1 Peter 2:11-25
Stephen Caswell © 2000
Franklin’s Street Lighting Idea
When Benjamin Franklin wished to interest the people of Philadelphia in street lighting, he didn’t try to persuade them by talking about it; instead, he hung a beautiful lantern on a long bracket before his own door. Then he kept the glass brightly polished, and carefully and religiously lit the wick every evening at the approach of dusk. It wasn’t long before Franklin’s neighbors began placing lights in brackets before their homes, and soon the entire city awoke to the value of street lighting and took up the matter with interest and enthusiasm. Like Benjamin Franklin, believers must shine forth good works and glorify our heavenly Father. Everyday, people are watching you. What sort of witness are you giving them?
Last week we saw how God wants His children to grow. The new birth is just the beginning. The Lord has provided the pure milk of the Word to enable us to grow to maturity. But we have to feed on it and exercise it in our lives. The Lord has service for His people to do. Firstly, we saw that God's children are living stones in His spiritual house. Each stone must be fitted into the house. Secondly, as royal priests we have been called to offer up spiritual sacrifices. Finally we saw how God wants His people to live as a holy nation in this world. The Lord wants His people to declare His Gospel of grace to a dying world!! In fact this dying world is watching us to see how we live. So Peter gives instructions on how God's people should live. There are three criteria that God's holy nation must observe:
I. Separation II. Submission & III. Service
a. Abstain From Fleshly Lusts - 1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,
To start with Peter reminds believers that they are sojourners and pilgrims here on earth. Christians don't belong here, we are travelers just passing by on our way home. Peter said the same thing in the first verse of his letter. As travelers we shouldn't get caught up with the affairs of this life. If we become involved in the pleasures of this life we will stop traveling as heaven's citizens and become earthly residents. Abraham lived amongst the wicked Canaanites as a traveler. By keeping his focus on the heavenly Jerusalem he remained a traveler. He stayed pure before God. On the other hand, Lot became a citizen of Sodom after he was ensnared by worldly pleasures. Peter says that fleshly lusts war against the soul. In fact he tells us how this very thing happened to Lot.
2 Peter 2:7-8 God delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked, for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds.
We need to be careful about the things we let into our hearts. The desires we entertain work their way out in our actions and our lifestyle. Philippians 3:17-20 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
b. Apply Ourselves To Good Works
1 Peter 2:12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
If we are going to witness to the lost people around us, we must live honest lives. The word honorable implies much more than telling the truth and doing what is right. It carries with it the idea of beauty, comeliness, that which is admirable and honorable. To use a cliché of the ’60s, we must be beautiful people in the best sense of the word. We do not witness only with our lips; we must back up our talk with our walk. There should be nothing in our conduct that will give the unsaved ammunition to attack Christ and the Gospel. Our good works must back up our good words. Jesus said this in Matthew 5:16, and the entire Bible echoes this truth. I remember instances of some wonderful conversions simply because dedicated Christians let their lights shine. On the other hand, I recall with grief some lost persons who rejected the Word because of the inconsistent lives of professed believers. I've had non Christians say they won't become Christians because of the hypocrisy of some they know!
Man With Roped Blind Friends
A missionary physician in one of China’s hospitals cured a man of cataracts. A few weeks later 48 blind men came to the doctor from one of China’s wilds, all holding on to a rope guided by the man who had been cured. He had led them in this way, walking in chain 250 miles to the hospital. The multitude may appear indifferent to their condition, but let not this discourage us, for many are fumbling blindly after light. It is our happy mission to tenderly and tirelessly seek them. Like the cured man, all Christians can lead sinners to Christ through their good works.
God's people need to be separate from the world. You are a citizen of heaven, a member of God's holy nation. Are you living up to your holy calling? Are you living on earth as a traveler or a resident? Are you abstaining from fleshly lusts that attack your soul? Are you sharing your faith in good words and good works? How are you serving the Lord now?
The central section of Peter’s letter 1 Peter 2:11–3:12 emphasizes submission in the life of a believer. The word submission u&potassw means to arrange under, to be subject to, to render obedience to. This is certainly not a popular topic in this day of lawlessness and the quest for personal fulfillment, but it's an important one. He applied the theme of submission to the life of a believer as a citizen 1 Peter 2:11–17, a worker 1 Peter 2:18–25, a marriage partner 1 Peter 3:1–7, and a member of the Christian assembly Peter 3:8–12. Submission does not mean slavery or subjugation but simply the recognition of God’s authority in our lives. God has established the home, human government, and the church, and He has the right to tell us how these institutions should be run. Many Christians are unhappy because they won't submit to God's recognized authorities at home, work and in government!
George Mueller’s Secret
To one who asked him the secret of his service, George Mueller said: There was a day when I died, utterly died; and, as he spoke, he bent lower and lower until he almost touched the floor — died to George Muller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will—died to the world, its approval or censure—died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends—and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God.
1 Peter 2:13-15 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
Peter carefully points out that Christians are representatives of Jesus Christ to society. It is our responsibility to advertise God’s virtues. This is especially true when it comes to our relationship to government and people in authority. We must obey the laws of the land. The word translated ordinance in our Authorized Version simply means creation or institution. It does not refer to each individual law, but to the institutions that make and enforce the laws. It is possible to submit to the institutions and still disobey the laws. God gave our leaders the authority that they have. Therefore we must obey their rules for society except when they violate God's Word. Then we must respectfully disobey that particular law.
Daniel and his three friends respectfully disobeyed the king's law a number of times in Babylon. This was because a higher Law prevailed. God's Word overrides the laws of men. Daniel and his friends were also prepared to pay the price for their allegiance to God. The apostles did also when they continued to preach in Jesus' name after the council commanded them not to. As Christian citizens, we should submit to the authority vested in human government. This means obeying the traffic laws, and building laws. It also means that we fill out our tax returns honestly. God uses human government to enforce His justice. He has ordained that they should punish law breakers and reward those who do right. This ideal is not always attained but nevertheless we must still respect them. Remember that Peter wrote this when Emperor Nero was in power. Since God has placed the governments in power we must respect them and obey them even though we may disagree with their policies.
Romans 13:1-2, 5-7 says: Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Unfortunately, some zealous but ignorant Christians use these differences as opportunities for conflict and preach sermons about freedom and separation of church and state. When a local church constructs and furnishes a building, there is a local code that must be obeyed. The government has no right to control the pulpit or the business meeting, but it has every right to control matters that relate to safety and operation. If the law requires a certain number of exits, or fire extinguishers, or emergency lights, the church must comply. The state is not persecuting when it sets up the code, nor is the church compromising when it obeys the code.
God commands us to submit to our leaders, Do you? Do you present a good witness in society? Do you pray for our leaders? As an ambassador of Christ are you seen as one who respects the authorities? Do you cheat on your taxes? Do you speak evil of the government?
a. As Servants Of God
1 Peter 2:16-17 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor All People, Love The Brotherhood, Fear God, Honor The King
Peter reminds believers to use their liberty in society well. This is because all believers are in fact God's servants. Someone may argue, But, as Christians, are we not free? Yes, we are free in Christ; but we must never use our freedom for ourselves. We must always use it for others. Therefore since we are God's servants, Peter gives us four commands on how we must use our liberty well.
1. Honor All People
The word honor timaw means to revere, venerate, to estimate one worthy of respect, to treat graciously. God commands Christians to treat all men well, because they are our neighbors. When we treat men with respect they see our faith in a good light. Because we represent Christ to the world we must treat them as Christ would; with love and respect. Jesus said that we should treat people the way that we would like them to treat us.
2. Love The Brotherhood
The word love is of course ajgaph or God's love. Christians are commanded through out the New Testament to love one another. We are to love one another in the same way that Christ loved us; by service. Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Love is active. Are you loving your brethren?
3. Fear God
The word fear fobew means to venerate, revere. It speaks of a reverential fear. This means that we respect God with the result that we obey Him and serve Him. If we fear God this way then we won't need to fear man.
4. Honor The King
Fear God and honor the king go together, since the powers that be are ordained of God. Solomon had the same counsel: My son, fear thou the Lord and the king. Proverbs 24:21 We honor the king because we do fear the Lord. When we honor the king we are in fact submitting to the Lord who placed him there. This command highlights the command to submit already given in verse 13. Submission deals more with actions whilst honor refers to our attitude. Both need to be right! The verb tenses indicate that we should constantly do these things. Keep loving the brotherhood! Keep fearing God! Keep honoring the king!
b. As Servants Of Men
1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.
In the Roman empire there were 60 million slaves. Many of these slaves became Christians. Some Christian slaves thought that because they belonged to Jesus Christ they were no longer obligated to obey their masters. Peter and Paul both had to correct this error. Although slavery has been abolished, these same guidelines apply to our relationships at work. The word submit is the same one used in verse 13 where it refers to the government. God requires workers to obey their earthly masters. We must respect them and obey them. Christians should be the best workers that the boss has. We must be diligent and honest in all our tasks so that the doctrine of God will be adorned. This is not always easy as some bosses are difficult to work for. Nevertheless God commands us to do this!
1 Peter 2:19-20 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.
When Peter wrote this masters often mistreated their slaves. Often masters were particularly cruel to Christian slaves. So Peter encouraged Christian slaves to patiently endure such suffering. He also told them that they must suffer for doing good, not evil. If a master punished his slave for laziness that was nothing to be proud of. In fact it brought reproach on Christ's name. But if they patiently suffered for doing good, God would be pleased. I have never been beaten at my work place for being a Christian. But I have been ridiculed and treated wrongly because of my faith. God wants us to willingly suffer for our Christian faith. He wants His children to be the best workers.
Anybody, including an unbeliever, can take it patiently when he is in the wrong! It takes a dedicated Christian to take it when he is in the right. This is grace [acceptable] with God. God can give us the grace to submit and take it and in this way glorify God. Of course, the human tendency is to fight back and to demand our rights. But that is the natural response of the unsaved person, and we must do much more than they do.
c. Service Of Christ
To encourage suffering believers in their faith Peter revealed how Jesus' served mankind. Peter connected his own counsels to the example of Jesus Christ, God’s Suffering Servant. Peter had learned in his own experience that God’s people serve through suffering.
1 Peter 2:21-23 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
1. Our Example
All that Jesus did on earth, as recorded in the four Gospels, is a perfect example for us to follow. But He is especially our example in the way He responded to suffering. In spite of the fact that He was sinless in both word and deed, He suffered at the hands of the authorities. Amazingly Christ didn't retaliate or threaten! We wonder how Peter would have responded in the same circumstances! The fact that Peter used his sword in the Garden suggests that he might have fought rather than submitted to the will of God. Jesus proved that a person can be in the will of God, be greatly loved by God, and still suffer unjustly. There is a shallow brand of popular theology today that claims that Christians will not suffer if they are in the will of God. Those who promote such ideas have not meditated much on the Cross. Our Lord’s humility and submission were not an evidence of weakness, but of power. Jesus could have summoned the armies of heaven to rescue Him! His words to Pilate in John 18: are proof that He was in complete command of the situation.
2. Our Expiation
1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed.
The word expiation means to remove sin. Jesus died as the sinner’s Substitute. He carried our sins on the cross so that they could be atoned for. Jesus took the punishment required for those sins. This entire section reflects that great Servant Chapter, Isaiah 53, especially Isaiah 53:5–7, but also verses 9 and 12. Jesus did not die as a martyr; He died as a Savior, a sinless Substitute. The word translated bare ajnaferw means to carry as a sacrifice. The Jewish people did not crucify criminals; they stoned them to death. But if the victim was especially evil, his dead body was hung on a tree until evening, as a mark of shame. Jesus died on a tree - a cross - and bore the curse of the Law. He did this so that we might be reconciled to God.
3. Our Escort
1 Peter 2:25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
An escort is a guide who leads people along the right path. They know the way. A shepherd goes before the sheep to lead them to suitable pasture. In the Old Testament, the sheep died for the shepherd; but at Calvary, the Shepherd died for the sheep. Every lost sinner is like a sheep gone astray: ignorant, lost, wandering, in danger, away from the place of safety, and unable to help himself. The Shepherd went out to search for the lost sheep. He died for the sheep! Now that we have been returned to the fold and are safely in His care, He watches over us lest we stray and get into sin. The word bishop ejpiskopo" simply means one who watches over, who oversees. Just as the elder-bishop oversees the flock of God, the local church, so the Savior in glory watches over His sheep to protect them and perfect them.
Peter viewed service three ways. Our service to God, service to man and Christ's service for God. Are you serving the Lord by honoring all men? Do you love your brethren? Do you fear God and honor the government? God calls us to do this. How do you serve your boss?
Do you respect him and obey him? Do you give an honest days work for an honest days pay? Do you speak evil of the boss? Are you prepared to suffer for your faith at work? Finally Peter shared the suffering of Jesus Christ. Jesus gave us an example of suffering for doing good. He also died for the expiation of our sin. Jesus the Good Shepherd escorts us to glory.
Here, then, is the wonderful truth Peter wanted to share: as we live godly lives and submit in times of suffering, we are following Christ’s example and becoming more like Him. We submit and obey, not only for the sake of lost souls and for the Lord’s sake, but also for our own sake, that we might grow spiritually and become more like Christ. The unsaved world is watching us, but the Shepherd in heaven is also watching over us; so we have nothing to fear.
Because people are watching us will you live as Christ's ambassador? There are three things that heaven's citizens need to do.
I. Separation - As Christ's ambassadors we must abstain from fleshly lusts and devote ourselves to good works.
II. Submission - As Christ's ambassadors, we must submit to the government that God has ordained. We must obey them and give them their rightful respect.
III. Service - God's people are servants.
a. As Servants Of God
As servants of God we must honor all men. We must love our brethren and respect authority by fearing God and honoring the king!
b. As Servants Of Men
As servants of earthly masters we must submit to their authority. God requires us to do this to both kind and unkind masters. God wants us to suffer for doing good not evil. Are you prepared to suffer for doing good?
c. Service Of Christ
Peter shared how Jesus Christ gave us a good example to follow. He suffered unjustly and yet didn't retaliate. Christ committed Himself to God who judges righteously. Will you follow His example? Jesus gave His life for our expiation. And as the Good Shepherd He is watching over His sheep. He will escort each one safely home.
Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.