The Preacher and the Importance of Godly Character

 |  January 4, 2017

1 Peter 1:1-2; 13-16

Peter begins his epistle by calling believers “Temporary residents”. That term literally means “beside the people.” It reveals the necessary separation and the dynamic saturation of believers in the world. We are always resident aliens – temporary residents. We are out of place here – we belong to another world. Still we must exist in this fallen world as we represent the Lord Jesus Christa as His ambassadors.

This is especially true of the preacher. He will face “a stricter judgment” (James 3:1) and “will give an account” for how he leads the church (Heb. 13:17). There is a uniqueness about the preacher that requires a strong accounting to God for his ministry.

No other vocation is so demanding. A surgeon may know how to replace a heart, yet never discover how to defeat the evil inclinations in his own heart. A builder may know how to construct a house, but never understand how to build a home. A judge may know how to render a verdict in a court of law, yet never know how to live his own life. A football coach may be efficient in building a successful team yet fail to build his own life. A pharmacist may know how to provide healing medicines for patients, yet never find healing and forgiveness for his sins. A scientist may learn all about the physical universe, but never gain the strength and wisdom to realize the condition of his own life. Such paradoxes are everywhere around us. Each of these can fulfill their tasks regardless of their character.

But it cannot be so with the preacher. His life must be consistent with his preaching. He must demonstrate the truth that he proclaims. Truth is not just something one believes, but it is something that one does!

Peter describes in vivid terms the glories and inexhaustible riches of God’s redemptive purposes. Then he declares that God’s purposes are so incredible that even the prophets searched diligently to understand what had been revealed to them (1:10-12).

The prophets did not fully comprehend what the Messiah and redemption was all about. But we understand. We have received the full revelation of God through Jesus Christ. We must not preach these unsearchable riches of redemption in a careless & calloused way. The demand on the preacher is simple: “Be holy, because I am holy…you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence” (1:16-17).

Here are three requirements for every preacher. Godly character not only matters, it is the indispensable quality that is demanded of the preacher.

  1. “With your minds ready for action.” Literally, “gird up the loins of your mind.” In biblical times people wore robes. To move quickly they had to pick up the back hem of their robes and pull it between their legs and cinch it in their belt making it like a pair of pants. Then they could move quickly. The preacher must remove anything from his life that hinders his ability to think clearly and make sound decisions.

Every word in this passage speaks of living a holy life! The word for “mind” literally means “to think through.” Get rid of everything that would hinder your ability to clearly think through every action. Any moral compromise, bitterness, unforgiveness, anxiety, envy, jealousy or fear impedes our ability to think clearly and biblically.

When we do not remove everything that clouds our judgment we begin to act irrationally and inconsistent with what we believe. We will do what we always declared we would not do when our lives are cluttered with things that keep us from thinking clearly. That is a matter of character.

  1. Then Peter tells us to “be self-disciplined.” This is an extension of the first requirement. Our minds must never be clouded with any substance or object that distorts our ability to live a holy life. This is a direct reference to any substance that can remove our ability to make wise conclusions. It is a clear reference to viewing objects of evil that control our mind. Those objects would be things like pornography and any visible object that leads us to betray our own biblical convictions.
  1. Finally, we are to embrace completely the hope of our salvation & not be controlled by the evil desires of our former lives. This is not a hope that everything turns out well. It is to “hope completely”, or fully, perfectly. In Christ we do not hope as the world hopes, but our hope is sure, confirmed and guaranteed by our Lord Jesus Christ. It is to hope with full assurance that it will come to pass.

This hope is secure when we are “obedient children” (1:14). The word for “obedient” is literally “to hear under.” We hear our Master’s voice from a position of submission. We must determine now that our answer to God will always be “yes”. We must determine now that we will be obedient to the Lord every day. Our answer to His every demand is “yes”.

That is the key to holiness, purity – to character required of the preacher! God demands that we be holy and pure in every area of life. “Holy” means “different.” God expects us to be different. We are not like the world. We have become holy, “For I am holy” (1:16). The Greek word for “be” is from a root word which means “to become.” It speaks of an entrance into a new condition, a new relationship. We become holy “in all your conduct” (1:15). We must show a transformed character in every area of our lives as preachers!

Peter has revealed an absolutely incredible salvation. Because of that we are to remove everything that prevents us from living in purity and obedience. We do not live by the standards of the world. Our character must be different from the world.


ABOUT: Jimmy Draper served 35 years as a pastor and 15 Years as President of LifeWay Christian Resources. He served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention for two years from 1982-84. He is now retired and remains active preaching and leading conferences and mentoring younger pastors.

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