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1st Peter 2:15-25


'For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:  as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.  Honour all men.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honour the king.  Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward.  For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.  For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?  but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.  For even hereunto were ye called:  because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:  who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:  who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:  Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness:  by whose stripes ye were healed.  For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."


In Review


'1st Peter chapter 2, we had really come as far as verse 15 last week, I'm going to back up to verse 11, taking a running start at that, and we'll finish the chapter, Lord willing, and save wives and husbands for next week and the week after, so we can really take a look at that.  You see there's much more there about wives than husbands, but we'll divide up an hour to each there.  Ah, verse 11, Peter said, 'Dearly beloved," and it's a family word, 'dear friends, dear brethren," no doubt thinking of those who were spread through the Roman Empire that were facing unimaginable difficulties.  Possibly by this time Paul in prison in Rome, which would be some time in 64AD, Peter it seems arriving there in 66AD.  'Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;" 'foreigners and pilgrims," those passing through.  Not just fleshly activities, take note, but fleshly lusts, ah, he boils it down to what gives birth to the action, and that is the desire.  'Abstain," it has the idea of to detest fleshly desires, those things that go on inside of us that when they happen we should go "oh, man, where'd that thought come from?  oh Lord help me, oh, I'm such a low-life, oh Lord, those things get in my mind and find a place to bounce around there, Lord.  You know I sure wouldn't think this way if it was up on the screen in church where everybody could see, if there was a wire connected to my head, and what's going to the projector where everybody could see it.  Lord help me not to...' and it says we're to bring every thought into captivity to Christ, that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but powerful to the pulling down of strongholds (cf. 2nd Corinthians 10:5), and the idea is that we guard our heart with all diligence, because from it the issues of life flow.  So, it's very interesting, Peter goes all the way back, and he's speaking to these believers 'who were to gird up the loins of their minds, as newborn babes desiring the sincere milk of the Word, built into this living Temple, a chosen race, a royal priesthood,' he's saying now, 'I beg you, friends,' he said, 'abstain from just the kind of carnal desires,' he says, 'that war against the soul, that put you into that internal struggle.'  'having your conversation" your lifestyle 'honest among the Gentiles:  that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."  It's not just speaking evil about you, but against you.  So that they may be without real accusation, and that some of their lives would be touched by your behavior.  Now he does some interesting things, as we move into these verses, and I'm not sure as we look at them, exactly the situation that Peter is in here.  Some of course feel that he has come to Rome, and he's writing from Rome.  Some feel that this was written from Babylon before he was brought to Rome.  No doubt he is aware of the environment that the Church is in, Nero it seems by this time has taken the throne, 21 year old.  It appears by this time Paul has appeared before him the first time, and here was the most powerful ruler in the world, and Paul the apostle stood in front of him and gave testimony under the power of the Spirit to this man.  And it seems that as he rejects the testimony of Paul, that at that point, he goes mad.  And I think, you know, even today, people like Billy Graham, there's people, even the rulers of this world, God doesn't despise any of them, and he takes time to make sure they get testimony.  They may reject it, that's for sure.  After the Billy Graham crusade here, I think it was in '91, Jerry and I had gone out with Rick Marshal, who organized the whole crusade for Billy Graham, and as we talked he said, 'You know, it's interesting, he said every world ruler since Winston Churchill has asked Billy Graham about Armageddon and the end of the world, every world ruler."  So God has testimony to give, and Nero had been given testimony.  And then it seems he goes mad.  He became vile in his behavior, he murdered all of the prostitutes, the lovers he was with, he had banned Octavia who was his legal wife, outside the city of Rome, and then decided to have her killed, and had her head brought to him, where he met with the Senate, and of course they started to realize that he was loosing his mind.  He then decided to assassinate his mother, and had the craftsmen in Rome pull out some of the wooden supports that held up the stone roof over her bed, hoping that the stone roof in her bedroom would cave in and kill her in the bed.  That didn't happen, so then he got these craftsmen to work on her boat on this lake, going to a palace she had on this lake, so that the boat would fall apart on the lake and she would drown, and that didn't happen, so finally he sent assassins into her bedroom with daggers and killed her.  And when the Senate started to protest, he threatened to poison the entire Senate, Nero did, at this point in time.  And he hated the Christians in Rome, in particular, but all over the Empire.  And they attached a certain title to the Christians, and it's interesting, Peter uses this phrase, he says 'having your lifestyle honest among the Gentiles, that whereas they speak against you as,' the Greek word 'evil doers' was the exact word that Nero put in the testimony against the Christian communities.  And then finally in AD 64, on July 19th of AD 64, just in case you're wondering, just for your information, at Circus Maximus a fire broke out, and of course Rome burned, and it was through Nero's insanity that all started, and it destroyed more of the city than would have been destroyed by invading armies, and by that time, the Senate, the generals were furious with him, and Nero convinced them successfully that it was the Christians that started the fires and burned Rome.  And then of course it was open season on Christians, and that was when Nero took so many of them and pasted them with pitch and tied them to poles and used them as lanterns in his garden, lit their bodies on fire.  He took Christians and sowed them inside of wild animal skins, sowed them in the skins of animals, and threw them in the arena to the dogs and watched them be ripped apart while he drove through them in his chariot.  Just Satan took him over, he lost his mind.  And Peter says, you know, 'in the middle of that, I want you to live a certain way.  They may speak against you as evil doers, but they are going to face the day of their visitation.'  [And Rome, as an Empire did face their day of visitation, during the Plague of Galen, in 155AD.  See  And it was the Christians who through their good works, nursed many back to health, risking their own lives to do so.  Good works, and this principle of good works have a lot to do with each other.  God gives us opportunities to serve with good works, and then he makes sure those efforts of ours are not wasted.  See and]  'And even in that, possibly through your behavior, they may come to know the truth.'  So he says, verse 13, 'Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake:" great advice.  Now look, he's saying that, because through the history of God's people, one of the first charges that's always brought against the Jews or against the Church [Body of Christ] is that of political revolt.  You remember in the days of Ezra, when Ezra came to rebuild the Temple, they came and protested and said 'This city, Jerusalem, was always a rebellious city, it always caused trouble, anybody whoever ruled over it,' you remember the Book of Acts where the Christians are blamed there for causing this uprising, it's typical.  And we see enough of it happening around us today.  And that kind of thing, in our own government there is a heightening of the voice on one side that would condemn us.  That probably will increase until Christ comes.  And there's several reasons for it.  And one of the reasons is because there is certainly a warfare.  And people hate God.  And the problem is, that's why you see this big debate going on over Creation and evolution, because if the issue, and it really isn't called Creation anymore, it's called Intelligent Design, and leading scientists have protested against Darwinism and said 'We're not Creationists, but this is foolishness, Darwinism, evolution, because we know now from examining the DNA and the helix and so forth, that this is all a digital code and there is design here, not evolution.'  But the world doesn't want to hear about it, because if there is a Designer, there's a God, and if there is a God, there's accountability, and if there is accountability, then there's standards.  [the Ten Commandments anyone?]  And sin is sin and there's right and wrong, and people don't want to hear that.  But they're mad at God, but God is hard to hit.  When you're mad at God it's hard to get at him.  But you, with your big mouth, talking about God, you're easy to get at.  And the persecution that came on the Christians in Rome came on them because Caesar hated their morality.  He hated the morality of the slaves who worked in houses, who were pure, and did what's right.  He hated the fact that their masters didn't want to kill them or get rid of them, even though they disdained them, because they were better than pagan slaves.  [All through my years of employment, due to the strong work ethic I had, due both to the influence of my father, and Christian influences, that in spite of what they considered 'my nutty Christian beliefs,' Sabbath-keeping, Holy Day observances, having to take those days off to observe them, they never got rid of me, except in a few isolated instances over those things.  My Christian work ethic was so strong, I was worth two to three ordinary employees who were unbelievers.]  And he's not saying, with 60 millions slaves in the Roman Empire, he's not saying at this point, 'Become vigilantes, form brigades,' because Christianity is not spread that way, it's spread one heart at a time, and Rome would crumble and Christianity would be still alive.  [Of course, one church, which took over in Rome, did believe in spreading its so-called brand of Christianity through war and conquest.  See, and] They tried to subdue Israel, and you go to Israel today and have an Israeli guide taking you on tours of Roman ruins, it's kind of ironic.  Don't let anyone speak against you as that kind of political, revolutionary, saying that our kingdom is of this world, that we're evil, all we want to do is tear down the government, we want to protest against it.  You know, the way the Kingdom is spread is one heart at a time, that's why I'm here, that's  why you're here.  And he says 'Don't let that happen, submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake.'  That has to be our motive, 'whether it be to the king, as supreme;" and in his day, that's Nero, 'or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him" by God, 'for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well." (verse 14)  You know, the Scripture indicates as you go through it, and Nero was cruel, Rome was in power, the Bible always indicates that tyranny is a better system than anarchy.  [Very interesting, we fought a war to 'free" the Iraqis from their tyrannical leader, Saddam Hussein, now the Iraqis are worse off, we've pulled out of Iraq, and anarchy reigns, and the people are worse off.  When Pastor Joe was giving this sermon, this had not come to light, as we were still fighting that war in Iraq against Al-Qaida.]  We love democracy, we love the Republic that we live in.  There are places in the world where there was a dictator, but order, and the Church [Body of Christ] would flourish under that.  Anarchy is worse that tyranny, and in Rome there was tyranny.  And he's saying 'submit to the ordinance of man.'  The Psalmist would say that 'Promotion doesn't come from the east or the west or the north and the south, it cometh only from the Lord.'  Nebuchadnezzar, chapter 4 of Daniel, verse 25, was going to loose his mind, and Daniel says 'You're going to be driven out, have the dew of heaven in your hair, your fingernails are going to grow long, you're going to eat grass with the wild beasts, until you learn that the Most High God is the One who gives the kingdoms of this world to whomsoever he will.'  Jesus was standing before Pilate and said, 'You can have no power over me unless it was given you from above.'  Jesus said to Pilate who was ready to sentence him to death, 'You can have no power unless it was given to you from above.'  Paul of course in Romans 13, verses 1-7, tells us to submit to the powers that be, because they are ordained of God.  Now, we talked about this last week, both Paul and Peter were put to death for not submitting to the powers that be, they submitted to the powers that be until those powers that be asked them to deny what they believed, and when they ask us to deny what we believe, and to deny Christ, then there is a line that's drawn, as it were in the spiritual sand.  But here, we're told not to suffer as evil doers, we're not to give fuel to the idea we're political revolutionaries, that all we want to do is overthrow the government, and he says submit to those government ordinances, they are ultimately from God, God established government, 'and as they that are sent by him, to punish evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well.'  'For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:" (verse 15) 'or put a muzzle on,' it's the same word used by Jesus when he rebukes the wind and the sea, 'that you may muzzle the ignorance of foolish men.'  What an exhortation.  'As free," he says, 'and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God." (verse 16)  Now isn't it interesting, he tells us, we're free, as the servants of God.  In the same sense. 2nd Peter, you don't have to turn there, chapter 1, his introduction is 'Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ."  A doulos, a slave of Christ, so he says 'Whom the Son sets free,' and Peter heard Jesus say it, 'is free indeed.'  He was there with Christ.  So he tells us that we have tremendous freedom, we're free in Christ.  It doesn't matter whether we're slaves or submitted to government, we're free in Christ.  There are plenty of wealthy people out there that are incarcerated, they're enslaved, to their business, to their money, to their pleasure, to pornography, to one thing or another.  He says 'as free" yes, we should live that way, 'and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness," for wickedness, 'but as the servants of God."  And too often, and sadly in the Church [Body of Christ] there are those who live in sexual sin, in one kind of sin or another, and their spiel is 'Hey, I'm in grace, God knows my heart, I'm ok with the Man upstairs, everything is hunky-dory, don't worry about me.'  He says 'You should live as free, we're free in Christ, but don't use that liberty as a cloak for wickedness, for sin, but rather in your freedom, live as slaves [servants, doulos, bond-slaves] of God.'  And of course he was with Jesus, and listened to him say 'If you seek to save your life, you'll lose it.  If you lose your life for my sake, for the Gospel, you'll find it.'  He was there when James and John said, 'Lord, can we sit one on your right hand and one on your left hand,' they even sent their mom, 'These are my boys, they're good boys, when you come into your Kingdom, can one sit on your right hand and the other on your left hand?'  And Jesus said, 'You know how the Gentiles rule over one another, their great ones exercise authority over them, but with you it shall not be so, the greatest among you shall be servant of all.'  And Peter's saying here, 'Look, this is the way to live, don't let people be able to accuse you, don't let those things come against you as political revolutionaries.  Yes, we're free, but it's not for some cloak for maliciousness and revolution, it's rather we're free to live as servants of Jesus Christ.'  All of us in the room are completely free to serve Jesus, we are free to serve Jesus Christ.  Isn't that wonderful?  Because before I thought I was free to serve all kinds of things, you know, I had different masters.  Everybody has masters, drugs, alcohol, pleasure, money, career, power, all masters.  But now we have a Master who spread out his hands on the cross and lays down his life so that we can live, what a Master, what a Master.  So we're completely free to live as slaves of Jesus Christ, to serve him. 


Honour All Men, Sometimes Not An Easy Thing To Do


In that freedom he says that these things should be taking place.  First, 'Honour all men," hard to do in traffic sometimes, I know.  No, honour all men, we're created in the image and likeness of God, you look around, God considers the unsaved people around you a treasure.  'For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe would not perish, but have everlasting life."  And it becomes very easy to despise, it can become very easy to get hardened by what we see going on around us.  It says in Matthew chapter 24, verse 12, 'Because iniquity shall abound, be multiplied, that the love, the agape' of many will grow cold,' it must be speaking of believers,  because it's a reproof.  So that is a negative thing there, for our agape' to grow cold.  Because we can let that happen.  He says here, look, 'Honour all men," and many of these Peter's writing to were exposed to Roman cruelty, and that's arotist, the structure is, 'once and for all, make up your mind, honour all men.'  Somebody may believe something different than you, they may look different than you, they have a different cultural background than you, they're a human being, and Jesus Christ died for them, if they'll avail themselves of that.  So there's a decency as Christians we should express to other humans.  'Honour all men," then the rest of these are present-perfect, 'love the brotherhood."  That's 'continually be loving the other believers in the family of God.'  And sometimes you think, 'Can't I just take one day off once in awhile of loving these brethren?' 'Fear God.  Honour the king." (verse 17)        You know, 'Continually be loving the brethren,'  'Continually be fearing God,' being in reverence of God.  And 'Continually honour the king,' Caesar in his day.  Now you can't honour the king without fearing God.  Right in the center of that, our reverence towards God puts all of these things in place.  If there's no reverence towards God, and I'll tell you something, reverence of God includes fear.  Not an unhealthy fear.  It says 'The fear of the LORD is clean, rejoicing the heart."  It says 'Perfect love casts out all fear" in 1st John, but that's the kind of fear that causes torment.  The perfecting of God's love towards us gets rid of the kind of fear that torments us.  But there is a fear of God that is clean and healthy, it's good.  Jeremiah chapter 2, verse 19 says, that what they had done was 'they had cast off the fear of the LORD, and that their own sins would reprove them and rebuke them.'  Because he says 'It is an evil thing that thou hast left off the fear of the LORD."  The problem with America is we've left off the fear of the LORD as a nation, there's no fear of God.  Look, he loves us, but he's God.  We can say 'Abba, Father, Dad,' but he's God.  Anybody in this room who had a good father knows both his love, and his fear.  My dad, great dad, and when I was a kid, I knew he loved me, and I feared him.  Because he was dad.  And my mom could beat me all day, but when she said 'I am telling your father" there was a different vibe to that.  Fear God, not in the sense of torment, but we should stand in awe of him.  In that there should be the respecting of other men, 'honour men, love the believers that are around you,'  'Honour the king." 


Putting Peter's Advice Into Historic Context


He's going to write some very insightful things here to servants, those that are subject to difficult circumstances.  It is very interesting to hear them coming from Peter at this point in his life.  July 19th, 64AD when Rome burned and Nero convinced the Senate and the Romans that it was the Christian's fault, one of the first things he did then was he took Paul back into custody, who had already appeared before him [Paul was in a city of Greece, on the northwestern coast of Greece], and put Paul in the Mamertine Prison.  The Mamertine Prison can be visited today, and there in the Mamertine Prison Paul was there for a number of months.  And in the lower chamber there was no light, there was a pole there he would be chained to, sometimes it was knee-deep in human waste, sometimes prisoners died from the fumes.  And Paul was chained down there.  Peter was sent for, and we know that Paul lived at least a year, because Peter got there, it seems in 66AD, and Peter was kept down there for over nine months, it said the two of them led 47 guards to the Lord in those nine months.  They're down there in the dark, together, we're not sure what period of time.  Chrisostum, Tertulian, Arineus, the early church fathers tell us they were taken out the same day and killed.  That's an early church tradition, no Biblical foundation for that.  But it was generally believed amongst the early church.  Here's two men that haven't seen each other, as far as we know, since, it tells us in Galatians that Paul went up to Jerusalem, and our Lord's brother was there, and Peter was there, and he met with the apostles (cf. Acts 15), and imagine all that's happened since then.  He had to rebuke Peter to his face at Antioch, and now imagine these two old cronies, chained down there in the dark together.  You know, Paul and Silas sung when they were in the prison in Philippi, you could almost here Paul saying, 'Hey, Pete, you know this one?' you know, these guys down there together, how remarkable it must have been.  Peter would write to us in the next Epistle, he says, 'Knowing, yea, I think it meet as long as I am in this tabernacle, this tent, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance, knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me.'  You remember at the end of John's Gospel we read that Jesus said to Peter, 'Peter, when you were young, you went wherever you wanted to go, but now when you are old, they're going to take you, they're going to lead you forward and spread out your hands,' and it says 'He said this signifying what manner of death he should die.'  And Peter of course, just like Peter, looked at John and said 'What about him Lord, what's going to happen to him?'  And Jesus said, 'Never mind what's gonna happen to him.'  These guys, you know.  And Paul, in his 2nd Epistle [to Timothy] says 'I'm here alone, Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and Luke alone is with me, bring the parchment,' but he said, 'I'm ready to be offered.  I've finished my coarse, I've kept the faith.'  So what was it like for these two guys chained down in there?  Did Paul say 'Yea, it's funny, I knew too, the last letter I wrote I said 'I'm ready to be offered, I've fought the good fight,' Peter said, 'Me too, the last one I wrote I said 'The time of my departure is at hand.  I'm ready to put off this tabernacle.'  Paul said, 'Man, my tabernacle is beat up, I got stoned, and beat up, I'm ready to get rid of this tabernacle.'  And Peter's older, he's older.  And what must it have been like, these are two physically worn out giants, chained down there together?  And Paul is taken out, and because he's a Roman citizen, and has some rights, normally he's not even supposed to be in the Mamertine Prison, he's taken to the Apian Way, and there his right as a Roman citizen was to be beheaded by the axman's sword.  Peter, no doubt, was taken out, and they said his wife was taken to be crucified in front of him, and he cried to his wife, 'Remember thou the Lord, oh woman.'  Great husbandly advice, right ladies?  Believe me, these two, from what we know from tradition, that was all she wanted to hear.  And Peter, probably no doubt then scourged like Christ.  And when they took him to crucify him, he said 'I'm not worthy to be crucified like my Lord,' they turned him upside down when they nailed him to the cross and put the cross in the ground upside down, and he died hanging on that cross upside down.  Tradition says when his old buddy, the last remaining apostle, John, and they had known each other since they were boys, in the area of Bethsaida, fished the same waters together, when John heard that Peter had been martyred, church tradition says that it was then that the Holy Spirit put it on his heart to write his Gospel.   And it's interesting in the postscript, he said of this old fisherman, 'When you were young you went wherever you wanted to go, but when you're old another is going to lead you forth and stretch forth your hands.'  And John wrote, 'This he said signifying what manner death he should die.'  Then he thought, 'And that Peter,' 'What about this guy, what's gonna happen to him?'  What remarkable, remarkable men.  And you know they're at that point in their lives where this advice is flowing forth from their hearts.  It was nothing for them to be martyred, because they had died a long time ago.  Matthew had been skinned alive in Persia, Andrew shot full of arrows, crucified, Thomas impaled in India.  James thrown from the roof of the Temple.  When you go down the list of those guys, these guys on fire for Jesus Christ, they weren't struggling with 'Oh should I go to Atlantic City?  Should I watch pornography on tv, should I do this?'  No, no, because when they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and Jesus said 'You wait until you are endued with power, that you might be,' not go witnessing, 'that you may be a marturos, martyrs.'  And dying the martyr's death only proved that they had become martyrs long before that.  And it was nothing for Paul to put his head under the axman's sword, and it was nothing for Peter to yield himself to the cross, because they had been dead for decades.  They had lost their lives, taking up their cross long before that.  And you know, you read 'Foxes Book of Martyrs,' you know God's grace was there with them in those things, to go through that.  And what visions of glory must have been before their eyes. 


You're Free In Christ, But You're Also Servants, Slaves Of Christ


He gives advice, with these things from the Spirit, premonitions no doubt on his heart, he says this, 'Servants," slaves, 'be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward." (verse 18) or to the 'unreasonable."  He had told them that they're a 'chosen race, a royal priesthood."  He had told them that he himself was a servant.  And he knew that every man, whatever he did, if he's really a Christian, is a slave anyway.  He said 'Yes, you're free, but not to use your liberty as some license to live carnally, you're free to live as slaves of Jesus.'  So whether you're a master or whether you're a servant, whatever situation you're in, you're a slave anyway.  Paul when he was in prison and wrote to the Philippians the first time, told them that he was the prisoner of Christ, not the prisoner of Rome.  Paul had the Quaternion, the four soldiers that would be on every six hours come and be chained on each side of him, and as far as Paul was concerned, he said 'The brethren here salute you, especially those of Caesar's household,' Paul had a captive audience, he was not the prisoner of Rome, Rome was his prisoner.  He had a Roman chained to his arms each time they'd change watch, you know you think of when he was writing to the Ephesians he must have said, 'Let's see, the breast plate, that's good, you got a breast plate there, oh yea, and the sword, the sword of the Spirit, ah yea, you got the sword there, and the helmet, I like that helmet, the helmet of salvation there, and you have your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel,' you know, Paul had Rome chained to him.  He wasn't a prisoner of Rome, he wrote to them and said 'I'm the prisoner of Jesus Christ, a prisoner of Christ.'  There was no situation that came to bear on his life that brought him to any low position, because he was in the highest position that he could be in, the prisoner of Christ.  Peter himself a servant here, a servant of Jesus Christ.  He says 'Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward."  Now look, that doesn't define our culture today, it's applicable to employees, 'Employees be subject to your employers, not only to the good and gentle,' God bless 'em if you got one like that, pray he never changes or she never changes, 'but also to the unreasonable.'  You have an unreasonable boss?  I don't want to see anyone working here shaking their head, please.  You have an unreasonable boss, you have somebody who just gives you a hard time?  It says 'Don't just be subject to those that are gentle and good, but also to the unreasonable, the cranky, the miserable,' 'For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully." (verse 19)  Thankworthy is a word, a specific word, it means 'it is taken note of, and it is valued by God."  It is 'thankworthy" he says, 'if a man for conscience toward God, endure that."  'Lord, you put me in a situation, you gave me this cranky boss, I'm not his servant, I'm your servant.'  Look in verse 21 he's going to say 'For even hereunto were ye called:  because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example,"  Now look, we're not saved by following Christ's example.  We're saved by coming as a sinner to a Saviour.  After salvation is imitation.  That we're being conformed into his image and likeness, and it's the imitation of Christ.  He's saying here, even to the masters that are unreasonable and difficult, if you have a boss like that, if for conscience toward God you endure, that's thankworthy towards God, it's notable, because it reminds God of his Son.  Because what Jesus Christ demonstrated to us all, is that you may be an individual who is dearly loved of God, and individual who is in the middle of God's will, and yet an individual who is unjustly treated.  Jesus Christ was the beloved of the Father, Jesus Christ was in the middle of his Father's will.  And Jesus Christ was unjustly treated, and would cry out 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'  He's taking us somewhere.  He's going to apply it to marriage, he's going to apply it to, he's taking us somewhere, here.  And he would do it without blinking, he would go to the Mamertine, he would lead his guards, who were unreasonable employers at that point in time, 47 of them to the Lord before he dies.  Hadn't laid down to sleep in nine months, let me tell you this, if I don't sleep for a night and a half, I'm cranky.  If you're a Roman guard and you're around me after I've  missed a couple nights sleep, you're glad you have a shield.  The tradition says Peter didn't lay down in a sleeping position for nine months, he was chained in an upright position.  And the love of Christ found its way through him.  So he's not giving cheap advice, this is something he took to his own heart.  He says 'This is thankworthy, if you have the right attitude towards a difficult person, and you endure grief, suffering it wrongfully,' for he says, 'For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?  but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God." (verse 20)  Big deal, 'I was a bad employee and my boss yelled at me, and I didn't say nothing back.'  Well so what, you should have got yelled at.  Now this is what he says, 'What glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it take it patiently?"  What's the big deal?  'but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."  This is acceptable with God, 'For even hereunto were ye called:" he's going to go on and say.  And he uses an interesting word, 'If you're buffeted' and it's the word that means 'to be beaten with the fist," it's the same word used in Matthew 26, verse 67 where Jesus is beaten beyond human recognition, Isaiah 52, verse 14.  He was beaten with a human fist to the point he wasn't recognizable as a human being.  Peter says 'If when you're buffeted,' and he's talking to slaves, who might often have this experience, 'if you're beaten with a fist, and you're beaten because you did something wrong, and you take that patiently, you can expect that.  But,' he says, 'when you do well, and you suffer for it, and you take that patiently, this is acceptable with God,' 'For even hereunto were ye called:  because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:" (verse 21) he does something very interesting here, 'that you should follow in the steps of Christ,' and it's a Greek construct that can be taken a very interesting way.  Those of you who have raised kids or have very little kids at home now, you know what it's like in winter, when the snow is about this deep, and it's really too deep for them to walk in.  If you go out in the yard and you step through the snow, and you make those holes in the snow, and then you look out and see your little kid trying to walk, and he has to put his feet right in the footsteps that you made, because if he doesn't do that he can't walk that without difficulty.  That's the construct here.  That's the construct here. 


We're Commanded To Walk In Christ's Steps, What Does That Mean?


'For even hereunto were you called:  because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:  who did no sin, neither was guile [deceit] found in his mouth:  who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:  who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness:  by whose stripes ['stripe" singular in original Greek] ye were healed." (verses 21-24)  I don't have this down.  OK?  I'm not preaching this because I have suffering 101, suffering 102, and suffering 103 merit badges.  I'm saying this because I know that it's true, and I'm learning, also.  That in difficult circumstances, if my heart is open to the Lord, he's gone there before me.  He's gone before me.  He's the author and finisher of my faith.  And it may be difficult for me to walk in that deep snow, but there are footprints there that I can put my feet right into them, and I can find my way through that, though it's difficult, I'm able to walk the path, because he's walked it before me.  I do something wrong, somebody gives me a hard time, it's hard enough for me to take that patiently.  But if I do good, and somebody gives me a hard time---ever have that experience?  If you've been in the church for more than a month you have.  We're just the best dysfunctional family going.  You know when God gives you [idea is develops within you] the fruit of the Spirit he doesn't stop at 'love, joy, peace," does he?  You wish he would.  It's that 'longsuffering, meekness, temperance [self control], patience" that bothers me.  I think 'Oh man, am I going to have to use these things?'  But when somebody does something to you unjustly, you have done well and you receive the rotten end of the stick for it, if at that point you act like Christ because of your conscience toward the Father, that he looks favorably on that.  He says 'even hereunto were you called,' you're being conformed into that image and likeness, so much so, that Jesus has left footprints in the snow and you're going through the difficult things where you're too immature to walk yourself, because the problem would be too deep, we can follow in his footsteps.  And here's the one, 'who did no sin," you think of how he was treated, Peter now, imagine what is going through Peter's memory, 'who did no sin," now here's a remarkable verse for us tonight, 'neither was guile found in his mouth:" look, 'neither was' if you have a translation that says 'deceit' that's the better idea, neither was deceit found in his mouth,' that's so important to us this evening.  There's no deceit found in his mouth.  That's important when we hear him say 'anyone who comes to me, I will in no wise cast out.'  There's no deceit in that.  'Come unto me all of you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  'Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, you shall find rest for your souls."  There is no deceit in that.  And if we come to him, he says 'You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."  No deceit in that.  'Well, you don't understand, I'm an adulterer, I'm immoral, I've murdered someone, I'm in my addiction, I've ruined my family, everyone hates me.'  The Son of man has not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.  He says 'I didn't come to condemn you, whatever your mountain of sin is.  I came so that you could be saved.'  And Peter says 'There is no deceit in his mouth, there's no deception in it.'  He's come to set us free, and he takes us as we are, we don't have to get it together first, he takes us with all of our baggage and all of our problems and all of our sin.  And then he transforms us, and he sets us free and he gives us new life.  [How?  Upon receiving the Holy Spirit, we start to live lives of overcoming, spiritual growth, where we lead lives of successfully putting all of that sin out of our lives, right to the thought level, cf. 2nd Corinthians 10:5.]  No deceit found in his mouth.  'who did no sin, neither was there any deceit in his mouth:  who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:" (verse 23)  Peter that night, standing at the fire, the maiden saying 'Aren't you one of them?'  'I don't even know the man, never saw him in my life,' but Peter there, as the beating would continue, as he was mocked, as he was spit upon.  Peter says and was an eye-witness to it, he says, 'that when he suffered, and when he was reviled, he reviled not again, when he suffered he threatened not,'  but 'he committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:"  [Comment:  One thing to note, when it says in verses 21-22a, 'For even hereunto were ye called:  because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps:  who did no sin," we find the apostle John defining sin as the transgression of the law, the law of God, in 1st John 3:4.  As Peter shows us here, Jesus never broke God's law, even under intense suffering, and we have record of that in the four Gospels, that he observed all Ten Commandments of God's law, kept the Holy Days of Leviticus 23, and kept the whole law of God all the way through his intense suffering.  As many scholars know, when Peter and Paul were writing the epistles, much of what we have in the New Testament didn't exist yet, so the law of God being referred to by John, and kept by Christ was the Old Testament, 10 Commandment law of God.  We're being told by Peter that Jesus left us an example, that we should follow in Jesus' steps, who did no sin.  This is not being legalistic, this is just plain Scripture.  But people don't tend to see these things in the Scripture.  To read about the early Christian Church which the apostles Paul, Peter and John were administering, see and read through that series.]


The Mystery Of What Took Place On The Cross


Now, no doubt, we're to do that same thing, 'who his own self bare our sins in his body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." (verse 24)  Very interesting thing that he says to us here.  He says, 'his own self" no one else, it's emphatic, him alone, nobody else.  He says, what he did is 'he bore our sins,' we find that in the Septuagint in Leviticus, it's a Levitical phrase for putting the sin on the lamb before it comes to the sacrifice.  That he bore up, literally, onto the cross, our sins.  It's the word of the sacrifice bearing the sins.  And very important for us to see here, Christ, what he did.  You remember, those of you here who saw 'The Passion of Christ' or you read through the Gospel, and you think of Jesus, all that he went through, he sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane, hemotridrosis.  He was under so much strain, people can die from a heart-attack at that point, that the capillaries in his sweat glands were bursting, and he was sweating blood.  And it tells us that those guys warmed themselves at the soldier's fire, because it was cold.  Well Christ was under so much stress on a cold night, he's sweating great drops of blood.  Beaten beyond human recognition, his beard ripped out of his face, you know the things that took place, the movie didn't even portray the half of it.  The scourging, 188AD, through that period, the church at Smyrna, when you read the book of Revelation, you hear of the church there of the martyrs.  The records of those martyrs of Smyrna [in secular Roman history], many of them were scourged, and it gives a description of their kidneys being exposed, of the skin and muscles being torn off where the bowels would hang out the side.  Many people died of the scourging.  No doubt Jesus is dehydrated, Jesus is scourged, and again the Romans, as cruel as they were, when they laid that scourge on and ripped out the flesh, if you cried out the names of those that were accessories in the crime with you, that were in the crime with you, they would lighten up on the lash.  If you kept your mouth closed, they would lay it on heavier and heavier, trying to break you.  It says, 'as a lamb before his shearers is dumb," Isaiah says, 'so he opened not his mouth."  That's when they brought him back to Pilate, he put him in front of the crowd and Pilate said 'Etsai Homo, behold the man,'  they must have said, 'He never even cried out.'  Because he would have had to cry out your name, or my name.  And the crown of thorns, then the mocking that took place.  And then the carrying of the cross, he crumbles under it.  Simon the Cyrene has to pick it up and finish carrying it for him.  I believe that an ordinary mortal would have died, dehydration, an ordinary mortal would have collapsed and died along the way.  Many died from the scourging.  But if he had died along the way our sins would not have been paid for, because the Bible teaches us that he bore our sins 'up onto the tree, the timber' literally.  'Cursed' Galatians 3:13, 'is everyone who is nailed to a tree,' Paul quoting from the Law.  It was there, and it's what Mel Gibson could never put on film, somehow, there on the tree, the sin of the world came upon him, the sin of the world.  Think of that.  All of the sin of Osama bin Laden, the death of Christ was sufficient for him, if he repents and turns [he was still alive when Pastor Joe gave this sermon].  The sins of the most unscrupulous hated people you know through history, don't be too hard on them, they're like you and I.   Our sins, every thought, every word, every bit of anger, everything we have ever done, it's the wonderful news, an abortion 20 years ago, something where we abused somebody, we did something wrong, all of our sins were there, because it says, as the Scripture says, and Peter is very specific, 'by whose stripe" singular, 'ye were healed."  Because he's talking about something that happened in the spirit, a stroke fell on him.  God laid the iniquity of us all on him.  And by a stroke, the wrath of God fell there on that sin, on the cross, a stroke.  'by his stripe" singular 'ye were healed."  [And 'ye" is you plural in the King James.]  Isn't it interesting, because before he gives up the ghost, he says, 'Tu telisti, it is finished.'  Before he died physically, he said that his spiritual death had paid the price, 'it is finished, tu telisti, paid in full.'  Then he died, then he died.  In his physical death, in the shedding of his blood, yes, and his crucifixion, but what we could never imagine in those three hours of darkness, the sin of the world coming upon him, the stroke of God falling upon him, making him the place of propitiation where the wrath of God is satisfied.  Peter, you know Peter, what is in Peter's mind as he writes these things, these things he was reminiscing about, what must be dragging painfully through his memory, and yet wonderfully.  As he thinks of this, he says 'who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree," he had denied Christ, he had fled out into the night, weeping.  And Jesus, Resurrection morning, the angels come and say, 'Go tell his disciples, and Peter, that he is risen.'  Imagine what it was like when the women came back and said 'Angels appeared to us, and they said 'Go tell his disciples, and Peter, they said to tell you, he is risen,' and Peter must have thought, 'My name is mud.'  Because the last time he saw Christ he had denied him three times, and pronounced anathema upon himself, saying, 'If I know him, let me be eternally damned,' and the rooster crowed.  But he says 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively [living] hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1st Peter 1:3)  He himself, he says, himself, no one else, him and the Father settled this on the hill, like Abraham and Isaac left the servants behind, no one else could go there, no human work, no hewn steps to this altar, no hewn stones, no human hand, 'his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, [up onto the tree], that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness:  by whose stripe ye were healed." you were made whole. 


'For You Were All Like Sheep Going Astray'


'For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." (verse 25)  'Bishop, Overseer."  'You were as sheep going astray, but now are returned to the Shepherd," that's a great picture, you know, I have a particular love for that idea, because I'm a pastor, in case you hadn't known.  You know, it's funny, when there's fifty people or a hundred people coming to the church, you think you can do it, and you think you need to do it.  People will say 'What's it like to pastor a giant church?' and I think, 'It's a breeze,' because when there's a hundred people coming or a hundred and fifty people coming, you think you can do it, you think you have to do it, but when there's 12,000, 13,000 people coming, you know you don't have nothing to do with it at all, nothing to do with it at all.  [Comment:  And Pastor Joe has, reputedly 30,000 people whom God has drawn to Christ through his ministry, all a part of Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, which I believe now, he's wisely broken up into various satellite congregations scattered around Philadelphia, under associate pastors.  I don't know for sure, I'll have to ask him next time I see him.]  And you know that there's a great Shepherd, and you know the shepherd is never dependant on the IQ of the sheep.  All he expects from the sheep is 'Baaah, baaah.'  It is so encouraging to me that 'You know, Lord I don't know what to do in this circumstance, I don't know what to do here.'  But I know if I'm willing to follow, he will lead, he's the Great Shepherd and Overseer of my soul, Great Shepherd and Overseer of my soul.  And we were once, all of us, like sheep going astray, and now we have come to the Shepherd.  Isn't it wonderful tonight, you don't have to figure the whole thing out?  Imagine a sheep-meeting, with a shepherd standing there with his staff, and there's a sheep council, 'Baaah, what do you think we should dooo?  Baaah.   I don't know, I vote thaaat,' no, no, the shepherd is not dependent on the IQ of the sheep.  If their heart is willing to follow, he leads and he's faithful and he cares.  It even says, 'He shall lead his flock like a shepherd, he shall carry the lambs in his arms, and shall carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those who are with young,' and what it speaks of is the shepherds in Israel, Isaiah was saying, that when the seasons changed, and the summer came, and the shepherd would want to take the sheep to the highlands for grazing, that they're not inclined to move from any comfortable place, they're not inclined to go uphill, that he would take one of the newborns from the leading ewe in the flock, and he would take that little lamb and start to walk, and as that little lamb would go 'baaah, baaah,' that leading ewe would go, and the rest of the flock would then follow, and he would gently carry that little one in his bosom, and lead the flock to higher ground,  We have gone astray, isn't it amazing?  I think back to my life before I was saved, it was a different life, a different person.  You know, I'm sitting here tonight, and into my mind all kinds of things swirling through as I study the Scripture, and I was thinking about the Tsunami, and in all of this, he's lifted our hearts where we're thinking about the coming of Christ.  We're thinking about heaven [on the Sea of Glass and the coming Wedding of the Lamb, and then coming back to rule with Christ over the whole world, cf. Revelation 19; Isaiah 11; Zechariah 14], when there's no tears, no sorrow, no hatred, no bigotry, no sickness, no hospitals, no diseases, no lawyers, no orphanages.  You know, we're thinking of that day.  Isn't it amazing what he's done?  He's lifted us, lifted our heads above the clouds to where we can see, he's given us hope and a future, as Peter says, an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us that have followed him by faith, whom we love with joy unspeakable, full of glory, yet having not seen, he says, yet you still, you love him.  Because we were once lost and gone astray, but now we have come to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls.  What a great Master, who he himself, bore all of our sins, once and for all, up onto the cross, where the stroke of Almighty God fell upon him, that we might have lifeÉ[connective expository sermon on 1st Peter 2:15-25, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]


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