Summary: Living on Mission in a Foreign Land War and Witness For God's Glory
Living on Mission in a Foreign Land
War and Witness For God's Glory
We are in our second week of our new Series, “Living on Mission in a Foreign Land,” based upon 1 Peter 2.11-4.11. Today we finish looking at “War and Witness for God's Glory.”
Big Idea – The church fulfills Israel's destiny of being a light, pointing people to Jesus.
Our Identity as the New People of God
Peter calls us sojourners and exiles. Peter started in 2:4 and continues to transfer titles originally reserved for Israel to the church, showing that the church fulfills Israel as the new people of God. So the church, Jews and Gentiles who put their faith in Christ, is the new people of God. Remember a sojourner is someone who travels to a foreign land as a visitor and an exile is someone who has been displaced from their homeland. The point is that we are not at home in this world. This world is not our home and the US is not our country. We look forward to a new heaven and a new earth. We must cultivate this mentality. This world and the ruler of this world is always attempting to seduce us into believing that the good gifts of God are ultimate and thus become our gods. Contend or conform. Resistance is not futile.
Our War we Wage as the People of God
Peter commands us to abstain from fleshly passions that wage war against our souls. The flesh is that part of our fallen nature that rebels against and disobeys God in every area of life and at every moment of life. These passions or desires lead to sinful actions. It is critical to see that he commands us to abstain from sinful passions before he tells us to keep our conduct good. Desires, good or bad, are the determining factor in everything we do, every decision we make, and every action in life. Therefore, the battle for good conduct or holiness begins and focuses on defeating these sinful passions. The war against sin must attack those desires which are the root of sin. There are two verses that encourage me and give me hope in my fight against sin. It is knowing and understanding God and the affections that rise from this understanding that kill sinful desires.
How do we know if we are losing the battle to these passions? Let's review quickly. All spiritual growth and moral transformation in becoming like Christ is dependent upon light and heat. First, how is your time in the word and prayer? The word gives light to the mind, informs our thinking. It is your primary weapon of mass destruction in killing wrong desires. The word is the primary tool for change, moral transformation. Second, how are your affections for Jesus? You see the purpose of light is to give heat to the affections. Your time in the word must lead to increased desires for Jesus replacing fleshly desires waging war against your soul. The goal of discipleship is to treasure Jesus above all competitors. Is your relationship with Jesus stale and functional, even boring? Last, how is your connection to community? If you are not pursuing Christ in the context of community you will lose the battle with sin. Sin will slowly blind you, numb you, and take away all your desire and appetite for Christ, his word, church involvement, etc.
Our Mission as the People of God
Peter gives us two reasons for waging this war against our fleshly passions, keeping our conduct good among the Gentiles. The first reason is that they would see our good deeds and secondly, glorify God as a result. I think Peter was influenced by Jesus here. In Matthew, Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 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.”
Peter assumes people will malign us and attack us for our faith, but some will come to faith. Live your life as one who hopes in God above every counterfeit hope this world offers you and you will point them to the glory of God. But how does a transformed life point people to the glory of God? Peter tell us, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” What Peter is saying here is that when people look at you, what they see expressed in your actions is what you hope in. So they see a certain way of acting—some humble act of love or some righteous act of courage or some self-denying act of generosity and they notice that you must not be hoping in what people usually hope in—self, safety, money—and they wonder where your hope is. So they ask about your hope - where do you get your confidence, your contentment, your satisfaction when you act that way? When we direct our desires to God and find hope and contentment in his mercy and power and promises, then our outward life starts to show what Peter calls good conduct that points people to the glory of God in the gospel because they point to a stable, sure, satisfying object of desire and hope that is not of this world.