Tag: Obedience

Understanding and Honoring Your Wife

1 Peter 3:7 

An area of culture where so much turned on its head, mixed up and confused – how should people relate to one another and themselves? Has prompted development of whole new collection of words as people struggle to express themselves. Rapidly getting to place where anything goes and no one has the right to challenge how another thinks or acts. Are a number of factors involved in promoting these sorts of developments, one of most fundamental comes from mankind’s fallenness:

When Miley Cyrus sat down with Out magazine, she explained: “I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.”

The God who made all things including man and woman did not leave it up to mankind to figure these things out on their own. Gave clear instruction preserved in his word the Bible about how many genders he made, what his expectations are for each gender. Included how he intends men and women to relate to one another. Satan grasps significance of this far better than most people, why he is working so diligently to deceive and confuse. Satan’s progress has profound effect throughout all of society including the church.

Last specific category Peter addresses here is husbands, how husbands are to regard their wives and relate to them. If you really want to be noticed, take Peter’s instruction to heart and put into practice. And don’t put too much stock in negative push-back you might get – at its heart is rebellion against God and his design for mankind. Represents a way of life, system of choices destined for destruction, also by God’s design.

Individuals and corporations and governments are spending countless hours and dollars to save the planet from greenhouse gases and climate change and single-use plastics and population growth. Yet God’s word the Bible tells us Jesus came to seek and save the lost, not the planet. Is carrying out his plan, extending his kingdom here on earth through the church. “Christ loved the church and gave himself for her”. Has given his people a way to display / picture / model that love for all the world to see. Peter outlines three principles to guide husbands as they relate to their wives – understanding, honoring and inheriting.

A. understanding

her

ladies, might wonder how husbands get away with only one verse instruction to your six – see what you think after we unpack this one verse

husbands, God calls you to immense task and responsibility, one that may seem impossible – it really is, apart from God’s help

understand your wife: her physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual strengths and weaknesses – her strengths are for your benefit, your strengths for her support and protection

to know your wife this way takes time, attention, conversation and communication, observation, devotion, lots of it

you

understand your own physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual strengths and weaknesses – rely on wife’s strengths, that’s why God gave her to you, to be a fitting complement to you

use your own strengths to encourage wife’s growth and development, work on improving own areas of weakness where possible

understand your own tendencies to take undue advantage of wife and her abilities, guard against doing so

God

need to understand God, his ways, his word well enough to be spiritual leader your wife needs, helping her apply Bible to life

there are all the ways the world says to indulge and affirm your wife, then there is God’s way – husband needs to know the difference, live accordingly, help your wife to be content in that

B. honoring

cherish

“Cherish is the word I use to describe / All the feeling that I have hiding here for you inside” (1966) – sort of describe it, don’t really define or give synonym for this really good word

“treat with tenderness and affection; hold as dear; treat in a manner to encourage growth” – Webster, 1828

hold your wife in high regard in thought, speech and action – if you don’t think highly of her, you will treat her accordingly, both speech and action will communicate that to others

protect

NOTICE: Peter says to honor your wife as a weaker vessel, not because she is weaker – at times she may be far stronger than husband, in some ways may always be weaker, that is not the point

are to relate to your wife with consideration and deference that should be shown to one who deserves to be cherished and protected

is husband’s duty to see that wife is not harmed by mistreatment either from himself or others – husband is protector, defender

goes for the home, too – husband sets model for honoring the wife, has duty to require proper honor from children

requires continual awareness, sensitivity to (especially) emotional/spiritual demands on wife, awareness of vulnerability

provide

is expected the husband will provide for needs of wife and family – man leaves father/mother, assumes responsibility for his own family beginning with wife

Peter may not have known about 21st century economics but Holy Spirit did – model here is of primary dependence being of wife on husband, not other way round

C. inheriting

companionship

fellow-heirs – walking together along same path toward shared goal of spiritual inheritance, being sure not to risk other’s inheritance

means everything else that makes up relationship – priorities, values, choices – should be consistent with joint spiritual goal

gets back to what makes for thorough understanding: time, attention, conversation and communication… not hiding out in “man cave” and leaving wife to fend for herself – wife should be best friend

anticipation

difficulties in companionship easily interfere with that spiritual goal and progress toward it – spiritual piece of relationship often first casualty when there is conflict

husband-wife relationship should have future always in view – how does what is happening relationally now impact heaven

D. modeling

for your family

from before they can understand principles, boys should see demonstrated how a man honors his wife, grow up to be men who do similarly for own family

girls should see first-hand how a godly husband treats his wife, look for same in their own husband, not settle for any less

should go without saying – ought to be the way of it outside the home as well; reinforcing example of other godly men in the church; demonstrating healthy family for neighbors to see

for the world

Christian husbands and wives need to get it right now more than ever – because of how culture has changed, never been easier to be noticed

remember what Paul said: in so many words, relationship between husband and wife pictures to the world the love Christ has for his church – getting it wrong distorts that picture, dishonors Christ and his church

Yes, we have example of Christ, how he lived and died. But studying an example does not make one an expert. Yet, these are not suggestions. Are exhortations to act in certain way, only possible in full dependence on God – indwelling Holy Spirit to change, instruct, direct. Lord Jesus and his example to inspire us. Since we are heirs of salvation, already have down payment of Holy Spirit to equip and enable us to live pleasing to God.

 

…the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. Adam lost a rib, and without any diminution to his strength or comeliness (for, doubtless, the flesh was closed without a scar); but in lieu thereof he had a help meet for him, which abundantly made up his loss: what God takes away from his people he will, one way or other, restore with advantage. In this (as in many other things) Adam was a figure of him that was to come; for out of the side of Christ, the second Adam, his spouse the church was formed, when he slept the sleep, the deep sleep, of death upon the cross, in order to which his side was opened, and there came out blood and water, blood to purchase his church and water to purify it to himself. Matthew Henry

 

Biblical Beauty

1 Peter 3:1-6 

If a fellow wants to live dangerously, good way to do it is address… publicly… what Peter declares in our text – things like woman’s attitude toward husband, what defines beauty, appropriate fashion choices. Certainly topics that can easily raise the temperature in mixed company. People have strong opinions, not only about topics themselves, but also opinions on who has a right to express an opinion about them. If Peter’s theme is “Pilgrims Living Counter-Culturally”, he nails the counter-cultural part right here.

Many would say Peter is old-fashioned, hundreds of years past sell-by date, waste of time to give any consideration. So, for starters, look at condition of family in our land, divorce rate, number of children who do not live with one or both parents… and tell me how it’s working. If the world’s measure of beauty and attractiveness is accurate, why are those who spend the most on being beautiful the most miserable people who have few if any enduring relationships? Just for practical reasons, ought to give Peter a listen. Most important, this is God’s word, given to all generations – needs no defense, needs no apology, simply needs to be heard and heeded.

Another very important point needs to be made – this text along with verse 7 shamefully mistreated… by professed Christians! Don’t need to get into all the sordid details, fall into 2 general categories – trying to make text say what it does not, not allowing it to say what it means. Yes, Peter wrote to group of people living in 1st century Greco-Roman culture. Knowing that helps us understand some issues they were facing. At same time, Peter wrote to the church, believers living in the world as pilgrims. Is true of our text – verses 1 thru 6 addressed to Christian married women, verse 7 to Christian married men. Focus of Peter’s instruction on how married Christian men and women should behave so as to please God.

We will see as we go along, kind of beauty Peter describes not one that is put on in front of the mirror, taken off later. Is rather a beauty, an attractiveness rooted in the character of the person and reflected in their appearance. Attractiveness first expressed in the home, carries over into rest of life.

A. words vs. life  v.1-2

voluntary submission

willingly following leadership of husband – remember who the example is, “likewise”, Peter has just drawn attention to Lord Jesus as model for us to follow

submission can’t be a bad thing if Jesus practiced it – “I must be about my Father’s business”; “not my will but yours be done”

then there is Paul’s concise summary of much OT teaching, “husbands, love your wives…” and marriage as picture of Christ/church

Peter looks at relationship in other direction, relationship between church and Christ – attitude and  behavior of wife toward husband intended to picture how church should think and act toward Christ

especially needful when husband not saved – wife who has proper relationship with husband because she loves Christ has much more credible / persuasive witness

powerful silence

secondary point – things that apply to “mixed” marriage, saved wife and unsaved husband – addressed remarks to wives, makes application to some

by no means endorsing marriage of believer/unbeliever, situation came about after marriage… and seems to be minority position in the church – “even if some”

whether husband is saved or not, nagging is not the way to get him to shape up, especially when wife has areas needing improvement

also not endorsement of silence as weapon – needs to be healthy communication, expressions of belief, backed up by consistent behavior

purity of life

are countless ways wife can communicate volumes without ever saying a word – am sure ladies know what I’m referring to – way things are done… or left; what is attended to first… and last; facial expressions, the look, eye roll

when general character of day by day life is that of pure and reverent conduct, that is something God can use to change husband

notice kind of change in view: may be won over to obedience to the word – is just as applicable to saved husbands as unsaved

ladies, don’t get in a huff – husband’s turn comes next week, DV – for now, if husband is not all you’d like, first check character of own life and kind of relationship you have

B. appearance vs. substance  v.3-4

maybe more choices, greater expenditure by Westerners on things related to appearance, by no means only ones who pay attention to such things

spend billions of dollars decorating the outside, next to nothing developing the inside of the person – not biblical order of priority

modest accessories

should be accessories, not center of attention – this is not criticism of attention to appearance: should look like we appreciate who God has made us to be and take reasonable care of it

at same time, things that are put on should complement beauty God has already given – should not draw attention to things of secondary importance

here’s the important thing – God doesn’t expect/approve use of accessories to try to appear as someone other than who you really are

God wants his people to be truthful in more than just their words, sincere and honest in all they communicate

the real you

what is of greatest value to God is the person that you are, not the body in which you live – is your person that gives life and beauty to your appearance, transforms average into attractive and beautiful

which brings up another important point: what are you investing time and treasure in… things you put on or take off… or… the inner person of the heart

lasting beauty

thanks to a couple’s choices in the Garden, maintaining unchanging external appearance is losing battle, no matter how hard someone tries to make it otherwise

not the same with the real you, the inner person, that endures throughout this life and into next life – can in fact improve with age

especially so when diligent effort is made to cultivate a “gentle and quiet spirit” – God’s word and Spirit essential to making that happen, permeating person from inside out

C. courageous goodness  v.5-6

holy heroines

Sarah just one of many who demonstrate truth of what Peter says – could include people from own personal experience

are also those who were used by God in conversion of husbands – not guarantee, but God does work that way on occasion

winning combination

trust in God – developing and demonstrating kind of beauty God treasures is impossible apart from trust in him… continually

is especially needful in difficult situations, when it is hard to remain faithful in face of hardship or opposition

do good – must trust in God to supply wisdom and strength and (often) the courage to do good, to be kind of wife God can use to bring about his purpose in home and church

What will serve best to develop and enhance kind of beauty Peter writes about is closeness to Christ – committing to knowing Christ, following Christ, serving Christ by serving others. Others will see and respond to that kind of beauty, will be encouraged by it, will be drawn to the one who supplies it.

 

The Meaning of the Cross

1 Peter 2:21-25

Couple weeks ago, Supreme Court issued decision re: Peace Cross, Bladensburg, MD, 10 miles from White House.

“The cross was chosen because it was reminiscent of the fields of crosses marking the graves of fallen soldiers buried overseas. On the pedestal supporting the cross is a bronze plaque with the names of the 49 soldiers from Prince George’s County who gave their lives in World War I.”

87-page decision in American Legion v. American Humanist Association – not only in 1st century, the cross and its message is still foolishness in 21st century.

Apostle Paul made abundantly clear in first letter to church at Corinth:

1 Cor. 1:18 Read it

Didn’t discourage Paul or cause change of mind, also makes plain preaching the cross of Christ not something he did by accident:

1 Cor. 2:1-5 Read it – I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

1 Cor. 15:3  I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 

Cross was central in Peter’s theology also. Has given instruction how we as followers of Christ should behave in public, our civic responsibilities, and in workplace. Has set high standard, the example of Lord Jesus, maybe one you think is impossible to meet. Wait until we get to part about husbands and wives!! Now before you get discouraged and hang it up, Peter has more to say… about the cross. If we are to live as pilgrims in the world, going against tide of culture, can only do it in power of the cross.

A. perfect example  v.21-23

how to live

Jesus lived purposely – intentionally living out his life as first Adam should have – walked carefully, leaving clear footprints for us

Jesus did not set bar of example impossibly high so we could never achieve it – simply lived and acted pleasing to God, showing us how to do it and made sure Gospels had the record preserved for us

how to die

here’s something that really goes contrary to culture today, including here in Maine – governor signed Maine Death with Dignity Act into law on June 12, 2019

wonder what advocates of bill would think about crucifixion, whether meets definition of dignity – Jesus didn’t protest against it, try to find way to avoid it

Jesus’ intent was to satisfy / please Father in death as in life – expects his people to follow in those footsteps just like the rest

don’t buy the (New Age) lie

w/o question, Jesus said he is the way… to the Father, not to godhood  like New-Agers claim – he showed us the way to live pleasing to the Father but not apart from Jesus

common practice with apprenticeships – show/instruct how to do it, watch apprentice do it, then “you’re on your own” – Jesus never said that to his followers

another thing Jesus never said… that we could ever satisfy God’s demands apart from him – in fact he said just the opposite, John 15:5 

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

B. problematic implementation  v.24

power of sin

as soon as we try to follow Jesus’ example, immediately find out there’s a problem – if are walking in his footsteps, should only be one set of prints behind us – go ahead, look, what do you see?

there you see power of sin over our best intentions – pushing, pulling, persuading to wander away from path Jesus’ walked

if were up to us to set standard, would figure out way to accommodate weakness, failure – drop the bar a few notches

power of the cross

instead of taking standard down, he took our sins up with him, paid full penalty

“This, the pow’r of the cross: Christ became sin for us; Took the blame, bore the wrath—We stand forgiven at the cross.”

what Jesus accomplished by his willing sacrifice intended to change how we live and die… as well as what comes after death

is only the power of the cross that breaks power of sin – to condemn us, to enslave us – can be enticed by it, need not be slave to sin

our only hope is in coming to the cross, embracing the Jesus who died there as Savior and Lord, fully depending on him and his righteousness

purpose of the cross

far more than simple insurance policy – embracing Christ does relieve of punishments of hell, does not leave us in our sin

is why God graciously prevented Adam & Eve from tree of life – is committed to fully redeeming us from corruption / condemnation from sin… beginning at moment of conversion

die to sin – dead person does not respond to anything, no matter how tempting – one who is dying to sin does not respond

since we stand forgiven at the cross, are new creatures in Christ, have power as well as desire to resist sin’s enticements

as Holy Spirit applies truth from God’s word to us, we follow Spirit’s leading, side effects of sin gradually being flushed away

live for righteousness – here’s purpose of the cross declared… not simply that we should live forever but live for righteousness – iow, “that [we] should follow his steps”

purpose not to empower us to earn God’s favor – clear reminder given: “by [his] stripes you were healed” – is Jesus’ merit, Jesus’ righteousness applied to us that gives us right standing with God

is Jesus’ power that comes to us through ministry of the Holy Spirit that equips us to live for righteousness

C. provided facilitator  v.25

shows the way – Shepherd

a shepherd leads his flock, doesn’t drive them – sheep literally follow shepherd’s steps – our shepherd has followed path all the way: life, death, heaven

Jesus doesn’t give followers GPS, expect to figure out how to get there – dozens trying to avoid traffic jam in Denver ended up stuck in mud on farm road

one driver: “There is no way that Google could have known that that was the situation out there.”

keeps his people on the way – Overseer

notice what Shepherd Overseer cares about – souls… not bodies – Jesus the only one who has resources necessary to guard our souls

because of who he is and what he has done, everyone who follows Jesus can have absolute confidence – he knows what he is doing, where he is going, will not take wrong turn or lose any along the way

The cross means God’s standard is not impossible… not because of man’s effort but because of God’s grace. For sake of his son the Lord Jesus, he accepts us as righteous and pleasing to him… when we do our part, depending / trusting him to help us. We do not need to see road ahead, only need to see one step at a time, make sure is Jesus’ footprints we are following.

People we all know, ones we will meet who are enslaved by all sorts of things, are powerless to overcome. Remember what Paul said: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Is a message of hope and encouragement for all who will listen… including us.

 

Called to Suffer

1 Peter 2:18-23 

Need to guard against imposing 21st century stereotypes on terms Peter uses – servant and master. 1st century Roman culture structured differently from ours today, weren’t all the same categories. In Peter’s day, for most part were either servant/slave or master… either had slaves or were a slave. Either had someone to do your work for you or you did it for yourself.

“it must be remembered that 1st-century slaves were generally well-treated and were not only unskilled laborers but often managers, overseers, and trained members of the various professions (doctors, nurses, teachers, musicians, skilled artisans). There was extensive Roman legislation regulating the treatment of slaves. They were normally paid for their services and could expect eventually to purchase their freedom.” [Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 1 Peter; Grudem, 124]

Now, in the church, many of those distinctions removed… in some cases reversing the cultural order of things. Slave with gifts and calling to be teacher or pastor in local church could easily have opportunity to instruct his master! Most often slaves, household servants [οἰκέτης (household servant), not δοῦλος (bondslave) or θεράπων (servant)] had pagan masters, some of whom were good and gently, others were not.

Peter’s exhortation to readers: have a servant heart even when that means you are called to suffer as Jesus did. Keep in mind also, suffering Peter is talking about does not always involve physical discomfort. Are other kinds of suffering often harder to bear than physical pain. Primarily in view here slave / master relationship, closest parallel today the employee / employer one. Not limited only to that, applies to every situation where we are charged with meeting expectations of another.

A. servants are to submit  v.18-20

proper attitude

there’s that word again… submit – is kind of attitude that positions well so as to perform well – hard to do good job when attitude toward supervisor/manager stinks

right attitude doesn’t depend on circumstances – Jesus’ example and expectations are enough reason to have / maintain right spirit

not stated but surely is implied, attitude should not be on roller coaster – will be exceptions, but even during those times attitude toward master should be one that pleases God

proper work habits

something fewer and fewer in our present cultural setting understand – how to work, how to learn skill and use it well, show up on time/work all shift, performing to limit of ability

“doing good” is what God expects – can take that two ways, doing task well, doing what is for good of another person

first thing is to carry out task to best of ability, doing it well, gaining rep for good workmanship and producing high quality results

rest of it: doing task in such a way that it produces good for others incl. master – make widgets efficiently and well so co. profits

proper response

will be times you do best possible, meet or exceed expectations, still get criticized / penalized in some way – take it patiently

less obvious, exceed all performance goals for six months, should receive nice pay increase, get nothing – need to maintain performance, not work down to what you think wage is worth

what about assigned task that violates conscience – preparing for or participating in worship of idol, doing what is unethical or illegal – do what is right in God’s eyes

similar scenario – do what is right in God’s eyes but not master’s: singing hymns, carrying Bible, witnessing – are treated unjustly… is commendable, finds favor with God

proper motivation

told twice: if you suffer unjustly (wrongfully) is commendable; do good and suffer, take it patiently, commendable before God

all this master / servant stuff playing out on world stage before audience… that includes God… and is his “well done” you want

what you do does not define who you are, nor does place you work – any number of occupations incl. retired, places incl. home, important thing is working for God and his approval

B. servants are called to suffer  v.21

don’t be surprised

suffering comes with the calling… to follow Christ – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matt. 16:24 

the cross is in Jesus’ statement for a reason – Christianity not for sissies, not for those afraid of hardship, will include suffering

best help for enduring well is to be prepared – know who to trust (God), what resources (Bible and believers), the goal (heaven)

Christ suffered

since the Forerunner, the one we are following suffered, should expect we will probably suffer also… plus he said so

we think of Jesus’ suffering occurring Thursday night thru Sunday morning – forget his entire earthly existence one of suffering

Isa. 53:3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

we are to follow him

purposely left example for us: ὑπογραμμὸν – under-writing; penmanship examples, dotted patterns; Family Circus, trail kid followed

has left enough of his footprints in Gospels to know where path goes – is not really optional, Jesus expects us to follow

is by following Jesus’ footprints that we can be certain of reaching our destination – when we get off track, look to him, he picks us up and puts us on path again

C. the Servant’s example of suffering  v.22-23

all his suffering was unjust

some suffering is justified, Peter hinted at that in v.20 – “what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults”

Pilate was more right than he probably knew – “I find no fault in this Man” (Luk. 23:4) – there was none to be found

did not respond to evil with more evil

certainly had plenty of opportunity to give people dose of own medicine – and had the power to make it happen if he chose

didn’t do so himself, told his followers to not go down that road, fixed damage they caused when they did (Malchus’ ear)

did not exercise his rights

think about who Jesus really was – “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” 

had a right as Creator, as God the Son to whatever he wanted – instead “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

example he left us is one of humble service, suffering whatever indignities, disrespect, hardship sinful men sent his way

even when another might have told those who crucified him and bartered for his belongings “I’ll get you back for this”, he prayed for their forgiveness

did trust God

his last words before death, “Father, it’s all in your hands”…and he left it there – knew he could trust his Father with his present and his future

same God can be counted on for our present and future – if God really is in charge of it, can be certain none of the suffering that comes our way is excessive, unnecessary, outside God’s perfect plan

When suffering comes our way, need to do as Peter did – not get all wrapped up in how much we are suffering, how much we have to endure, how unjust it all is. Instead look for Jesus and the footprints he left behind for us to follow in.

Strength in Submission

1 Peter 2:13-17  

Remember audience and setting: many cases second-class citizens living in brutal pagan culture that glorified immoral behavior. Unwanted babies routinely abandoned and left to die. Sexual relationships of all kinds welcomed and affirmed privately and publicly throughout all levels of society. Entertainment was live and often barbaric, nearly anything could be bought for a price. Human life had little intrinsic value, among upper classes suicide often considered the honorable solution. Was well-developed system of laws, many of its basic principles still in practice today around the world.

Were substantial differences between then and now; at same time many parallels. Peter’s instructions just as important for us to understand and follow as initial readers among the Dispersion. Peter has laid foundation for the Pilgrim Life, here he begins to give more detail in particular spheres of life – civic arena and citizenship issues (2:13); the workplace and relationships with employees/employers (2:18); family life and husband/wife relations (3:1,5); finally, social relationships in general (5:5).

For each of these spheres/topics Peter uses same word, one we like when applied to someone else way more than when is expected of us: submit/submission. What Peter has in mind is voluntary, not compulsory submission. Involves both way of thinking and way of behaving. A primary reason for living in this way: silence those who would find fault with us for being followers of Christ.

Starts right out with how we should relate to that institution often seen as necessary evil… government. Doesn’t stop there, even in this short paragraph. Wraps up with summary that addresses relationships with everyone, fellow believers, God himself and government leaders.

A. good citizens  v.13-14

law-keepers

matters not where citizenship is, are expected to follow laws of place where you are – true when traveling around world, equally true for us as pilgrims in this world

Peter expects voluntary willing law-keeping, to greatest extent possible – only when civil authority forbids obedience to God or requires disobedience of God is civil disobedience justified

for the Lord’s sake

he gets to practical motivators… but they are not first – is more important reason, loyalty to and love for Christ coupled with desire to please Him in all things

lawlessness of any kind is destructive… of relationships, property, societies, nations, even life itself – all that the opposite of God’s design for man and the world

at all levels

expectation of submission to authority not limited to the one at the top – all of civil government ordained by God for purpose

when it pays strict attention to God’s intent – punish evildoers, encourage righteous – civil authority good for a society… when they are generally law-abiding citizens

with loving accountability

true for all but especially so when have civil freedoms/responsibilities like ours – can have a part in electoral and legislative process

can submit to civil authority and at same time do all we can to encourage that authority to act according to God’s plan for it

submission does not equal silence, it does shape how we speak and act – when gov’t gets off track, work to get it back on track

B. good deeds  v.15-16

doing the right thing – doing good

too often Christians known for what they are against – drinking, dancing, movies, gays, drugs, abortion, Communists, endless list

Peter tells us is God’s will that we be known for “doing good” – Paul agrees… does not say overcome evil with tougher laws, fewer guns, different President, says “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21)

in the right way – as free

submission to authority / expectation to do good not intended by God to be burdensome – designed to be a guide to freedom

Christ-followers freed from bondage to sin and death are freest people of all… regardless of any other details of circumstances

with the right motive – to serve God

no one has absolute freedom, in fact everyone is a slave – Rom. 6:16 “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”

we should do what is right and pleasing to God because he is our Master and he has freed us from slavery in sin to serve him, iow, b/c we love him

expecting right results – and silence critics

this kind of behavior – submitting to authority and doing good – foolish, wrong-headed, doomed to failure, laughable, many other ridiculous things… according to world and culture

yet God guarantees it will successfully carry out plan he has designed and intends – no such assurance for all the other ways

C. good relationships  v.17

neighbors – all

not a case of honor the king, tolerate everyone else; love the brotherhood, put up with the rest of the world… not how Jesus did it, not how he expects us to live either

honor everyone, treat everyone as having value – they do, we all do; no matter how terribly defaced it is, all people bear image of God and have value

whether we like their lifestyle, approve choices, agree with what they support or not, are to be honored as people of value to God

believers – the brotherhood

higher standard for fellow-Christians – are to put their interests and well-being ahead of our own in way that can be observed

remember what Jesus said: John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

God

“Fear of God is a combination of affectionate love and deep respect, joined to an awareness of majesty.” Maoz

put it all together – love, respect, awe – is what should motivate / encourage service to God, obedience to his commands

government – the king

no escape clauses – honor the office, honor if this or if not that – also means we should look for those things about the “king” that are worthy of honor and make sure we honor him

btw, we show love/honor/respect for the King we cannot see by properly honoring the king we can see

Sending mixed messages – God’s word commands to submit and yet often most visible/vocal action is resistance of some kind. Encouraged to call Chris/Senator Collins, tell her to vote against…; march in parade against…; stand on sidewalk and protest against… Might ask “what else can we do, issues and problems too big for a few to make much difference”.

One example: Maine statistics: churchangel.com – 1499 churches;  abort73.com/abortion_facts/states/ – 2017: 1,959 abortions

What if, instead of trying to make it harder to take life of unborn, we worked to make it easier to rescue unwanted children? …and then worked to do just that (with or without gov’t help), rescuing babies from death and their mothers from condemnation and misery? If one family from each church in Maine adopted one unwanted child, maybe others  encouraged and helped the other 460 mothers to keep their babies, would that not do good?

Easy or hard, popular or not, God’s will for us is that we use the strength he provides us in submission to his will in order to do good and silence our critics. iow, regardless of circumstances, Living for Jesus.

The Pilgrim Life

1 Peter 2:11-12

 Up to this point in letter, Peter has laid foundation for what comes next in more detail… some of the nuts and bolts of living counter-culturally. If primary privileges of Christians living in our kind of world are worship and witness, what does that look like? What principles give structure to that kind of living? And what is purpose / reason why God would have us to live that way?

If God is truly sovereign over all his creation, then certain things follow: time and place of your birth were by God’s appointment. Same is true for all details of life until now. Including where you live, work and play, who neighbors and co-workers are… family too! And all for a purpose: your good and God’s glory…which includes the good of many around us.

Think about needs we observe in people – families are in crisis, relationships in total confusion, honesty/integrity/work ethic foreign concepts, and on it goes. Courage House opening soon on School Street – men living there had all kinds of opportunities to see life done wrong. If they are to become good citizens, need examples to follow. If are to become citizens of Christ’s kingdom, need to hear God’s truth and see it in action. Same is true for people in all walks of life with all sorts of histories and circumstances. Is where we come in, our text sets out basic principles to equip for that task.

A. a mindset to adopt

sojourners

temporary residents – are just here on tourist visa, visiting, not putting down roots – don’t despise good things of life, but… things we value most highly ought to be ones that endure to next life

interact with culture but do not become part of it – make sure things of world don’t become part of us… values, worldview, priorities – in too many cases world has changed the church, should be other way round

checked bags, not a moving van – content with necessities, blessed if we have more, quick to share / give away

pilgrims

travelers, appreciating sights and experiences – still is much good, beautiful in world that testifies to God’s creative power and grace

looking at sights going by as tourist, not commuter – seeing/enjoying with fresh eyes, recognizing God’s fingerprints

have not reached final destination – is true in all respects… as good as it gets, this life still far less than what awaits us

always mindful of end goal – heaven, yes, but what else in addition? conformed to his image, see him as he is, no more death/sorrow/crying/pain/sin

making regular movement toward goal… not content to stagnate, stay in one place

“…if we don’t hold the things of this life loosely and aren’t focused on God Himself and on being in heaven with Him as our goal, we are holding to a shallow form of Christianity. If we’re just living for the good life that being a Christian gives now, we wouldn’t last a minute under persecution. We wouldn’t endure much suffering. Nor would we withstand the many temptations to indulge in fleshly desires. The only thing that can steel us to endure suffering and to seek holiness in this wicked world is to live as pilgrims, bound for heaven.” [Steven Cole]

B. a war to fight

a campaign, not a battle

ongoing series of engagements – crafty enemy who never gives up, constantly changing to keep off balance, always deceptive

requires constant vigilance – may be return of same temptation… or different one – enemy continually probing to find weak spot

decisive (and final) battle fought and won by Christ – end is certain, he will prevail over all his and our enemies… when this age ends, not before – no opportunity to relax in this life

spiritual, not psychological

weapons used against us appeal to senses/desires – Gen. 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (taste), that it was pleasant to the eyes (sight), and a tree desirable to make one wise (mind), she took of its fruit and ate.”

target not simply mind and body but soul – cost Eve her life, will cost us in other ways… encourage to pursue temporal more than eternal things that feed/strengthen soul

cannot take away (eternal) life, can surely stunt growth – things that satisfy fleshly desires do not promote growth in godliness

is war we must fight with spiritual weapons – immersed in God’s word, depending wholly on God’s Spirit; world’s weapons only address symptoms, not cause

C. a lifestyle to maintain

excellence

good conduct – an honorable way of life, good neighbor / citizen / worker / parent, kind of person other “good” people want around

how you react to things at work, talk about friends, treat family, treat your stuff and what belongs to others

good deeds – things that promote happiness / well-being of others whether acknowledged by them or not – “let your light shine…” darker it is, easier to see light

good reputation – all this will rightly lead to a good reputation… but some from envy / hostility toward God may slander

influence

observed by others – will be “seen”, noticed by some… one of reasons why proper lifestyle is important – when people watch, need to see what is good and right and honorable

they change their opinion – should be significant motivator, that as unbelievers watch our lives they eventually give glory to God

may even come to faith – this what we pray for ultimately, that God would be merciful and change their opinion about Him

our influence should be such that those who speak against us have no evidence to prove their case, will bring them to faith if God so ordains

D. a day to remember

God will be glorified in mercy

not if but when – must not forget / lose sight of that Day, live in light of it – mindset and lifestyle should be consistent with belief that Jesus is coming back

many will receive mercy because of our conduct – encouragement to live well when is difficult/unpopular, will bring greater glory to God as others add their voices

all depends on God but… must be doing all in our power to encourage lost people to come to Christ, by both deed and word

God will be glorified in justice

many will persist in speaking against Christians – even when facts say otherwise, will still be those who malign, persecute

live the right way regardless – whether lost people come to faith ultimately up to God, he will receive glory when we live pleasing to him and… he will take care of his own

be encouraged, perfect justice will be served – regardless of outcome, God’s justice will not fail… just penalty for all sin will be paid, either at Calvary or in condemnation of lost

When we are living as faithful pilgrims in obedience to Christ, can count on his help and his commendation. That is what we really want, the Father’s “well done”. Everything else will come out right according to God’s plan when we do our part. Not because we are so great, because God and his grace are so great. 

What About My Rights?

1 Peter 2:4-10 

 Hear a lot about rights these days – civil rights, nonhuman rights, woman’s right to her body. Rights and freedoms and liberties certainly important, have their rightful place. While important, they are not of first importance to the follower of Christ. In Christ’s kingdom according to our text, is about privileges not rights.

Is important to keep distinctions straight:

members of armed forces we remember gave lives to secure and protect certain fundamental liberties… both for Americans and others

Lord Jesus gave his life to secure certain privileges… for all those who trust in him regardless of country of origin; privileges begin in this life, continue for all eternity

Is incumbent on all men everywhere to pursue and promote justice for all. But keep this in mind: Christ has his people, not only here in our fair land, but also among those living in most repressive and unjust places on earth. Christ’s kingdom knows no earthly boundaries, extends over all his domain. And… he encourages us to exercise our privileges faithfully and joyfully in all our circumstances.

Begins with coming to Christ, both the source of our life and the necessary focus of life. It is Christ who shows his people favor… reserved only for them. It is Christ who grants privileges and expects us to exercise them.

A. Christ is both source and focus

coming to Him (4)

a living stone – cornerstone gives life to entire building – of first importance, coming to Christ: coming to church / fellowship / faith, good but of little value apart from Christ and saving relationship with him

need life that Christ gives, foundation and orientation that Christ supplies as cornerstone – living person, not simply idea

rejected by men – here’s where it gets obviously counter-cultural: those outside of Christ set him aside, take from the rest; we take Christ, set all others aside (Lowe’s, HomeDepot)

chosen by God – we’re on same page as the Father, esteeming Christ as precious: cherished, beyond value, “my beloved Son…”

sacrifice to Him (5)

spiritual sacrifices – even more involved than OT lamb: not an event, is a way of life… continual devotion of all our being to Christ’s service, all we say / think / do

acceptable to God – not all roads lead to God… only sacrifices offered to God through Christ will he receive, deem acceptable

founded on Him (6-8)

the chief cornerstone – Paul boldly declared: “no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

priceless – no possible substitute, trusted as the foundation… we don’t go searching for another, don’t find fault with him

an offensive obstacle – just as we are destined to be made like Christ, those who die in their sins destined to trip over Christ

in sharing Gospel, Bible truth, people may / will respond badly… find Christ offensive, hard (even impossible) to accept

B. we are privileged

built up a spiritual house (5)

made of living stones – not mass produced like cement blocks or lumber… individually shaped to fit in particular place, function

particularly placed – remember who the Builder is, not just commanding it to be done but fashioning according to eternal plan

in a unified structure – our perspective, multiple churches/denominations; God’s perspective, a single house devoted to him

given honor (6)

world seeks to dishonor / discredit / dismiss – because they stumble over Christ, try to make his people appear insignificant, unimportant, to be ignored / avoided

cornerstone gives honor to entire building – especially true given who this cornerstone is, more precious than entire building

ultimately honor displayed before entire world – will share in Jesus’ ultimate victory over all enemies and glory given to conqueror

his own possession (9)

he chose us – those who are Christ’s have been picked out of the crowd, individually selected for different destiny – no boasting, is by grace alone

he bought us – mantra today among many: “my body, my choice” – Bible says we don’t belong to ourselves but to him

do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

he called us – were in darkness, unable to find own way out, not desiring to (men loved darkness…), only in the light by his call

have an identity (9a, 10a)

people of God – sin and Satan set people against one another, God brings together into a people, his people, his family

whether we know/want to admit personal family tree or not, are given a name/family/heritage that is honorable

fellow stones – no longer isolated/alone, have intimate connection with rest of family/building – are one people in union with one another and most importantly with Christ

chosen and holy royalty – not by own doing, is a position we were born again into… one of honor because of who the King is

have obtained mercy (10b)

not what we have earned – not anything that can be earned, is what comes to us from God because of who he is, because we are his by his free choice

not what we deserve – actually deserve condemnation… just like everyone else – “There is no other reason why the Lord counts us his people, except that he, having mercy on us, graciously adopts us.” Calvin

not what everyone else will receive – all apart from Christ receive exactly what they have earned / deserve… God’s perfect justice

C. and we have privileges

worship (5)  —  love God

blessed by the Spirit – a spiritual house – remember what Paul said, “body a temple of the Holy Spirit” – Spirit present here when God’s people are here, working to bless and equip as we worship

equipped to serve – a holy priesthood – primary focus of priesthood: service to God on behalf of others, a privilege not burden

given a privilege – offer up sacrifice – is God who established conditions of access to him… we worship him on his terms, not ours

when we, his people, come to him in the way he has established, have assurance he will receive us and accept our worship

witness (9)  —  love neighbor

dedicated… so that – chosen by God for a purpose, given privilege of working alongside God as he uses us to push forward his eternal plan of saving sinners

experienced… called out… into – all know what it was like to be in the dark, bound in sin, estranged from God, then brought into the light and freedom

may not know what slavery to food, extreme sports, drugs, pornography is like from personal experience – do know what more serious slavery… to sin… is like, can relate to those still in it

sent… proclaim his praise – God’s primary purpose for us in this life… to be his ambassadors, proclaiming “the excellencies of him who called” us out of darkness

shouldn’t need much help to know what to say – what is it about Christ that makes him precious to you, what is praiseworthy, what is excellent about Christ, tell the world about it

God has given great privileges to his people. They all come to us through Christ and him alone, and only in connection with him. Can’t come to Christ, tank up on supplies, then go off on our own and expect to please him. Must come “to him as to a living stone” and stay there, standing on the solid rock in the company of other living stones doing the same. We will never lack for things to praise him for when that is where we take our stand.