Servanthood!

“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust” (I Peter 2:18).

I Peter 2:18-25 is a section addressing the duties and responsibilities of servants to their masters. Even Christians who were slaves in the first century were to display holiness in their particular economic situations. The IVP Bible Background Commentary gives us some valuable insight.

“This passage deals particularly with household slaves, who had more economic and social flexibility than free peasants did, although many of them still did not have much. Field slaves on massive estates were more oppressed; given the regions addressed (1:1) and the nature of household codes (see comment on 2:13–17), they are probably not addressed here and at most are peripherally envisioned. The most oppressed slaves, who worked in the mines, were segregated from the rest of society and would not have access to Peter’s letter; they are not addressed here at all.”

“It should also be kept in mind that Peter does not address the institution of slavery per se, although his sympathy is clearly with the slave (2:21): no ancient slave war was successful, and abolition was virtually impossible in his day except through a probably doomed bloody revolution. In this situation, it was far more practical for a pastor to encourage those in the situation to deal with it constructively until they could gain freedom.”

What application does this section have for us who are not slaves as some of Peter’s readers were? Perhaps we can examine this section of Scripture in light of our current employment and our relationships with our superiors or bosses.

Sometimes we may feel like we are slaves to our employers. I have worked for some pretty good bosses: both in secular situations and in the ministry. I have also encountered bosses who were difficult to work for. Some were unethical, some were condescending, and one I remember was an alcoholic. In all these situations and circumstances, my focus was to do my job to the best of my ability.

I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Happy Thanksgiving!

Soli deo Gloria!

 

One Verse, Four Commands, One Response.

17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (I Peter 2:17).

One verse! Four commands! One response!

The one verse is I Peter 2:17. It is within the immediate context of I Peter 2:13-16.

This one verse contains four commands. Christians are to demonstrate their liberty in Christ in the following four ways. These commands are given so that they would be obeyed. God gives the commands. We are responsible to obey.

Honor everyone! We are to completely and actively respect everyone. This involves our thinking, feelings and decisions. It does not matter if we have met them in person or not. Honor and respect is our responsibility. We may not like a particular person, and they in turn may not like us. However, we are commanded to respect them as one created in the image of God and possessing inherent value.

The word honor (τιμάω; timao) means to attribute a high status upon something, or in this context, someone. The Old Testament associated honoring God with honoring those in government authority (Exodus 22:28; 1 Kings 21:10; Proverbs 24:21).

One way of explaining this command may be taken from the military. You salute an officer, not because you like him or her, but because you give them honor which is their due because of their higher rank.

Love the brotherhood! We are to completely and actively love fellow believers in Christ. The word love (ἀγαπάω; agapao) means taking pleasure in displaying a self-sacrificial love of the will towards fellow believers. Sometimes, Christians hurt other Christians. While this unfortunately does happen, we must make sure that we overcome whatever hurts we encounter with a self-sacrificial love of the will. This love is not dependent upon our feelings, but rather upon a conscious decision of our will.

Fear God! We are to completely and actively reverence, worship and respect the Lord God. This is done not only in what we say, but also in what we do and think. This is to be done daily. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 110:11; Proverbs 9:10).

The word fear (φοβέω; phobeo) means to honor, respect and worship God. We are to have a profound reverence for God.

Honor the emperor! We are to completely and actively respect leaders in government. We may not always agree with them, but we are commanded to respect them. The Apostle Paul wrote that we are also to pray for them (I Timothy 2:1-2).

November 22, 2017 marks the 54th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. This event is one in which every American remembers what they were doing that day when they heard the news of President Kennedy being shot and then dying from his wounds.

This singular event is an example of violating not only the letter but also the spirit of I Peter 2:17.There were those in the United States who may not have agreed with everything  President Kennedy had done, or not done, during his 1,000 days in office. However, the biblical answer is never to assassinate, figuratively or realistically, those who hold a position in government.

Finally, what is to be our response to this one verse, and these four commands? Simple! It is obedience. Regardless of how we may feel, we are to carry out these directives given by God through the Apostle Peter.

Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Liberty.

16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (I Peter 2:16).

The United States Declaration of Independence begins with these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Many American citizens, among them many Christians, believe that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness means doing whatever we want to do not matter the consequences. This is not what the Founding Fathers meant, nor is it what the Apostle Peter means in I Peter 2:16.

In living as people who are free, God calls us to live responsibly before Him and other people. This means doing what God says is right, even when it is inconvenient. This is true, biblical liberty!

Besides this, we should never allow our freedom in Christ to be a covering for evil. A cover-up means a pretext or a hiding of one’s true nature. In this case, an evil nature. Believers in Christ are to be sincere people of integrity and not pretenders.

Ultimately, our freedom in Christ is always under the authority of God our Master. This is what is meant by liberty; always doing what is right because it is the right thing to do.

I Corinthians 4:12-13 says, “and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.”

Living for Christ, as I have already stated numerous times, is never easy. Sometimes it’s downright difficult. However, it is always rewarding to sense God’s pleasure for doing what He says is the right thing to do. As God’s servants, may we make it our aim to please the Master. May we do so today.

Soli deo Gloria!

Silence.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (I Peter 2:13-15).

Aside from the truth that God’s commands are to be obeyed, why else are believers called to be submissive to every human institution God has created? These institutions include work, school, home and government.

The Apostle Peter gives us the answer in I Peter 2:15 when he writes, “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”

The phrase, ‘for this is the will of God” means that what Peter has said in I Peter 2:13-14 is what God wants, wishes and purposes His people to do. The reason for this command is also given. Now, God does not have to explain Himself when He gives us a command but in this instance He does.

The reason given for the previously mentioned command from God is that by believers doing good deeds we should silence foolish people who do not know God. To silence (φιμόω; phimoo) literally means to muzzle.

One biblical historian explains, “This section of Peter’s argument leads many to believe that the organized persecution through oppressive Roman laws either had not begun or had not yet reached the provinces of Asia Minor. Christians were then facing lies and verbal abuse, not torture and death. Christians were still enjoying the protection of a legal system which commended those who obeyed the law. So a believer’s best defense against slanderous criticism was good behavior.”

Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 5:14-16.  14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Shine brightly today, my friends. Shine brightly!

Soli deo Gloria!

Submission.

13 “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (I Peter 2:13-14).

As I write this article, there are a whole lot of protests going on in this country. People are protesting by sitting or kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem at sporting events, by demanding that offensive statues be removed from public places, by spray painting graffiti and offensive remarks on national monuments, or by just rioting and vandalizing. People are even protesting when an individual cannot get a job as a professional football player. Recently, a state representative from Missouri even called for the assassination of the president.

It seems that what is occurring at this time could best be summed up by a bit of dialogue from the Marlon Brando film The Wild One. Mildred: Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against? Johnny: Whadda you got? God calls Christians to a life of holiness. This means a life which is separate from sin. One way to demonstrate obedience to this call is by being a law abiding citizen.

God commands believers to be obedient. The word “be subject” (ὑποτάσσω; hypotasso) is a direct command from God to obey all human institutions God has created. These include one’s employer at work, one’s parent(s) at home, a teacher or administrator at school, church leaders and even leaders in government. Peter specifically refers to those who are leaders in government.

We may not always like those in authority over us, but God calls us to a holy calling. That holy calling requires obedience to the authorities God has created. The only exception to the rule is when to obey human institutions requires us to disobey God. Herein is where Christians must disobey (Acts 4:19) man rather than God.

God specifically established government to punish the evildoer and to praise the righteous (Romans 13:1-7). While admittedly no human government is perfect in this fallen world, God still calls believers to be an example of righteous obedience.

Pray for those leaders in your life today. This includes your boss, your parents, your teachers, and your representatives in government including the president. Strive to be obedient to every human institution God has created.

Soli deo Gloria!

Honorable Conduct.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (I Peter 2:11-12).

Peter continues to urge his fellow believers, who are beloved in Christ, the consequences of what a life committed to holiness should look like. First, believers are to abstain from the passions of the flesh. This commandment reflects a daily battle in the Christian’s life which must be taken seriously.

Second, Peter also challenges his audience to keep their conduct honorable among those who do not know the Lord as their Savior. To keep (ἔχω; echo) is the daily discipline of possessing and holding on to something. In the immediate context, that which believers are to consistently hold on to is their honorable conduct.

The word honorable (καλός; kalos) means that which is good fine and praiseworthy. Conduct is a familiar word for Peter. It is the Greek word ἀναστροφή (anastrophe) meaning behavior or one’s conduct in life. It is a word Peter used in I Peter 1:15 and will use again in I Peter 3:1 and 2 Peter 3:11. The believer’s daily life and living is to be praiseworthy to God.

The purpose of this type of lifestyle is that when, not if, but when non-believers, or Gentiles, speak against us as evildoers they will ultimately see our good works and glorify God. To speak against (καταλαλέω; katalaleo) means to slander and to speak evil of someone. The grammar here refers to a continual slandering. The slanderous accusation is that the believer in question is an evildoer (κακοποιός; kakopoios) or a criminal.

The antidote to this situation Peter says is to have honorable conduct before your accusers. Why? The promise God gives is that when they continually observe (ἐποπτεύω; epopteuo) and watch your honorable conduct or good deeds (ἔργον; ergon) done for the Lord, even as they are accusing you of the opposite, they will eventually glorify God because of you.

When will they glorify and praise God with their entire being? When He visits them with salvation and converts their own souls. Think about it! Your honorable behavior before those who are currently slandering you could be the very testimony God uses to bring that individual to saving faith in Christ. How awesome is that.

There are times when behaving in an honorable way before God, and our accusers, is not easy. However, God gives us an exceedingly precious promise in I Peter 2:12. You may not be one who articulates the gospel message clearly in your speech, but you may speak volumes in the way you live for the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Committed to Holiness.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (I Peter 2:11-12).

Peter continues to urge his fellow believers, who are beloved in Christ, the consequences of what a life committed to holiness should look like. Harking back to I Peter 1:1, when he again refers to Christians as temporary residents of this world, what does a life of holiness involve?

First, it involves “abstaining from the passions of the flesh.” To abstain (ἀπέχω; anexo) means to keep yourself away from something. It means to personally and infinitely avoid something?  What is it that we are to avoid?

We are to avoid the passions (ἐπιθυμία; epithumia), lusts or cravings which are evil. The flesh (σαρκικός; sarkikos) means worldly, base and sinful. Bodily desires, such as sexual intimacy, are not wrong in themselves, but can become so when perverted by man’s sinful nature or flesh. These desires not only include sins committed by the body, but also attitudes of the mind and emotions.

These desires battle within us. The phrase “which war against your soul” refers to one of three areas of conflict believers in Christ battle: the soul. The other two are the fallen world and the devil.

The word war (στρατεύω; strateueo) means battle, warfare and the life of a soldier. Each believer is engaged in a war (Galatians 5:16-21). The Apostle Paul called it a good battle (I Timothy 1:18). He also said God has given us weapons to fight this battle (2 Corinthians 10:4). This battle is fought in our minds, emotions and will. It is a battle for our loyalty: either to God or Satan.

As we live in a sinful world which is not our home, let us daily resolve to no longer live as if this world, with its sinful desires, is our home. Let us be distinctively different from the world in what we consider as holy attitudes and behavior.

We may begin by evaluating what we read, what we watch on television, and what we search for on the Internet in comparison to Scripture. Do we find ourselves increasingly in agreement with what we expose our minds to? Everything we see, hear, and think about must be biblically evaluated.

It won’t be easy, but you know what, no battle ever fought and won was, or is, easy.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

Mercy.

“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:10).

It is always good to remember our responsibility to tell everyone what God has done for us in the person and work of Christ. It is also good to remember to live a holy life before God and others in light of all we are in Christ. This is what the Apostle Peter reminds us in 2:10. God once again tells us what believers were and what they are now.

Once we were not a people. What the apostle means is that at one time we were not God’s people. In our unconverted condition we did not belong to God, but rather were His enemies (Romans 5:10) and objects of His holy and righteous wrath (Romans 1:18; Ephesians 2:1-3; Acts 3:23).

Once, we had not received mercy. Mercy (ἐλεέω; eleeo) means to receive compassion, when you deserved judgment. Mercy is often defined as God not giving us what we as sinners deserved: damnation. It is often compared with God’s grace, which is God giving sinners what they do not deserve: salvation.

As one theologian explains, “The practice of holiness, in which God’s people serve as a holy and royal priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices and extolling His excellencies, is the proper response to the mercy (1 Peter 1:3) they have received.”

Musician Steven Curtis Chapman expresses the need to remember God’s mercy in his song Remember Your Chains.

Remember your chains,  

Remember the prison that once held you,

Before the love of God broke through.

Remember the place you were without grace,

When you see where you are now.

Remember your chains

And remember, your chains are gone.

 Remember!

 Soli deo Gloria!

 

God’s People.

“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:10).

It is always good to remember our responsibility to tell everyone what God has done for us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is also good to remember to live a holy life before God and others in light of all we are in Jesus Christ. This is what the Apostle Peter reminds us in I Peter 2:10. God once again tells us what believers were and what they are now.

Once we were not a people. What the apostle means is that at one time we were not God’s people. In our unconverted condition we did not belong to God, but rather were His enemies (Romans 5:10) and objects of His holy and righteous wrath (Romans 1:18; Ephesians 2:1-3; Acts 3:23).

People do not want to hear this today. Unfortunately, not only do the unconverted not want to hear the truth of the gospel, but also there are many of God’s people and pastors who do not want to share the gospel truth of God’s wrath upon the unconverted. Salvation has become God saving us from poverty, an unfulfilled life or life’s problems, rather than from God’s judgment.

The gospel message declares that by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone (Romans 3:21-26; Ephesians 2:8-10) God has made sinners His people. We belong to Him (I Corinthians 6:19-20). We are His possession.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,                                                                                          that saved a wretch like me.                                                                                                                 I once was lost, but now am found.                                                                                             Was blind, but now I see.

Thank you God, for making me your child.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proclaim.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).

What is the believer’s identity in Jesus Christ?

First, all believers are a chosen race. Second, believers are a royal priesthood. Third, believers in Christ are a holy group of people. Fourth, the church belongs to God. As one theologian says, “As Israel was “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God,” so too believers today are chosen, are priests, are holy, and belong to God.”

What then is our purpose and mission in possessing these four privileges? Our purpose in light of what all believers are in Christ is to proclaim, announce and speak about Jesus Christ. Proclaim (ἐξαγγέλλω; exangello) is the word from which we derive the English word angel. Among the many responsibilities angels possess, one of their main functions was to announce God’s truth as God’s messenger. God calls us to announce His great and wonderful character in saving sinners by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

God calls sinners out of the evil realm of darkness and death (Ephesians 2:1-3). This is the realm we all were a part of in our unconverted existence. But God, by His grace, called and summoned us into a covenant relationship with Him. This is truly wonderful.

The Apostle Paul explains it this way in Ephesians 2:4-7. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Remember your responsibility to tell everyone what God has done for you in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Remember to also live a holy life before God and others in light of all you are in Jesus Christ.

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

Soli deo Gloria!