All This for God’s Glory (1 Peter 2:9-10 )
[But] you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. ¹⁰Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. [¹¹Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.] –1 Peter 2:9-10 
Peter’s exhortation declares the “now and not yet” of being chosen by God. First, the now. Peter says we are: a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, called into God’s marvelous light, and recipients of God’s mercy. Lest we be astounded to the point of pride for all that we now are in Christ, Peter reminds us at every step that all of this wealth was not because of anything we did. All of these verbs are in the passive voice. We were chosen and called, we were made a people, we have received mercy. God acted decisively to save each of His children in this drama of redemption. We did nothing.
God transformed our citizenship with a word, rescuing us from the kingdom of darkness and transferring us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). It is right that we respond in humble awe at the lavish generosity and love of God, not as triumphant victors, but as “sojourners and exiles.” We are not the “in crowd,” not yet. For all that we are, we are not yet what we will be. The consummation of Christ’s Kingdom is yet to come (Revelation 12:10). As we wait, we are to be putting sin to death.
Peter is urgent in his plea that we “abstain from the passions of the flesh.” This active verb assigned to us–abstain–is a call to not do something. Not partaking of our former way of life requires much active straining against what used to be the norm: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness; anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and lying (see Colossians 3:5-8). Before we were God’s people, sin was our go-to. Now that we have received mercy, we must fight against those passions that are no mere trifles. They wage war against our very souls.
Thanks be to God that once we belong to Him, this imperative isn’t wishful thinking. Romans provides more detail about how it’s possible that we can say no to the sin that once felt irresistible.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? …We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:1-2, 6-7)
To what purpose are all of these riches that God lavishes on us? So that we may proclaim His excellencies. To whom do we proclaim them? To God, in thanksgiving; to ourselves in faith-building; and to unbelievers in evangelizing. Further, our obedience and abstinence from sin are so that the Gentiles (unbelievers) may see our manner of life and glorify God (1 Peter 2:12). Our obedience and their future salvation are both for the glory of God. Oh that those who aren’t yet following Christ may see and, with us, praise the Lord for His marvelous salvation.
How does knowing who you are in Christ encourage you?
Ask the Spirit to remind you this week of your new identity in Christ, and to fill you with words to proclaim God's excellencies to others.
Ask Him to show you your sin, and help you to put it to death.
Candice Watters is a wife, mom, and author who edits the Fighter Verses blog. She and her husband Steve are the co-authors of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. The Watterses have four children. They live in Louisville, KY.