonder how often we as western world Christians completely lack in these areas and how we might improve. Specifically, though all four may be a struggle, that preparing our minds for action is where we lack most. We sit in church and consume, we listen to sermons consuming, we consume so much and completely fail to act. Perhaps what we as the church in America can take from Peter most is the need for preparation and action.

  12. I am an athlete, so I related a lot with the example in paragraph three. As a Christian I have strongly come to believe and realize that our minds are the beginning centers of our faith. In this I mean, once we know who the author of our faith is, our minds become the center as we have to be able to switch immediately and refocus on the Lord who is the author of our faith if we are losing focus. Today there is a lot of destructions but as you said that there were distractions that people dealt with back then. The destructions may differ but they are all destructions. As a Christian I have to be able to control my mind and what I think of because I can easily fall short by what I am thinking of and what I choose to focus my mind on. This can affect my spiritual life. So, as a Christian I should have a sober mind and be ready to control my mind because a mind is the most important aspect of one’s body and helps in living.

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