Peter previously encouraged us to think and live like temporary residents on earth (1 Peter 1:17-18). We are in training for heaven. Our time should be spent learning to live according to God's values, rather than the world's. Today's verses give another reason for dedicating ourselves to the Lord each day - He has purchased us. We belong to Him because He has bought us at the cost of His own blood. We did not become children of God because we could pay with our wealth, intelligence, social skills or hard work; it was only because we have trusted that Jesus was punished to pay for all our bad thoughts, words and actions which would have kept us far from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). He chose to be the complete and sufficient sacrifice for our sins: but it cost Him everything, as He gave up His life for us (1 John 4:10).
Like the sin offering of the Old Testament (Leviticus 4:23), the Lamb of God was perfect in every way; not only to pay for our sins, but also to buy us back from our slavery to sin and Satan (Titus 2:14). His blood was the 'price of our redemption'. We were also redeemed from the bondage of the spiritual emptiness that can be found all around us in family, tribal and national cultures. Although these appear to be useful in helping to bond people together, if we are not bound to Jesus Christ, our lives have no value for eternity. If we have accepted His payment for all our sins, we now belong to Him. He owns us because He has paid for us (1 Corinthians 6:12).
And yet family, tribal, workplace and cultural traditions are not so easily dismissed. 1 Peter 4:3-4 says, ‘For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you.’ It is hard to be a Christian when the Lord you love is ridiculed, and ‘deities’ that disown Him are worshipped. The ‘empty way of life’ may be taught at school, desired as we grow up, practised at work and celebrated in the community. But we have been redeemed from all that.
Therefore, we have an obligation to love and serve Him whole-heartedly, and to deny ourselves (Titus 2:11-14). Our time at work is both a test of our faith, and an opportunity to show the transformation of personal values that comes through Jesus. When some workplace practices or social traditions are clearly a waste of spiritual time, remember that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ has given us the obligation not to be bound by them any longer (Romans 12:2). Indeed, we must not waste our new life, which Jesus paid for at such a high cost!
© Dr Paul Adams