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Let me begin by reminding my heat and yours that when we come to look in the Bible, we need to trust the Holy Spirit. He lives in our heart, and it’s His pleasure to point us to the Lord Jesus. We study the Bible to know the Lord Jesus. With that in mind I want to share this verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” KJV says, “He also will do it.” I like to quote that verse again in the light of the message of 1 Peter. “Faithful is He who calls you to the Pilgrim life, and He also will bring it to pass; He also will do it.” With that in mind, let’s pray together and give our time to the Lord.
Father, we thank You for Your precious word. In a special way we thank You for the book of 1 Peter, and we ask you, Lord, to take the truths from that book and write them indelibly in our hearts. We thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit who ever turns our eyes to Jesus. We pray that we might behold the Lord Jesus in a fresh way this morning. We commit our meditations unto You, in the matchless name of Jesus. Amen.
We welcome you again to our meditation of Jesus in the first epistle of Peter. We’ve come rather far in our presentation of 1 Peter to give a practical review. We’re in lesson ten, so that would take the whole time reviewing, but I would like to restate the prevailing message of 1 Peter, and then pick up where we left off last time.
The prevailing message of 1 Peter is simply this, that the Lord Jesus is the indwelling Pilgrim living in your heart, living in my heart. He’s the Pilgrim after God’s heart. He’s the perfect Pilgrim. We’re called to be pilgrims, but we’re not qualified, and Peter tells us that. Let me just look again at 1 Peter 1:15, “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behaviors, because it is written that you shall be holy, for I am holy.” One of the qualifications to live the pilgrim life if simply to be perfect; be holy as God is holy. I hope you see already that you’re disqualified. I know I’m disqualified from that. But Jesus is not disqualified.
You might say, “If we’re disqualified, then it’s hopeless.” It would be hopeless, except for the truth of 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” We are not hopeless. We have a living hope, a lively hope, because Jesus is alive. By the resurrection of Christ, which we’ll be celebrating that in a special way this week, the resurrection, but He’s alive and alive in you. He’s alive and alive in me. That’s our hope. So, we can live the impossible life by depending on the perfect Pilgrim who lives in our heart. He once died in your place, most Christians agree with that, He died as my substitute, but to many Christians it’s a surprise and a mystery, that He not only died in your place, but He wants to live in your place. That’s the hope we have. Without His life we wouldn’t have a shot at living a pilgrim experience. That’s the prevailing message; the Lord Jesus lives in me as the true Pilgrim, and He enables me, then, to express His life in my pilgrim experience.
Let me pick up where we left off last time. We’ve come now to the second chapter in the epistle of 1 Peter. From 1 Peter 2:1 all the way to the end of the book we’re calling attention to two dominant principles. There are two chief manifestations of the pilgrim experience. In other words, if I really trust the Pilgrim who is living in my heart, what will my life look like? What will the two great characteristics of my life be if I’m trusting the One who lives inside me? I’ll mention the two, and then pick up where we left off.
The first is, if I’m really embracing the message that He lives in me, I will have the desire, the instinctive desire of newborn babe to see Jesus in the Bible. The second dominant characteristic distinguishing mark of the Christian life is subjection. 1 Peter 2:13, “Submit yourself for the Lord’ sake, to every human institution.” When the Lord says “every”, He means every, submit yourself to every human institution. Now in Peter He gives six illustrations of the submission. For example, submit to the government, and then servants submit to your masters, and then He gives the domestic illustration, in the house, wives and husbands, a mutual subjection. And in case He missed any, in 1 Peter 3:8 – 4:19, He says, “The Christian pilgrim is to be subject in all aspects of life.” But since He’s addressing Christians in chapter 5, He gives the illustration of young Christians and older Christians, and the mutual subjection with the elder and with the younger. Those two principles will be prevailing in your life and mine, as we show forth the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. I will hunger after Jesus in the Bible, and I will be subject to every ordinance of man.
I need to also review the special aspect of that second characteristic, that we’re to be subject, we’re to surrender to every ordinance of man. The aspect that Peter gives… Usually when you think about surrender, when you think about Christians subjecting ourselves, usually we think about the willingness to do, “I surrender my life, and I’m willing to do. I will sacrifice and I will give, and I will defer to others, and I will share my resources and I’ll drive, and I’ll cook, and I’ll visit, and I’ll call, and I’ll provide, and I will do.” In 1 Peter subjection mentions that, but that’s not his emphasis. In 1 Peter subjection is not willingness to do. It’s willingness to be done unto. You see the difference. He’s writing to persecuted Christians, and they are unjustly being treated. They’re being done unto. This is the “turn the other cheek, non-resistance, go the second mile, give your cloak, also.” He’s writing to persecuted Christians who are being unjustly treated.
Even though willingness to do is every bit as impossible as willingness to be done unto, willingness to do seems like it’s a little easier. It’s not. It’s just as impossible, but it seems to be a little easier. As I said in our last session, I’m just giving my own testimony, but I know this, that there is not a bone in my natural body that takes pleasure in being done unto. I don’t like it. I want to strike back. It’s just in my nature. I want to counter-punch. If somebody treats me unjustly, it’s impossible not to respond. I want to strike out and pay back vengeance. Both of these principles are impossible, willingness to do and willingness to be done unto. That’s where we left off in our discussion.
I want to say a few more things about the desire of the newborn baby, and then I want to move into a general introduction to this subjection, willingness to be done unto. We closed focusing on that wonderful relationship we have with Jesus; we are His little ones. To Him we’ll ever be His little ones. Isaiah 46:3&4, “You who have been borne by Me from birth, have been carried from the womb, even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you. I’ve done it, and I will carry you, and I will bear you, and I will deliver you.” I don’t know a more graphic picture. Isaiah is full of pictures, but to see an old grandmother or grandfather or great-grandmother or great-grandfather sitting on His lap, like a child would sit on mother’s lap, is a precious thing. He said, “Even to your graying years, I’ll carry you all the way.” Isaiah 66:12&13, carry that same idea, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I extend peace to her, like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream.” He’s speaking about Israel and how they represent all believers. “And you will be nursed, and you’ll be carried on a hip, fondled on the knees, as one his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.’” That’s God’s heart toward you. And to us we’ll ever be like the little babe, the newborn babe, desiring the sincere milk of the word.
When age has painted my years grey
When nature’s strength has fled away
When wit has passed me by
From womb to tomb the promises reads
He’ll bear me up and meet my needs
His little one am I
That’s the first principle, just that childlikeness, and it will never go away at every stage of maturity. I like the way Matthew Henry said it, “Maturity is growing backwards toward the cradle.” You can’t be childlike enough, and all of your Christian life is depending on Him as a little child.
Before we move into this second characteristic of submission, willingness to be done unto, I want to address a principle that is often misunderstood, and for years I misunderstood it, and it gave me great grief. I don’t know how really to express it, but you hear a lot of talk about God’s part and man’s part, and balance. I tell you, that almost drove me crazy trying to figure out man’s part. If I have a part, I want to do it, and this whole idea. Some say, “We know it’s all by grace, but come on we also have responsibilities. We also have obligations. We’re Christians, and we have duties to perform, commands to obey. God does His part, but we can’t just sit by. We’ve got to do our part, as well. It’s not passive. We’ve got to, also, do our part. There has to be balance.” Boy, I came to hate that word, as I struggled through this whole thing. Please pray for me as I present this principle, because it is a liberating truth. It will set you free. I know it’s radical, but welcome to Bethany. That’s where we are. This is not widely accepted, I’ll be honest with you, and even among Christians it’s not widely accepted, but if I can save some of you from the spiritual agony that I went through as I struggled to find my part and God’s part, then it will bless my soul.
Let me make a comment, and then try to explain it. First of all, do we have responsibilities, obligations, duties, and does God expect us to do our part. In one sense the answer is, “Yes.” The responsibility is ours, but the power is not ours. The duty is ours, but the ability to do it is not ours. Colossians 1:29, this is Paul and he describes it this way, “For this purpose, I also labor, striving according to His power which mightily works within me.” That is not just gobbledygook. He’s saying, “I do it, but it’s not me. It’s the Lord doing it.” Philippians 2:13, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” He’s the One that does the will of God, and He’s the One that does it through you. It’s like the verse we opened with, 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “Faithful is He who calls you; He also will do it.” He calls you, but He’s got to do it.
Here’s my first comment, and then I’ll try to explain it. What is my part? My part is to let God do His part. Try to ask God to let that burn into your heart. Let me attempt to explain that. What do I mean? The all-inclusive answer, what’s my part, and this is the answer, no matter where you go —faith, that’s my part. Do you realize, and this is the liberating truth, that God has only called you, me and every believer and given us one responsibility. There’s only one duty God has every called you to. There’s only one responsibility. I like to say that Christians have only one evangelical duty. 1 Peter 2:23, here’s how Jesus lived, “While being reviled, He did not revile in return. While suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” That’s how Jesus did it. He kept trusting the One who lived inside of Him, His Father. Our single duty, our one responsibility, our only obligation is to believe, and to trust Jesus. That’s it.
The disciples came to Jesus one time, and they said to Him in John 6:28, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Do you remember His answer? Verse 29, “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’” Don’t be afraid of that one truth. At every stage in your life, there is only one thing that you have to do, and that is to trust the One who lives inside of you, to believe in Jesus. That principle is especially vital to the ones that Peter was writing to, because they were being persecuted, terribly persecuted, and they had a tremendous duty. God said, “I want you to love your enemy, and I want you to pray for them.” On the level of earth, do you realize how impossible that was? They’re being mistreated. They’d seen their children being thrown to animals, their wives and loved ones are being committed to the flames. They’re being nailed to trees, being crucified. The only thing they could do was to trust the Lord that lived inside of them.
I’ve got to trust Jesus to perform, in every area. I’ve got responsibilities in the family. I better trust Jesus. I’ve got responsibilities in the church. You better trust Jesus. In society, on the job, my only hope is to trust Jesus. That’s the single answer. You say, “Yes, but I’ve got to zealous and I’ve got to be sincere, and I’ve got to be genuine, and I need to love Lillian as Christ loved the church, well, I better trust Jesus. That’s what I need to do.” Do you realize this…. We hear people say, “I’m claiming the promises of God.” I want you to claim the promises, but claim the commands, too. Do you know why? It’s because every command is a promise. So, you can claim the commands, as well. Everything God has every asked you to do is impossible. “Stretch forth your withered hand.” “I can’t, it’s withered.” But he did, by the mighty power of God he did. He said to the humped over woman, “Stand up straight.” She said, “I’ve been humped over for eighteen years, and I’m locked in this position,” but she did, by the mighty power of God she did. “Take up your bed and walk.” “I can’t, I’m crippled.” But he did, by the mighty power of God he did. “Lazarus, come forth.” “I can’t, I’m dead. I’ve been dead for four days.” But he did. By the mighty power of God, he did. That’s what I mean that every command is a promise. God will never ask you to do anything unless He enables you to do what He’s required you to do.
Let’s get back to 1 Peter, and this dominant characteristic. I’m going read 1 Peter 2:1&2, “Putting aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander, and like newborn babies long for the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow in respect to salvation.” I want to thirst like that, and I want to have that instinctive craving and longing to see Him in the word, but how can I do it? I can’t drum it up. I can’t fake it in my life. What does it mean to hunger and thirst after Him like a little baby?
Look at John 6:35, “Jesus said to them, ‘I’m the bread of life. He who comes to Me will not hunger, and He who believes in Me will never thirst.” I want to drill down in that verse. Jesus said that He is the bread, and bread is connected to hunger. I eat, and I eat bread, hunger. Here’s what He said, “He who comes to Me will not hunger.” So, what does it mean to hunger? It means to come to Him. He who comes to Me will not hunger and thirst. He said, “I’m the drink of life.” What does it mean to thirst? “He who believes in Me will never thirst.” Tie that together, and may God burn it in your heart. What does it mean to hunger? It means to come to Jesus. What does it mean to thirst? It means to believe in Jesus. That’s all it is. I always have to come to Jesus and believe in Jesus.
Some Christians struggle with “abiding in Jesus”, “Are you abiding in Christ?” How do you know if you are abiding in Christ? Listen to this verse, John 6:56, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him.” Well, you can’t take that literally or you’d be a cannibal and a vampire. He’s not calling you to that. What’s He saying? He’s saying, “Eat my flesh.” What is eating? It’s coming. What is drinking? It’s believing. Every time you come to Jesus, every time you believe in Jesus, you are abiding in Jesus. That’s what it means to abide in Christ.
In 1 Peter 1&2, I like to begin the chapter with verse 2, hunger and thirst, but it begins with, “Lay aside all malice, all deceit, all hypocrisy, all envy, all slander.” Why does he give that list? He didn’t mention stealing, he didn’t mention self-confidence, he didn’t mention pride; should I lay those things aside? He mentions them because he’s writing to persecuted Christians and those are sins against love. Every one of those sins is a sin against love. Matthew 5:44, “I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”
Alright, I’m going to give you my own natural heart. I’m going to use the fourteen imprecatory psalms. Those are psalms where David prayed against. So, I’ll say, “Okay, I’m praying for my enemy. Psalm 3, “Shatter their teeth, oh Lord.” That’s in Psalm 3, Psalm 5, “Hold them guilty, and thrust them out.” Psalm 10, “Break the arm of the wicked.” See, I’m praying for the wicked. Psalm 35, “Let them be like chaff before the wind.” Psalm 58, “Let them be like a snail that melts away as it goes along.” And I was kind to you, because some of the imprecatory psalms are more violent than that, dashing your children against the stone, and so on.
But Jesus said to pray for them, bless them. You say, “Well, I can’t go that far. I don’t hate them,” but do you love them? Do you see how impossible this is? Psalm 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.” It was impossible for these Christians to receive that word. “They are hurting my family, my loved one, and you expect me to lay aside all malice and all slander? How can I do it?” And he said, “Like a little baby, hunger for Jesus in the word.” That’s the way you do it. Otherwise, you’re just faking it.
Let me make a comment about verse 3. It says, “If you had tasted the kindness of the Lord.” The word there for “if” is really “since”, since you have tasted. The word “tasted” is not that you put a little bit on the tip of your tongue, and you see if it’s sour or bitter or whatever. No, no, no! Taste here is experience; if you’ve experienced that the Lord is good. The reason I’m calling attention to this is that what Peter is writing is not theory for Peter. It’s not theoretical. He had been persecuted by the church, and he had been persecuted by the government. He’s writing out of experience. Do you remember him and Silas when they got beat up at Philippi and he was over there praising the Lord at midnight, and God did a marvelous miracle? He’s addressing persecuted Christians, and their only hope, you only hope and my only hope, the only living hope; we have somebody that lives inside of us, and He said, “I will do it.” That’s your hope. Otherwise, we don’t have a shot. We must be His little ones, come to Him, believe in Him, and that’s all I ever have to do, and that’s my duty, to let God do His part. So, we come as little babes.
Peter has given us all these illustrations—submit to the government, submit to the master, submit to your bosses, submit to your teacher, your coaches, and so on. Submit, submit, family submit, in every aspect submit, in the church, submit. He gives all these illustrations, and I would like to go through them one by one, which we will do, if the Lord assists. But this morning, I don’t want to begin, “Alright, here’s what it means to submit to the government.” This morning I would just like to take that truth, willingness to be done unto, submit, in the light of 1 Peter and the balance of scripture, and I would like to drill down a little bit on exactly what is intended by that. So, instead of just jumping right to the applications, I think it’s important that we really understand, “What does this mean, subjection?” We’ve mentioned it over and over how impossible it is in our own flesh, in our natural strength.
Let me ask two questions. I’ve already answered the first question, “What is subjection?” The answer is willingness to be done unto. But now I want to answer these two questions. Why does God want me to submit? Then, of course, the last one is how? How am I going to do it? If we don’t know the how, we meet in vain. It’s all important that we know exactly God’s method of doing this.
Let me give two answers to the first question, “Why should we submit?” Let me read 1 Peter 2:11&12, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the gentiles, so that in the things which they slander you as evil doers, they may, because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” Why should we submit? The first answer is at the end of verse 12, in that little expression, “in the day of visitation.” What is the day of visitation? According to that verse, they’re looking at your life, they’re watching your response to everything God allows in your life, and there comes a day of visitation. Acts 15:14, I love this verse, “Simon has declared how God, at first, did visit the gentiles,” there’s visitation, “to take out of them a people for His name.”
Some time ago when the Lord gave me that verse, oh that became so precious. I love the way it says, “take out of them a people for His name.” And now it’s my habit when I drive by a Kingdom Hall or when I drive by a Mormon Tabernacle or a Muslim Temple, or something like that, and very often just a regular Christian church, I pray that prayer, “Take out of them a people for Thy name.” In fact, I have that verse posted on my visor in my car, so I’ll always remember, “Take out a people for Thy name.” It’s always redemptive.
When Jesus raised the dead, the son of the widow of Nain, when the people responded, they said, “God has visited His people. He gave life to the dead.” And when Zacahriah, the father of John the Baptist, was prophesying Messiah, Luke 1:78, “Because of the tender mercy of our God with which the sunrise from on high will visit us to shine upon those who are in darkness and the shadow of death. Guide our feet in the way of peace.” Visitation, the sunrise on high shall visit us to deliver us. So, the day of visitation is the day of salvation. He said, “Why should you be willing to be done unto? It’s because it’s redemptive. People are watching you. They’re seeing you respond to this situation and that situation, this trial and that trial. They’re watching and they’re looking, and some respond, and God visits them with salvation.” The reason God does it, he says, is because it’s an opportunity to visit the sinner through your life. It’s all about redemption.1 Peter 2:23, “He was willing to be done unto; He kept trusting the One who was inside of Him.” 1 Peter 3:18, “Christ died for sins, once for all, the just for the unjust.” Why? To bring us to God. It’s redemptive. It’s His method now in His new body, as it was in His old, to bring us to God.
Here’s the second reason, and it’s also at the end of verse 12, “That they may because of your good deeds as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” What’s the second reason? Why should I be done unto? Because it helps others see Jesus. Why? Because it brings glory to God. 1 Peter 3:18, “Christ died once for all, the just for the unjust.” Peter, as you go through the book, has great emphasis on this important truth that we suffer as Jesus suffered, the just for the unjust, for sins not His own. He suffered for your sins.
1 Peter 3:17, “It’s better if God should will it so, you suffer for doing what’s right, rather than what’s wrong.” 1 Peter 4:15, “Make sure none of you suffers as a murderer or thief or evil doer or troublesome meddler. If anyone suffers as a Christian, he’s not to be ashamed, but to glorify God in His name.” Peter is addressing persecuted Christians, and he’s addressing them how to have a relationship with the persecutor. You’re persecuted, and how do I relate to those persecuting me? He warns them, “Make sure it’s not for your own sin.” He gave a list of that in chapter 4:3, but make sure you aren’t retaliating and you’re not bitter and you’re not holding vengeance.
They felt justified to be lawless, “They were unjust to me. Look at the way the government is taxing me. So what if I cheat on my taxes. It’s just only fair.” It’s that kind of thing. They felt justified to strike back at those that are doing such damage. Look at Ukraine today, and what they’re suffering, and these people are responding in the natural. They’re saying, “What they’ve done, we’re going to fight all the way to the death. They deserve to be punished,” and so on.
1 Peter 2:20, “What credit is there if when you sin you are harshly treated? You endure it with patience. But if when you do what’s right and suffer for it, you patiently endue it, this finds favor with God.” So, he’s talking about persecution. Jesus said, “They hated Me without a cause, and you ought to be able to say, ‘They’re persecuting me without a cause.” We’re willing to be done unto for those two reasons. #1 He uses it to save others. #2 It brings God glory. If we really believe, “God is using me to save somebody, and it’s going to bring God glory,” well, that perspective would cause us to rejoice, wouldn’t it? 1 Peter 1:6, “And to greatly rejoice with joy unspeakable.” 1 Peter 1:8, and 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.” You know about resting in the Lord? What a verse is this, that the Spirit of God wants to rest on you. Jesus said over and over again, on the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you, because of Me.” Why? It’s because it’s redemptive. Why do I have to suffer? It’s because it brings God glory. Therefore, it’s a great privilege.
When you’re going through something, do you count it a privilege? Listen to Philippians 1:29, “For you it has been granted,” that’s a gift, “for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” He puts suffering and believing in the same sentence. It’s as much a gift to suffer for the Lord as it is to believe in the Lord.
That brings us to the all-important question of how. It’s so impossible, and it seems so detached from reality in my own life. I really want the Lord to teach me how to live this way, but how in the world can that be? I’m going to give you the same answer I gave. You have one responsibility. The first answer is faith, but if I just say “faith”, the temptation is, then, to look to faith and say, “I need more faith, greater faith, bigger faith, larger faith.” Faith needs an object, and the object is Jesus. I need to trust Jesus. It’s not just faith, but it’s faith in Jesus, faith in the object of your faith, the One who lives in your heart and in your place.
I already pointed out that he gives these general headings, but I want to call attention to that He uses the extreme. You can’t get more persecuted than martyrdom. That’s an extreme, and for sins not your own. But not all suffering in life is persecution. There are other suffering for sin not your own. There are some for sin, chastening if you’ve rebelled against the Lord, but we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about for sins not your own, like pruning; that’s a suffering, and you didn’t do anything to deserve that. He wants to get more fruit. And there’s other things, like a physical handicap, a limitation, a breakdown of health. That’s suffering and you didn’t deserve it. He’s not punishing you. It might be some financial hardship that you’re going through, the burdens that you have for your family, your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids, unforeseen circumstances, you were in an accident, or a storm comes along, there’s a sudden loss, a bereavement. Those are sufferings that come into our life for sin not our own. We didn’t do anything. What he’s saying in Peter, “I’m going to use the extreme case, and this is redemptive, and every lesser case is included in the greater. That’s also redemptive. So, your sickness and your hardship and your financial burdens are all redemptive, if we do it God’s way.
Strangely enough, Peter gives five illustrations; submit to the government, submit to your master, submit to your husband and wife, submit everybody, submit to the elders in the church. The reality is that Peter does not say even one time to submit to the government. He does not say to submit to one another. You might look at that and say, “It looks like it does.” 1 Peter 3:15, “Sanctify Christ in your hearts.” Your submission is to the Lord, and not to the government. It’s to the Lord in terms of the government, to the Lord in terms of your boss, to the Lord in terms of your teacher, your coach, your elder. It’s in terms of that, but our submission is to the Lord. Jesus did it that way. We read that in 1 John 2:23, “He constantly submitted to the One who lived inside him.” Children, obey your parents in the Lord. We marry in the Lord. Your one responsibility is to come to Jesus, believe in Jesus in terms of all these other things.
When it says sanctify, that word means to make holy. Well, you can’t make Him holy. He’s already holy. What he’s saying to esteem it as holy. When God allows something in your life, it’s right, it’s holy, it’s good. He’s too wise to err. What He allows in your life, you sanctify Him. You say, “I believe this is the perfect thing for me.” When you or I complain, it’s a practical denial of the sovereignty of God. “I hate this weather,” is like saying, “God had nothing to do with this weather.” Every time you and I complain, every time we murmur or gripe, according to the Bible, it’s against God. All murmuring is against God. So, if I’m sanctifying Christ, I’m going to trust the One who lives inside of me, I’m not going to be complaining about and feeling self-pity about what I’m going through, because it’s holy. It’s right. He chose it, and He’s Lord.
When Jesus was spit upon, and that was literal, and when He was mocked, and when He was beaten, and when He was thorn crowned, and when his limbs and hands and feet were nailed, it looks like He submitted to the spitters, and that He submitted to the mockers, to those who were beating Him, to the soldiers. He did not submit to man even for a moment of time. He surrendered, the Bible says, to the One that was in His heart. He was trusting His Father. He never submitted to Pharisees and scribes and priests and Roman soldiers. Jesus sanctified His Father in His heart, and He kept entrusting Himself to the One who was inside. John Newton who wrote “Amazing Grace” also wrote these words, “Jesus, your Shepherd, Lord and chief, shall shelter you from ill, and not a worm or shaking leaf can move, but by His will.” That’s exactly so.
We’re going to look at, “What does it mean to be subject to the government?” But we’re going to look at, “What does it mean to be subject to the Lord in terms of the government.” If God dawns that truth on your heart, willingness to be done unto will not be a struggle. It’s interesting that in the midst of all of this, being willing to be done unto, in 1 Peter 2:16 he says, “Act as free men, and do not your freedom as a covering for evil.” So, the question comes, “How in the world am I going to act as free man, if I have to submit myself every time I turn around? That doesn’t sound like freedom.” What if God’s will is going in one direction, and my will is going in another direction? In other words, He does something, and I don’t like, and if I could choose, I would choose the other, and secretly I would say, “He probably made a mistake there allowing this.” That’s our natural heart.
What does victory look like when His will is going that way, and mine is going this way? Some Christians will say, “When your will is going the other way, surrender it, acquiesce and say, ‘Even though I don’t like what you’re doing, and I don’t like this direction and I don’t choose it, yet I’m going to lay down my will, and I’m going to accept yours.” Is that victory? Is that abundant life? I’m suggesting it is not, and that’s not what God wants. His will is going here and my will is going here, if I give up my will and acquiesce to His, sometimes I don’t even have choice because of what’s in my life, that is not the victory He’s called us to. You might say, “Well, I know what liberty is, then. His will is going this way, and I want my will to go this way. If my will becomes His will, if He commands me what I want to do what I want to do anyway… He commands me to love Lillian. That’s not a problem. I want to love her, anyway. If I command grandchildren, “I command you to play basketball.” They aren’t going to have a hard time with that. “I command you to go fishing.” They aren’t going to have a hard time. “I command you to read a good book.” My one grandchild would be really happy. He loves to that. If I say, “I command you to rake my leaves, weed my garden,” because they honor me, they might do it, but I don’t think it would be liberty.
So, if my will is going this way and His is going that way, and I surrender, is that the Christian life? No. If His will is going that way, and I say, “Alright, I’m going to want to do what God wants, anyway, is that liberty?” It would be if it were possible, but it’s not possible. It sounds more spiritual when it comes to willing to be done unto.
The thing I’m about to say, may God protect you and help you to understand what is in my heart. God is not and has never called you to surrender to His will. That’s hard. And neither is He causing you to make your will His will, to choose it. It sounds spiritual. He’s calling you to be real and calling you not to fake it. He’s calling you to be genuine. Let me give an illustration, and then I’ll try to wrap up the truth here.
I was once employed by an unreasonable employer. Of course, I think I did it myself. I was zealous back then, jamming the gospel down his throat, and trying to witness to everybody that was working with us. Anyway, he mocked me as a Christian, and he kept pushing me and pushing and pushing me. I was a yard man, and I was working in a nursery. He would load my wheelbarrow. The boss would come over and say, “Alright, I want you to bring this back to the furthest row,” and he kept loading it and loading it.
At that time I didn’t have a revelation of Christ living in me, but I found a verse, and it was Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, do you work heartily as for the Lord, rather than men.” And so, I took that verse, but I didn’t understand it. I thought it said, “Do it as if to the Lord,” and not do it to the Lord, but to do it as if to the Lord. So, I got into a game of pretend, and I pretended Jesus was my boss, and not Fred. The more he loaded my wheelbarrow, I said, “This is Jesus. I’m doing this for Jesus.” I pretended that I was doing it for the Lord, and I determined that I would have a good testimony, no matter what. “I’m not going to buckle. I know what he’s doing. He’s trying to get me to lose my temper, and then he’s going to say, ‘Ah, and you call yourself a Christian.’” I knew he was doing that. I was determined, if it killed me, that I was going to do this for Jesus. It didn’t work. I blew my testimony right out the window. I lost my temper, and it came to shouting, and then it came to pushing, and it actually came to a fist fight. For some reason, that was the last day on the job.
Anyway, there’s a difference between doing it to the Lord and as to the Lord. Liberty is not submitting to His will, even when I don’t want to. Liberty is not choosing to have my will become His will. Then what is it? 1 Peter 3:15, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart.” He not only lives in you to do; He lives in you to be done unto. He lives in you to be done unto. I told you that there is only one gospel duty; come to Him and believe in Him. Here’s an amazing thing, and I’ll tell you that it will set you free, if God gives it to you by His Spirit. It was a great release for me when I realized that I did not have to be willing to do God’s will. Why? It’s because the One who lived in my heart delighted to do God’s will. He’s willing to do it, and He lives in me. All I have to do is trust Him. I don’t have to be willing. He’s willing, and He’s the One that lives in me. He delights to do the will of God, and I’m just to trust the One who lives in me. 1 Peter 2:23, “He kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
I want to end with this truth about being real, because we can fake it so much. I want to real, genuine, authentic, and I don’t want to fake it and I don’t want to play a game, and I don’t want to pretend anymore, and I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I want to close with John 1:17, “The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” Usually, when you hear the word “truth”, and I asked, “What’s the opposite of truth/” you would say, “false.” Or you would say, “This is true, and this is the lie.” Not here. He’s not contrasting Moses and Christ with the truth and a lie, because Moses wasn’t a liar. It was a shadow, and it was not substance. It was a picture. It was unreality. When he said, “Truth,” it’s reality; grace and reality come through Jesus Christ. He delivers me from unreal, because He’s real. He is genuine, and He wants God’s will. You don’t have to struggle with God’s will. He delights to do God’s will, and He lives in my heart. I can’t delight to do God’s will, but I can trust Jesus, and He delights to do God’s will. That’s a big difference in your life, and that’s victory when I can just keep trusting Jesus. “I don’t like this, what comes into my life. I wish it weren’t here. I’m trying to surrender, and I can’t surrender it,” but there’s one who lives in my heart, and He’s my substitute, and He is genuine. Romans 8:27, “He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, and He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” I don’t have to pray for the will of God. The Holy Spirit living in me prays for the will of God, and all I have to do is trust Him.
When somebody has a very severe disease, they don’t like that, and they don’t want that thing that they’ve got, but then the greatest surgeon on the planet comes into their case. Now they rejoice. They still have the problem, but I rejoice because I’ve got an expert who is going to take care of this for me, and they can still rejoice. I don’t have to delight to do His will. I can trust the One who delights to do His will. Jesus doesn’t struggle with the will of God. I’m so glad it’s not me trying to either acquiesce to His will or line my will up with His. Both of those I’ve struggled with, and it’s impossible.
Let me read this and we’ll close. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” that’s Christ, “that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but no despairing, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed, always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the Life of Jesus, also may be manifest in our body.” So, who is Christ? He’s the One who lives inside, not only to do, but to be done unto.
Father, thank You for Your word, not what we think it means. Lord, override anything that might have been said that is not from You. You promised to pluck up everything You haven’t planted, but, Lord, if You planted it, then send down the roots very deep, that we might know what it is to fulfill our one obligation, to come and believe in the One who lives in our heart in our place. When You died, we died, and when we died, we died with our mind, we died with our emotions, and our will. It’s all been set aside. Our will is no longer the issue. Enable us to trust You. You command the impossible. Enable us. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.