1 Peter 3-5
Chapter 3 begins with Peter instructing how women ought to relate to their husbands and how husbands should relate to their wives (there is SO much I would like to dive into on this section alone, however the scope of these blogs isn’t geared towards such a volume of commentary!). Peter goes on to dictate that all those who are of the brotherhood of believers ought live with unity of mind, not repaying evil with evil but to bless instead. He adds encouragement here to those who are undergoing persecution on behalf of Christ, telling them not to fear for God cares for and blesses specially those who are suffering for the sake of His Son. He points out that Christ suffered, the righteous for the unrighteous, indicating that those who do the same are in the best company.
Going on to the fourth chapter, Peter continues in teaching and encouraging them to stop living according to earthly passions but for God; for the time of living in sensuality, drunkenness, and lawless idolatry is gone. They are to be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of their prayers, not grumbling whilst showing hospitality to one another, but to be cheerful stewards of God’s grace. He goes on to say that no Christian ought be surprised when they suffer for the Gospel, for such things are happening to their brothers and sisters all over the world. Rather, they should glorify God in and through their suffering.
The final chapter exhorts the shepherds of the flock to do their jobs willingly and cheerfully and with proper motives. It wraps up with one of my favourite verses: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”
1 Peter is easily the most underlined and circled book in my own Bible. There’s just something about the way Peter speaks that is clear, no-nonsense, and cuts to the core of our hearts as we read. He is obviously writing to an ancient audience in and around Asia Minor, however we know that these words carry with them truth unbounded by time and space. This entire book is meant to be encouragement for suffering and flagging Christians, bolstering them with the good news of Christs mission and how suffering engages them with it.
My question today is simple – have you ever suffered for the sake of Christ?
This may not actually be the simplest question to answer. Suffering doesn’t just mean having tomatoes thrown at you as you proclaim the Gospel on a street corner or being let go from your job because of your Christian beliefs. Though it very well may mean that for some, we generally don’t see that kind of reaction in our mild-mannered, lukewarm 21st century North American town of Winnipeg. But we can still suffer in other ways.
For instance, when it comes to identifying sin in your life and taking action against it, that is a type of suffering. True, it isn’t exactly what Peter is talking about in this book, but we should start there today. Do you have any desire to seek sinful pride and action out in your own heart and mind and go to war with it? Have you owned up to a particular sin committed against a loved one? Have you had enough of secrets and lies and finally decided to drag them out into the light no matter the cost? Or does sin sit quietly in the corner, unbothered by any true conviction on your part?
I mentioned our time and place these days as lukewarm and I level that warning at Christians in particular. How on fire for God are you really? I’m not talking so much an active feeling right this very second, rather I’m referencing the overall direction of your life and conviction of heart. Do you care for the things He cares about, or do little things get you twisted out of shape? Do you seek one more fight against that one sin, or have you given sin the keys to your heart and never fought to get them back? Does God’s word have any bearing on your life at all?
My point is this – if you haven’t suffered in the fight against our own sinful nature, how could you ever expect to stand up to the sins of the time in which you live?
The Gospel of Jesus Christ changes hearts and minds. It liberates the soul from the power of sin and death, dousing us in the Holy Spirit who works in us until the end of our days. Those who don’t stand upon the foundation of Christ, those who don’t put roots down in rich soil will only be swept away, and greater will be their fall.
The fight against sin starts in our own hearts as we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit. It can’t come about any other way. In order to be of use in the world around us, in order to aid our brothers and sisters as government policy and cultural sentiment steadily becomes more hostile to the truth of God, we need to clear out our own houses first and now! We need to truly bend our knee to God Almighty and train up in His Word every single day, take action against our sin, and learn to fight the good fight in the armor of God.
Father God, teach us to wage war on the sin which runs rampant throughout our world. Teach us to care about the things that matter to you and break our hearts for the unsaved. Thank you for walking with us forever, for going first in our place and providing not only an example but eternal life after anything we face in this life. Make us uncomfortable with remaining comfortable and teach us to need you more. Amen!
Song: His Mercy is More (Matt Boswell)
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.