VALLEY REFORMED CHURCH
Savoring God through literacy in His literal Word
Peter 2:18-25 ~ 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
We resume our study of I Peter today and three weeks ago, we studied the command for us to submit to authority. Today, we will look at the second of three areas of submission to authority.
The Apostle mentions only three areas in the physical realm on earth; submission to government and laws created by governing authorities, slaves/workers submission to owners/bosses, and wives submissive to their husbands. Why these three areas? Let me suggest that these three areas affect your testimony before outsiders more than anything else you do. Your lack of submission to any of these three mentioned authorities is not hidden, but is obvious to everyone.
Secondly, we submit to authority, whether it be the authority of government or the authority of our employer, because these positions are ordained as authoritative positions by God. The persons occupying these authoritative positions are often not qualified to hold the position, but their lack of qualifications doesn't excuse or lessen God's command for us to be subject to their authority.
I Peter, chapter three, includes a wife's submission to her husband, whether he is qualified to aptly lead or not. The same is true of submission to leadership in the local Church. We have stated this many times before, but those who fail to submit in these areas of authority, are not submitting to God, no matter how much they fool themselves into thinking that they are. Submit to God and Christ and you will submit to authority on earth.
Why are we to submit to anyone at all? There is one overall abiding reason; because God commanded it, and one overall abiding effect; that you may be known and seen as one having a gentle and quiet spirit; that you may be peace-loving, not a reviler or rabble-rouser, not a hot-head or a fighter. This is the overall theme and goal in I Peter. Christ set the example for us, as we will see in our study. Do you realize how important it is that we be viewed and known as reasonable, gentle, and peace-loving people? This doesn't mean that we are passive. This doesn't mean that Christians don't defend what is important to defend, and it doesn't mean that we don't take a very strong stand for the truth, but it does mean we are temperate. It doesn't mean that we don't set boundaries, because we do and in fact, the Bible is a book of God's boundaries. Being gentle, meek, quiet spirited, reasonable, kind, tender-hearted, and peace-loving, means that we walk softly, but carry a big stick. The "big stick" is the Word of God, which we declare and defend with all meekness and gentleness.
So where do you and I fit in as far as our reputation, especially with outsiders? Only you and I can answer this question honestly, but it would be well for us to do it. Do people view us as peace-loving or do they view us as someone who is always looking for a fight or an argument? Do people view us as meek or do they view us as a "know it all"? Do people view us as gentle or as someone who is harsh and abrasive? Do people view us as tender-hearted or as hard person with no emotion? Do people view us as reasonable or as one who has to be right and win every argument? These are simple questions and the honest answer will encourage us to repent and seek God's help in changing.
Philippians 4:5(ESV) 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
Ephesians 4:32(ESV) 32Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
1 Peter 3:4(ESV) 4but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
Colossians 3:12-14(ESV) 12Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Turn with me to our text for this morning:
1 Peter 2:18-25(ESV) 18Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Let's look specifically at verse 18, because it contains a couple of important and foundational truths. 18Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. In this section of I Peter 2, three classes of people are addressed; all of us in general in regard to submission to government authority, slaves specifically in regard to submission to slave owners, and wives in regard to submission to their husbands. Apparently, these are three very important classes of persons who are to be submissive, because submission as a person in one of these classes defines and testifies to your submission to God and your testimony to those around you.
In our culture, we have eliminated the class of people known as slaves, that is, on the exterior. What we have not eliminated is the actual slave, because many people are treated as slaves even though they are not called slaves. The Bible does not condemn slavery, but it does condemn the poor and unjust treatment of slaves. God created people who are, according to His plan, ill-equipped at making their own way and providing for their own. These people in ages past were known as slaves and were well-taken care of by their owners/masters, but not all. The most oppressive masters were often rich white Christians, or at least men who held high positions in the Church and who claimed to be Christians. The laws should not have eliminated slavery, but they should have enforced severe punishment for the men who abused their slaves. This verse makes it clear that if you are a slave, you should not expect to be free, just because you are now a Christian, and that you should obey your master.
1 Corinthians 7:21-24(ESV) 21Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. 22For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
The people in our society who can't make it on their own are now taken care of by our tax dollars, except with no requirements to work in exchange for what they receive. So, our passage here deals with the class of people known as slaves, but the principal and application of the passage deals with all who work for someone else. The passage tells us to respect our bosses, just as we are to respect the governing authorities. Why? Because God ordained the governing authorities, just as He ordained for men to work, and just as He ordained for slaves to be slaves.
The second part of the verse eliminates qualifications. Do we only respect those who have earned our respect? The obvious answer is "No", we respect those who are not worthy of respect if they are in a position of authority, because we are peace-loving and gentle servants of Christ, who when He was reviled, reviled not again.
Notice that the verse says not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. This means for the slave, that even when he is abused or beaten, even when the slave master or employer is unfair, degrading, mean, and evil. Of course, if you are an employee in such a situation, you have the option of quitting, but not the option of not working at all, because you are commanded to provide for your own family and to not put the burden on your wife or others.
I want you to notice two principles in this verse that can be applied to all kinds of situations and we will speak more about these in our next message. The first principle as we have already mentioned is that we should remain in the position we were in when we were called. In other words, don't try to escape the trials and sufferings God has ordained for you by trying to change your circumstances. The second principle is that unjust treatment you receive does not qualify or excuse your failure to follow God's command and rule. If you are a slave that is beaten on a regular basis and you can't find employment with a nicer slave owner; be submissive, take your beatings, and entrust your soul and livelihood to God. Many rich songs of dependence on Christ, came from the slave era in the United States, and overall, the slaves were Christian people, unlike their owners.
Now, notice verse 20:
1 Peter 2:20(ESV) 20For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
It is pretty common for people to tell one side of a story, especially when it is a story about how they have been wronged by someone. It is rare to have the opportunity to check with the other side to see what was left out. So, often, the person who is telling the story was punished and deserved it, but they tell the story as abuse to them. Here, the Apostle reminds slaves that there are two kinds of beatings; deserved and undeserved. Undeserved beatings glorify God, because He considers them gracious and beyond that, He ordains them, as well as the deserved beatings.
As human beings and as Christian human beings, we are quick to attempt to rescue, or to eliminate the oppressive situation, and in some cases we should, but we must always seek God's glory in every situation. We want the wife who lives with an abusive husband to be rescued from the marriage, but God is glorified in the suffering of abuse by the wife and she is drawn closer to God.
The primary problem with the majority of people in our culture, is that we believe that we don't deserve, and therefore, should not have to deal with anything adverse to our well-being and happiness. This mindset came on us slowly and it began during the industrial revolution. It is enlightening and encouraging to read the stories of our forefathers and mothers who suffered unbelievable hardship throughout their lives, yet they left us a legacy of deeply spiritual things and writings that remain today as a source of sound doctrine, strength, and encouragement.
Christians, even sound Christian teachers, theologians, evangelists, leaders in the Church, and pew sitters would experience reality if overnight, they lost all of their resources, their savings, their infrastructure, and their security. You can respond by saying there is nothing wrong with having all of those things, and in saying that, you are correct, but the true motive of the heart and true contentment and joy in Christ would be obvious to all if it was all taken away. Think about it; this happened to Job and to many others. It happened to Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago business man. In a very short period of time, he lost his four year old son to an illness, his businesses to a fire, his life savings, and his four young daughters to drowning at sea. As a result, he wrote this hymn:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
This is the heart cry and testimony of a true believer who finds his rest and comfort in Christ, regardless of the circumstances in which he finds himself. At the defining moment of truth, after losing her four daughters to the ship wreck, Anne Spafford, the wife of Horatio, while floating on a plank, awoke from her unconsciousness to a voice that said; "You were spared for a purpose". She immediately recalled the words of a friend: "It's easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weathered friend to God".
The other day, my wife and I were having a discussion about people's use of the phrase, "people don't change", and how often people make that comment about others. We discussed the fact that people do change and that change comes as the result of consequences. Without consequences or undesirable events, people remain complacent and satisfied with where they are, and any changes they make are directly proportional to the severity of the consequence or undesirable circumstance. A person who refuses to work will actually look for work and will not be particular about what job to take if he goes for a period of time without food and lodging. A convict will not likely reoffend if his time served is accompanied by hard work and no amenities. So yes, people do change. God creates the consequences and often, He uses us to do it. The Bible is the Word of God based on consequences; don't work, don't eat, choose sin, die an eternal death, have your good life now and eternal torment for eternity when you die. In general, we are not a culture that experiences harsh consequences and when we do, we don't like them. The Christian has a special role in service to God with regard to consequences. We, knowing God's laws, play an important part in enforcing consequences and setting up boundaries; unlike so many unsaved and even saved emotional people.
Let's drop down to verse 22 and talk about Jesus:
1 Peter 2:22-25(ESV) 22He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
We never attempt to compare ourselves to Christ, but do you realize that in His humanness, He was the opposite of us? Christ was sinless, even though He was tempted just like we are. He always spoke the truth and was never deceitful. The word "revile" means to criticize in an abusive or angrily insulting manner, and although Christ would have been justified in reviling, He did not. And unlike us, when He was beaten, He did not threaten or threaten to get revenge. Christ did all of this, because He continued doing what He had already been doing and what He had always done; entrusted Himself to God who rights all wrongs.
Remember that the Apostle is talking here to the elect and those elect who had been regenerated by the Spirit of God, when he says, 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Christ died for the sins of the elect, not the sins of the whole world, and the fact that He died for our sins keeps us from wanting to wallow in the sins we have been saved from. The fact that He has saved us from our past and from our sins, is our motivation for righteous living.
The last part of verse 24 tells us that we have been healed by His wounds. We understand that many claim this to be a physical healing, but that view is a gross distortion of God's Word and of His plan. Isaiah prophesied that we would be healed by His stripes, and the prophet was referring to a spiritual healing, because without a spiritual healing, we could be physically whole and still end up in hell. The Apostle ends this section of submission with a reminder that we have returned, we have submitted to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls.
Now, we intentionally left out verse 21. Let's look at it in light of what Christ accomplished on our behalf on the cross and in His life of perfect obedience and trust.
1 Peter 2:21(ESV) 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
What is the "this" we have been called to? Chapter one, verse two tells us we have been called to sanctification by the Spirit and to obedience to Christ. Verse six and seven tell us that we have been called to various trials and the testing of our faith. Verse thirteen tells us that we have been called to prepare our minds for action. Verse fifteen tells us that we have been called to live holy lives. Verse twenty-two says we have been called to love one another earnestly from a pure heart. Chapter two, verse one, says that we have been called to put away malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Verse two tells us that we have been called to spend time in the Word. Verses eleven and twelve says that we have been called to abstain from the passions of the flesh and to keep our conduct honorable among those with whom we live. Verse thirteen tells us that we have been called to submit to and obey the governing authorities. Verse eighteen tells us that we have been called to submit to and obey our earthly bosses, and chapter three, verse one, tells us that wives have been called to submit to their husbands.
It is true that every genuine believer has been called to all of these things, but our verse is more specific in that it states we have been called to suffer. Look at it again:
1 Peter 2:21(ESV) 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
Specifically, we have been called to suffer, because Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example.....in case we suffer?...."no", but so we might follow in His steps. Brothers and Sisters, we are called to suffer and in our suffering we are to exhibit the behavior of Christ, who entrusted Himself to God. Christ's suffering moments were filled with peace, reasonableness, gentleness, and joy.
Hebrews 12:1-2(ESV) 1 .................let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
The Christian is called to a life of suffering. Suffering is not something that might happen; it is something that every genuine child of God will experience, because we are called to it. Christ was not above it, and neither are we. What should our adornment be in the midst of our suffering? Our adornment should be a peaceful acceptance as our suffering coming directly from the hand of God for His purpose, His glory, and our ultimate best.
If you are going to establish goals for this new year; make this one goal a priority; that you live in peace, that you accept your suffering, that you learn to go without, that you learn joyous contentment, and that you rejoice in suffering, because this is what we are called to do.
Colossians 3:15-17(ESV) 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
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By Bob Martin | Jan 1, 2017 | 1 Peter 2:18-25 |