To Die and Live (1 Peter 2:24)
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. —1 Peter 2:24
“Why did Jesus die for my sins?” David suddenly wondered aloud at the dinner table, his eyes leaping from the plate in front of him now probing his dad’s face across the table.
“That’s a good question, David,” his dad answered, wiping his mouth to stall for a few milliseconds of thought. “Well,” he began…
How might you enter this scene and shepherd the ever-inquisitive heart of your 13-year-old son?
This week’s Fighter Verse, 1 Peter 2:24, gives one possible direction to go: “He himself [Jesus] bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”
The apostle Peter is saying here that one of the goals of the gospel is to empower believers—to empower you this very day—to “live to righteousness.”
What righteousness means
I think the righteousness Peter has in mind is simply doing good works (2:15; 2:20; 3:13; 3:17; 4:19)—that is, obeying the will of God (2:15; 4:2). Obedience is not a peripheral, optional, or when-I-feel-like-it activity for the believer, but rather one that is central to our calling as children (1:14-16). It is one of the reasons you exist today. In fact, it is so central in Peter’s mind that when he distinguishes believers from unbelievers in the letter, the language he reaches for is that of obedience—either positively to “the word” (1:23), and “the gospel” (1:25), or negatively against “the word” (2:8; 3:1; 3:20), and “the gospel” (4:19).
What righteousness looks like
In the immediate context (2:13-25), the dark situation into which Peter speaks this bright gospel word is unjust suffering (2:19). Believer, how will you respond—perhaps today—when outsiders hurl insults your way for doing what God says? When unbelieving family members lash out in anger at your sincere efforts of love? When your boss intentionally overlooks you for the promotion simply because you have publicly identified yourself with Christ?
In rivers of injustice, where will you find the energy to keep paddling upstream, to keep doing good and honoring those who are undeserving instead of lashing out in return (2:17; 3:9)?
Jesus is not only our model for how to suffer well (2:21-23), but also our very means of doing so. Oh, the glories of substitution—our sins in His body, His wounds for our healing! It is Jesus, the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53; 1 Peter 1:10-11), bearing our curse of judgment on the tree. He makes those who were formerly dead to God and His ways alive to righteousness forevermore. God aimed not only to forgive sinners like us, but also to affect a new kind of holy living. Redeeming grace is empowering grace. How could such obedience be a burden (1 John 5:3)?
Believer, look to the empowering grace of God in Christ today and live out your calling so that many “may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (2:12).
“So God’s grace forgives us and helps us to obey?” asked David.
“That’s right, buddy. Can you believe it?”
Can you think of other texts in the Bible that speak this way about the goal of the gospel? (see Matthew 28:20, Ephesians 2:10, Titus 2:14, 1 John 5:2)
What righteous living is God calling you to today?
What does this text suggest about the relationship between believing the gospel and obeying the gospel?