The New Testament teaches us that the ground of our right relationship with God is the finished work of Christ on our behalf, laid hold of by faith. We are not made right with God or kept right with God by our good conduct or good works. Nonetheless, the New Testament also teaches us that how we conduct ourselves is an important component of the Christian life. We are urged over and over again to ‘walk in a manner worthy of the Lord’ (Col 1:10).
We are called to a distinctive way of living in the world; Peter says believers are to ‘be holy in all your conduct’ (v.15), ‘conduct yourselves with fear’ (v.17), ‘love one another earnestly’ in ‘obedience to the truth’ (v.22).
But even in his explicit attention to conduct, Peter consistently anchors his call for Christian conduct in theological truth. Specifically, he urges us in our conduct to carefully ponder, and then take our cues from, four preexisting, God-anchored realities.
‘Grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ’ (v.13). Though the fulfillment is yet to come, God has given us the promise of this future grace and he intends that promise to wield influence and to translate into prepared, courageous and sober-minded conduct now.
Second, Peter reminds us of the very character of God. Rather than taking our cues from our ignorant or godless desires, we are to directly model our conduct after God’s holiness.
Third, Peter calls us to a certain conduct based on the inestimable price of our redemption: ‘knowing that you were ransomed...with the precious blood of Christ’ (v. 18-19). Consider Christ’s death on your behalf, Peter tells us, and let that amazing sacrifice shape how you live
Lastly, Peter speaks to us of the very source of our life – ‘since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God’(v.23). Then you should act in a way that reflects this source of life. Both the quality and content of God’s word shapes our conduct. Ultimately, what we need to see is that God is not calling for our obedience in a vacuum but in light of the richness of his goodness to us in the gospel.