In light of the Salvation—no, Grace—Peter has been describing and gushing over, he now goes on to describe the appropriate reaction. Tom Wolf puts it succinctly, “You have been given a new birth, so live a new life.” Peter says the correct reaction to Grace is a commitment to a changed life. Contrary to what a lot of Christians throughout the centuries have tried to convince themselves, our helplessness and God’s forgiveness is not a license to wallow in sin.
When we realize that God has done everything to reconcile us to Him in grace, we also realize the hell that we have been saved from. Why would anyone want to remain there? Peter’s call to action is both a call to holiness and to fear. We strive to be holy because God is holy, and, also, because we are no longer ignorant to the devastation of our own rebellion. Once we have been freed from that devastation we no longer want to return there. Sure, there is a battle of wills going on, but it isn’t really a case of two desires. Our wish is to remain in the wonderful new reality we now inhabit. It is only when we close our eyes to that reality that we stumble and find appealing the kind of suffering we once knew.
But there is fear there too. We tend to see the fear of God as more of an appreciative awe, and that is part of it. But there is true respectful, fear there too. God isn’t a lovable Teddy Bear that exists to bring us comfort and happiness. He is a grizzly with all the danger that implies. Loving and good, but not safe. If we don’t find enough reason to fear Him, the danger of sin is something to consider. Either way, we need to foster an appropriate level of reverence in our new reality. Christianity done right is not easy.
As to the “How” of this new life, that is what Peter tackles next…