1 Peter Part 8
1 Peter 2:13-17
THE AUDIO FOR THIS SERMON CAN BE FOUND HERE
We’ve spent all our time in this letter thus far, reckoning with the Believer’s true identity in Christ.
[[ SLIDE ]] An identity summed up in v9 as: A CHOSEN RACE; A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD; A PEOPLE FOR HIS OWN POSSESSION.
Now what is that supposed to look like in the real world?
Here, we move from the theoretical and doctrinal, to the practical.
[[ 4 SLIDES]] OUTLINE
1 – 13-14 / WHAT TO DO – The Directive: Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
The connection between this exhortation and what came immediately before seems clear: the one who will not submit to earthly authorities, will not submit to God’s either.
Submission to earthly authorities is the boot camp to serving God.
Practice here serves us well for the other, and failure here indicates unwillingness in the other.
These are not disconnected issues but very closely tied, indeed intertwined.
Do not imagine yourself a devoted follower of Christ if you are constantly chafing against earthly restraint – for the Heavenly is more encompassing.
[[SLIDE]] Note that Peter’s concern here is in our interaction with pagan governments.
Whatever that might look like, it must be governed first and foremost by regard to Christ’s Lordship and program in the earth – for His sake.
The idea is that we do not interact for our OWN sake as the primary motivation, but what will be most useful in the displaying of Christ’s Lordship in this place and under these circumstances. What will put Him in the best light and accomplish His will?
That Christ has an agenda, and that that agenda must inform our responses to oppressive and pagan rulers.
We can’t help but see here in Peter’s instruction, is that the argument that Christians need only submit to the government IF the government is performing up to Biblical standards and fulfilling its God appointed functions and purposes – doesn’t hold water.
This specific government he is referring to here was a pagan government.
This was a Godless government.
This was a government that endorsed abortion and infanticide.
This was a government that endorsed, practiced and regulated widespread slavery. Nearly 40% of the population.
This was the Emperor who removed them from their homes, and exiled them to this place.
[[SLIDE]] This is Emperor, Claudius in the best case, Nero in the worst – but let’s take Claudius –
Was married 4 times.
Had his 3rd wife and her lover executed.
In his 13 year reign had 35 Senators executed and over 300 knights. Knights where a privileged class, originally from the army but who stood as an intermediary group between the ordinary citizens and the senatorial class.
He was well known for ignoring the laws in court rulings merely on personal whims.
And what was widely known and would have opened him up for ridicule is the fact that his own family thought he was defective and useless.
One relative called him a monster.
His childhood illness left him disfigured.
He was “clumsy and coarse.”
Tales of him falling asleep after dinner, and being pelted with food to wake him up were common.
It was even said they put shoes on his hands while asleep so that when he woke he would rub his eyes with them.
He was a joke to his family and everyone else.
He had an undiagnosed malady with head tremors. When he got excited his nose ran profusely and he even foamed at the mouth.
He also had an extreme blood-thirst, addicted to the gladiatorial games in the arenas.
Claudius and his government cared nothing for the religious rights of Christians as a sect of Judaism.
And he ran a government that cared nothing for whether or not these people were discriminated against due to their ethnic origin (Jews?) or their religion.
[[SLIDE]] And Peter, through the Holy Spirit says: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.”
For the Lord’s sake. So that His will and agenda is accomplished.
[[SLIDE]] We are NOT at war with our government – but with sin.
[[SLIDE]] 2 – 15 / WHY DO IT THIS WAY? – The Rationale: “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”
[[SLIDE]] The idea here is that the Christian lives a supernatural life in the midst of a fallen natural world.
We don’t base our actions on theirs – but upon Christ’s commands, at whose pleasure we serve as a Royal Priesthood.
Doing good in this context is specifically connected to our obedience to secular authorities.
This is a UNIQUELY Christian attitude, meant to display our trust in higher glories in Christ as Lord.
And so we are not afraid of earthly authorities, nor at war with them.
I fear that in our day, this idea is almost entirely lost in the Church.
[[SLIDE]] Because our responses are to be EVANGELISTIC.
God desires to have us address these circumstances with His eternal plan in view, above our immediate concerns.
He draws into His grand scheme, rather than letting us founder on the small stuff.
In the capacity of your Priesthood, you have a vastly different responsibility toward God’s purposes in your circumstances.
Note how silencing the ignorance of this foolish people (specifically corrupt governmental agents) is done:
Not through demonstrations.
Not through legislation.
Not through protests.
Not through lawsuits.
Not through shouting the others down.
Not through vilification of the opposition.
Not through cowering in fear.
Not through fleshly human responses.
But, through DOING GOOD – as one of the core honors of our Priesthood we discussed last week. Remember Hebrews 13:16 “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
[[SLIDE]] “Epistle to Diognetus” in the early part of the second century. “The Christians,” he says, “are not distinguished from other men by country, by language, nor by civil institutions. For they neither dwell in cities by themselves, nor use a peculiar tongue, nor lead a singular mode of life. They dwell in the Grecian or barbarian cities, as the case may be; they follow the usage of the country in dress, food, and the other affairs of life. Yet they present a wonderful and confessedly paradoxical conduct. They dwell in their own native lands, but as strangers. They take part in all things as citizens; and they suffer all things, as foreigners. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every native land is a foreign. They marry, like all others; they have children; but they do not cast away their offspring. They have the table in common, but not wives. They are in the flesh, but do not live after the flesh. They live upon the earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the existing laws, and excel the laws by their lives. They love all, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown, and yet they are condemned. They are killed and are made alive. They are poor and make many rich. They lack all things, and in all things abound. They are reproached, and glory in their reproaches. They are calumniated, and are justified. They are cursed, and they bless. They receive scorn, and they give honor. They do good, and are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice, as being made alive. By the Jews they are attacked as aliens, and by the Greeks persecuted; and the cause of the enmity their enemies cannot tell…This lot God has assigned to the Christians in the world; and it cannot be taken from them.”
[[SLIDE]] When is it a sacrifice to “do good”? When you are doing good to those who are NOT doing you good – perhaps doing positive harm!
[[SLIDE]] 3 – 16 / WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR – The Warning: “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”
The freedom referred to here seems to be the freedom from earthly authorities versus Heavenly.
Our service is to FIRST of all Christ, not to men.
We are citizens of Christ’s Kingdom.
We are called to submit to them, but not fear them like we do God Himself.
Yet we are not to construe that as license to ignore human authority – nor as license to rebel against or overthrow human authority.
It is freedom to serve Christ above all, but that, in righteousness.
It is interesting to note that Israel as God’s people was in captivity 2 major times: 1st in Egypt and 2nd in Babylon.
AT NO TIME WERE THEY GIVEN PERMISSION TO REBEL AGASINT THEIR CAPTORS.
[[SLIDE]] The early Christians were subject to a power which required them to do that which was forbidden by their religion. To that extent and within those limits they could not and did not obey it; but they never encouraged in any way resistance or rebellion.… He only disobeyed when it was necessary to do so for conscience sake. The point of importance is the detachment of the two spheres of activity. The Church and the State are looked upon as different bodies, each with a different work to perform. To designate this or that form of government as ‘Christian,’ and support it on these grounds, would have been quite alien to the whole spirit of those days. The Church must influence the world by its hold on the hearts and consciences of individuals.… [William Sanday and Arthur C. Headlam, The Epistle to The Romans (New York: Scribner’s, 1895), p. 372]
Daniel was not to rebel.
Joseph was not to rebel.
Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael were not to rebel.
[[SLIDE]] Civil disobedience under specific circumstances? Yes.
[[SLIDE]] When commanded to do anything God’s Word forbids,
[[SLIDE]] When forbidden to do anything God’s Word commands.
But that does not then carry over into wholesale rebellion.
Only in those circumstances and with a willingness to endure the consequences.
Again – Free in what way?
We’re free from the constraints the Culture would try to impose upon us.
Live as those who resist being compelled to do that which is against holiness – the pressure to be “politically correct”.
But in that freedom – don’t use it as a cover up for venting your spleen in “righteous indignation.”
It is so easy to justify anger, vilification and outward contempt on lost people and their thought process.
But deal with them in patience and righteousness and not in justifying your inward compulsion to shout them down or dominate over them.
Live as servants of God as opposed to:
- Servants of the present culture and worldview, and
- Servants of our own unrighteous responses to that culture.
The Jeremiah portion we had read needs to come in here.
Note how God directs the actions and attitudes of the Jews while under the severe captivity of the Babylonians.
[[SLIDE]] Jeremiah 29:4–9 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
- 5 Build houses and live in them;
- plant gardens and eat their produce.
- 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters;
- take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.
- 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
[[SLIDE]] Extremes on all ends must be avoided:
- Secluding and detaching ourselves, so that we have no one outside of our own community to do good to!
- Thinking that since we are citizens of another country, we do not have to submit to the governmental authorities.
- Caving to the culture and losing our identity in Christ.
- Forgetting our first freedom is from sin – not to justify sinful responses to sinful treatment.
[[SLIDE]] 4 – 17 / THE WRAP-UP – The Summary: “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
What does that look like?
[[SLIDE]] Honoring EVERYONE. Each in their own station. 3 Examples:
- Loving the BELIEVERS. (Especially in example and faithfulness)
- Fearing GOD. Not caving to the World or the Flesh.
- Honor the EMPEROR – the very one who is responsible for putting you through this trial.
This, as opposed to vigilantism.
We all yearn for justice.
And we have an interesting affinity for movies and such where someone wronged may go outside the bounds of what is legal and ethical in order to bring about the justice they may have been deprived of.
And the stronger our sense of justice, the more inclined we are to cheer such exploits.
But a sinful response to sin is never justified – no matter how grievously we may have suffered injustice at the hands of others.
It is a hard thing to trust God with injustice. But a necessary one.
Every single human being is made in the image of God. They must all be treated as such.
Above mere honor, those in the Church must be LOVED, and thus encouraged and supported and reminded of their station, identity, provision in the Spirit and ministry to the World as Priests.
God alone is to be feared. Period.
But honor is due, even to that rascal who subjected them to such difficulty. He too, is one made in the image of God.
The bottom line to it all is this: To live a supernatural lifestyle, in submission to His appointed arrangement, unperturbed, in carrying out Christ’s agenda and not our own. Fearless but respectful.
To present a stark contrast to all human and fallen reasoning.
To be otherworldly – here and now, for Christ’s sake.
Ultimately – to live as He lived in His incarnation.
This is what He did in saving us. This is what we do in extending that salvation to the rest of this fallen world.
That all might come to know Him savingly too.
 Schaff, Philip & David Schley Schaff. 1910. History of the Christian church. . Vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
 Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. 1982. The Christian and social responsibility. (Current Christian Issues). Chicago, IL: Moody Press.