Summary: The Godly Christian life is a life of warfare against sin and witness to an unbelieving world. Abstain from the passions of your flesh! Make war with your sin. And as you do this, continue to live lives that are honorable among the unbelieving world.
Warfare & Witness: The Godly Christian Life
One of my favorite documents from early Church history is called “The Epistle to Diognetus.” The letter was written in the early 100’s AD, probably around 130. That puts its writing not even a century after the death of Christ, and a generation or two after the writing of much of the New Testament as we have it.
The document is a letter written by an anonymous person, who says that he is a “disciple of the Apostles,” written to a man named Diognetus. Hardly anything is known of this Diognetus, but it is expected that he was the tutor to Marcus Aurelius, who would later become the Emperor to Rome. Nevertheless, we know that this Diognetus had heard of this new movement known as Christianity, and was trying to find out what it was all about.
The letter starts out:
To His Excellency, Diognetus: I understand, sir, that you are really interested in learning about the religion of the Christians, and that you are making an accurate and careful investigation of the subject. You want to know, for instance, what God they believe in and how they worship him, while at the same time they disregard the world and look down on death…
The writer of the letter goes on and lays out many of the distinctives of Christianity, including doctrine and practices. But in the fifth chapter of the letter, he starts to discuss the conduct of these early Christians, and what separated them from the rest of the world. He says:
Christians cannot be distinguished from the rest of the human race by country or language or customs. 2They do not live in cities of their own; they do not use a peculiar form of speech; they do not follow an eccentric manner of life. 3This doctrine of theirs has not been discovered by the ingenuity or deep thought of inquisitive men, nor do they put forward a merely human teaching, as some people do. 4Yet, although they live in Greek and barbarian cities alike, as each man's lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the country in clothing and food and other matters of daily living, at the same time they give proof of the remarkable and admittedly extraordinary constitution of their own commonwealth…
That is what we are going to talk about this morning. What does it look like to live as a Christian? As that letter said of these early Christians, what does it look like to live according to “an extraordinary constitution of our own commonwealth?”
Turn with me to 1 Peter 2:11-12, as we look at 2 aspects of the godly Christian life.
Now before we get into the specifics of our text this morning, it is important to note that this text is addressed to Christians.
After discussing “A Tale of Two Peoples” last week, where we looked at the first group, the church, who comes to Christ, and a second group who rejects him, now in this text, Peter enters us into a new section in the book…a section that examines what it looks like for Christians to live life as sojourners, or visitors, in this world.