We have made it to the final sermon of 1 Peter before the recap! I really love this book. Do I say that about every book we study? There are really great life-long lessons the Lord has taught me through this study. I thank the Lord for that!
Peter closes his letter with some final words about perseverance. We saw from last week that perseverance is huge on God’s list. This is because as Paul says, endurance is a building block of character (Rom. 5:3-4) and character, who you are (especially when no one is looking), is what God cares about more than anything. Persevere so that God can be about building that character. Be like a postage stamp and stick to one thing until you get to the destination!
Peter wants his audience to persevere. In fact, go over to 1 Pet. 5:12. Then Peter gives us the theme of the letter. He says he had a two-fold purpose for this letter: he wanted to encourage the believers and also testify that everything he has written everything in this letter was to help them to persevere in the truth of God’s grace that has come in Jesus Christ. One commentator explains that Peter is saying, “The grace of God has been manifested in Jesus the Christ, who suffered on the cross and then was exalted to glory. Similarly, Peter called on his readers to suffer faithfully as Christians as a prelude to entering into glory.” So Peter says, “Stand firm in it.” Not standing firm, giving up and giving in will prove to be their destruction in the end. So hold on and persevere to the end! How do we do it?
We said first of all:
I. Persevere to the end by practicing humility (1 Pet. 5:5-7)
We said practice humility because humility takes practice. Being humble and living in that grace is learned behavior. We saw how urgent it is to be humble because God opposes pride. He makes life difficult for the proud person, but He is absolutely powerless to resist humility. Humility is the funnel for God’s enablement. We also saw that the way to humble ourselves is to learn to cast the things that tear us apart, our anxieties, on the Lord. In fact, not doing so is a form of pride. We are God’s personal concern and so in His perfect time, if we stay under His mighty hand, He will deliver us in way that will make Him look good. So humility is key to persevere. Secondly,
II. Persevere to the end by alertly resisting the Enemy (1 Pet. 5:8-9a)
Peter just told us to cast our cares on the Lord, but that does not mean we are to be careless. Confidence in God does not mean we slack off. We put all of our anxieties on Him, but then we do our part. What is our part? He calls us not to be asleep at the wheel of our lives and living passively. This is because such a lifestyle is like leaving the cage of a lion open to walk right in and devour us.
If you think about it, we said last week that not casting our anxieties on the Lord is a form of pride. Worry is a form of pride. And guess who loves it when you act in pride? Satan! That’s how he fell and how he tempted our first parents (Gen. 3:1ff). He will promote your pride. He will help you depend on yourself. Interesting huh? Our worry, our self-reliance and independence cause us to walk right into the Enemy’s hands! So when the Lord says, “Cast your cares on me,” He is trying to keep us from getting hurt from the Enemy!
Therefore, Peter says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful.” Peter is speaking from experience. When he was sleeping, instead of praying, the Lord asked him, “Could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:40-41). Peter’s problem then was that he was so mentally intoxicated, drunk, if you will, (idea of sober-minded), with himself. He didn’t want the Lord to die. He was proud of his loyalty to the Lord, which manifested in self-trust and self-absorption. And Satan rocked him to sleep at the cradle of his pride.
He loves this word “sober-minded” since this is the third time he has mentioned it (1 Pet 1:13; 4:7). Guarding your soul and your heart from letting worries, cares and anxieties is part of being sober-minded. Satan doesn’t want you to be sober. He wants you to lose control by your worries. He wants to distract you from priorities and tear you apart (anxiety means to be pulled apart). “Be watchful” is a command with urgency. So it is more like, “Stay awake! Be ready! Watch out!” William Hendrickson keenly observes that, “The first characteristic describes a person who controls his own disposition, while the second discloses his readiness to respond to outside influences. A Christian must always be on guard against both internal and external forces that are bent on destroying him.”
In fact, we see why we must be sober and alert. Satan wants to tear you apart. He is described as “your adversary.” Usually when we talk about Satan, most Christians go to two extremes. Either they see the devil behind every bush or they don’t think there is an enemy at all. So some groups are out casting demons out of every backache and every flat tire. Others are so ignorant and passive about him, falling into his hands more than they realize. I think most evangelicals fall in the latter area. Paul clearly says in 2 Cor. 2:11 that he is not “ignorant of his [Satan’s] designs.” The power is in the balance!
Notice the pronoun “your.” He is your personal opponent (meaning of “adversary” here). He is not just against God, His Son and God’s angels, but he is also against God’s people. The devil means “slanderer” or “one who accuses.” He loves to accuse the people of God. And he is busy at doing that.
Notice he “prowls around.” The devil never sleeps, so how can we be asleep, lax and passive when there is a lion out and about? Notice what Peter calls him besides our opponent and accuser. He is also our destroyer. Peter calls him a roaring lion. Interestingly, did you know that Jesus is called the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”? (Rev. 5:5). In fact, you may remember author C.S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia series depicting Jesus as Aslan, a powerful lion. I wonder if the picture of the lion here is not only because Satan is powerful and frightening, but also because he is a cheap imitation, and works at deception?
2 Cor. 11:3, 14 reminds us that Satan comes disguising himself as an angel of light, trying to get us to away from our devotion to Christ. So he is not really going to come at you saying, “I’m Satan!” and you see a goat-like red creature holding a pitchfork with tail and horns. No he’s going to come very subtly, slithering his way with false delusions. This idea of a “roaring lion” is interesting because everywhere else he is depicted as a snake, sneaking and fastening onto your heel before you even know it’s there. Here we see that though Satan is subtle like a snake, he is also menacing and destructive like a lion, roaring to destroy believers in the midst of persecution.
He will roar at you about your worries and cause you to doubt God’s goodness. He will roar at you about your guilt and your past, causing you to despair, doubting God’s love and grace. He will roar at you about the lack of change in your life and cause you to doubt God’s work in your life. He will roar at you about your sense of entitlement and that you need to take care of your own needs because God will not meet them. So you begin to meet legitimate needs illegitimately (see first temptation in Luke 4:1ff). He will roar at you about making good things into ultimate things like your career and your children so that you will commit idolatry, thus forfeiting the freedom God wants for you in worshipping Him and not His gifts. These are his roars, but we do not see them as much. We underestimate his influence. By the way, I do not think Satan or his demons can read our minds. But they have been around for a while, so they understand human behavior. They know our habits and behavioral patterns. They know our weaknesses and will try to exploit that. They see how we handle trials. They see how we handle our alone times. They see how angry we get at people and the bitterness in our heart (anger gives the devil a foothold—Eph. 4:26-27). They see how we respond to discouragement and worry and so they take it and work it against God’s work in our lives.
Notice his goal: “seeking someone to devour.” Peter Davids notes that, “The term “devour” is graphic, meaning “to drink down.” The picture is one of a beast swallowing its prey in a gulp.” Satan is not interested in nibbling at you. No he wants you to eat you for dinner and some of us are walking up to him and laying on his dinner plate and we don’t even recognize it!
So what are we to do? Look at 1 Pet. 5:9: “Resist him, firm in your faith.” “Resist” here is a defensive word. We are not called to fight the devil. We are not called to tie him up or bind him. Paul would say put on God’s armor so you may stand against the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6:11). James says the same thing, “Resist the devil and he will flee” (Jam. 4:7). But how do you resist him? The text tells us it is by standing firm in your faith, or in other words, trusting God and living in His truth. When the lion roars, cling tightly to your Father’s neck and obey Him when He tells you to hold on to Him.
How do you do this practically? Let me share a couple of ways to alertly resist the Enemy. Resist him by carefully guarding your heart. You know your weak spots. He does too! Where and when do you doubt God and His Word in your life? Do you doubt His love? His wisdom? His care? His provision? Where is there angry in my soul? Where is there addiction? Confess these to the Lord and to other brothers and sisters and by faith, pray promises of trust. Resist him by refusing to carry your own burdens. So make your prayer requests known. He loves isolation, just like he got Eve to talk to him alone. He hates humility, but loves pride. God loves humility, but hates pride. Jonathan Edwards once said, “"Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil's reach as humility."
Secondly, resist him by putting on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). Put on the belt of truth. Know His truth because truth overcomes deceit. Pray, Lord, help me live in light of the truth today. Put on the breastplate of righteousness. He is our righteousness. Lord, help me not trust in my performance or my righteousness as to why you accept me. He is my righteousness. I stand complete in Him. Put on the shoes of peace. Thank you Lord, that you have given me peace with you. Thank you for your peace when I was your enemy. Put up the shield of faith. Do an inventory of what consumes your thought life. What thoughts are not from the Lord? By faith, replace those lies with His truth. Lord, I trust you for my future. I trust you to provide. Help my unbelief! Put on the helmet of salvation. Lord, you have saved me from the penalty of sin. And I know you are working to deliver me today from the power of sin and one day you will remove the presence of sin. Hold up the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Lord, give me a word from you today that will be specifically for me at this time. Resisting Satan is really by submitting to God, and therefore it is a very active and purposeful act.
Finally, resist him by discerning between God’s conviction and Satan’s accusations. For example, the Spirit of God is hopeful. He is a God of hope. So if there is hopelessness in my soul or despair, I know the Enemy is working. The Spirit of God is helpful, not harassing. So if I am feeling harassed, I know the Enemy is there. The Spirit of God is specific, not vague. Are you convicted of a specific sin or are is it always unclear? If it is a specific sin, that’s the Spirit. The Spirit of God does not condemn you, He is kind. If you feel condemnation, that is from the Enemy. The Spirit of God focuses on one thing at a time. The Enemy focuses on many things. Lastly, the Spirit of God goes to the source of your sin, the root of the issue, while the Enemy focuses on the symptoms, the fruit. How aware are you of the spiritual warfare in your life? Don’t pass it off! It is real. So persevere by practicing humility, alertly resisting the Enemy, and thirdly:
III. Persevere to the end with a hopeful perspective (1 Pet. 5:10-11).
Though 1 Pet. 5:10 is the benediction, it is jam-packed with truth about hope. Hope is the theme of this book. If you remember way back in 1 Pet. 1, we said hope, “is the confident expectation that God will do good to me and fulfill all of the promises He has made. If faith is trusting God in the present, hope is future faith, trusting God for what is to come.” Hope puts things into perspective. What kind of perspective? Well,
a) Put trials in perspective
Peter says, “And after you have suffered a little while.” Though we may be going through trials for years, compared to eternity it is just “a little while.” Paul had this perspective when he wrote (2 Cor. 4:17-18), “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” In addition,
b) Put God in perspective
Notice He is the “God of all grace.” He is not a God of a little bit or a lot of grace, but of ALL grace. This term means that God not only possesses grace but is a giver of grace as well. Yes, your trials are intense, but grace is stronger. Again, grace is that power and motivation to do God’s will that God gives to undeserving sinners. Since He owns all of grace and He desires to get that grace to you, humble yourself to receive it (1 Pet. 5:5). Notice also in 1 Pet. 5:11. God of grace is also a God of dominion or strength forever. Rome will not have dominion forever. Your trials will not have dominion forever. The God of all grace will have dominion. And today in the present, His grace can have dominion over your trial giving you the capacity to endure it for His glory. Peter has experienced God’s grace. He loves talking about it in this letter (1 Pet. 1:2, 10, 13; 2:20; 3:7; 4:10; 5:5, 10, 12). Failure has come in his life, but where failure abounded, grace has much more abounded for Peter. Now wonder he cannot stop talking about God’s grace! Failure has come to our lives as well, but God is the God of all grace! Thirdly,
c) Put God’s calling in perspective
God called you to Himself (“call” is a popular word in Peter: 1:15; 2:9, 21; 3:9; 5:10). Here “calling” is a reference to God’s saving work in our lives. He didn’t call you to Himself to give up. He didn’t call you to Himself to condemn you. Did He save you so you can fall apart here by the wayside in hopelessness and despair? No, He called you “to His eternal glory in Christ.” Peter also loves the word “glory” (1 Peter 1:7 11, 21, 24; 2:20; 4:14; 5:1, 10). God already sees you, if you have been truly called by Christ, making it to the end. He sees you in Heaven rejoicing. He sees you victorious. You’re going to make it to the end, not because you walked there, but because He will carry you there. Yes beloved, He who started the good work in you will be faithful to complete it (Phil. 1:6). So don’t give up. Just a little while longer. The pathway to glory is the pathway of suffering, but rest assured that there is glory waiting for you! Lastly,
d) Put God’s purposes in perspective
Peter provides four verbs to describe what God is doing right now to get you to the eternal glory: “restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” Really all four verbs mean the same thing. But don’t miss the beautiful word “himself.” This shows that God is a personal perfecter of our trials. While the Enemy may be personally attacking us, God is personally perfecting us! Robert Mounce adds, “God does not leave the restoration to secondary means. He himself is personally involved in the reestablishment of those who have suffered on his behalf.” God’s hands are all over His clay!
The word “restore” (other translations have “make you perfect”) is interesting because it means “to equip, to adjust, to fit together.” It is translated “mending nets” in Matthew 4:21. Again, Peter could be thinking of his own life. Often, when the fishermen throw their nets out, it would tear. And when they were back on land, the fishermen would fix it and get it ready to be used again. Sometimes in the midst of trials, we lose focus and we become broken and useless. But God, like a good fishermen, doesn’t throw us away, but restores us, making us usable again! Exhibit A: Peter himself! He was a Denier turned/restored Preacher of Pentecost.
The other words all convey the idea of strength (interestingly, “strength” is the same word Jesus used in a prayer for Peter in Luke 22:31), steadfastness and immovability so that you can persevere to the end. God will take care of you as you see that His love is a perfecting love for you, not a pampering one. All of these qualities being produced in you will bring Him glory, as Peter praises the Lord in the next verse. God is going to do all these things so you can be usable to Him, to make Him look good! So you want to persevere? Practice Humility. Alertly resist the Enemy. Fix your hope in perspective. Lastly,
IV. Persevere to the end by standing together in community (1 Pet. 5:9b, 12-14)
The last thought for this message and this series is that strength for perseverance also comes when we are in community. Sometimes in trials we think we are the only ones suffering. Peter reminds them in 1 Pet. 5:9 that they are not alone. Sometimes we feel sorry for ourselves and think “no one has it bad like I do!” But it will help if we start to think of other brothers and sisters who are also going through similar or worse situations than we are. To give up now is not only to fail the Lord, but to fail all of our brothers and sisters who are holding on and trying to grow when the going gets tough.
I would urge you to go to this website: http://www.compassdirect.org. You can also check of The Voice of the Martyrs website. These websites give you frontline news in persecution around the world. This is the real news in my opinion. Instead of wasting time of worthless information browsing on the Internet, what would happen to us if read some of these stories and pray for them? Some of these stories will really humble us and put our trials into perspective.
Go over to 1 Pet. 5:12. Peter is signing off his letter by mentioning some key people in the body of Christ, in the community of faith. First is Silvanus, which is the Latin name for Silas. Silas is probably the one who carried this letter to the scattered believers. He may have also helped Peter, as his secretary, to pen this letter. Silas was a leader in the church of Jerusalem (Acts 15:22), accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:40-18:11) and even co-authored 1 and 2 Thessalonians with Paul (1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1). He even ministered with Timothy in Corinth (2 Cor. 1:19). But Silas is probably best known for singing praises with Paul, though they were cast in prison. But before they were sent to prison, their persecutors tore their garments, gave them orders to beat them with rods and when they had inflicted many blows upon them, the Bible says, they threw them into prison (Acts 16:22-23). The point: Silas was familiar with suffering for Christ.
Though Silas was known for a lot of things, including Peter’s secretary and messenger, Peter greatest commendation is that he is “a faithful brother.” A brother, who when he shows up with this letter, can look at the suffering body of Christ and say, “I’ve been there. Don’t give up. Keep persevering!” And though Silas suffered, he was faithful and so, you must be as well! No, you are not alone. Silas, the messenger, can attest to that.
Look over at 1 Pet. 5:14. Peter sends a cryptic, mysterious greeting from “she who is at Babylon.” Some have said this mysterious woman was Peter’s wife. This is most likely code for the church (mentioned in feminine terms because the church is the bride of Christ) in the heart of persecution: Rome. It is not actual Babylon because that city in that time was in ruins. Babylon in the Old Testament is the opposed enemy of God (Isaiah 13–14; 46–47; Jeremiah 50–51) and in the New Testament, is code for Rome and eventually the world’s system that will end up in judgment (Rev. 14:18). Peter here is protecting the church in Rome, in case this letter got into the wrong hands and they were persecuted even more. But even the church in Rome, living at the devil’s doorstep, greets these believers. They, who are in the heart of the Empire, are standing with them in persecution. So again, they are not alone. Notice also that Peter affirms that these believers in Rome are not randomly there or unfortunately “at the wrong place at the wrong time.” No, they are “chosen,” just like Peter’s audience who were scattered (1 Pet. 1:1).
He also includes Mark and calls him a son, not literally, but Mark was like a son to Peter. They were pretty close. This is the same Mark who wrote the second gospel. I love his story. Apparently, he went on the missionary journey with Paul and his cousin Barnabas (Acts 13:5). However, for reasons we are not sure why, Mark bails on them. When the going got tough, Mark ran away to Jerusalem, to his mom’s house (Acts 12:12; Acts 13:13). Perseverance fail! Later, when Paul and Barnabas were about to go on another missionary journey, Mark shows up to go again. This time Paul says no. It seems like Paul is not very fond of him. Barnabas says yes. They separate (Acts 15:36ff). Paul takes Silas and Barnabas takes Mark.
Anyway, years later, Paul says this about Mark: “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:11, emphasis mine). How did Mark become such a blessing to Paul? I don’t know for sure, but I wonder if Mark ran to Peter and from one failure to another, was discipled by him? Tradition is that Peter gave Mark much of his material to write the gospel of Mark. Regardless, whenever I see Mark’s name (as well as Peter, for that matter) I think of the phrase, “Failure is not final.” Thank you Lord! Mark may have faltered in perseverance, but is now living faithfully and will end his life well. What an encouragement to Peter’s audience to do the same!
Peter concludes by asking the churches to greet each other “with a kiss of love.” This is the equivalent of a Western handshake or an Eastern bow used in greeting or parting. It is in no way sexual, but conveys “…the love that exists in a healthy family…the kiss of love probably was practiced during worship, since it would naturally occur when believers met together as a community.“ And then Peter concludes like he started, with grace and peace, the “shalom of God” or “a sense of harmony and completeness in our relationship with God and with one another.” Yes, peace to you, struggling believers, who are in the worst of situations! For then you can experience true peace in community that is not dependent on your circumstances, but only possible in Christ. So Peter’s final word is a call to stand together in community.
So as we conclude this message, I want us to examine our hearts with some questions. How aware are you of the spiritual warfare going on around you? What would you say are you weak spots where the Enemy can easily devour you? Perhaps you have been confused with the Enemy’s accusations instead of the Spirit’s convictions? Confess this to the Lord. Secondly, what areas of perspective do you need help with most? Do you need to put God in perspective? Do you need to put your trials in perspective? Your calling? God’s purposes for your life? Lastly, are you letting your concerns/worries known to the LH community so we can stand together in prayer? Or are you closed off and isolated? Honestly looking at these questions will reveal to us if we are in a position to persevere to the end in His strength and by His grace. For Jesus’ sake.
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