Life-Study of 1 Peterby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 1:22-25. Verse 22 says, “Having purified your souls by obedience to the truth unto unfeigned brotherly love, love one another from the heart fervently.” According to his habit in writing, Peter in this verse puts a number of things together. First he says, “Having purified your souls.” We cannot find such an expression any place else in the New Testament. We may read about purifying our heart, but not about purifying our soul.
The purification of our souls is the Spirit’s sanctification of our disposition that we may live a holy life in God’s holy nature (vv. 15-16). It is deeper than the purification of our sins (Heb. 1:3) and the cleansing of sin (1 John 1:7). The latter is the purification of our outward doing; the former, the purification of our inward being—the soul. This is like the washing in the word in Ephesians 5:26.
In verse 22 Peter uses the perfect tense when he speaks of having purified our souls. But when did this happen? In verses 1 through 21 there is no mention of such a thing. But suddenly, in verse 22, Peter says, “Having purified your souls.” But in the foregoing twenty-one verses he has not said anything concerning this purification.
Our soul is composed of mind, emotion, and will, which are also parts of our heart. To have our soul purified is to have our mind, emotion, and will, the parts of our heart, purified from any kind of defilement and contamination. (Acts 15:9; James 4:8). This actually means to have our mind, emotion, and will delivered from all things other than God, and fixed on God as the sole object and unique goal. This kind of purification is accomplished by our obedience to the truth, which is the content and reality of our faith. When we obey the truth, the content and reality of our faith in Christ, our entire soul is concentrated on God and in this way is purified from all things other than God. This is to save our souls from all filthiness by receiving the implanted word (James 1:21), which is the sanctifying truth (John 17:17).
According to Peter’s word in verse 22, we purify our souls by obedience to the truth. Here we have the three matters of the purification of the soul, obedience, and truth. We should not take any of these things for granted. Instead, we should ask what truth is here and also what it means to have obedience to the truth. Furthermore, Peter says that this purification of our souls by obedience to the truth is unto unfeigned brotherly love. Here Peter speaks not merely of love, and not only of brotherly love, but of unfeigned brotherly love. Therefore, in this one verse Peter covers the purification of our souls, obedience to the truth, and unfeigned brotherly love. Then he goes on to urge us to love one another from the heart fervently. It is characteristic of Peter’s writings to put so many points together in one verse.
According to the proper understanding of language, the subject of “having purified your souls” is “you.” This means that Peter is telling the believers that they have purified their souls. Therefore, it is possible to translate the first part of verse 22 this way: “You, having purified your souls.”
The way we purify our souls is by our obedience to the truth. This may not be a profound matter like the foreknowledge of God, but it is very practical. Compared to the great matters on the divine side, it is quite small. Nevertheless, it is very important in our Christian life. We need to ask ourselves if in our Christian life we have experienced the purifying of our souls by obedience to the truth.
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