“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,” (1 Peter 1:22, NASB95)
Purified has the meaning of cleansing oneself. Speaking of the Jews, it was the process that they would undergo before entering the temple. We read of the apostle Paul in Acts 21:26, “Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.” (Acts 21:26, NASB95) Paul had just spent a great deal of time among the Gentiles, and was considered by the Jews to be ceremonially unclean. Prior to entering the temple and offering a sacrifice, he needed to go through a purification or ritual water-based cleansing process. It was an outward sign that he was inwardly preparing to enter the temple where the intended sacrifice could be offered. For us as believers, we are to regularly evidence our faith by how we live. In 1 John 3:3 we read, “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:3, NASB95) Recognizing that none of us are clean apart from the perfect cleansing work of Christ in us who washed away our sins, we are to live according to who we are and so prove by our actions the work that He has done and is continuing to do in us.
Peter, here, says that we continually purify or cleanse ourselves in our lives according to the work done in us by the way we live, which is according to the truth which we have learned. We obey not because obedience saves us, but because obedience to what we have learned from the truth of God’s Word sets the course for how truly cleansed people are to live. Living according to who we are in Christ makes a difference in our lives. Obeying the truth we have learned from God evidences the purifying work done in us as we daily cleanse or purify ourselves as people set apart by Him. So far in 1 Peter we have looked at the Greek word “hagios” several times from various perspectives. Again, in this verse we find the Greek word “hēgnikotes”, which is translated “having purified” or “since you have … purified”, has its roots in the same word, and as such, points to the same cleansing process. Because we have been made holy in Christ we are to live holy, cleansed, and set apart according to the truth of His Word.
The mark of that love lived out, as Peter writes here, is a sincere love of the brethren. This is what we have been cleansed for and it is how we are to evidence that cleansing as we daily set aside that which is unloving and purpose to love one another. Not only are we to purpose to love one another, we are to do it with great enthusiasm and commitment. Having stated the principle, Peter follows it with the command, “fervently love one another from the heart.” Just as our outward obedience does not save us, but proves what Christ has done in us, so are we to demonstrate in an outward way the love of Christ that we have come to know so personally in our own hearts and lives. What God does in us is to work its way into how we deal with others. Because of His great love being shown to us, we are to love from our hearts those who He has placed around us.
We are to do this “fervently” or “earnestly.” It is to be a priority, and something that we do with great enthusiasm and tenacity. I think we all are aware that we are not easy to love at times. It is precisely for this reason that we are reminded that we need to exert energy to accomplish it. Fervently has the meaning of doing without ceasing to the point that we are stretched in the process. We are to continually put forth the effort to love others because God put forth the effort to send His Son, giving Himself fully for us as the greatest sacrifice of love man can ever know. It is precisely because of what God has done for us that we are called to make the effort to demonstrate His love by loving others from the depths of our heart with the fullness of our energy.
Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34–35, NASB95)
There is a lot of emotional stress going around right now in the face of political changes and peoples’ ideas of what they hold close are being challenged. As those who belong to Christ we are instructed to continually hide the truth of God’s Word in our hearts and live according to the entirety of it. It is to be our guide, and from it we are to demonstrate the love of God though our love for others—particularly those of the faith as we build up and encourage one another in times of both challenge and opportunity.