A STRATEGY FOR SPIRITUAL STRENGTH
1 Peter 5:5-11
By Cleavon Matthews
August 20, 2006
It was a brilliant and bold declaration to the believers. They were pilgrims of the dispersion in the region of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. They were willing participants in the plan of redemption. They were associated with the Godhead because they were elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, they experienced sanctification of the Spirit, and it was for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (1:1-2).
However it was a time of trial, trouble, and testing. Christianity was an unwelcome reality in the Roman world. The members of the church were grieved by various trials (1:6). The genuineness of their faith was tested by fire (1:7). They were urged by the apostle not to be molded to the former lusts but to be holy in all conduct (1:14-15). They were identified as a chosen generation, royal priesthood, a holy nation, and peculiar people to proclaim the praises of God (2:9).
The saints were to live with honorable conduct among the lost in their world (2:11). They were challenged to submit to the government (2:13). They were challenged to be submissive to their masters (2:18). They were to endure suffering just as Christ (3:13-22).
The apostle writes this epistle out of love and concern. It would be easy for them to become discouraged by their difficulties. Included in this inspired epistle is a strategy for spiritual strength. The saints were…
Down and needed comfort
Hurting and needed healing
Suffering and needed support
Injured and needed encouragement
Crushed and needed consoling
Rejected and needed reassurance
Damaged and needed deliverance
Ruined and needed relief
Persecuted and needed power
Attacked and needed answers
The church today has identical needs. Prayer requests for spiritual strength are quite common for various reasons. There are different reasons for spiritual weakness such as…
• Despondency- Psalm 88:4 ‘I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength.’
• Affliction- Psalm 102:23 ‘He weakened my strength in the way; He shortened my days.’
• Iniquity- Psalm 31:10 ‘For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; My strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away’ (i.e. Ps 38:10; 39:13; Judges 16).
• Lack of trust- Psalm 52:7 ‘Here is the man who did not make God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.’
You need spiritual strength when your…
Prayers are pitiful
Praise is pathetic
Worship is wanton
Giving is grudging
Commitment is cold
Attitude is angry
Tongue is transgressing
Heart is hopeless
Dedication is divided
Love is lukewarm
Faith is failing
Temptation is toiling
Mind is miserable
Laugh is lost
Smile is stolen
Desire is deviant
This text provides a strategy for spiritual strength. The text affirms the grace of spiritual strength but it also announces the process of spiritual strength. You must ask God in prayer for spiritual strength but you must not ask amiss. There are some things you must do in order to receive spiritual strength and there are some attitudes you must employ in order to experience spiritual strength.
1 Peter 5:5-7 “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders, Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
An attitude of submission is a precursor to the attainment of spiritual strength. Submission is one of the major themes in this epistle. The saints are directed to be submissive to the authority of the government (1 Peter 2:13-17). Slaves were guided to be submissive to the authority of their masters (1 Peter 2:18-25). Wives were directed to be submissive to the authority of their own husbands (1 Peter 3:1-7). Elders are to be submissive to Jesus Christ the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4).
The text literally states, ‘young men be submissive to your elders.’ There is to be submission given by the church to the spiritual leadership. But the text specifically says, ‘young men’ perhaps because they are usually the most headstrong and aggressive.
But there is also to be an all inclusive attitude of humility which makes submission possible. Submission means ‘to line up under’ from the Greek hupotasso. Every member of the church is to lay aside self-promoting pride and respectfully place themselves under the spiritual leadership of the church.
Again submission is a precursor to spiritual strength. You can’t have the spiritual strength of verse 10 without the submission of verse 5. Peter call us to ‘be clothed with humility.’ The original word (egkombosasthe) is rare and interestingly it refers to a slave putting on an apron before serving. Jesus is the ultimate example of being clothed with the apron of humility and service!
• John 13:4-7
• Philippians 2:5-11
We are called to be submissive because God does not respond favorably to pride. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” God opposes pride because He hates pride.
• Proverbs 6:16-17
• Proverbs 8:13
• Isaiah 14:12-15
• 1 John 2:16
Humility strategically places you in position to receive spiritual strength because ultimately you ‘humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.’ In the OT the mighty hand of God referred to both discipline (Exodus 3:19; Job 30:21; Psalm 32:4) and deliverance (Deut 9:26; Ezek 20:33-34). When you’re humbled under God’s hand it’s only a matter of time before you are exalted. God doesn’t exalt anyone until due time.
We are to cast our care and anxiety on God because He cares for us. Care or anxiety means being pulled apart! God is concerned about us in our difficulties. Sometimes spiritual weakness comes as a result of our pride and our unwillingness to trust God with our cares! Consider Matthew 6:25-34; Mark 4:33-41.
1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
The call to spiritual sobriety prevents you from taking God’s care for granted. God is in the delivering business but the devil is in the devouring business. You may have the promise of God’s care but you can not live carelessly!
Peter is perhaps speaking from his personal experience. He had his own run in with the devil. Peter knows spiritual weakness first hand (Luke 22:31-34; Matthew 26:36-46).
You must be constantly alert because the (antidokos) adversary or enemy (an opponent in a law suit i.e., Job 1:6ff is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
The devil is looking for opportunities to overwhelm you with temptation, persecution, and discouragement (Ps 22:13; 104:21; Ezek 22:25). He sows discord, accuses God to men, men to God, and men to men. He will do what he can to drag you out of fellowship with Christ and service in His church.
1 Peter 5:9 “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
The characteristics of self-control; sobriety, watchfulness, and resistance against the enemy are vital to spiritual strength. We become spiritually weak when we are overcome by the enemy. Many Christians are spiritually weak because they are no longer soberly watching and resisting the enemy.
We resist the devil by living according to the truth of God’s word (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). When you know sound doctrine and obey God’s truth Satan is resisted (Eph 6:10-17).
1 Peter 5:10-11 “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect (make complete or put in order), establish (strengthen in order to stand fast in persecution), strengthen (make firm), and settle (put on a firm foundation) you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever. Amen.”
Peter has purposely articulated the theological terms of glory in contrast to present suffering. One of many examples is 4:12-16. Spiritual strength is really soul strength. Notice the text; saints have been called to eternal glory by the God of all grace. The glory is a future guarantee. However the present body undergoes suffering but the soul is in the hand of God. Spiritual strength is not about temporal comfort, satisfaction, or pleasure!
• 1:9- receiving the end of your faith- the salvation of your souls
• 1:22 since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth
• 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul
• 2:25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls
• 3:20 eight souls were saved through water
• 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him as to a faithful Creator
Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and song
2 Sam 22:3 The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation
1 Chron 16:11 Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore
Ps 18:32 It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect
Ps 18:39 For you have armed me with strength for battle…
Ps 19:14 O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer
Ps 21:13 Be exalted, O Lord in Your own Strength! We will sing and praise your power
Ps 27:1b The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Ps 29:11 The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace
Ps 37:39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord, He is their strength in the time of trouble
Ps 46:1 God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble
Ps 138:3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul
Ps 140:7 O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle
Pro 24:10 If you faint in the day of adversity your strength is small