“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” – 1 Peter 1:22-23
1 Peter has a lot to say about our salvation, holiness and purity. Peter tells us in 1:2 that it is both the Spirit & the blood of Jesus that sanctifies us (makes us holy). In 1:18-19 we see our redemption (being purchased for God) came through the previous blood of Christ. In 1:16 we find a call to holiness in light of what God has done for us.
Then in the two verses quoted above in 1:22-23 we see Peter talk about purifying yourself by obeying the truth.
Which is it? Does God purify us through the work of the Spirit and the blood of Christ or do we purify ourselves via our obedience?
The answer is yes.
Both are important. God does the actual work of sanctification and then in light of our being made right, pure and holy it is important that we seek to be obedient to God and help maintain our purity. Our work does not initiate us into purity or re-grant it when we stumble but our actions can certainly make us impure and so abstaining from impurity is part of our responsibility to our call to be pure and holy.
What I am about to say next is why I brought all of this up. When I read 1:22 I thought “love” was an imperative. I thought Peter was commanding them to love each other. It isn’t an imperative at all. It isn’t even a verb here. In 1:22 “love” is a noun and it is in the Greek accusative making it the direct object of the verb earlier in the verse. The direct object of purifying yourself is love. Wow!
Why is this not a command? Because if you are pure in heart you don’t need to be told to do it.
Why is it a direct object? Because if you are pure in heart it will happen as a result of the purification.
It is that simple. If you aren’t loving them I am suggesting you are struggling to have a pure heart because a pure heart will produce love.
If you claim moral, ethical and/or biblical purity and don’t exhibit love your purity may not be God’s kind of purity.