1 Peter Part 5 – Sermon notes. Reacting or Responding?


Reacting-vs-Responding

upside down

1 Peter Part 5

1 Peter 2:1-3 & Psalm 34

Reacting or Responding?

 

THE AUDIO FOR THIS SERMON CAN BE FOUND HERE

When people are marginalized,

When they feel powerless in their circumstances,

When they are subject to ridicule because of things they hold dear,

When they are misunderstood and misrepresented,

When they are treated unfairly, with no recourse,

When there is no prospect of change on the horizon

It is only natural to react in certain ways.

 

Peter knows this.

Because Peter knows his own heart.

Just as he knows sin because he knows his own sinfulness.

Therefore he knows his readers.

And even if he didn’t know these things first hand, the Holy Spirit gave him these words to pen.

And no one knows our hearts like our Creator.

He knows us better than we know ourselves.

 

His readers have been forced into a hostile culture.

They’ve been robbed of many if not all of the even scant rights they enjoyed as Romans – as some of them certainly were.

Many of them never even had those rights – and were always at the mercy, or more precisely, at the mere whim of those in political power.

 

There was no regard for their Christian convictions.

There was no religious freedom as they understood it.

They had no voice in the government.

They were displaced to areas where they did not know the customs, and few cared to know theirs.

Language was a barrier.

But even more, the people groups they were plunged into had no concept of a single, personal creator God,

No reference point for external moral absolutes like the 10 commandments.

They were plunged into this mess of a situation.

Similarly the Church in America today sits in the midst of a society that is in many ways becoming just like the one they were sent to.

 

Years ago I was traveling from the 12 Corners to Pittsford on Monroe Ave.

It was a clear, lovely morning.

There were few cars on the road.

The one immediately in front of me, and a few way behind us was all the traffic on our side.

There were just a few cars – spread out in the oncoming lanes.

I noticed the head of the driver in front of me, duck down to the right.

But he didn’t pop back up quickly. He was going about 40.

As I watched, helplessly behind him, his car started to drift over the double yellow lines into the oncoming lane.

The elderly couple in the car coming straight at him had no time to react.

They hit head on.

To me it was all like it was happening in slow motion.

I could see it happening, but was powerless to intervene.

All I could do was run into a store to get someone to call 911 – this was before cell phones – and attend to the 3 unconscious victims until a passing nurse and then an ambulance got there.

The driver in front of me was simply trying to retrieve a dropped cassette tape, and veered off.

That might be how it looks to many of us here today – when it comes to the direction our nation is taking.

Increasing hostility toward Evangelical Christianity.

Lessening regard for our Biblical and moral convictions.

No voice in government.

The devaluing of human life resulting in abortion, euthanasia, physician assisted suicide, a market for harvested baby parts, and an erotomania that makes the only absolute right: The one to seek sexual expression in any form – the only thing no one can safely criticize.

A horrible wreck unfolding right before our eyes.

Peter has given us some extremely valuable tools so far to respond to all this.

[[SLIDE]]   The Believer’s dual-identity as both Elect and Exile

[[SLIDE]]   Reminding ourselves of the wonder of salvation

[[SLIDE]]   And last time, like wrapping those two things around a 4 piece core he drew is to consider a mindset rooted in HOPE, HOLINESS, COMING JUDGMENT and LOVE.

But he also knows that these things need enlarged upon, repeated, and supplemented by more knowledge.

So our text today puts three things before us in consideration of all this.

[[SLIDE]]  This is how he begins – building off of what has come before:

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.  Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

 

[[SLIDE]]   And we’ll look at it in 3 parts: OUTLINE

 

  1. [[SLIDE]] 5 Dangers to look out for.
  2. [[SLIDE]] 1 Direction in overcoming these dangers.
  3. [[SLIDE]] 1 Penetrating and all important question to answer.

 

[[SLIDE]]   1. 5 Dangers to look out for.

 

Note that the dangers Peter draws our attention to here are not EXTERNAL dangers, from the circumstances themselves.

No, these are INTERNAL traps.

Sinful tendencies which may be undetectable in the good times, but surface when we are tested and tried – the way his readers were.

 

[[SLIDE]]  It is a reminder of Paul’s admonition in 2 Cor. 10:3-6 – For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. [1]

Let’s take them in order and see how they might be important to his 1st audience, so we can be aware of them for ourselves.

 

[[SLIDE]]   a. MALICE – a mean-spirited or vicious attitude or disposition, malice, ill-will, malignity

 

[[SLIDE]]    Bush, Obama, Clinton, Trump.

This is NOT a political sermon.

What I am doing here, I am taking from Peter’s cue in 2:13 & 17.

No doubt you have one or more visceral responses to one or more of the faces you see here.

You might react badly to President Bush for his war or spending polices.

On the other hand, President Obama’s visage may conjure up concern over the loss of religious freedom or increasing debt or some others issues.

Mrs. Clinton’s picture might evoke and entirely different set of responses, as well may Mr. Trump’s.

The point it is this – when we feel unheard and trampled upon in any way – when we foresee or at least THINK we foresee – impending disaster but feel powerless, it is extraordinarily easy to slip into and justify MALICE toward such people – from all different sides!

[[SLIDE]]   And note the definition I gave you here a mean-spirited or vicious attitude or disposition, malice, ill-will, malignity[2]  BDAG

One does not have to wish ill on the one they dislike, they need only to fail of GOOD WILL toward them.

A vicious indifference. As though they are not human and in need of grace like ourselves.

Anger may be legitimate – but when that crosses over into wanting to see them get their comeuppance, or fall or be punished or suffer shame – we’ve fallen into the trap of the Enemy and become people of REACTIONS rather than people of Godly RESPONSES.

This is one of the most subtle but important aspects of being conformed to the image of Christ.

Jesus – as the Son of His Heavenly Father – did not allow his reactions to be jerked about by those around Him, but RESPONDED according to the need of the hour and the need of those He was interacting with.

In like – Peter calls his readers to refrain from an understandable but sinful response to the sins they are exposed to.

As we’ll see in later portions of the letter – he has very specific responses to sin in mind.

But he must point out the problem of falling into the trap of reacting out of emotion and fear and anger first.

And isn’t this a timely word for us as we face the political, moral and cultural future in America right now?

Who might you harbor malice in your heart toward?

Don’t candy coat-it. Admit it. And repent.

Amazing as it may seem, Peter will go on to tell these very people – thrust into these circumstances by the fallen whims of the Emperor Claudius –

 

[[SLIDE]]   1 Peter 2:13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,

[[SLIDE]]   1 Peter 2:17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

In due course we’ll have to unpack what these look like under various circumstances – but we cannot be simply swept away in our anger or frustration.

 

[[SLIDE]]   b. DECEITtaking advantage through craft and underhanded methods, deceit, cunning, treachery…

to make false through deception or distortion,  falsify, adulterate [3]

The temptation here is – when powerless, to get down on the perceived enemy’s level, and try every which-way to gain the upper hand – even if it is less than kosher.

 

[[SLIDE]]   I saw a great example of this very thing this week. Trying trough craft and cunning to discredit.

On NEWSGRU.COM, they ran a video of a 2014 Mass at which – in Latin, the phrase “luciferi” was used in prayer.

They tried to say the participants were praying to, or at least invoking Lucifer’s name as God.

I am no apologist for Roman Catholicism. They codified their own apostasy from Christianity at Trent when they denied the Gospel and anathamitized anyone who preached justification by faith in Christ alone.

But to misrepresent what was in fact a phrase taken from 2 Peter 1:9 where Jesus is called “the morning star” – the same phrase some apply to Satan in Isa. 14  – is underhanded, deceitful and distorted.

And isn’t it evident that both sides of an argument – political or otherwise often take words out of context, or use underhanded means to defeat their opponent – because legitimate means seem impotent?

This, is not to be the Christian’s response no matter HOW much it may be the tactics of those who oppose us.

 

[[SLIDE]]   c. HYPOCRISY – The temptation here, especially for Peter’s readers, would be to compromise at work or in the marketplace, and hide their Christianity in order to get along – while being good little Christians at home or at church.

It was Sigmond Freud’s father, who though Jewish, converted to Lutheranism when the family moved, so that he could do business in his new town. His attitude was – we need to do what we need to do to conduct business.

We can want to deny our allegiance to Christ when it seems uncomfortable – or even a central doctrine like Peter himself did in Antioch when the “Circumcision Party” came to town.

Paul notes in Galatians, those who had visited from James, reported the persecution of the Christians by some of the Jews, and even tho he stops eating with the Gentiles when the Circumcisers show up – probably hoping to avoid his fellow Christians from being persecuted – he shows himself a hypocrite – and Paul calls him on it.

No doubt this was a sharp reminder of how easily he fell into this trap personally.

 

[[SLIDE]]   d. ENVY – How very easy it is to slip into envying those who do not have the strain of these things on them – and who seem to thrive in the World by simply caving to the World’s standards.

 

[[SLIDE]]   Psalm 73:1–3 Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

 

[[SLIDE]]     e. SLANDER – Repeating anything about anybody to discredit them – because we can’t do anything else.

Giving ourselves over to criticizing, defaming, doing anything we can to detract from those we perceive to be the bad guys.

In America right now – it is the Premier sport of the age – from the left, the right, conservatives, liberals, atheists, Evangelicals – name it.

As we said already – We need to see in the first place, how these things might have played out in the lives of Peter’s 1st readers.

And in their being brought to our attention – we see a truly essential principle in the Christian life that in the rest of this letter will take on more and more importance: The Believer is never justified in responding to someone else’s sin WITH sin of our own.

The truth is, that when we are in dire straights and feeling helpless and perhaps hopeless, stretched beyond measure and facing unsure outcomes – we can respond both to outsiders, and to insiders alike in these categories.

To lash out at the outsiders and treat them with disdain, contempt and disrespect, and to let that overflow to the ones closest to us as well.

Many a man takes out their frustrations at work by vilifying their boss or co-workers, but then in turn brings that poison right back into their homes and infects their families with it.

Put these things away says Peter – or more literally, take them off – like you might shed inappropriate, soiled and smelly garments.

In his reader’s case, they are swimming in an alien society and culture, and alienated BY that culture.

How one responds to that society and culture, will be the same way they respond to it at home and in the Church!

It does not take much of a survey of Christian radio or literature to see how readily many of us are reacting to the way American culture is growing increasingly hostile toward us – with malice. Allowing a deep seated resentment to well up inside which spills over into unguarded words and attitudes toward our perceived persecutors.

This is not to say we ignore such slights nor justify them. It IS to say we cannot let the malice which is being directed toward us – be returned by malice WITHIN US!

 

[[SLIDE]]   2. 1 DIRECTION – In opposition to falling into the temptation of the 5 things just mentioned – Peter gives one great remedy: Crave the pure unadulterated “milk” that enables you to grow up fully into the salvation you’ve been saved for.

 

[[SLIDE]]  1 Peter 2:2–3 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

There is little doubt Peter has Psalm 34 in mind here – he quotes it here at the end of vs. 3 – and again more fully in chap. 3:10-12.

 

[[SLIDE]]  Psalm 34:8–10 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

What is it specifically the Believer has “tasted” in this regard? MERCY & GRACE

In opposition to caving into malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander – fill yourself up on the mercy and grace you have received in your salvation.

Swim in it.

Make it your filling food.

You are forgiven.

Pardoned.

Graced.

Promised.

Indwelt.

Kept.

And in response – extend mercy and grace.

 

[[SLIDE]]  3. 1 All important Question: IF IF IF IF IF – If you have in fact been the recipient of mercy and grace.

IF – is the question. Are you truly a Christian?

Or are you merely a religionist?

A cultural Christian?

A Christian in the sense that you aren’t a Jew or a Muslim or an adherent of some other religion?

Not a “Christian” because you were raised in a Christian home or belong to a Christian denomination – but because you personally have felt your guilt – and run to Christ for mercy on the basis of His substitutionary atonement?

A Christian because you know you’ve been made a child of God, born again by the Spirit of God, because God has been good to you – and for no other reason than that alone.?

This is of the utmost importance today.

Are you a Christian?

Have you truly tasted of His mercy and grace in the Cross and the New Birth?

Or are you a Christian in name only?

IF – you have tasted that the Lord is “good” – drink in the reality of His mercy and grace over and over and over again so that you do not spew out the poison of MALICE, DECEIT, HYPOCRISY, ENVY or SLANDER.

Putting it all together then this is Peter’s point:

[[SLIDE]]  Given the present stresses, Christians are tempted to react out of our flesh in sinful ways: MALICE, DECEIT, HYPOCRISY, ENVY and SLANDER. And the way to escape those snares and display Christ instead – is to dwell on the goodness, specifically – the MERCY & GRACE of God to the exclusion of other things. But this is not some psychological mind game – it is the exclusive province and privilege of those who have been born again by the Spirit of God.

Are we aware of these tendencies within us?

Are we seizing on the honor of directing our thought-life to dwell on God’s goodness more than the things of this World? To make us radically different manifestations of Christ’s Spirit in this age of darkness?

[[SLIDE]]  Are YOU, am I truly a Christian? For this cannot be done otherwise.

If you have NEVER tasted of the Lord’s goodness in salvation – you cannot drink of the “pure milk” mentioned here. And you need to come to Christ today!

[1] 2001. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker & Walter Bauer. 2000. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[3] Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker & Walter Bauer. 2000. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s