The Christian Life as a Battle and Witness
III. Living as aliens to bring glory to God in a hostile world (2:11-4:11).
- The Christian Life as a Battle and Witness (2:11-12).
So far in 1 Peter, we have looked at how Christians should act as individuals, we have looked at how Christians should be acting towards fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Now we will start a new section where we will be looking at how Christians should be acting towards the world.
The main point of our passage today is that believers should live as aliens in this world so that unbelievers will observe their godly lives and glorify God by coming to faith in Christ. Christians must live exemplary lives with the kinds of good deeds that will make unbelievers take notice. Living like everyone else in the world is not an option for a true believer.
It is like if I was to come in here late to Bible study and I said sorry for being so late, but I was headed to the Bible study and decided to check my mailbox before I left and was not paying attention and got hit by a huge southern states truck. I got up and had to go change clothes because I had gotten them dirty from the concrete.
Now if I was to tell you all that, you know that I would be lying, right? It would be impossible for me to be hit by a truck that big and not be physically changed.
Now how are some of you today going to tell me that you have accepted the Lord of all creation, the God that created the Grand Canyon, the God that created the mountains, and the seas, that you have accepted Him into your heart, but that you have remained unchanged? That to me is more unbelievable than if I was to get hit by a truck and walked in here unchanged.
The main purpose of this passage said simply is that Peter is calling all Christians to the mission field. Sharing our faith is not just for super-Christians. It is for all Christians. Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all the nations. So what assurance can we have in our own salvation if we are not moved by the Holy Spirit to share with others the change that occurred in our life, the source of our joy, the source of our hope?
I would argue that we can have no assurance, because 1 John tells us that Jesus said that if you love me you will keep my commandments. So if we are ignoring his command to go and make disciples, what hope do we have if you are not keeping this commandment? A true Christian will be producing fruit and it is not always just fruits of the spirit. What do fruits do? They carry seeds to be sown, so that something new grows. So when you are producing fruit you should be reproducing your faith.
You cannot place all your hope in a prayer you prayed, nor can you put your hope in being dunked under water at church. If change did not come in your life that drove you to want to tell others about what Christ did for you then, I have no choice, but to question your salvation.
And as we prepare ourselves for the mission field we need to be preparing ourselves for war with the discipline of a solider. This is because Peter makes it clear that we are in a war, “the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” The Christian life is certainly not depicted as passive in which believers simply “let go and let God.”
Christianity is not a spectator sport. It is something in which we become totally involved. And we know this to be true, we do not become better at football by sitting on the sidelines watching the game, we get better by training and participating.
Passivity is one of the main enemies of biblical masculinity and it is most obvious where it is needed most. It is a pattern of waiting on the sidelines until you are specifically asked to step in. Even worse than that, it can be a pattern of trying to duck out of responsibilities or to run away from challenges. Men who think conflict should be avoided, or who refuse to engage with those who would harm the body of Christ or their family, not only model passivity but also fail in their responsibilities as protectors. If our sinful desires are allowed to run wild, then it will ultimately destroy human beings. Not only yours, but also those around you as we will see in our next verse. (Stinson & Dumas, 2011)
So far I have resisted from going on a Chick-fi-la rant, because I want to make it clear that what we study during Bible study is what God says, not what Joe wants to rant about for this week. However, as I came across this passage this week in preparation I knew I was going to have to address it because it is a way to help you relate to what the original listeners of this book was going through.
The Christians of the first century were being persecuted for their faith. That is why Peter opens up this letter telling his listeners that this world is not our home and that our hope lies in an almighty God that loves us, not with what this world has to offer. However, the world viewed Christians with suspicion and hostility because they did not conform to their way of life (4:3-4). Since believers did not honor the typical gods of the community, they were naturally viewed as rebellious and evil in that social context.
Does that sound familiar? Did the president of Chick-fi-la come out and bash gays? No, he simply stated his support for the traditional form of marriage and Biblical principles. This was taken to the extreme because to those in the world that believe people should do whatever makes them happy and worship the idols of lust and freedom thought his statements were evil.
So how does Peter tell us that we should respond to these attacks? By a verbal campaign of self-defense? The writing of articles to defend our morality? No, Peter summons us to pursue virtue and goodness, so that their goodness would be apparent to all in society. The evident transformation of their behavior will contradict false allegations circulating in society. Peter’s hope is that unbelievers will glorify God because they see our good deeds.
In other words, when people in the media that have an agenda start making false claims about Christians, it should not make sense to people that know Christians, that have friends and classmates that are Christians. When they hear reports about how Christians are gay haters and old-fashioned law pushers, they should say to themselves, I know Joe and Kaley and Stuart and Brady and JD, they are Christians and they are the opposite of these things. Either the media is lying or there is something different about them, I wonder how they feel about all this? Our testimony of love should overcome the false testimonies of the world.
Peter’s hope was that unbelievers will be compelled to admit that the lifestyle of believers is morally beautiful, and this admission will bring them to saving faith so that God will be glorified on the day of judgment. Remember that God’s law is not there to be burdensome, but to be like the rules in baseball and help us get the most joy out of life. And that is how we most glorify God with our lives. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
We see in this passage that the good works of believers are intended for missions. Peter realized that not all will be saved when they observe the lives of believers. Nevertheless, he summoned believers to holiness with the confidence that some unbelievers will be brought to faith as they see the transformed lives of believers.
We know now that unbelievers will revile against Christians, if they will do it to Chick-fi-la and can get away with it they are only going to continue to do it. However, as they notice the goodness in our lives, some will repent and be saved, and as a result of their salvation God will be glorified. Therefore, as we learned in the first chapter that suffering will come, but we have hope in a God that loves us and that He will use it not only for His glory, but also for our good.