“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” – 1 Peter 1:22, 23
To Purify the Soul
Truth alone does not purify. It must be followed by obedience. This is similar to the principle seen in Hebrews 4:2, speaking of the gospel and faith:
“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.”
Just as the gospel does not profit without faith, neither does truth from God’s “living and enduring word” profit us anything without obedience.
There is little benefit to knowing truth unless is it obeyed. On the contrary, “knowledge makes arrogant” (1Co 8:1). Knowing truth and not doing it may actually be worse than not knowing the truth at all! Should we then avoid growing in knowledge so that we have less to obey? Of course not! Instead we need to be serious enough to live out the truth upon discovering it. You may have heard these true words: “obedience delayed is disobedience”.
Truth obeyed purifies the soul. Of course this is not referring to salvation, as though any obedience on our own part could pay for our sins. Instead, obeying truth purifies the soul of the believer in the sense that obedience is submission to God. With every truth obeyed, the Christian becomes more like Christ, and as the verse suggests, more able to love one another.
There are certain sections of the Bible that are essentially distilled lists of practical commands, arranged in bullet form. Romans 12 and Hebrews 13 are examples. Here are three “truths”:
Rom 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…”
Rom 12:19 “Never take your own revenge…”
Heb 13:5 “… be content with what you have… ”
Familiar words. We know these things, but they are useful to us only when obeyed. As Jesus said to his disciples: “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (John 13:17). The old KJV reads “happy” are you if you do them, and it is translated well either way. Each truth that can be obeyed teaches us about the Lord, in whose presence is fullness of joy.
How many troubles could be avoided simply by obedience? How much joy gained? Someone has said that spiritual growth is dependant far more on obedience than on knowledge. Ask today in prayer for the the Lord’s help to be obedient.
I considered my ways
And turned my feet to Your testimonies.
60 I hastened and did not delay
To keep Your commandments.
-Psa 119:59, 60