Summary: There is an utter necessity for Christians to live a pure and blameless life before a world that wants to demean the name of Jesus. We need Jesus, we need to proclaim Jesus, and we need to represent Jesus!
- We need Jesus
- We need to proclaim Jesus
- We need to represent Jesus
Text: 1 Peter 2:11-12
11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
"Beloved, I beg you…"
Peter was this rugged man. A "man's man", and yet here we have him caring for his people in a very tender way.
- Goes against the overly-macho stereotype. Men can care deeply for what God gives them!
- Shows the transformative work of Jesus Christ in his heart.
As strangers and pilgrims
Strangers - People who don't belong; people who live somewhere but are not citizens or members
Pilgrims - A sojourner in a strange place
"Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul"
Various other Spirit vs. Flesh dynamics in Scripture:
Matthew 26:41 - "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Here, Jesus was saying to His disciples to be careful that they did not desert Him because of these trials ahead. We need to be careful as well as pray to God for strength to get through any trial. Even more, the less we are shaken by, the more we should work at cultivating faith through life's circumstances, and the strength against wavering is from God.
Is your foundation ROCK or is it SAND?
- Paul complains and grieves that he sins
- Paul sees the desire of the Spirit not to sin
- Paul also sees the desire of the flesh that leads to sin
- "Who will free me from the body of this death!"
- Spirit OR Flesh -- which are you in?
- Those who have the Spirit of God dwelling within them are of the Spirit
- Those in the flesh cannot please God
- Do not do the deeds of the flesh
- Do the deeds which are the results of the Holy Spirit's work ('fruit' of the Spirit)
We never have excuse for sin, though God does show us His gracious forgiveness. Even with God's grace on display so strongly because of our sin, it is not our duty to sin -- Paul asks, "Shall we sin that grace may abound? God forbid!"
"conversation" - your walk of life
EVEN IF they speak against you:
- Your good works will speak for themselves -- you're clean!
Elsewhere in Scripture:
- One of the urges that Paul gives to believers living in day-to-day secular society -- 1 Thessalonians 4:12 - "That you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing."
13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.
14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:22 - Abstain from every form of evil. (Some translations: "appearance of evil")
This often involves steps of wisdom. We need to be careful about what we get into, and we need to be wise about making measures to be 'above reproach.'
e.g. Billy Graham - Not getting into a car with a woman one-on-one without either his wife or another ministry associate as a 'witness'.
How many politicians, public figures, and even men of God have been caught in compromised situations? Many times, they indulged in sin and now have a marred reputation. We need to avoid that at all costs.
"What is the cost of one fall?"
We need to be:
"Wise as serpents, innocent as doves"
- We aren't foolish or 'dumb' as doves
- We don't bite and tear other people up as serpents
- We have to be careful about keeping a clean witness for Jesus -- not as a means of legalism, but as a means of bringing others to glorify God.
Misquotation: "Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words" -- many say that St. Francis of Assisi said this quote, when its origin is actually unknown. It's an interesting quote. Is it true?
- In one sense, we see from this passage that, YES, we need to represent Jesus by living a pure life. It can be evangelistic to live a pure life for God, but the caveat:
- We need to be outspoken witnesses of the Gospel. Without knowing Jesus, people are doomed. We need to tell them the specifics, not just let them guess at the 'between the lines' faith simply by our actions.