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.
1 Peter 1:13
Peter’s readers had just been informed that the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament prophets had been made all those centuries earlier for the specific purpose of serving Christians who are saved through the good news preached to them by the Holy Spirit-inspired apostles and prophets (1:10-12; cf. Rom. 1:16; 16:25-26). Because of this, Peter now calls upon his readers to “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:13c).
What does it mean for us as Christians to fully or completely set our hope on grace? Some think it means that obedience to God is optional. It is popular to say things like, “God’s grace will cover me,” with regards to words and actions which we like to do even though Scripture condemns them as sin. This is the mindset which Paul rebuked (Rom. 6:1-2). It ignores the plain promises in the New Testament that salvation comes to those who obey God (Matt. 7:21-27; Heb. 5:9). It ignores the biblical teaching that God’s grace not only saves us but also trains us “to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Tit. 2:11-12).
We should therefore find little surprise in the fact that the inspired apostle told us that we must do two things while setting our hope fully on grace. First, we must be “preparing our minds for action” (1:13a). The Greek terminology which is translated “preparing” (anazonnymi ho osphys hymon, literally “gird up the loins”) carries with it the concept of how someone back then who wore the long, flowing robes common to that period would have to prepare themselves to do certain activities like work, travel, or battle by pulling and folding up the bottom of those garments and cinching them around their waist and between their legs with a belt. In like manner, for us to continually be “preparing our minds” while setting our hope completely on grace, we have to consciously bring together our thoughts and through prayer and meditation of Scripture center them on “the things above” rather than the “things that are on earth” (Col. 3:1-2). It takes conscious preparation to follow grace’s teaching “to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Tit. 2:11-12).
However, we must also be “sober-minded,” which is the second thing Peter tells us to continually do while setting our hope fully on grace. “Sober-minded” comes from the Greek term nepho. According to lexicons like those written by Vine and Strong, the word literally means to be free from the influence of intoxicants and abstain from wine, and figuratively means to be discreet, sober-minded, and watchful. It carries with it the idea of having the self-control (cf. Gal. 5:22-23; 2 Pet. 1:5-7) necessary to examine oneself (1 Cor. 11:28; 2 Cor. 13:5) to see one’s strengths and weaknesses clearly in their daily walk with Christ, and respond accordingly.
A prepared, soberly watchful mind is the kind which will set its hope fully on God’s grace, a grace which “will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:13c). “Will be brought” (phero) is in the present tense; this means that Christians receive a measure of God’s grace right now as we live our daily lives, just as we will receive it completely when Jesus returns and ushers us into eternity. We must have a mind prepared by constant prayerful meditation in the Scriptures to continually watch over ourselves to, as Paul put it, “discipline (one’s) body and keep it under control” to avoid being “disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). That’s how we faithfully obey and serve our Savior and Lord. And when that mind recognizes its sins and shortcomings, its knowledge of and complete trust in the promises of a merciful and just God will motivate it to repent and confidently know that the Father in heaven has forgiven and will continue to forgive. Christians, does this describe us?