In this sermon, Pastor Babij begins preaching from 1 Peter on how Christians are to demonstrate their alien status as Christ’s people while on the earth: by living righteously and submitting to God’s ordained authorities.
In part 1, Pastor Babij explains the Christian’s basis for seeking righteousness in this way:
1) God’s accomplished salvation
2) The new identity in Christ
3) The new relationship to sin
4) The new master
5) The ministry of the Holy Spirit
1 Peter 2:11-12:
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,
Lord, as we look at the word of God and as we think through it, give us understanding. Lord, give us an understanding of the word of God so that we may think properly as believers. I pray our proper arranged thoughts would lead us to practice the word of God the way it ought to be. Lord, give us the strength to be able to do that on a regular basis. Until, Lord, we mature from children to adults in our spiritual thought life, and through that, Lord, give us strength to live the Christian life and to be the people that we ought to be. I pray that You would do that today with this passage. In Christ, I pray. Amen.
The exhortations that Scripture has presented already have been and are designed for believers to be prepared, equipped for life, and to live the Christian life in this world. Last time, in 1 Peter, we received good Scriptural counsel concerning our identity as Christians. If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, then who you are is important. 1 Peter 2:9:
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
In Scripture, we have been instructed that as disciples of Christ, we are chosen people, who form God’s new people. We are a priesthood of believers. We are holy and different. We are people for God to especially possess. We are light. We are somebody. We have God’s mercy, so we have nothing to fear.
Christians are no longer people groping in the dark. Christians live in the true light since they are light. Brethren, spiritual light is life to our spiritual existence. In our text, it says that he has called us into his marvelous light, so it is a light that is beyond description. To be Christian means to be taken out of this horrible darkness and life of sin, shame, and evil, and to begin to live a new life. Now you belong to Him, John 8:12
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
Christianity is to belong to God, who is light, and in Him, is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:7:
but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
As it says in Ephesians, we are the inheritance of the saints in light. Even in 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, it says:
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
This implies that if you are a born-again believer, you are light. Before, you never had light in you, and without Christ, you never could or would have acquired any ever. Ephesians 5:8:
for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.
This is the difference between a Christian and a Non-Christian. A Christian is a person who undergoes the most vital change that effects their whole being, the seed of their personality, and their inner-person including their affections, the way they think, and what they will to do in their life.
Before conversion to Christ, you and I were full of darkness, dead in trespasses and sin, ignorant of God, ignorant of our need of salvation, our eternal destiny, and we hid away from the light lest our evil deeds would be exposed. We led an unfruitful spiritual life leading only to destruction and eternal death.
After conversion to Christ, we were no longer in darkness. We are no longer ignorant of ourselves, no longer ignorant of the purpose of life, no longer ignorant of our need of salvation, no longer ignorant of our eternal destiny. Our lives were brought into the light, and we saw things as they really were.
In other words, if you are in the light, you have the key to living on this earth. Simply, you turn to Christ, you seek God the rest of your life, and you give yourself to the service of His plan, which is the key to living in this world. Your motive being God’s glory. If I may say it this way: it is the key to survival in the world.
Today, men and women feel lost and astray in the world. All you need to do is take a glance at people. Most of them have their heads down, and of course, it is because they are on their social media. If you look at modern art, poetry, novels, or take a five-minute conversation with a sensitive unbeliever, then you will be assured of the fact that they feel lost. They feel like they have no direction, so in an age that has won a high degree in control over the forces of nature than ever before, this seems quite odd, but it is not odd at all.
In fact, it is part of God’s judgement, which we have brought down on ourselves by trying to feel too much at home in this world. We have set our faces against the idea that one should live on the basis that there is something more than this world to live for. We have set ourselves against that thought.
According to Scripture, there is something more to live for than this world, and there is a way to live it as well. Meaning, you are to walk in accordance to your calling, and Christians are called to be children of God. Real born-again believers walk in the light, and the light magnifies all the darkness so that we may see what is really going on.
God wants us to know what happens to us in salvation. He wants us to know who we are, so that we start living according to who we are. Understanding your identity in Christ is essential for living the Christian life, and so far, that is what Peter has been talking about. It is not what you do as a Christian that determines who you are, but who you are that determines what you do.
Now, this brings me into the next section of 1 Peter, which deals with the subject of submission. We have gone from the subject of salvation and understanding salvation to the subject of submission. In other words, you can’t understand what submission is and how to submit until you understand salvation, what happened to you, and who you are because you are now a believer.
Once we grasp what God has done for us in salvation and what God has called us to be, we can delve into what we are to do, to be before the eyes of men, and how we are to look to the world. Before we can properly submit to others, the state, magistrates, masters of the household, and other masters in our lives, and before a husband and wife could submit to the Lord and each other, then we, as God’s children living in this world, must submit to a course of conduct.
Bringing me to this portion: the duty of the Christian is subjection. From 1 Peter 2:11-3:12, it is going to talk about submission. First, the Christian can never forget that they live in the world as aliens and strangers. I am going a step forward by saying that we live in the world as spiritual homeless people. In Scripture, we are strangers in the world.
In Peter 2:11, he is saying with great urgency to those who are receiving this letter, who are already believers, that they are temporary residents in this world. God’s chosen should quickly realize that they are visiting strangers in a place that is not their home and never will be their home, so don’t try to make it your home.
In this passage of Scripture, the strange thing is that these people were at home, but their conversion to Christ turned them into aliens and exiles within their own culture making them spiritually homeless. In many respects, Christians become socially marginalized people.
The Apostle Peter is not telling believers to escape from society, to retreat to some commune, or to become a monk. Rather, he is saying to be deliberate and to live an alien lifestyle as you participate in the world. Don’t try to leave it but try to live in it the way you ought to live in it. As aliens and strangers, realize that is who you are. As a believer, you will not change that, so live there. Therefore, Christians are strangers in the world.
Mentioned in 1 Peter 2:11, a second thing is that he uses the word aliens and strangers together. However, the word alien is used of those who are temporary residence, but not permanent settlers in the land. We are those who have a deep attachment and higher allegiance to another sphere, and we have been called to be citizens of another kingdom. Then, our mandate is to live according to a higher standard by keeping in mind our alien nationality and temporary residency.
Our higher allegiance is that the chosen higher citizenship is heaven, and we are here for only a short period of time to reach a world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20:
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are not home, and while we remain here, Christians are awaited to be fitted and transformed into our eternal state. Until that time, we are to live a certain way. True Christians are an alien society living within a society. They are members of the kingdom of God, but aliens on earth.
What makes us so different is that we are governed by the word of the living God. We are born-again by the word, and we are made spiritually mature by the word of God. We are different because we obey a higher authority. God is our authority and Jesus Christ is our master. We are in the world, but we are not to be of the world. Also, we are given the ministry of reconciliation, and we have been called to be ambassadors of another kingdom here on earth. 1 Peter 1:1:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen
We are those kinds of people in this world, so Christians, as aliens to this world, have been called by Christ to bring the word of God, the Gospel, to a world steeped in spiritual darkness in our time and unique post-modern culture. From Scripture, we know that what people need the most is Jesus Christ, and they don’t know they need Him.
In the church, founded are the followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus has entrusted to us the message of salvation, and that message is: by grace alone and through Christ alone. Therefore, we are not merely chosen for heaven, but chosen for earth.
While we are on earth, the destination of the elect is to move through this world. While we move through this world, we are to demonstrate a lifestyle of a stranger from another kingdom and as an alien from another place with the goal to proclaim the Gospel and live out our ambassadorship as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
As God’s people and children, we must submit to a course of conduct, and this is where submission must start. If we don’t start there, then we cannot submit to anyone else. If we don’t understand this, we cannot go to the rest of the passage of Scripture. We must understand this first, and it has to do with our internal being, what we understand about who we are, and the power that God has given us to live the Christian life. This is a course of conduct that can be evaluated, understood, and lived out.
Again, the duty of the Christian being subjection, so Christians are to live out their alien status with appropriate conduct. There is a certain way God wants us to live. It is what gets other people’s attention and a way that brings glory to God. In understanding that, believers can no longer operate based on sinful desires and passions, which we always operated on before.
Immediately, we become a Christian and discover that we are in an eternal warfare. There is a struggle going on in us, which never ends. However, there is an assumption made by Peter, in 1 Peter 2:11, that believers in Christ Jesus can carry out what Scripture is urging us to do, which is to abstain from fleshly lusts. So then, Christians are to avoid and keep themselves free from the impulses that belong to the flesh. The craving of the sinful man is called the lusts of the flesh.
Anything in this world system can become a source of sinful desire. The fleshly body can be the source of sensual desires and lusts. These desires extend to food, drink, sexual gratification, and way beyond to other desires, which reach out for an object to find some pleasure and satisfaction.
There are two words in Scripture and in the New Testament that can define the word flesh. The first one is somo, which means body or body parts. The next one is the word sarx, which is a term often referred to the fallen and corrupt human nature. To be born in the flesh means to not be inclined towards spiritual things.
To God, the flesh is spiritually dead, so the flesh is the sinful nature and the old man. Romans 7:5, 7:18:
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death…18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
That passage of Scripture is letting us know that there is a warfare going on, which is going to affect our desires and passions. The warfare will be the will of God for your life versus what the will of God is not for your life. Thus, the spirit is the renewed power for the renewed man. Galatians 5:16:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
Focus in on the point of Scripture of the desire of the flesh. As Christians, we have a new nature and a remaining old one. In other words, the new nature does not alienate the flesh. Christians struggle against the flesh until they enter glory. Galatians 5:17:
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
In Galatians, he is teaching us that this is the struggle that we have, so there is a warfare between the new man, the spiritual, and the old man, the flesh. However, the war is not a war between our souls and physical bodies. Our physical body is not inherently evil. The flesh is referring to our inner-man that wants to do wrong and the opposite of what God wants us to do.
Thirdly, believers must implement a continual counter warfare strategy against fleshly lusts. In our text, it says, “to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wages war against the soul.” In other words, we must do something about it, and Peter has already armed us to do something about it with ample amount of information.
The word of God gives us ample amount of information to be able to setup a counter warfare attack against our remaining fleshly lusts. Therefore, counter warfare is necessary against the inner-rebel. Would you agree that inside of you is an inner-rebel?
The inner, sinful desires are a continual waging of spiritual battle against the spiritual soul of the believer. It never lets up. Then, the rebel voice needs to be turned down to a faint mutter, and the spirit’s voice, speaking through the written revelation and word of God, becomes stronger.
In other words, the spirit needs to become consistently stronger, and His voice needs to be louder than ever before. While the spirit is strengthened, the flesh and inner-rebel must be weakened. The physical body and spiritual soul is not at war with each other. The war is between the new spirit and fallen nature. The works of the flesh are those that are motivated by the sinful heart. Galatians 5:19-21:
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
It doesn’t take a college degree, a master’s degree, or a doctorate to understand the deeds of the flesh. In fact, it is evident to everybody, and these things are part of what the flesh and world craves. All movies are based on one of these things, and they will not make money if they don’t have this stuff in it. They know it is a money maker since everyone knows that these are the things that human beings are made of.
In other words, a pagan is a person who has a fallen mind of flesh, which is preoccupied with physical lusts and worldly desires. It is a mind whose thoughts are impure, and who does not retain God in their thoughts and plans. They have no reverences for the God of creation, His revelation, or for Jesus Christ as He is portrayed in Scripture.
We are battling the remaining powers of our sinful nature, and the former lusts of the flesh is dragged into the new life. The Apostle Paul clearly describes the former matter of life of every person. Ephesians 2:1-3:
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Until we came to Christ, this is who we were. When we are born-again of the spirit, we now have a desire for holy things, which are things that please and honor God. Daily, we are torn between the two desires, but remember, the more you say no to the old desires, the stronger the voice of the spirit gets on pleasing God and doing what is honoring and good before God.
When we sin, our desires to commit sin is more pleasurable for the moment than our desire to obey Christ, so we want to obey Christ first and want that desire to be stronger. As we grow and mature in Christ, we can’t hear the rebel voice anymore.
Remember, sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God. As believers, sin is what we do when our hearts are not satisfied with what God says and with God himself. Sin holds out to us some promise, pleasure, or happiness. In fact, the war going on inside of us is a war of desires.
When temptation comes, what is temptation tempting you to do? It is tempting you to bring your desires to a place where they are inflamed, and you want to do them. Now, a temptation is not sin, but a temptation dangled before you that inflames your desire in the wrong direction will bring you to sin. We are still tempted with the idea that sin will make us happy. As R.C. Sproul said, “Sin will not make us happy, but it will give us pleasure.”
Yes, short-lived pleasure, which turns into guilt, grief, despair, and depression. Believe me, if you are in a war, then war can wear you down. If we’re not being strengthened in the spirit of God, then the war will wear you out in the wrong direction. We want to win the war, so that we are strong soldiers of Jesus Christ by clearly knowing the evident nature of sin and saying no to it as we are given the power by the Holy Spirit to say no. Then, what is the basis in which the believer does operate?
Already mentioned in Peter, the believer is to operate based on their new desires and passions, which are guided by truth. The truth about what God has done in salvation, which is why he took so long to get where we are at in this text. Peter wants us to know all about salvation, who God is, what He has done, what He is doing in your life, who you are in Christ, and the truth about your new identity in Christ.
You are a chosen people, a priesthood of believers, you are holy and different, people for God to especially possess, you are light, you are somebody, and you have God’s mercy. Then, the truth about your new relationship to sin. Romans 6:6:
knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;
It starts off saying, “knowing this,” which means what you already know. As a believer, sin has no authority over us unless we give it authority or listen and give into our old rebel voice. If you are a believer, you are no longer a slave to sin. Romans 6:11-12:
Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts.
We already have the authority to say, “I am not going to let you reign in my life anymore, you are no longer my master. Christ is my master, and I’m going to listen to the voice of the spirit by saying no to those old passions and lusts.” Romans 6:13:
and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Don’t keep sinning the old sins that you have been sinning. You don’t have to do that, so why are you doing that? As Christians, we have the authority to say no to those old passions and desires, and they will pop up at moments you don’t expect. You thought you dealt with it before, but then it comes back since Satan is behind the scenes wanting to tempt you away from what God called you to be. Later, in Peter, we will get to that topic.
Right now, we want to stick to what he is talking about in our passage, so one of the last things here is the truth about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in your life. The spirit of God is cleaning you up. He is making changes in our lives, bringing us into conformity to the will of God, and this conformity happens from the inside out. God wants us to see the fruit of what the spirit of God is doing on the inside.
As it says in the passage of Romans, the goal of the Christian life is righteousness by presenting our members to do what is right before God. We are being sanctified so that we do what is right. 1 Peter 1:15-16:
but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”
In our words, actions, righteousness, fear of the Lord, service, good works, and the fruit of desiring others to come into the kingdom of God are all part of what the spirit of God is doing in us. Romans 13:12-14:
The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
If you notice, there is the putting off and putting on language. We put on the armor of light to lay aside the deeds of darkness and live properly while in the day. A list of sins is given, which are done, for the most part, under the cover of darkness.
When you are armed with the Lord, Jesus Christ, who is the light, it will expose the sin so that your desire will be to want to put them aside, and to make no provision for the survival of the flesh. You don’t want to feed the flesh but starve the flesh. If you lay it aside and starve it, it will shrivel up and die.
Through the truth and word of God, the Holy Spirit is making this change in us in our mind. The word and the Spirit always go together, and they should never be separated. The word of God transforms us, so that we develop deep, biblical understanding and convictions.
Our consciousness will not allow us to live against those convictions, which comes from a transformed mind since we are listening and desire to live in a pleasing manner before the eyes of the Lord, Jesus Christ, in all our behavior. Then, the goal is the glory of God.
Now, all of that for this reason: this inner commitment to live before God in all our behavior is accompanied by, in our passage, a duty to live responsibly before unbelievers. Don’t think you and I are not responsible for living the way we ought to in front of other people. You will find out that we are supposed to live in a proper way before other people.
Next, believers are to maintain a good conduct before the eyes of their Non-Christian neighbors. In 1 Peter 2:12, the word gentile is the word we get ethnos or ethnic from. In other words, let your way of life be excellent among any ethnic group, who have no knowledge of the true and living God, live in spiritual darkness, and are dead in trespasses and sins.
Don’t forget, some of the Jews and Gentiles who live among them were no longer pagans like they once were; now, they are Christians. They are now the people of God and the livings stones in God’s temple. The Gentiles don’t know God, so they look at you and want to slander your life. They want to find something in your life they can slander you by.
Now, we’re talking about words and coming against you with words. Like when people go on Facebook and they say things because they don’t want to look at people face to face, so they say it on Facebook. They use Facebook as a medium in a very bad way.
Christians, you’d ought not to do that. Anything you put on Facebook, you better realize that God is reading it too. If you want to vent your stuff, you better vent it on your knees before God in prayer, so when you write on Facebook, you can present yourself excellently to the Gentiles reading your stuff. It cannot get lower than venting your garbage on Facebook or coming against somebody with words on Facebook when you can’t call them up on the phone and speak to them face to face. That is below the carpet low. As believers, we ought to be different.
In fact, after one comes to Christ, Peter mentions the difference in lifestyle. This is where the non-believers are maligning them, and they are maligning them because we are no longer part of them. 1 Peter 4:3-4:
For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 4In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you.
Here, they are saying, “Hey! Common! We once partied together! Now, you’re quoting Scripture to me. You’re a holy roller Bible thumper.” They say that you are brainwashed and no longer fun to hang around. See, they were upset that they were losing people from the community to the Gospel, and that’s where they came against them.
Since you’ve been a Christian, have you had anyone come against you? Mom, dad, brother, or sister will come against you since you don’t do what they used to do and you’re not as fun as you used to be. The primary form of persecution that we do find in Peter is that believers were experiencing verbal abuse, and they were accused of being wrong. They are insulted in 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.
They are spoked against and slandered in 1 Peter 3:16:
and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
They are mocked in 1 Peter 4:14:
If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
Because of that, they experience fiery trials and physical persecution. The Christians had a lot of pressure to adapt to roman values, costumes, and the culture. They were expected to follow roman ethical and moral standards, which were completely different than Scripture. They had pressure to be pro-roman and show loyalty to Rome. Also, they were pressured by the roman cult of emperor worship.
Rome went through phases of government, and the synod were no longer to keep control in Rome. Thus, they went more to a dictatorship or a roman emperor worship, who is the supreme one, the one to be listened to, and the one to follow. There was even confusion of what good meant.
For the roman, it meant one’s duty to the state and city rather than a moral, ethical, and practical nature of good works that Christians were doing. Christians were citizens of heaven rather than citizens of Rome. Meaning, Christians were naturally marginalized and rejected.
Mark this truth on your calendar, Christian followers of Christ: the very goodness of God in your life can be an offense to a world in which goodness is regarded as a handicap. However, excellent behavior and visible good works among the heeded can have a powerful attention-getter.
In 1 Peter 2:12, what does the day of visitation mean? Does the day of visitation mean…?
a) The day of inquisition before earthly magistrates
b) The day of judgement – the day against unbelievers, which led them to realize that they were wrong in accusing believers unjustly. A day on which God will vindicate the good behavior of Christians and drive the hostile accusers to see that they were wrong in the first place.
c) The day of conversion, which was stimulated by the excellent behavior and visible good deeds of the believers.
The one I would pick is the third one. The good behavior of the Christian maybe the attention-getter that leaves the unbelieving world to the Gospel in which they become Christians. Now, this sounds a lot like what Jesus was teaching in the Gospel of Matthew 5:16:
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
However, I want you to notice something else in our passage of Scripture of 1 Peter 2:12, especially since it’s important not to miss it. In this section, “as they observe them,” means that the unbelievers watched over a period in which the observer reflected on the behavior of those who followed Christ.
This prolonged observation may have given an attractive alternative to the pagan way of life that was absent of such excellent behavior. As mentioned, believers are referred to as light, and we walk and live in marvelous light. If we are no longer darkness, are light, and walk as children of light, then the light that we have is His marvelous light. The light is not only to be heard in the preaching of the Gospel, but also in the living of the Gospel.
If we read the rest of the passage from Matthew 5, Jesus also said in Matthew 5:14-15:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
Thus, believers are not merely chosen for heaven, but chosen for earth. As said, the destination of the elect, while they are here on the earth, is to move through while demonstrating an alien lifestyle with the goal to proclaim the Gospel to win others to Christ to be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
If you are under persecution, are you going to be able to freely preach the Gospel? No, you are going to get shut down in a second. However, if you can live the Gospel, then the people that are maligning you and slandering you can see something way different. When someone maligns someone and slanders them, what’s the fleshly reaction? You want to slap them, right? You want to do something to them to get back at them, which is the vengeance part of the sinful nature. However, what if you don’t?
When they come against you, what if you do the opposite of what they are expecting? If you do this repeatedly and they have this prolonged observation, then they will see that Christians respond completely different than what they’re used to.
Then, they go back home and think about if they can respond to the persecution the way Christians do. Probably, they would conclude that they cannot. Thus, we are to demonstrate an alien lifestyle with the goal to proclaim the Gospel to win others to Christ, so that they will become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Now, the possibility of conversion to Christ, by unbelievers due to the good conduct of Christians, result in them glorifying God on the day of judgement. They glorify God on the day of judgement because they are now part of the people of God. Before, they were not part of the people of God. However, the conduct of the Christian got their attention.
This verse does lend expression to the concept of missions as being present where you are and living the way you ought to as a believer, which is undergirded by the verbal proclamation of the Gospel. The Gospel must come in since you cannot win anybody just by your behavior.
Somewhere down the line, if you get their attention, the verbal proclamation of the Gospel must come. In saying that, our passage makes sense in 1 Peter 3:15:
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.
They are looking at their life and saying to them, “Hey man, why are you so different?” Now, you have a chance to give them an answer, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the hope that is in you. Tagged on the end of that verse are the terms gentleness and reverence.
In other words, keep your conduct excellent even when preaching the Gospel. You know that Gospel conversations can get heavy and tense. If they get to that place, back off, and pray that God will give you an opportunity to maintain your behavior in the preaching of the Gospel with gentleness and reverence.
That is the conduct we must submit to, so we can obtain the result. If we are going to be fighting, doing the same thing the world does, and doing the same thing we used to as believers, then we’re not going to get anyone’s attention.
Bottom line, the conversion of the unbeliever seems to be the object of their exemplary conduct, which is the end results. We are going to submit to live this way, so that we can get others attention. When they ask you why your family is different, why you get up on Sunday to go to church, and why your kids listen when you’re in Shoprite, you will give them the answer of the hope that lies within you, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Believe me, I know for a fact, in your family, it will come up. On your job, it is going to come up. In your relationships with people, it will come up. Therefore, you have the chance to give the Gospel. Are you living so that other unbelievers see your good works and want to know more? Why do you live the way you do?
We should live this way so that we can tell others about our great God and Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ, who has brought us into this marvelous light and has done great things. In doing that, you will have Gospel opportunities you never had before. If you act just like everybody else and respond the way you used to, then those opportunities will not come very soon. Let’s take this, use it in our lives, and do it deliberately.