Summary: Our lifestyle, including our attitude and actions toward the government, will either glorify or shame the name of Christ.
Our Identity: We are people who do not BELONG to this world.
“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world…” (v. 11a).
“Aliens” = a permanently resident alien (example: a Permanent Resident, formerly known as a Landed Immigrant, in Canada).
“Strangers” = a foreigner who is only temporarily in the area.
We are in the world but not of the world. “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).
Our Lifestyle: We are to live lives that are ABOVE REPROACH.
• Remember: Our actions are determined by our DESIRES.
“…to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (v. 11b).
There is a war being waged within us: the Spirit versus the flesh (see Romans 7:14-25).
• Remember: Unbelievers are WATCHING.
“Live such good lives among the pagans…” (v. 12a).
• Remember: The greatest tool for evangelism is LIVING GOD’S WAY.
“…that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (v. 12b).
Accusations made against Christians in Peter’s day:
(1) Disloyalty to that state (because Christians refused to offer incense on the altars to the emperor)
(2) Atheism (because Christians didn’t worship a visible god, i.e., an idol)
(3) Cannibalism (because people misunderstood the meaning of “eating and drinking” the elements representing Christ’s body and blood)
Peter wanted his readers to live such good lives that they would silence their critics. (There are still critics of Christianity today.)
The Greek word translated “see” refers to a careful watching, over a period of time.
What is “the day of visitation” (KJV)?
God visits people for two reasons:
(1) Judgment (Isaiah 10:3)
(2) Blessing (Jeremiah 27:22)
“The day of visitation” may refer to the day of Christ’s return (on that day everyone will praise God; Philippians 2:10-11) or the day of conversion.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Peter encourages his readers to live this way as citizens (vv. 13-17).
THE BIG IDEA: Our lifestyle, including our attitude and actions toward the government, will either glorify or shame the name of Christ.
How should we act as citizens of Canada?
1. We should SUBMIT ourselves to the authority of our government.
“Submit yourselves…” (v. 13a).
a. We should recognize and accept that human government is established by God.
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1).
(1) To protect its citizens.
(2) To punish wrongdoers.
“For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:3-4).
(3) To promote the welfare of society.
No government would result in anarchy.
b. We should pay our taxes to our government.
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21).
“Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes” (Romans 13:7a).
c. We should pray for our government leaders.
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2a).
2. We should submit for the LORD’S sake.
“…for the Lord’s sake…” (v. 13b).
3. We should submit no matter how BAD our government is.
“…to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right” (vv. 13c-14).
When Peter wrote these words (probably early 60s), Nero was the Roman emperor, who was the first emperor to persecute Christians. The persecution began after the great fire of Rome, a rumor circulated that Nero had ordered the fire. So Nero blamed the fire on the Christians. He ordered Christians to be thrown to dogs, while others were crucified or burned. Both Peter and Paul died during this period.
Christians are expected to be good citizens even in extreme situations.
4. We should submit EXCEPT when commanded to SIN.
“Then [the Sanhedrin] called [Peter and John] in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:18-20).