Sermons

Summary: Peter called his readers to fortify their testimonies with two crucial aspects of righteous living: 1) a personal, godly discipline that is inward and private 1 Peter 2 :11), and a 2) personal, godly deportment that is outward and public 1 Peter 2 :12).

1 Peter 2:11-12 [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. (ESV)

Although there have been many obvious devastating consequences of COVID, there have many less obvious. Beyond the sickness, death, job loss, addiction, and the like, the isolation can breed less obvious consequences. Isolation can breed frustration and a lack of grace. Removed from healthy face to face interaction, impersonal means of communication, mixed with external stressors can result in mistrust, hostility and resentment. One of the saddest impacts of COVID has been the public disagreements in harsh ways, that believes have engaged in. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told all who would seriously follow Him: Matthew 5:16 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. (ESV)

The nineteenth-century Scottish preacher Alexander MacLaren commented: “The world takes its notions of God, most of all, from the people who say that they belong to God’s family. They read us a great deal more than they read the Bible. They see us, they only hear about Jesus Christ” (First and Second Peter and First John [New York: Eaton and Maines, 1910], 105).

What we truly believe will show in how we act. If we say God can be trusted, but fail to trust Him, we bring a reproach on His name. When we say that the Gospel transforms lives, yet our life does not seem transformed, then we actually encourage others to doubt the truth. The Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:11-12, is trying to show his readers that “Blameless Living” is the single most effective foundation for making the gospel attractive and believable. Peter called his readers to fortify their testimonies with two crucial aspects of righteous living: 1) a personal, godly discipline that is inward and private 1 Peter 2 :11), and a 2) personal, godly deportment that is outward and public 1 Peter 2 :12).

Blameless living makes the gospel attractive through:

1) Godly Inner Discipline (1 Peter 2 :11)

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (ESV)

Peter began his exhortation by addressing his readers as beloved, which implied that they, as objects of God’s immeasurable love, had a duty to obey the One who loved them. On that basis he could urge (parakaleo, “to beseech” [] or “to encourage,” as in Rom. 12:1) them to reciprocate God’s love by living for Him. The command here implies that inward desires are not uncontrollable but can be consciously nurtured or restrained—a needed rebuke to our modern society which takes feelings as a morally neutral ‘given’ and disparages any who would say that some feelings and desires are wrong. (Grudem, W. A. (1988). 1 Peter: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 17, p. 122). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.)

Peter further identified his audience as sojourners/aliens and exiles/strangers, which reminded them that they were not truly members of the world’s society. In Philippians 3:20, the Apostle Paul wrote: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”, (ESV). The moral estrangement Christians experienced in their society was a consequence of not sharing society’s values and customs. As a citizen of God’s holy nation, the Christian was therefore sojourners/aliens and exiles/strangers in pagan society, wherever that might have been (Jobes, K. H. (2005). 1 Peter (p. 169). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic).

As spiritual sojourners/aliens, believers must shun the things of this world (1 John 2:15–17, Mark 4:19, John 12:25, 15:19, Rom. 12:2, Col. 2:8, 20, James 1:27, 1 John 5:4). Sojourners/Aliens (paroikous) literally means “alongside the house.” The word came to denote any person who lives in a country not his own and is therefore a foreigner. The term fits Christians who do not belong to this world’s system but live alongside those who do. The knowledge that they do not belong does not lead to withdrawal, but to their taking their standards of behavior, not from the culture in which they live, but from their “home” culture of heaven, so that their life always fits the place they are headed to, rather than their temporary lodging in this world (Davids, P. H. (1990). The First Epistle of Peter (p. 95). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).

Peter also used the term exiles/strangers (parepidemous), which is a synonym for sojourners/aliens/pilgrim. It refers to a visitor (the KJV renders the word “pilgrims”) who travels through a country and perhaps makes a brief stay there. The writer of Hebrews reminded believers: Heb. 13:14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. (ESV). (cf.11:13–16). Peter challenges his readers to live by Christian values and, when they conflict with those of society, to be willing to endure graciously the grief and alienation that will inevitably result. The challenge Peter presents to the thoughtful Christian is to live by the good values of society that are consistent with Christian values and to reject those that are not, thereby maintaining one’s distinctive Christian identity. (Jobes, K. H. (2005). 1 Peter (p. 171). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.)

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