Summary: * God's word cleans completely, lasts forever, and helps us grow * Act accordingly - love each other sincerely, stand firm, and grow
It took Balfour Beatty 11 years to finish cleaning and painting the Forth Rail Bridge – sandblasting and using the latest epoxy-resin paint – 240,000 litres! Now it looks better than new, and the bridge’s cleaning and painting reputation (being a never-ending task), has gone forever. Or has it? Yes, it’s the latest super-hi-tech epoxy-resin paint, but it will only last for 40 years, and then the bridge will need to be cleaned and painted all over again.
Through Peter’s letter, chapter 1 verse 22 to chapter 2 verse 3, I’m going to talk about a different type of cleaning. I’m going to talk about how God’s word cleans us (a clean that lasts forever), how it helps us grow, and how we should act accordingly.
God’s word cleans completely, lasts forever, and helps us grow
Believing and obeying the Bible, God’s word, cleans and purifies us. It makes us Christians. We’re believing that Jesus died a terrible death, a terrible death, a terrible punishment that we deserved. His death, his punishment, wiped the slate clean for us. It took away our sins, and was a one-off act – a one-off clean. It’s not something that needs to be repeated.
Peter writes his letter to encourage fellow Christians. They’re being picked on. They’re being persecuted and they’re suffering. Their earthly life is hard.
They must stand firm though, and remain faithful because they’re clean in God’s eyes, and have an eternal life in heaven to look forward to.
Later in Peter’s letter, chapter 3 verse 13, he writes “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God …””. “once for sins”, “once” – this isn’t a super hi-tech epoxy resin that only lasts for 40 years. It’s a one-off clean, a deep clean that purifies our souls.
Today, we’re working through chapter 1 verse 22 to chapter 2 verse 3.
Look at chapter 1 verse 22. Peter writes, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”
He starts by writing “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth …” Believing and obeying God’s word, the truth, purifies our souls. It deep-cleans us forever.
I’m a cheapskate. If I’m too lazy to clean my car, I always go for the cheap third-party option. Not the ‘full polish and wax’, not the ‘mini valet’, not the ‘inside and out’, just the ‘outside’ please.
The firm, Gurchan, is Britain’s most expensive car-washing service. (So you won’t find me there!) Gurchan’s top of the range deep-clean costs £7,200, and Gurchan claims a car will only need one such clean in its lifetime.
But that’s not the case, is it? As soon as you drive the car away, it starts to get dirty.
Cleansing through God’s word is deep, and lasts forever.
God’s word cleans completely.
We’ve been given a new start through Jesus’s death. We’ve been “born again”. We’ve been cleaned so completely that it’s like starting life again. A lifetime of sin, a lifetime of malice, hypocrisy, envy, slander, and a lifetime of constantly ignoring and forgetting God has disappeared. That burden isn’t hanging over us anymore.
And through Jesus’s resurrection (showing that Jesus has power over death), we know that we will have life after death too. Death isn’t the end for us.
Look at the next verse, verse 23, “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;”
We’ve been “born again”. We’ve been given a fresh start to live a joyful Christian life, knowing that we’ll have an eternal life in heaven. Unlike the car driving out of Gurchan’s car wash though, we aren’t getting dirty again. As far as God’s concerned, Jesus’s death is a one-off clean. This new birth is from an imperishable seed, a seed that will last forever. It’s a birth into an eternal life, so it’s never going to perish. When we stand in front of God and Jesus on the day of judgement, we will still be clean. Once we believe and obey the word of God (knowing that Jesus died for us and rose again), we get that last-forever clean and the knowledge that we have an eternal life in heaven.
Peter’s encouraging his fellow Christians to stand firm because however they’re picked on and persecuted, their new lives as Christians and their eternal lives in heaven cannot be taken away from them.
8 years ago I had a bicycle accident. It was silly really. I caught some wet leaves turning off a main road. I hit the ground still clipped to my bicycle. When I woke up I was surrounded by friends and paramedics. One of my friends said to a paramedic, “this is Clive, his wife is 8 months pregnant”. I said “Is she?”. I couldn’t remember. I had amnesia. When Elaine got pregnant 8 months previously, I was the first to the pregnancy test kit, and I was overjoyed to see it positive. That was a wonderful feeling, and I went through it all again when my memory came back.