Summary: Peter writes about the need to excel in the Christian life. We can excel by 1 - Remembering Where We Are; 2 - Submitting to God’s Authority; 3 - Entrusting Our Lives to God.
How can we excel in the Christian life?
1 - Remembering Where We Are
11 - "Beloved, I urge you as aliens/strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul."
"Beloved," "Friends," - it’s so important who you keep company with.
"I urge you" - like a Father in the faith Peter pulls up alongside his readers and begins to call them out. He is earnestly pleading with them to listen to the advice he passionately wants to share with them.
"aliens" and "strangers" - temporary residents here. This world is not our home.
Hebrews 11:13-16 - "All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them."
Josh Hunt: Has anyone ever been to a foreign country? Did you feel out of place? How is being a Christian like that?
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, thousands of people were displaced. Thousands of people had to leave their homes and move to other places. Some moved to other cities in Louisiana, others moved to Houston, others moved to Dallas, not knowing when they would return home.
Months later, many people could still not return home and they were frustrated. Although they had places to sleep, food to eat, and clothes on their back, they were not happy. Although they had opportunities for new lives, new jobs, and a new start, they were not excited. Although the victims of Katrina had the ability to send their kids to new schools, to see new places, and to do new things, they were not thrilled. No matter how great the places were, many Americans displaced from New Orleans were frustrated. Why? Because they were not home. I didn’t matter how wonderful Dallas or Houston could be, these cities were not New Orleans.
As Christians, we should never be satisfied with the things this world holds. We should never be thrilled with the things this world has to offer. No matter how wonderful this world is, for the Christian, it will never be home. We are aliens in this world. - Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anedcotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking
Our life is Christ-centered - foreign to this world - foreign to our culture.
How can we "abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul"?
First, by the power of the Holy Spirit. If you try to defeat sin in your own strength apart from the indwelling power of the Spirit, you will be defeated constantly.
Galatians 5:16 - "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."
To “walk in the Spirit” is to follow the Spirit’s leading (Romans 8:14). It is essentially to “walk with” the Spirit, allowing Him to guide your steps and conform your mind.
Second, by developing our spiritual life. Bible reading, prayer, fellowship, Christian service, ministry, evangelism, etc.
Third, by doing without those places, people, and practices that encourage sinful thoughts, words, deeds, etc.
Fourth, by being victorious in spiritual warfare. We are on the enemy’s turf and this world is not our home. We are not in heaven yet (1 Peter 5:8).
"The sin we fail to conquer will eventually conquer us." Warren Wiersbe
Reminds me of a 42-year-old woman from South Bend, Indiana. She called the police after being sold what she thought was a flat-screen TV.
She was approached by a man who offered her a great deal on the TV, a new flat-screen TV for only $500 dollars. She admitted it was a great deal but did not have the money. So he lowered the price to $300 dollars. She gave him the money.
The set was bubble-wrapped, had Wal-Mart stickers on it, and came with a remote control--but when she unwrapped it, she discovered it was an oven door!
Satan has all kinds of good things like that for us; all we have to do is pay the price of disobeying God! J. Palmer, Sermon Central
12 - Keep your behavior excellent among Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may bc of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
William Barclay, "...the Christian must make his whole way of life so lovely and so good to look upon that the slanders of his heathen enemies may be demonstrated to be false. Here is the timeless truth. Whether we like it or not, every Christian is an advertisement for Christianity; by his life he either commends it to others or makes them think less of it. The strongest missionary force in the world is a Christian life."