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Summary: Do you conduct yourself with fear in your Christian walk?

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As we continue in the book of 1 Peter, we come to verses 17-21 of this first chapter. This is the eighth sermon in our journey through this wonderful and timely book.

Peter is beginning to get into some challenging subject matter here. Seems as though he’s moving us farther and farther from the ways of the world and closer and closer to godliness; distinguishing us from those in the world.

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I hope you’re beginning to see how this letter of 1 Peter is shaping up. When doing a verse-by-verse series through a book of the Bible, the danger is that you lose sight of the big picture, the overall purpose of the book or in this case, the letter or epistle.

The first twelve verses in this first chapter were sort of a reminder and a celebration of what God has done for His people. He has caused us to be born again; given us an imperishable inheritance; given us reason to rejoice through trials; and ministered to us through the prophets, preachers and angels so that we may know the good news of Christ. Remember how we said how God invested so much in our salvation!

Then in verse 13, he begins to give these exhortations or commands to his readers (which include us in our day and age). These exhortations which continue all the way into chapter 5 are intended to encourage the readers to walk in a manner worthy of God in the midst of their harsh circumstances, where there are trials and persecutions and all kinds of struggles.

We considered last week how we are experiencing certain struggles in our lives here in 2013. And just like the readers of Peter’s letter some 2000 years ago, we need to hear these words in order that WE may be encouraged and equipped to live our lives in a way that honors God, because our surroundings are getting more and more hostile as the days go by. The church is the called out ones, separated from the world to live for God in Christ. We are different from the rest of the world, yet we still have to live in it for a time.

So Peter is sort of raising their eyes and our eyes above and beyond the circumstances of the present condition of the world and all its challenges, and sets them on things above, on the God who loves us and is guarding us through faith until our salvation is made complete.

In verse 13, you remember from two weeks ago, he exhorts us to set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Exhortation #1

Verse 15, he exhorts us to be holy in all our conduct. Exhortation #2

We’ll look now at the third command or exhortation which is tucked into verse 17, “conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile…”

“Conduct yourselves with fear…” That’s an odd thing to say, isn’t it? To understand what he means, we have to look to the words preceding this exhortation as well as to the words following it.

WE ARE TO CONDUCT OURSELVES WITH FEAR BECAUSE WE WILL BE JUDGED:

“And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds…”

NOTE: “if” vs. “since”.

Our Father in heaven will judge everyone’s deeds. That’s a pretty sobering thought, isn’t it? Everything you have done (and said), is seen by God and is recorded and will be judged at some point.

This is not referring to a judgment unto salvation or damnation. That was taken care of at the cross when Jesus bled and died. Our sins have been dealt with once and for all at the cross.

Peter is talking to believers who have been redeemed. So this judgment is more of an investigation or inquiry, perhaps to see what rewards will be given or withheld.

Have you ever considered that God is watching your every action? Both in public and in private? And one day, He will ask you to give an account and to explain why you did something or didn’t do something? Quite a sobering thought. Not that we have to fear punishment, but we will be standing before the judgment seat and all things will be known. Are you comfortable with that?

That should cause us to conduct ourselves with fear. Not fear of punishment or retribution. But fear of embarrassment and fear of disappointing our God who loves us and rescued us from eternal hell.

When we talk about the fear of God, many people say “It’s not fear as terror, but a reverent fear.” Some of the versions, such as the NIV, include the word “reverent fear” in verse 17. That word isn’t actually in the original language, but the editors put it in there to clarify the flavor of the word fear. It’s not wrong, necessarily, but it may soften it too much.

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