Sermons & Sunday Schools

The Appropriate Attitudes and Characteristics of Christian Submission

In this sermon, Pastor Babij teaches further on Christian submission from 1 Peter 3:8-13. Pastor explains how Christian submission ought to be displayed with both believers and unbelievers, especially in response to evil provocation. Such submission can only be accomplished by cultivating a love for God’s glory and by avoiding the error of an intellect-only faith. Pastor also discusses how Christian submission should be displayed in noble desires, holy conversation, love of life, and trust in God. Pastor concludes by exhorting Christians to live righteously in anticipation of God’s future reward.

Full Transcript:

As we continue to study through 1 Peter, a great epistle in the New Testament, we have been learning about submission, what it means, and how important it is to the Lord that we would be those kinds of people. As we turn there, let’s have a word of prayer:

Lord, as we approach the word of God, let us do that with deep reverence of heart and humility of mind. Lord, that we would take Your word as serious as You do, and that we would realize that these are not just suggestions, but God’s will. I pray, Lord, that we would take what is written and practice it in our life because these are practical things. These are things that the spirit of God enables and empowers us to do. I pray, Lord, that we would be these kinds of people that is mentioned in these texts. Lord, rebuke us if You need, change our minds in issues and relationships, and help us, Lord, every day, by the power of Your spirit, to walk in the spirit and not fulfill the old ways of the flesh. I pray that You would do that for us for we know that it is Your will. I pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.

As the children of God living in this world, we must learn submission. I have been saying that the word submit implies putting oneself under the authority of another, or to take a subordinate place. Of course, that is something you do willingly. In adding to that definition, it is a voluntary selfishness and a submission based on the death of pride and desire to serve.

So far, we saw four applications of Christian submission. First, it was to governing authorities. In any form of government a person would find themselves in, they are to submit to those authorities. Remember, all submission has a caveat to it, and the caveat is always this: if someone asking you to sin or go against what God says, then that is where we disobey.

Second, it is servants to their masters, or workers to their bosses. Then, in the middle of that, we saw an application of the Lord, Jesus Christ, submitting to the Father’s will. Jesus becomes our example in submission where He submitted Himself to suffering and even death on the Cross.

Third, it is the Christian wife’s responsibility to their unsaved husband and to all husbands. Fourth, which we looked at last time, is the Christian husband’s submission to God on behalf of their wives. So, a husband submits to God in what he should be doing as a husband, and then he does it on behalf of his wife.

Now, we move from the specifics of Christian duty to the general statements of Christian behavior, which include the attitudes and characteristics for appropriate Christian submission in any place and at any time.

In our text, the first appropriate attitude will be that a Christian’s submission is to be seen in our submissive conduct, which is seen in two areas: conduct before other believers and conduct before everybody else. So, what kind of conduct and attitude should we have as believers that please God? Remember, these attitudes also lay ground to be able to give an answer to the hope that lies within us, and to share the Gospel with someone by the way we live.

First, we see that it is our conduct toward believers. 1 Peter 3:8:

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.

If you notice in that passage, here are some desirable attributes in which he is summing up the subject of submission, which all Christians are to have as their goal for living every single day. The Apostle Peter uses five adjectives to describe the Christian’s attitude in two areas: mind and affections.

The Scripture will affect how we feel, and these words describe how the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A regular exposure to the word of God transforms the mind and the affections. When God transforms us, He transforms our mind and our affections such as what we love and desire. Some fifty-one years ago, Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, warned at a puritan conference not to repeat an error of a movement called Sandemanian, which was named after a man named Robert Sandeman, who was a Scottish theologian whose central error was this:

True faith can be held without deeply felt affections.

That was the error, so Jones is warning against that. In other words, Christian faith and theological reflection are not only concerned with the mind since our mind is being transformed by truth, but it is also concerned with faith and right theology, which entails more than knowledge. Faith and reflection on truth must include a love for and a joy in the truth. Yes, with sound truth that gripes the heart and reorients our affections are for the glory of God.

In this next section of Scripture, we can see how real conversion to Christ reorients ones inner-man. In other words, how we look at life is completely changed as we are exposed more and more to Scripture and how the Spirit of God is moving us to a place where we are exemplifying pleasing attitudes and characteristics in our life because we serve God, especially under His watchful eye.

In our text, there are five characteristics that should accompany a growing attitude of submission. In 1 Peter 3:8, the first one is that we are to be companionable, which has to do with the mind. It says to be harmonious, and that is to be people of one-mind and unity. It is an inward unity of attitude in spiritual things, which makes any kind of schism unthinkable. There are other passages of Scripture that remind us of this such as Philippians 2:2:

make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

In Romans 12:16, it says:

Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

The point being that we are to be people who are harmonious and united in thought and our understanding of truth. Strife and divisions are fleshly things, which show a person is living impurely, on a human level, according to human standards, and without the mind of Christ. It says in 1 Corinthians 3:3:

for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

You are walking the way you used to walk, but there must be a change. No person can live the Christian life unless his or her personal relationship is at unity with their fellow men and women. In a very real way, the church cannot be truly Christian in their attitudes and actions if there is division within the church. There is a great stress in Scripture not to have division.

Already, I have said that the function of our will and submission to God’s structure of things is to keep the unity so that the work of God will not be hindered. Don’t forget, unity is enhanced through submission. There is submission to God through His word, through His will, and through His authority.

However, unity does not mean uniformity. It means cooperation in the midst of diversity. That is what is different about the church. We can have all kinds of people come to the church from all different backgrounds, cultures, and languages, yet still be one. The world is trying to do that, but they cannot do it because there is no Christ, salvation, spirit, or word. No matter what they do, they will never be able to accomplish that.

We come to the church and suddenly God gives it to us, but we must keep it because we can revert to fleshly ways of doing things, which doesn’t help anybody, nor does it help the church. We don’t have to agree on how everything is to be done, but we are to agree on what and why things are to be done. By the word of God, we get that agreement.

Second, in 1 Peter 3:8, we are to be sympathetic and compassionate people. Now, he is talking about our affections. First, he goes from the mind of unity to affections, and to be compassionate and sympathetic means to share the feelings of someone else. Also, to be ready to enter at anytime into someone’s feelings of sorrow or joy. You and I bounce back and forth out of those feelings all the time, but sometimes we have sorrow in our life.

Thus, compassion is coming along somebody in their sorrow and feeling what they feel and understanding what they understand. In Hebrews 10:34, it says:

For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.

The point in Hebrews is to remember the prisoner as though you were in prison with them. Getting into your mind: if I was in prison, how would I feel, what would I be thinking about, and what would be the heaviness of my heart. Thus, this word means to be able to be affected with the same feelings as someone else. Yet, you are not going through it at the time that they are, but you learn how to feel with them. Then, you can come along side of them and genuinely help them.

In this word, there is the sense in which the affections are inwardly moved. The inside of your heart is moved to want to do something. Of course, Jesus is our example of deep compassion. In Mark 8, when Jesus called His disciples together, the crowd came around Him, people were listening to His teaching, and three days had gone by where people didn’t really eat, His compassion becomes proactive, which He moves toward solving to satisfy the hunger of the people.

Thus, compassion always has feelings connected to it. Feelings that are kindled when one sees the desperate need in another person, and experiences within themselves the sense of sorrow or the sense of joy. Mercy kicks in, and then it puts into practice a plan to do something to relieve the need and remove the suffering. Metaphorically, this term compassion means being moved deeply within – a gut wrenching emotion. Jesus says in Matthew 9:36:

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.

Compassion can get in and feel what another person is feeling. It is very comforting when somebody comes along you when you are feeling that way, and they are genuinely connecting with you to help you, pray with you, and encourage you. Simply, to be there with you at that moment of possibly being down or in distress, or if you are joyful, they come alongside of you and encourage you in your joy.

In our day, we are bombarded with so much misinformation and bad news that we have become numb. These video games that some of these kids watch just numb their soul and they numb their feelings. Some of these shootings that are happening are very grievous to think about, and to experience. Behind it, a lot of this goes on before that child gets a gun and starts shooting someone. Before they get to that point, I like to know the stuff that goes behind it, and they become numb.

Shooting someone as a human being is just like a videogame. Then, they realize what reality is, but it is sad that we have gotten there. See, freedom isn’t free when you overstep the boundaries of freedom and abuse people by allowing kids to have games and information that really is not helpful or healthy for them to have.

Bottom line, increased growth in Christian maturity is revealed by a heartfelt compassion toward people who have spiritual, physical, and emotional needs.

Third, we are to be considerate. Again, it’s an affection. In our text, the word used is brotherly. The Greek word is Philadelphia. By looking at that word, we know that he means brotherly love. We are children of the Heavenly Father; therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ. In the 1 Peter 1, he already taught that Christians are to live a life committed to growing in love. 1 Peter 1:22:

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart

The motive and ability to obey that command to love, flows from the new birth. The divine seed being planted in the heart produces divine love. In God’s book, we find life and through it, let us express the love that the Lord has expressed to us in the Cross of Calvary. We ought to be getting about the business of growing-up in love. 1 John 4:20:

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.

In other words, we express the love of God to people that can be seen. Of course, God sees how we do that.

The fourth characteristic is that of being comforting. In the text, it is kind-hearted, which is our affections being influenced by the spirit of God and the word of God. This term kind-hearted is derived from a Greek word that means intestines. We don’t necessarily talk that way, but the point is that it is the deep-seeded emotions that are in your soul. We are to be kind-hearted from the inside out and being sensitive towards the needs of others even when they deserve the contrary.

We are to have this kind of comforting or tenderheartedness toward someone who doesn’t necessarily deserve it. Being sensitive in this way, we find in Scriptures like Ephesians 4:32:

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

These two things being someone who is comforting and courteous, which lends us more to the mind. We went from the mind, to the affections, to the affections again, and back to the mind. The fifth one is to be humble in spirit or to be courteous.

This is the attitude of the mind, which is the opposite of being haughty or high-minded. Here is a self-effacing person, who is one that has evaluated and emptied themselves, so they do not brag or push themselves on other people but are courteous with people and very sensitive to that.

Don’t forget, the Apostle Peter was writing to prepare Christians to live despite difficulties and fiery trials. We are to maintain a Christian demeanor even in the face of those who are against us. Then, he switches from the attitudes we should have towards believers to now the attitudes and characteristics we are to have towards everyone else. 1 Peter 3:9:

not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

First, we are not to retaliate with carnal or fleshly response. This first response should not be an unreasonable response. This response is as old as time. It’s the “tit for tat” type of thing. It is the, “you do evil to me, so then I’ll do it right back to you,” or, “you insult me and mine, then I’ll retaliate it for some crafty verbal response.”

That is the old way. No, we must not respond according to the dictates of the old sinful mind. Again, this goes back to the example Christ had when he did not open His mouth. He committed Himself to the one who judges righteously.

If we are not to respond this way, then we are to give a blessing. Responding with a blessing means to call down good on someone. In this case, it means to call good even to those who are against you and revile you. Again, Christ is our example.

The followers of Jesus are called to imitate the Lord Jesus’ example of non-retaliation in response to verbal abuse, and with an awaiting for a blessing. For example, in Matthew 5:43-48 the Lord teaches:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47“If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The Lord is moving us to the place of what it means to be a blessing to someone, which is to do the opposite of what you normally would have done in the flesh and according to the old man. Believe me, those things cannot easily be done in the flesh.

Everyone is living at either one to three levels. Either we’re returning evil for evil, which is the satanic level, or good for good, which is the human level. However, when we return good for evil, that is the divine level. The level we want to live on is the divine level.

As Christians, we are called to be a blessing, which is what it says in 1 Peter 3:9. We are called to bless because we ourselves have been blessed by God. We don’t want to lose a blessing by not being merciful to others. As Christians, we have already received mercy from God by Christ paying for the huge debt of our sin.

Because we have received His mercy, we have received the blessing from Him, and because we have received that blessing from Him, we want to now turn around and bless other people by being good to them, supplying their needs, and praying for them.

Christians are called to be a blessing, to love one another, love our enemies, and then we are called to do something else. We are called to love life. Let me ask you something: do you love life?

The second appropriate attitudes and characteristics of submission is that Christian submission is to be seen in our noble desire and heard in our sanctified conversation. So, what is our noble desire? 1 Peter 3:10:


Sometimes these passages of Scripture can slip by us, and we don’t necessarily get the sense of what is being said there. We are to love life with knowledge of what we have already received. Life and good days are experienced with the new birth.

As part of the present living hope of all believers, we have received something from God. In receiving salvation from God through Christ, then we have a different perspective on life. Living in the footsteps of Jesus is worthwhile and better than we ever had before. You want a life here on earth that is worthwhile and is a life you can love with full intelligence and purpose where you can see days that are not empty, but rich of the fruit of the Lord.

I’m not talking about easy days or sunshine days, but days in which one experiences the blessing of God in the middle of a difficult life, which is what he is saying here. Living life as an alien and sojourner will not be easy. We have already seen that in Scripture, and he will highlight that more in the end of 1 Peter 3.

However, while we are going through it, God is with us for good and for blessing. In that sense, we are to love life as believers. Do you love your life and the life that God gave you? At this point in our text, Peter brings in Psalm 34 in 1 Peter 3:10-12:




This is the text he brings in to support his first statement. I think that all of us want good days. All of us want to love life. Maybe loving the Christian life that God has given us in this world should be part of how we respond in submission to God. We may not be able to change our circumstances or our life, but we can respond to our life and circumstances in a way that pleases God. When we do that, we receive blessings that come from God. Psalm 34:12 it is posed as a question:

Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?

So, who is the man who does this? Then, we know that this is connected to another passage of Scripture in 2 Samuel. If we go to the head of the context of Psalm 34 and Psalm 34:1, this is what David says:

A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Abimelech is another title for the king of Achish of Gath. Let me give you some background of these texts. David was a refuge and was on the run from king Saul, who wanted him dead, so David sought political asylum in a place called Gath. However, that was not a good move. Gath is where the Giant Goliath was from. David had already slayed Goliath.

Now, you don’t kill a countrymen’s champion and try to slip through the cracks without being noticed, so David realized that he made a big mistake by seeking refuge among Israel’s worst enemy. On top of that, he had Goliath’s sword with him. This is not a good day for David.

In fact, this may be one of the worst days he ever had. He had no home. He was a king without a kingdom since Saul was still the king. He was a soldier without an army. He had no place to go, and so he figured that at Gath they would give him a chance. When he got there, he realized it wouldn’t work. 1 Samuel 21:10-13:

Then David arose and fled that day from Saul, and went to Achish king of Gath. 11But the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands’?” 12David took these words to heart and greatly feared Achish king of Gath. 13So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard.

He is trying to get out of a situation the best way he knows how, and it’s probably the best thing he can do. Remember, it is King David, so don’t ever say that King David never had a bad day. At this point in his mind, can he think that he loved life? This is where he writes Psalm 34. Now, in 1 Samuel 21:14-15:

Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me? 15“Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?”

Then, in 1 Samuel 22:1:

So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s household heard of it, they went down there to him.

At that point, David writes Psalm 34, and his question is: who is the man that desires life and loves length of days that he may see good? Who is that kind of man? He answers his own question in Psalm 34:13:

Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.

He just came out of a situation where he was babbling, and who knows what David was saying. He probably said the wrong things, so he comes back and realizes how absurd it was that he acted like that.

When you desire to love the life that God has given you with a positive and realistic outlook, then you must continue to practice difficult things. In fact, you must practice a difficult operation. In 1 Peter 3:10, notice that he is quoting from Psalm 34, but not posing it as a question; rather, as a statement.

Do you think that it is difficult to control your tongue? Do people tend to control their tongue? No, they don’t. In 1 Peter 3:10, this is a poetic way of saying: the evil starts in your heart. By thinking about it, it works up to your mouth. Then, it slips out this little opening called your lips, and it gets out to people. Let’s consider for a moment what Psalm 141:3 says:

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.

In James 3:6, it says:

And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

In James 3:8, it says:

But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.

Have you ever considered your tongue to be that? The problems that we have usually come from our speech, but it also comes from our heart. James 3:9-10:

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

Again, that is what David is saying. If you want to love life and if you desire to love the life that God has given you, then there must be a control of what you are thinking about and what comes out of your mouth. A heart that is free from any deceitful thing can control the tongue and its speech. We can control the tongue by walking in the spirit, and not walking in the old man’s ways.

In other words, anything that comes out of our mouth must be evaluated as to whether we should say it or not. You should quickly evaluate what you are going to say, and if it doesn’t have any kind of value to it to edify someone, encourage someone, or rebuke someone in the right way, then don’t do it. It’s to have that kind of control, and he is saying that when you do, you are experiencing the good parts of life. Why do you think that is?

Wars start right from our heart. Then, wars start by speech, and speech that is sometimes not understood and confusing. When we learn how to control our tongue, we learn how to experience the goodness and blessing of life.

Third, the Christian submission is to be lived out with a saintly pursuit. Meaning, we are to walk on the right path. Before I look at that, David continues to answer the question of a blessed life, and he says in Psalm 34:14:

Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

In our text, you can’t just turn from evil, it must be replaced with a pursuit of that which is good and seeks peace. If you are to love life, you must avoid evil, and you avoid evil because you despise evil. A Christian should not avoid sin just because it is wrong. They should avoid sin because they hate it. They should avoid sin because of what it did to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

When you learn to hate what God hates, then you stay away from it and don’t do it. In our text, we are told to pursue peace. Peace is not simply freedom from trouble. In our text, it means to hunt for peace to capture it.

There are several kinds of peace that we can consider. One, it could be peace that is Godward. This peace is that which was already won for us through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. We have peace with God through the blood of the cross. This peace is given to us by God. Because we are at peace with God, through Christ, then we can make every effort to maintain peace with other people. Romans 14:19:

So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

Then, in 2 Corinthians 13:11:

Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

A second way of considering peace is toward man, which is peace in relationships. This peace will not come automatically just because people are Christian. The world is still part of our thinking, the remaining flesh is still there, and the devil will try to disrupt life in any group of believers. That is why this peace requires an effort, which is why it says to pursue it.

Peace is good for the soul and wellbeing of God’s people. If anybody is going to learn peace, then it must be learned by God’s people. We are to walk on the right path, and that right path is to turn away from evil, and to seek peace and pursue it.

Then, we are to live with the right perspective. Psalm 34:15:

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry.

In other words, it is talking about divine favor. When we live this way, we have divine favor toward us, which means that God is with us for good and blessing. If you don’t live that way and desire to continue to live the way of the flesh, then, 1 Peter 3:12, there is divine disfavor and retribution. Psalm 34:16 says:

The face of the LORD is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.

The incentive for doing good is the knowledge of the presence of God. In 1 Peter 3:12, the Lord’s eyes see, and His ears hear. Those who live for the Lord are motivated by a real consciousness of God’s character, actions, and presence in their life. In other words, there is no one more blessed than the Lord. There is no one more on the side of a believer than the Lord. Therefore, we are to live with the perspective that God sees, He hears, and He is involved in our life. He is not far away and distant. He is involved in the details of our life.

Thus, leading us to the last thing, which is to live with the right policy. 1 Peter 3:13 says:

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?

If you are living your life for the Lord, loving the life that God has given you, fleeing and turning away from evil, control your tongue, and desire to pursue peace and be at peace with other people, then who can be against you if God is for you? No one. So, a good day for a believer, who loves life, is not one which is catered to, but one in which he or she experiences God’s help, comfort, support, and blessing in the middle of life’s problems and trials.

How did David end his Psalm when he wrote on the day that his life was filled with trouble? He ended it like this in Psalm 34:16-17:

The face of the LORD is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17The righteous cry, and the LORD hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.

On that day, a bad day, David experienced some things that he didn’t know before, and he experienced the very comfort, support, and blessing in the middle of life’s trials. In 1 Samuel 22:1, on that bad day, David is getting all the comfort from his family, those who support him, and his soldiers that fought with him. They are going to come down there and convince him that he needs to go back and become king, which is what happens.

On a very bad day, he experienced God’s presence, and it caused him to write a very encouraging Psalm where he knows that he is blessed because God is with him. God knows all that is going on in our life, and we are thankful for that. In other words, the good life is a life in which God is near to you for blessing. When you experience God’s help and support, His blessing is in the middle of life’s problems and trials.

The Christian life is never a deliverance from problems and trials. It is a realization that during those trials and problems, God is with you. If God is with you, then you don’t have to worry about anything. No one can be against you, so this must change our minds, the way we do things, our submission to the very general characteristics that are appropriate to live every day of our lives.

When we do that, God is pleased with us. We know that Satan will lie to us and tell us we’re miserable. No, the Scripture says God is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. God works everything for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

Our minds ought to be thinking that way, and I believe that when we do, we gain encouragement and strength in the time of suffering, trials, and trouble in our life. Let’s pray:

Lord, Thank You for Your word. Again, Lord, it illuminates the darkness of the world, sometimes the confusion of our hearts, what is right and wrong, and it gives us the needed practical information on how to live in this world in a way that we can carry out the characteristics of submission before You. As we do that, You are near us for blessing and good. Lord, You walk with us, You defend us, You help us, You protect us, You hear our prayers, and You answer us. Thank You, Lord. Thank You for that. I pray, Lord, if there is someone here that realizes that they are not living that way, then that would be something that they change and come before you in repentance of sin. Lord, if someone never experiences that, then maybe they don’t know You as their Lord and Savior, so they need to come and repent of their sin and trust you as their Lord and Savior. Please, Lord, work Your word in our heart, so that it may be affectual and produce the results You intend. I pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.