As I’m studying through 1 Peter for the upcoming Journal and Doodle study, I reached 1 Peter 3:15.
…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.1 Peter 3:15 NASB
First, let’s read it in context, by reading the verses before and after this one. The context here is instructions how to live as husbands and wives, then it broadens out into how to live with others, and then extends out how to live even in suffering and persecution, in the middle of talking about suffering, there is our verse: “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts…”
Next let’s look up definitions.
To separate, set apart or appoint to a holy, sacred or religious use. -Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
Signifies to set apart for God, to sanctify, to make a person or thing the opposite of koinos, “common;” -Vine’s Expository Dictionary
Also look up synonyms in the thesaurus to learn similar words, just to widen our understanding of what sanctify entails:
Sanctify synonyms: Hallow, dedicate, set apart, glorify, purify
Then some antonyms: dishonor, disrespect, degrade, sully
Then do the same with Lord. What is the definition?
A master; a person possessing supreme power and authority; a ruler; a governor. In scripture, the Supreme Being; Jehovah. -Webster’s 1828 Dictonary
signifying “having power” (kuros) or “authority,” is used as a noun, variously translated in the NT, “‘Lord,’ ‘master,’ ‘Master,’ ‘owner…’ -Vine’s Expository Dictionary
Synonyms: Commander, king, leader, ruler, sovereign
Antonyms: Commoner, follower, inferior, servant
So to sanctify Christ as Lord in my heart is to: Set apart Christ, who is holy, as my master. Christ is the one who has supreme power and authority over my heart (my soul and mind, my thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavours, intelligence, will, and character) regardless of the circumstances, choices, or current situation. Christ is the one who has supreme power over every aspect of me, no matter what the setting or situation.
But what does that actually mean?
How do I know if I am doing this? Or when I’m not doing this? What does it look like lived out in ordinary life? This is where meditation comes in. And we’re going to do this together! You get to learn along with me by adding your thoughts in the comments.
There are three categories we will be focusing on in our meditation. These were biblical meditation questions I read from a Puritan that have been really helpful for me. I have found pondering these questions so helpful when I need to take scripture from a vague idea, to a walking, talking style of life.
The three categories for meditation:
Neglect, Casual or Occasional, and Deliberate
We’ll work through each asking what it looks like when I:
NEGLECT to sanctify Christ as Lord in my heart
OCCASIONALLY sanctify Christ as Lord in my heart
DELIBERATELY sanctify Christ as Lord in my heart
And when doing this, we’ll look at a few different areas of life. Today let’s look at each of these headings in just one area: HABITS.
What would each look like in my habits? Or, what habits would I have (good or bad) in each column?
NEGLECT-not treating with respect or attention, to omit or not embrace
(Christ is not Lord in my heart. I am.)
- Christ is not Lord of my life, I am (or someone or something else is master over me).
- My habits are determined by whatever makes me feel good, or right, or satisfies a need or desire. The point of my habits are self improvement or comfort and/or control.
- I am in the habit of (consciously and/or unconsciously) pursuing the things culture says will make me happy or healthy or better.
- I completely neglect Scripture (not reading it, not thinking about it, not hearing it, it’s a waste of valuable time, I’ve heard it all before anyway).
- Complete neglect of prayer (It doesn’t work anyway).
- I listen to other people’s opinions or experiences rather than looking to God’s design and His will.
- When pain or suffering is part of life, I’m in the habit of doing whatever I can to end that suffering, no matter the cost because I don’t deserve to suffer, I don’t deserve a hard marriage, I don’t deserve a hard family, so I avoid, end, or remove whatever it is to get back to the “good life.”
- I’m in the habit of ignoring or quenching the Holy Spirit and rarely, if ever, feel convicted.
- I’m in the habit of self-care defined by the world (getting pampered, deserving a vacation, needing a glass of wine, etc).
- I’m impatient, critical, easily angered, yell a lot, and am unteachable.
- I’m in the habit of wanting something in return. If I serve or do something nice, good, helpful, kind, it should be given back to me, or at the least appreciated, or I won’t do it again.
- I grumble and complain and rail against God with each new problem or hard situation.
- I’m in the habit of unbelief, of doubt, of skepticism.
This is the lowest level of Christian living. It is believing the lies and allowing the world to determine your actions. It is an unthankful dulled conscience. It is living in friendship with the world. This Christian acts almost identical to an unbeliever. This is living not holding fast to faith, but drifting away from it, and seems to be what Hebrews warns against. (Hebrews 2:1; 3:12; 4:1)
OCCASIONAL-happening at times, but without regularity
(Sometimes He’s Lord, sometimes I am…or other things are.)
- God is “in charge” but I’m usually driven by other things like circumstances, activities, other people, or situations.
- My habits are determined by what I need to accomplish (for myself, others, or God), and the point of them is to check off the list of “being a good Christian.”
- I’m in the habit of pursuing God when I can, but allow other things–good and bad–to get in the way.
- I pray fervently when seeking answers or making requests, or when I am in crisis or extreme need.
- I read the Bible when I’m motivated, or have a reason, or have the time to. I start the day with a nod to God with a quick “dose” of scripture or devotional, but am driven by other things, circumstances, or activities.
- I have the habit of mixing a little bit of the world (opinions, trends, “fixes” or hacks) with scripture, and often end up being confused and mislead and frustrated.
- When I suffer or life is hard, I have a habit of doubting that God cares, or thinking He is not good or real. I seek to end whatever is causing the problem as quickly as possible.
- Sometimes I obey the Holy Spirit, but sometimes I have a habit of quenching Him by ignoring, excusing or distracting myself.
- Though I understand self-care as the world defines it is ultimately self-centered not God centered, I rarely think about it differently. In fact, I think if I just have more of whatever I think I need, then I’ll be able to pour myself out for others. (Deep down I believe that biblical living requires me to put on my oxygen mask first, then help others–that is super important in a rapidly depressurizing airplane, but not in a cross bearing and Christ following life.)
- I’m impatient and irritated and that usually means I’m aggressively correcting you and your errors or I’m passive aggressive and it’s your fault or problem.
- I’m in the habit of giving and serving when there is a need, or when I have to, or when I feel guilty. But if I’m not thanked or appreciated, I have a habit of being bitter or hurt and don’t do it anymore.
- I grumble and complain to others about hard situations and hard people, and rarely talk about it with God. Eventually I try to submit and obey, but rarely with thankfulness.
- I’m in the habit of not knowing what the Scripture says, and usually unable to answer my own doubts, let alone other people’s, which can lead to unbelief.
This is the “try harder” trap. It’s willing myself to be better, try harder, and depends on my own willpower. It’s the hardest place to live as a Christian. It’s living torn between the love of God and the love of the world. It’s the “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” unsustainable kind of Christian living. It’s occasionally actively quenching the Holy Spirit and occasionally obeying Him. My life is marked by being tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. (Ephesians 4:14)
DELIBERATE-done with careful consideration or deliberation
(Christ has the power and authority. I love Him and seek to please Him.)
- God and His glory are the driving force in my life. Because of this, all the rest of my habits form naturally from that. (I seek Him as my only good.)
- My habits are determined by what God says is best for me, and what He loves and desires. The outcome of my habits is to know Him better and conform me to His image. (I seek Him as my main desire.)
- I pursue God regardless of my circumstances, health, pain, emotions, or busyness. I enjoy the good blessings He brings to me along the way and thank Him for them. (I seek Him despite the pain and in the blessing.)
- Prayer is vital and Scripture is essential in maintaining a close walk with Him. I carve out time to prioritize both, in multiple ways -Both formal time in prayer and prayer as I go throughout my day. Time in the Word reading, memorizing, and meditating on it when doing other life activities. (I seek to know Him better.)
- I listen to and think about and prioritize God’s word. I seek to understand and conform to it rather than culture, opinions, trends, and lies. I take the time to think through how to apply it to my life. (I seek what pleases Him and do that.)
- I understand God’s has given us everything necessary for life and godliness and need to go no further than what He has already revealed. I’m committed to the time and energy that might take. (I seek Him through His word.)
- When suffering I seek God more than I seek my own comfort and happiness. I use this as yet another opportunity to practice the habit of seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness and searching out the blessing in it. (I seek His greater kingdom.)
- I am in the habit of obedience and submission to Christ as Lord. If I feel the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin, I confess and repent immediately. If I feel an urge to pray, to speak the gospel, to listen, I pay attention and obey. (I obey Him.)
- Self-care lines up with what God says is good for me: confession, agreeing with Him, repentance, thankfulness, serving others, giving, abiding in Him. (I seek Him.)
- I’m patient, not easily angered, kind, able to teach, teachable, and gentle, again and again and again. (I start to look and react more like Him, as a result of seeking Him.)
- I’m in the habit of seeking out ways to serve my husband, my family, my church, and others. I give with nothing expected in return because I’m doing it for God and His glory. If it’s not recognized or appreciated, it’s enough that He knows. (I seek to be used by Him.)
- I seek God first in each new problem or situation. I pray for His will to be done in my own heart and seek to line it up with His before I talk to others about it. When I do speak to others about it, I remember that I am called to love God and love others, and love covers a multitude of sins, so I don’t slander or malign anyone. (I seek Him for wisdom and grace.)
- I’m in the habit of belief. And when that wavers, I cry out with the father in Mark “I believe! Help my unbelief!” (I believe Him.)
This is loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Because of this, all these things naturally flow out. It is being dead to sin and alive to God. My focus is always on God, and when it wavers, I repent and lift my eyes to Him. This is vibrant, hopeful, joyful living. My life is marked by an abiding love of God and profound thankfulness. This is mature Christian living, and growing in the rich knowledge of God. (Hebrews 6:1; 2 Peter 1:3)
Looking back on all that I can see myself so much in the NEGLECT and OCCASIONAL category and I want to work harder to be in the DELIBERATE one. But, it’s not trying harder to be better! Everything in the deliberate category boils down to just seeking Him. Everything flows out of that. How gracious God is that he doesn’t give us a big long list of requirements and to-do’s. He isn’t interested in us forming bullet proof habits, he’s interested in our heart. He wants relationship… and from that habits are formed and changed.
What do you think? Do you agree? Did this remind you of other things you’ve seen or experienced? Add them below, and let’s all interact. Scripture meditation is even richer when we share our ideas and thoughts with each other.