Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Peter 1:18 - 1:19

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Peter 1:18 - 1:19


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REDEMPTION FROM A VAIN CONVERSATION

1Pe_1:18-19. Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

THE Christian’s duty is by no means easy to be performed. It requires the exercise of much firmness and self-denial. The inspired writers, aware of this, enforce it by every consideration that can influence our minds. In the passage before us the Apostle is recommending an holy fear and jealousy lest we should be drawn back into the love of this present world. He first urges this duty from a regard to the impartial tribunal of God [Note: ver. 17.], and then from the very intent of Christ’s death. This latter and most powerful argument calls for our attention at this time. To illustrate it we shall consider,

I.       The extent of man’s redemption—

The “conversation” of men in all ages and in all places has been the same—

[Different customs indeed have obtained in different countries: but all have walked after the imagination of their own hearts: they have prohibited such things as they thought injurious to the welfare of society, but left themselves at liberty to consult their own inclinations in every thing else. Their practices in time formed a kind of law. What was sanctioned by one generation was followed by another. And the “conversation received by tradition from their fathers” was that which was adopted by every succeeding age.]

It is almost superfluous to observe that such conversation has been “vain”—

[Let any one ask himself what has his past conversation profited him? Has it given him any solid satisfaction? No; the remembrance of it cannot at all assuage the anguish of a mind bowed down with affliction, much less of a mind burthened with a sense of guilt. Has it brought honour to God, or any real benefit to mankind? It has been the means of almost shutting out the knowledge of God from the world; but has never honoured him in any single instance: and as for mankind, if it have in any respect advanced their temporal interests, it has blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts, and encouraged them to walk in the broad way that leadeth to destruction.]

From this however the true Christian has been redeemed—

[It is not only from hell that the Christian is delivered, but from sin. He once indeed “walked according to the course of this world (which is the devil’s course [Note: Eph_2:2-3.]) fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind even as others:” but now he has seen the vanity of such a life: he proposes to himself another pattern, even Jesus, “who hath set us an example, that we should follow his steps:” he is no longer “conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of his mind.” By the cross of Christ the world is become lothesome to him, even as a crucified object [Note: Gal_6:14.]: while he is in it indeed, he performs the duties of it in a conscientious manner: but he goes into it only, as a physician into an hospital, from a sense of duty, and for the good of others; and is glad enough to retire from it to a purer atmosphere.]

He endeavours to keep before his eyes,

II.      The price paid for him—

Slaves and captives are redeemed with silver and gold; but gold was of no value in the redemption of our souls—

[The whole world was not a sufficient price for one soul: it could not atone for our sin or reconcile an offended God: nor could it at all avail to change our carnal dispositions. Gold and silver might rivet our chains, and fix us more strongly in a vain conversation; but it could never detach us from the love of present things.]

That, which alone was of value sufficient, was, “the precious blood of Christ”—

[The lamb that was offered daily in sacrifice to God was to be spotless and without blemish. By its blood, atonement was made for the sins of the Jewish nation; and they were preserved a holy and peculiar people. This was a typical ordinance: it represented Christ, who in due time “offered himself without spot to God:” and the benefits visibly, and in a figure, enjoyed by the Jewish nation, are invisibly, but really enjoyed by us. We have the substance of which they had the shadow. Well then might the Apostle call his blood “precious.” There is no bondage from which it does not deliver us. Were we under the curse and condemnation of the law? The blood of Christ redeems us from the penalty of all our transgressions: it gives peace to the guilty, and liberty to the captive, soul: it frees, moreover, from all the snares and entanglements of this vain world. This is mentioned both in the text and in other places as a principal end of Christ’s death [Note: Gal_1:4.]. Precious indeed is it, when its influence is thus felt. To a true Christian the blood of Christ is not less precious as delivering him from sin, than it is as delivering him from hell itself.]

While we wonder that such a price was ever paid, let us inquire into,

III.     The effect which the consideration of this price should have upon us—

The Apostle introduces the text as an argument for passing our time in fear—

[A slavish fear is one of those things from which we are delivered by the blood of Christ. We sprinkle that blood on our door-posts, and have no dread of the destroying angel. But there is a holy jealousy, which it is our duty ever to maintain. We are only sojourners in this world, and are hastening to our Father’s house. We are moreover in danger of being diverted from our path. We have a subtle adversary and a deceitful heart. Sin itself also is deceitful, and will beguile us, if we watch not against its wiles. We should therefore be on our guard, and pass the time of our sojourning here in fear.]

And well may this effect be produced by such a wonderful consideration—

[Were we laden with bags of gold, we should be cautious how we ventured ourselves among thieves and robbers. And shall we be careless when we carry about with us what is of more value than the whole world? Shall we trifle with that which nothing but the precious blood of God’s own Son could redeem? Shall Satan as a roaring lion go about seeking to devour us, and we not stand on our guard against him? Shall we suffer him to “destroy that for which Christ died?” O let not that precious blood be so vile in our eyes. Let not our souls appear of so little value. Let us rather watch night and day. It is but a little time: soon we shall be at home; safe in the bosom of our Lord, safe beyond the reach of harm.]

Application—

1.       Let us inquire what we “know” concerning these things—

[The Apostle takes for granted that all Christians “know” them. But do ye know them? Do ye know that a worldly conversation is a vain conversation? Do ye know that no resolutions, no services, yea, nothing but the precious blood of Christ could ever redeem you from it? And do ye know by daily experience the efficacy of his blood in that view? “Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith,” and whether you have that deadness to the world, which alone can warrant a favourable conclusion. If ye be Christ’s, “ye are not of the world, even as he was not of the world [Note: Joh_17:16.]:” “ye are dead to it,” and “have your conversation in heaven [Note: Php_3:20.].”]

2.       Let us labour to experience them more and more—

[There is something very fascinating in the temptations of the world. Its pleasures, riches, or honours are but too apt to draw us aside. But whenever ye are tempted, say, Shall I return to that bondage from which I have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ? Shall I trample under foot the Son of God, and crucify him afresh [Note: Heb_10:29.]? Shall I, as it were, see his dead corpse lying in my way, and go over that to the gratification of my base desires? Surely such reflections will not fail to animate your resolution, and to keep you at a distance from those scenes of vanity, where your steadfastness would be endangered. Let us live as citizens of a better country, and “no more fashion ourselves according to our former lusts in our ignorance [Note: 1Pe_1:14.].” Let us drink of purer pleasures, even of “that river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God.” Thus, experiencing the full benefits of redeeming love on earth, we shall ere long sing its praises in heaven for evermore.]