Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth, through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever. (1 Peter 1:22–23—NKJV)

It is always in the spring of the year that my mind returns to this famous passage. In backyards across America, dirt is being turned over and the soil is being amended for the reception of the “seeds of a bountiful harvest.” Every gardener has planned his planting to include some brand-new hybrids, maybe a few never-before-grown varieties, and, of course, some tried-and-true, good, old-fashioned standbys. The orders are in.

Most of the purchases are packets of seeds. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and all with a date printed on the packet. There are various expiration dates to the seeds. Seeds are perishable. I will never forget my great disappointment as a novice gardener when the lettuce seeds I so carefully rewrapped in the inner tin foil envelope failed to spring to life for a second spring! Care must be taken to get the most harvest out of every packet!

Even when the seed is handled according to the directions, the usefulness of the seed is limited. The seed holds the promise of life within and, when it germinates, the cover of the seed is discarded by the plant. Though it may be raised a little out of the soil as the young stalk reaches for the sun, the husk soon drops to the soil beneath and returns to the dust.

Our text uses this fact of earthbound life to point out to the reader that the Word of God is not earthbound. Peter calls the Bible the “incorruptible seed.” The Greek word is indicative of not being liable to decay, destruction, marring, defilement, or reduction to a worse state. 1 Peter 1:4 informs the believer that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead has “begotten us again to a living hope…to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled [without defect or flaw] and that does not fade away [not dry up or whither], reserved in heaven for you.” The opposite idea of inevitable, total destruction is applied to false teachers and their teachings in 2 Peter 2:12 using the same Greek root word.

The “seed” of the incorruptible Word of God is different than any other seed on this earth. The seed we buy is designed to be buried so that the life within it may be revealed, grow, and the seed is sloughed off with the emerging life. In the case of the Bible as life-bearing seed, the incorruptible seed takes root in a corrupted life and grows up within, demonstrating living characteristics while all that is earthbound (including the works of the flesh) is sloughed off. Only the Word remains.

The passage pictures the Word of God springing as life within our lives—thus we are born again (verse 23). The characteristics of this dynamic life of the Word of God are found in verse 22. As God quickens the new believer, he begins to move in the sphere of God’s truth, the new, living dynamic of the Word of God (because its chief attribute is truth). The incorruptible truth must be obeyed or there will always be consequences that are sure to follow. Obedience to God’s truth leads to purifying of the soul both in the past, at the point of salvation as verse 22a teaches, and in the everyday cleansing of practical sanctification. Truth informs life.

As the believer aligns to the Word and its truth gains ascendancy in his life, the fleshly life sloughs off and what remains is genuine brotherly love of unfeigned natural affinity for fellow saints (verse 22b). Truth informs life and truth also informs likes.

The incorruptible seed of the Word of God produces the vibrant planting of fervent (strain, stretch to the limits) love (selfless love based on choice, like God’s love for us) for one another out of a pure heart (verse 22c). Truth informs life, likes, and loves. This is the real life within every believer. It is the real life upon which each saint ought to focus his efforts. It is the life of the incorruptible Word of the Lord before which all other desires are to slough off. How authentic and lasting is your life in Christ that you display to a watching world? Trust and obey.