PURIFYING WORK OF THE SPIRIT
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
1 Peter 1:22
In order to fully grasp this Scripture let’s turn the phrasing around a little. “Through the Spirit we are obeying the truth and this purifies our souls.” So first of all, we obey the truth through the Spirit. We do not obey the truth through our own power or our own wills. (Romans 9:16) The Spirit empowers us to obey the truth. The word obey from the Greek means to “hear towards.” It is a motion word, you are hearing with the motion towards following what is heard. So obedience includes hearing and following what is heard.
Purification of our souls does not come only in a cosmic exchange between God and men, but it comes in a very practical way, hearing the word of God and following it THROUGH the action of the Spirit in our hearts.
In hearing and following the word of God through the work of the Holy Spirit, our souls are purified or cleansed. Peter expounds on a three step process.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
Obeying the Truth
Purifying of our souls
Peter says the results of these three things is, or rather should be, unfeigned love of the brethren. What does it mean to have unfeigned love? First, let’s look at the word “unfeigned.” It comes from the word feign, which means to to pretend or to assume a false appearance or to counterfeit.
Unfeigned love speaks of genuine love, not love looking for a reward or love looking for something in return, but love that is genuine, from the heart and sincere. Then he says, “…see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” The phrase “see that” signifies something that we should make sure happens. So, we must examine our hearts and attitudes in order to understand “is my love with a pure heart and fervent?”
The love Peter writes of should be from a pure heart, a clean heart and mind with holy and righteous motives. We are not to love with a motive to get something from another person or to use them for our own purposes, but to love with purity.
The next term is to love fervently. Fervent means with intensity. It speaks of having an intense focus on the person you are loving. So the way we love people should be characterized by purity and intensity. When love is intense it is expressed outwardly. Intense and pure love are seen visibly by how you treat others, and the devotion of energy and time to those in your life.
Ask God to examine your heart. Is your treatment of others characterized by a love that is pure and intense? If it is not, ask God to cleanse your heart and mind.
Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
1 Peter 2:1
These are all behaviors that should be laid aside, put off, cast away. “Laying aside” is the same Greek word used in Hebrews 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
It is also the same phrase from Ephesians 4:4, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.”
The picture is to take a weight or a filthy garment off of yourself and to cast it aside. Peter is telling us that we should not allow ourselves to carry these filthy attitudes and behaviors, but instead to cast them aside like a dirty coat.
Let’s examine each of these words with their definitions.
Malice – extreme enmity of heart, a disposition to injure others without cause
Guile – literally means to trick or bait – speaks of purposeful deception
Hypocrisies – acting under a feigned part – having two ways of living
Envies – ill will, spite, jealousy
Evil speakings – defamation, speaking evil of those who are absent
Since we are born again from the word of God that lives and abides forever we should cast all these behaviors off like a filthy garment. Each of them are activities of the carnal nature that lives in us and are unbecoming of Christian character.
Our lives and our attitudes should be characterized by UNFEIGNED LOVE that is pure and intense not by living a false life, taking advantage of people, tricking them or speaking evil of people absent.