1 Peter 1:14 – “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.”
Ignorance is a word that we don’t use a lot. In fact sometimes we find it offensive. If someone says we are ignorant it offends us and we certainly puff up at the thought that we have been described in such a manner. However the word ignorance actually just means “without knowledge.” So in reality the word ignorance does not have to be seen as an insult and if we just few it as an offensive word then we are ignorant of its meaning.
The reality is that all people are ignorant in many ways. We are without knowledge in regards to many things. If you were to call me and ask me to come and fix your car I wouldn’t be very helpful because I am ignorant of how cars operate. It’s not insulting it is just true.
What then does Peter mean when he tells the first century church, “don’t be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance?” Certainly he is talking to them about their relationship with Jesus and he is meaning that before they met Jesus they were ignorant. He is just stating a fact. Before they became followers of Jesus they were ignorant of Him and His grace. That is why they lived the way they did, that is why they pursued the things they pursued. That is why they chased after their passions. They were without the knowledge of Jesus so no one should have expected them to live like a Christ-follower. Peter isn’t insulting them (or anyone who doesn’t know Jesus), he is just stating a fact. They acted they way they acted because it was their nature. They acted the way they acted because they were born with the ability to put themselves first, we are all born that way. They acted in sin and chased after the world because they were without the knowledge of Jesus.
Now however things are different. Now they know God as their Father, now they know His grace, now they know His truth and His promises. Now they are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, so know since that are no longer ignorant of Jesus (they know Him), they are to be different.
Peter’s words were a wake up call to that early church and they are a wake up call to us today. We are no longer ignorant of Jesus, if we claim to be His followers then we know Him and if we know Him we can’t live the way we lived before. We have to live differently, not gratifying our old self, but now living to glorify God. We have put off the old self, with its ignorance and we have put on Christ so now we are to live for His glory. And as Richard Baxter put it living that way is not just “staying away from worldly passions, but instead it is living to glorify God and please Him.” It is living intentionally for the glory of God. May we not live the way we used to, but may we be different, changed by God’s grace and living for God’s glory.