Summary: Living on Mission in a Foreign Land Eternal Life is for the Righteous
Living on Mission in a Foreign Land
Eternal Life is for the Righteous
We are in our second mini-series in 1 Peter, “Living on Mission in a Foreign Land,” based on 1 Peter 2.11-4.11. In this section Peter connects the way we live to the mission of Christ, making disciples. In this section, Peter tells us that 'God has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light with a purpose - to proclaim His Excellencies.' We are in chapter three; today we look at “Eternal Life is promised for the Righteous.”
Big Idea – God's grace is toward the righteous and against the evil.
Passage Overview – Last week we saw that community flourishes when we relate to one another with five heart attitudes. These attitudes express themselves when we bless those who wrong us. Then Peter tells us that those who bless others inherit the blessing, which we saw was eternal life. Today we see Peter clarifying his point. ''Whoever desires the blessing of eternal life must run from evil and do good by pursuing peace because God is for those whose lives are characterized by righteousness and God is against those whose lives are characterized by evil.
The Righteous Guard their Lips
Those who desire to love life and see good days let him keep his tongue from evil and turn from speaking deceit. He quotes Psalm 34 to support his point that God's grace is toward the righteous. He is explaining what he has just said in 3:8-9. 'Love life,' just like 'inherit a blessing' is referring to eternal life. So he is talking about the future blessing of inheriting eternal life as the motive for persevering in the present. Everything we experience presently in this life because we have experienced new birth is but a foretaste of the future eternal life, experienced in all its fullness in the New Heaven and New Earth. He cannot be talking about a life devoid of troubles because the very reason this epistle was written was to encourage suffering Christians to persevere in the midst of suffering, as was much of the New Testament. So those who desire eternal life must keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit. These are commands, meaning stop, stop it right now! Apparently under the pressures of suffering and hardship Christians were not following the model of Christ and were retaliating toward those who wronged them or at the least the pressures were creating conflicts in the church. The next verse reiterates his point, 'turn away or depart from evil and do well.' Sins of the tongue, like all sins, are evil – lying, back biting, gossip, slander, foul language, or even complaining. Let me give you one more: empty, ritualistic worship. Going through the motions but not really mean it. Too often we overlook sins of the tongue as acceptable but God says they are evil and we are told to hate evil. So Peter tells us to turn away from evil like sins of the tongue and do well, pursue peace. In other words, repent. Repentance is recognizing the moral horror of our sin, turning away from it, and turning toward God for grace to change. Sins of the tongue destroy peace so Peter tells them to seek peace.
The Righteous Pursue Peace
Negatively we are to guard our tongues; positively we are to seek peace, immediately. We pursue peace by guarding our tongues. Jesus said that seeking peace is characteristic of following Christ; Paul tells us it is a fruit of the Spirit and it is aligned with holiness; 'without which anyone will see the Lord.' Desiring to be make peace with others is the fruit of new birth.
God is Inclined toward the Righteous
Now Peter gives us the reason to turn from evil and pursue peace. First, because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, in this context, those who guard their tongues and seek peace. He means that God is favorable towards you, inclined toward you with grace and mercy. Second we are to turn from evil and seek peace because God's ears are open to their prayers. That phrase means more than just listen; God is inclined to act on behalf of their prayers. God is inclined only to those who are righteous, who turn from evil and do good. We saw this same point last week. God promises eternal life in the future and is presently disposed toward those whose lives are characterized by righteousness or obedience. Does this mean that we are saved by works? Can I earn Gods approval or favor if I just do enough good? No. Peter has told us that our new birth, our obedience, and our perseverance is the work of God. If this is so then how can this promise be conditional upon my behavior? He is saying that new birth is the root that by necessity produces the fruit of new birth, a life which hopes in God, entrusts themselves to God by obeying him. Obedience is the fruit that flows from the root of genuine saving faith. The fruit of obedience in the life of follower of Christ is the evidence of saving faith.