Summary: We must be vigilant and fight against gratifying ourselves in opposition to the will of God.

Today, I want to talk about “Why Being Good Matters.” And I want to express it in such a way that rebels who repent of their sins have hope. We want to examine our purpose in living against the backdrop of life itself. Not a sanitized view of life that we find in an ivory tower, stained glass sanctuary… But against the backdrop of real life where drug addictions plague us... And sexual temptation destroys marriages… And children grow up fatherless… Today we want to give real hope for people needing strong, substantive answers for hard living.

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11-12)

Here’s What You Do with Today’s Message: Make a Name for God in the River Valley & Spread the Reputation of His Greatness throughout the World.

1. Adopt This Mindset

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles…” (1 Peter 2:12a). You must adopt the mindset that life itself is a trial. That is not to say that there is no joy in life. There is incredible joy in Christ Jesus. Christians are pushed aside as weirdoes. They were weirdo’s who love Jesus so much that they lived their lives and view their faith in a way that made them holy, or different, than other people. Because they would not get drunk, sleep around, or practice other religions and spiritualties — or even endorse such things by their approval— they are viewed by everyone else as basically just plain weird, and way too serious about Jesus.

Example One

A man who was baptized as an infant in a very dead church grew up as a non- Christian whose family virtually never entered church other than for weddings and funerals. Later in life, he was saved and grew quickly as a Bible-believing Christian. He married a godly woman and God blessed them with a healthy, beautiful baby boy. His non-Christian parents pressured him to have the baby baptized in the church they never attended as a sort of superstitious rite. They wrongly believed that by baptizing the baby he would automatically go to heaven if he died as an infant. The man lovingly tried to explain to his parents that he would do no such thing because it was not his church and he did not share their beliefs. Eventually, the entire extended family formed something of an alliance against him, as each of them had had their own children baptized in the parents’ church even though none of them was living as a Christian. He lovingly and graciously held his ground but was in many ways ostracized by his entire family and his deeply hurt parents even threatened to cut him out of his inheritance for dishonoring them.

Example Two

Brit Hume was the Washington managing editor at Fox News and was one of the best at his business. He retired from his position. Starting this year, he has become senior political analyst and works 100 days in the year. When asked why he is retiring, Hume said: “I certainly want to pursue my faith more ardently than I have done. I’m not claiming it’s impossible to do when you work in this business. I was kind of a nominal Christian for the longest time. When my son died (by suicide in 1998), I came to Christ in a way that was very meaningful to me. If a person is a Christian and tries to face up to the implications of what you say you believe, it’s a pretty big thing. If you do it part time, you’re not really living it.” From another interview: “And since my son died, I have been, really, I felt rescued by God and by Christ. I have an intense desire to pursue that more ardently and have it be a bigger part of my life than it has been.” When asked how that will translate, Hume responded, "It’ll translate into Bible study.”

For many Christians today, there is a real pressure to keep your faith private. We see examples where Christians are the butt of jokes in late night talk shows and we’re tired of being seen as outcasts.

2. Fight This War

During WWII, Americans spoke about fighting a war on two fronts: There was the war in Europe against the spread of Nazis and then there was the war in the Pacific Theater against Imperial Japan. But I have heard many people who were members of the Greatest Generation speak of fighting the war on the Home Front. These were the people like “Rosy the Riveter” who worked in factories and those who endured rationing and blackouts. In our spiritual war, we battle on two fronts as well: The world is our external foe; our the passions of the flesh is our internal foe: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

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