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(NASB)
Peter's letter is mainly addressed to Jewish Christians, who were residing as aliens in foreign parts, and scattered throughout Gentile territories. No doubt, many had fled from the severe persecution that took place in those early days of the Church. The tone of this letter demonstrates the genuine love Peter felt for these believers and he encourages them to develop the same, sincere love for one another that he has towards them.
The fruit of his ministry was being displayed in the lives of many of these saints. Peter knew that they were chosen, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit. His earnest desire was that they continue to obey the Lord Jesus, in thought, word, and deed, and be sprinkled with His cleansing blood. His prayer for his readers is that God's grace and peace would flood their hearts in the fullest measure.
Peter would never forget the love that Jesus showed to him, when he denied his Saviour three times, and no doubt the heart-desire of this aging apostle was to obey His command to feed the sheep of Christ's pasture that were in his care, and to nourish the little lambs in His flock. He, therefore, encourages them to prepare their minds for action in the difficult days they were facing, and to be sober in spirit and in soul.
He urged them to fix their hope completely on the grace they received when they first heard, believe the glorious gospel of grace, and understand their salvation was through faith in Jesus Christ alone. He encouraged them to be obedient children to the truth of the gospel and not to be conformed to the former lusts of the flesh, in which they engaged ignorantly before their great salvation.
Peter never wanted them to forget that the Holy One of Israel, Who called them from darkness into His glorious light, and so he instructed them to be holy in all their behavior, all the days of their life. His desire for these scattered saints was that they reflect the holy character of the Lord Himself, Who said, "Be holy for I am holy." Peter knew, only too well, how easy it is for our fallen nature to stray from the path of righteousness and wrote, "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." Since you have been declared righteous, by faith in Christ - love one another wholeheartedly.
The love the Saviour had for this blustery fisherman was being translated into a godly love for those in Peter's own charge. Peter wanted them - and us, and ALL who believe the truth of the gospel, to keep our hearts pure and to obey Christ's own command to love others as Christ loves us, to develop a sincere love of the brethren, to fervently love one another from the inner depths of our hearts, and not to love with a hypocritical heart or insincerity of spirit.
The love about which Peter was talking was not the brotherly love we have for people we like or the romantic love of the emotions. Peter was calling them, and us, to love others as Christ loved us - with a sacrificial love, that can only come from a heart that has been saved by grace through faith in Christ - a heart that is in fellowship with the Father, through a cleansed heart that is walking in spirit, and in obedience to the truth.
Because we have a new-life in-Christ, and have been made a new creature through faith in Him, we have been given all we need for life and godliness, and Peter is reminding us that we have a responsibility to live our lives in a way that honours the Lord. We are to maintain a heart that is cleansed and free from defilement. We are to preserve a state of moral purity. We are to remember that at the point of our salvation we were declared righteous in God's eyes, through faith, and have a duty to continue in holiness of heart, by standing on the truth of the gospel and allowing our conduct to reflect the character of Christ - through the power of the indwelling Spirit.
We cannot purify our own heart. We manufacture a sincere love for the brethren. We are unable to fervently love one another in our own strength. He purified our soul at the point of salvation and continues to purify it day by day, as we confess our sin, keep ourselves in fellowship with Him and obey the truth of His Word. Godly conduct only comes from a godly character, and a godly character only comes from Christ - as we remain in Him and He in us.
As believers, we are the most privileged people on this earth, for we know that our citizenship is in heaven and that we have an inheritance that is being kept for us. We are blessed beyond compare because, in obedience to God's Word, we have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. We have been obedient to the truth - through FAITH.
And as we continue to purify our heart and soul through living a life of faith, in obedience to Christ's commands, He will pour into our heart that sincere love for the brethren, that only comes through faith in Him - for we can only fervently love one another from the heart as the love of Christ streams into our soul and out to others.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in obedience to Your Word of truth I have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin, and have had my sin-sick soul cleansed by His blood and purified, through faith in Him. I pray that I would develop a sincere love for all my brothers and sisters in Christ. Give me a Christlike love, I pray. Develop in me a sacrificial love, so that I may fervently love others from the heart. I pray that I would grow in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and that He would increase and I would decrease until it is not I that live, but Christ that lives in me, and His love that flows through me. This I pray in Jesus' name, AMEN.