The $64,000 Question of the Bible

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March 16, 2022

1 Peter 3:13-17 NIV

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

CONSIDER THIS

Now we get to Peter’s secret. It’s also Paul’s secret. And it’s Mary’s secret, and Phoebe, and Hannah, and Silas, and John, and Allison, and Tangie, and Susanne and Dan and I could go on and on. But most importantly, it is your secret. It’s right there in v.15. 

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 

I don’t like the term our translators chose here: revere. Of course it’s not wrong, but there are better options. In my mind, to revere something or someone is to look up to them or highly regard them. The Greek term is “hagiazo” (pronounced hag-ee-ad-zo). Peter dropped a form of this biblical bomb of a word earlier in 1:15. 

15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

The word translates as sanctify or set apart and here’s my favorite: “consecrate.” 

This, of course, raises the $64,000 question of the whole Bible—how? How are we to be holy as God is holy? Today, Peter gives us the answer. I’ll offer my own amplified version of the text:

15 But in your hearts, the innermost place in your innermost self, set apart, sanctify, consecrate, and revere Jesus Christ as Lord. 

It means your heart is a sanctuary for Jesus, so give him full run of the place. Jesus is Lord, but we must actually grant him Lordship at the very core and center of our life. Jesus is King, but he must be exalted to the throne of our innermost self. 

O.K., so that all sounds fine and good, but how do we do that? Let’s begin by saying how we don’t do that. So many believe in what I will call the replacement approach. Jesus wants to replace whatever it is that I have centralized or given priority to in my life, be that disordered affections or dysfunctional desires or addictions or idols or just garden variety sin, but first I have to get rid of all these things first. We try to change and maybe make a little progress but it never really sticks. We settle for putting a bumper sticker on our heart that says, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” And we go on to live a self-indulgent and otherwise defeated life while trying to mask our lethargic laziness with the activity of busy-ness. We have all done it and some of us have broken free only to fall back into it. 

It’s why we keep calling out to each other, “Wake up sleeper! Rise from the Dead! And Christ will shine on you! 

If this is you, I’ve got super good news today. Jesus doesn’t work by replacement. He works by displacement. When Jesus Christ is set apart as Lord in our hearts and enthroned as King, he displaces our disordered affections, dysfunctional desires, idols, and garden variety sin. His Light displaces my darkness. His Life displaces my death. His order displaces my chaos. His wholeness displaces my brokenness. His attentiveness displaces my distractedness. His joy displaces my despair. His peace displaces my anxiety. His fullness displaces my emptiness. His attachment displaces our addictions. We can stop giving all our energy and focus to the old broken self in our lives the minute we decide to really give him the run and reign of our heart. Give Jesus time and space and he will fill us with all the fullness of God. 

And here is where the word “revere” is not such a bad word. Once he is consecrated in our hearts and our hearts to him; once he is set apart and enthroned as King, we can then revere him as Lord. We worship him, which is to say we humble ourselves in his sight and exalt him for all his worth.

And this is not a one and done kind of thing. This is the hidden habit of the consecrated heart. It is every day . . . every hour . . . every minute. . . until it has become the unconscious disposition of our souls, the fiery affection of our attention, indeed the fulfilled desire of our longing heart. This is not practical, you say. And you are right. This is not practical. This is love. Let’s give Ike Watts the last word today:

“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small.
Love so amazing so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.”

THE PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. I confess, I have hacked at my sins for too long, like weeds that won’t stop. It has not worked. The more I focus on my sin the more I am focused on my sin. I am ready to turn the complete totality of my focus to you, Jesus. I want to consecrate you as Lord of my heart. I think I may have done that before, but I want to do it again, and again, and again, until I have done it and then do it again. You are so worth it, Jesus. Holy Spirit, open this way of displacement for me and give me the joy of seeing all that is old and broken in me displaced by you. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.

THE QUESTION

Does this contrast between replacement and displacement help you? “Perfect love casts out fear.” Isn’t that another way of saying it. Jesus is Perfect Love, right?  

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

P.S.  332/365

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I revere Christ in Centering Prayer. It’s a way of letting go of anything or anyone that keep me distracted from keeping Christ front and center. I would be interested in knowing if you have found a method of being still before the Lord. Of praying and worshipping Jesus without words.
    Blessed & Blessings, Bob

  2. JD, what you’ve written today confirms a central thought that’s taking up residence in my brain as of late. It’s echoed in a lines of another familiar hymn: All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live. All to Jesus I surrender, Lord I give myself to Thee; Fill me withThy love and power, Let Thy blessing fall on me. In Jesus holy name I pray.

  3. According to the dictionary there’s very little difference between those two words. They’re pretty much synonyms. Both words mean to move something aside. I think the point you’re making doesn’t depend on which of those two words we use, but on who is doing the displacing/ replacing. Are we using our human effort to replace/displace a sin from our life or are we inviting the living Jesus to personally displace/replace that sin in within us?

    Full repentance doesn’t just push a particular sin aside. It openly and sorrowfully acknowledges a sin (confession) and humbly surrenders it to God in order to “prepare the way of the Lord”–to allow the risen Jesus to replace that sin with His presence and power (with the reality of the present-moment kingdom and government of God).

    If you don’t allow the living Jesus to be the Lord (the innermost Ruler and Displacer/Replacer) of your thoughts, desires, and emotions, He’s not your Lord at all. If you don’t lay down your efforts to replace your self-driven behaviors with religious-driven behaviors, you’ll be stuck on the treadmill of guilt-motivated human effort.

    • I’m with you on this Steve. (Sorry JD! I love what you do despite my agreement with Steve on this!) I can’t come up with two catchy terms that summarizes each perspective, but human effort versus divine displacement is the gist of it all.

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