Listen to audio above while reading transcript below (also available in Word document at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)
We welcome you again to our meditation on the Lord Jesus in the book of 1 Peter. I’d like to share, before we pray, Psalm 26:12, and you remember that we’re studying this very humanly impossible principle, willingness to be done unto. We need the Lord, and Psalm 26:12 says, “My foot stands on a level place. In the congregation I shall bless the Lord.” Another translation says, “My foot stands on the rock. I will praise the Lord.” Another says, “My foot stands on solid ground. I will praise the Lord.” The point that I’m making is that it’s very difficult to praise the Lord in affliction, when you are being done unto, unless your feet are on the rock, unless you are standing on solid ground. When you are trusting in the Lord, He does the impossible. With that let’s go to prayer.
Heavenly Father, thank You so much for who you are and who you are in us. We thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit, and we just ask that You would open Your Word to our hearts, protect Your people from anything I might say that is not from You. Lord, there are so many, even among our number, that are not here because of illness, and we just pray, Lord, that Your presence would be with them, and they would know Your presence and Your grace. We just commit our time now unto You in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.
We’re a little bit deep in our lessons, we’re in lesson #12, to give a thorough review, but let me remind you of a couple of big things, the prevailing message of the book. The message of the book is not that He’s calling us to be pilgrims, but that He is the Pilgrim after God’s heart, and He lives in us, and now we can become the pilgrims that He wants us to be, as we reside in this sinful earth. He lives in me and you as the perfect Pilgrim in a world, in a society that we’ve been redeemed from and that He still wants to redeem. He lives in us, that He might reach them. All the message in 1 Peter is how He is going to do that.
When I was a student some years ago in the mid sixties at Columbia Bible College in South Carolina, they had a theme for the school, and it was, “To know Him and to make Him known.” That was our theme, and they had plasters all over the place, “To know Him and to make Him known.” Well, that’s what Peter is doing in his own words. He showing us how to know Him, and then how He will manifest Himself. We see that, that to know Him and to make Him known, in 1 Peter 2:9, “You’re a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” That’s to know Him, “So, that you can proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.” That’s to make Him known. So, you’re a people of His possession to know Him, and He wants to make Himself known. At the end of 1 Peter: 2:12 you have this expression that, “as they see your good deeds, as they observe them, they will glorify God in the day of visitation.” That day of visitation is the day when God uses your life to minister to them, and then God visits them in salvation. They respond and they get saved.
By way of review, we have also been discussing the two great evidences, if I’m really trusting the indwelling Pilgrim, and I’m really trusting the Lord Jesus who lives in my life, what are the two powerful principles that will be manifest in my life as evidence, as proof, that I’m looking to Jesus. The first has to do with the first part of the theme, to know Him, and we looked at 1 Peter 2:2, “Like newborn babies long for the pure milk of the word, so by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” As we discussed that, we compared the living Word and the written Word and we are to have an unsatiable thirst, a desire, a longing to know the Lord, to see the living Word in the written Word. As we enter into that, then we become the people of His possession.
The second manifestation is to make Him known, and this is the redemptive side. The principle is subjection. As we live submissive, not to people, but to the Lord in terms of people, as we submit to Him, that becomes a testimony and other people can see that, and we can proclaim the excellencies of Him. It’s a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Once again, submission in 1 Peter is not so much willingness to do, as willingness to be done unto. So, those two principles, hunger to know Him and submission to the Lord, so that we can be used as a testimony.
I remind you again that Peter is addressing those who are under severe persecution. They’re living in the days of Nero, and there was a government persecution. They’re being done unto. They’re not only being cruelly treated and beaten and put into prison and separated from their families, but they’re also being martyred. They’re being crucified and being beheaded and thrown to animals and being set on fire. So, there is tremendous persecution. For them to hear the word, “Submit,” they say, “That goes against my grain. I don’t want to submit to this.” So, that very principle of being willing to be done unto crowded them to Christ. It forced them to look to the Lord that lives in their heart. The duty was theirs’s, but the power was not theirs’s.
They had to trust the Lord if they’re ever going to live like that. Only He can enable someone to submit, to roll over and to take it when they are being treated like that. 1 Peter 2:22&23 shows that’s how the Lord Jesus lived when He was in His incarnate body on the earth for 33 ½ years. “He who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth. While being reviled, He did not revile in return. While suffering, He uttered no threats.” He was done unto. “But He kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” That’s how Jesus lived. That’s how He was done unto. He kept trusting the One that lived in His heart, the holy Father God. And now He calls us to live the same way and trust Him, as He lives in our heart.
In the last session we drilled down a little bit deeper into this idea of submission, and I called attention to the fact that all authority is from God. That’s absolute authority, and all other authority is delegated by God. All authority that exists anywhere is derived. All authority comes from God. Romans 13:1, “Every person is to be in subjection to governing authorities. There’s no authority except from God. Those that exist are established by God.” Last time I also spent a little time on the limitations of that authority. It’s delegated authority, but there are limits. Acts 5:29, “Peter and the apostle answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.” When delegated authority crosses the line and goes into God’s rules, God’s revelation, divine authority, then we obey God and not man. That’s true of submitting to our parents, submitting our teachers, submitting to the government, and if they cross the line, then we obey God. Matthew 22:21, this is probably the most familiar expression of crossing that line, “Jesus said, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” So, we’ve got to trust the Lord for the grace to submit to delegated authority, but if it crosses the line, then we always submit to the Lord.
One other thing, or a couple of other things. We spent some time discussing the limitations. The principle is always clear, but the application is sometimes not as clear, and sometimes it gets thorny. We’ll all hold the same principle, “Be modest.” That’s a principle. Every Christian agrees with that, but other Christians will fight over hemlines and so on, and how they would apply that particular thing. So, the principle is always clear.
I’d like to develop this subjection, willingness to be done unto, just a little bit more before we move on. I believe that next to angels, the government is the greatest delegated authority that God has given on the earth. The supreme illustration of willingness to be done unto, and that’s why He begins with it. Submit to government, and He lays out all these principles. That will apply to every other submission. In other words, underneath the chief one are all of the principles for every other one. 1 Peter 2:13 says, “Submit yourself for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.” So, the way to do that is to see how to submit to government, and then take those principles, because the same ones apply, whether you’re submitting to an employer, or a parent, or an elder, or a policeman, or a coach, or a referee, or an umpire, or a chairman or a crossing guard, anybody who has any authority, it’s all included in that big picture, and any group, any board of directors or any group that has authority, we’re to submit, unless they cross the line.
All the principles that are illustrated under submitting to government, He then gives further illustrations; servants submit to your masters, husbands and wives submit to one another, younger in the church submit to elders, but He’s not giving a list, saying, “Government is first, and then servants are second and then family, domestic is third,” and so on. He’s not doing that. He’s saying, “Submit to government, and here’s another illustration, and here’s another illustration, here’s another illustration.” But under the government everything is included, all the principles of submission.
Now, when we say that all authority is delegated by God, you would think that the supreme illustration is in 1 Peter, of Nero. How could it get worse than that? The greatest illustration of delegated authority in government is not in 1 Peter. It’s in the book of Revelation. Let me give you that passage, and this is even worse than Nero. Revelation 13 we’re talking about the reign of antichrist on the earth. That’s a government that is ordained by God. Now, where you put that in the tribulation, I’ll leave that all to you. But it’s under a graphic figure of a horrible, blaspheming beast who is being empowered by a dragon who is Satan, those graphic words.
Listen to Revelation 13:5, “There was given to him,” who gave it to him? “There was given to him a mouth, speaking arrogant words and blasphemy and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.” Who gave it to him? Who limited him to forty-two months? The answer is the Lord. So, the greatest illustration of delegated authority in the government is when antichrist is on the earth, and even then, it’s from the Lord. Of course, he does nothing except cross the line. So, people are being martyred all over the place. You couldn’t have a more powerful illustration than the antichrist. That’s worse than Nero and Marx and Lenin and Mussolini and Hitler and Putin, or whoever you want to throw in there, and it doesn’t matter how they came to power. They might have been elected by the people, they might have had a military coupe and took over the government, it might have been the results of a war, or they might have just been born into it, but no matter how the government came, the authority is from God, and we need to trust the Lord to be able to submit, unless they cross the line. So, we’re going to look at some of these illustrations.
1 Peter 2:18, “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.” Just like the government was illustrated as an unreasonable and undeserved persecution, now the servants and the slaves, and the masters are unreasonable, and when it comes to husband and wife, the husband is not obeying the word of God, and so, it’s the same idea illustrated many different ways.
This morning I want to show how Peter, after he says, “Submit to the government,” he summarizes it, and I want to show you that summary. Before I get to Peter’s summary, I want to give one more illustration of delegated authority, that God is the authority, and He delegates. I don’t want to spend a lot of time here, but I don’t want to pass over it, either. It’s stated in Romans 13:4, he’s talking about government, “It’s a minister of God to you for good, but if you do what is evil, be afraid. It does not bear the sword for nothing. It’s a minister of God, an avenger, who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” I want you to focus on that expression, KJV says, “It does not bear the sword in vain.” He’s given the sword to the government. The sword is the right to take life. That’s the idea of the sword, the right to take life, and, of course, anything under that, to punish any evil doer. The sword is given to the government.
Way back in Genesis 9:6 God said, “Whoever sheds man’s blood by man, shall his blood be shed.” Later revelation tells us who that man is. That man is the government. God has given the government the sword. The right to take life in the extreme, that is to execute, is the right that God has given to the government. That’s another way to remind you that He did not give the sword to the individual. We have no right to take a life. Exodus 20:13, “You shall not kill. You shall not murder.” And He didn’t give the sword to the church. There’s a black eye in church history, the Crusades. There were about two hundred years when the Christians and the Muslims were in a violent war together. That’s the opposite of the message of the Bible and the message of 1 Peter. He didn’t give the sword to the individual and He didn’t give the sword to the church, and He did not give the sword to the medical community. He didn’t give the sword to the doctors, to the nurses, for mercy killing, for baby killing. They do not have that sword. He gave the sword to the government, and if they use it on the individual, that’s called “capital punishment”. If they use it for the group, that’s called “war”. But the government is the one that has the sword. Romans 13:4 again, “It’s a minister of God for you for good. If you do what is evil, be afraid. It does not bear the sword for nothing. It’s a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” It’s not only for execution, but under it it’s also for punishment of evil doers.
I wish this verse were posted in every courtroom. It’s in Ecclesiastes 8:11, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, or quickly, therefore, the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.” If there was swift justice, then it would deter evil. That’s why in the Old Testament you don’t see among the Jews, they never had jails. There were no jails in the Old Testament. Do you know why? It’s because they executed judgment instantly, and it was severe. Sometimes, it was capital punishment. Our justice department in our day, we have to scratch our heads and wonder. They’ve departed so much for the delegated authority that God has given them.
God has given the government the authority of the sword, but the government has no right to delegate the sword to anybody else or any other group. It’s their responsibility only. And just because the government says, “The doctor has a right to mercy kill,” or something like that, they cross the line when you leave Caesar and go into God’s territory. You can’t pass that authority onto another. Mercy killing is over the line, and aborticide is over the line. Some actually, now this is application, think that preventing life is also over the line. In other words, birth control, and when a government does it, sometimes they sterilize whole groups of people, and that’s over the line. Many would apply it that way.
God has authorized the government to have control, and they’re losing control, and here is why, I think. There are other reasons, but here’s why. Of course, man is sinful. That’s why, but it seems to me as I go through the scriptures, that God has given three institutions to protect a government that is going down the tubes. Number one, He’s given the government, and number two He’s given the family. That’s an institution that is supposed to bring order in society. And He’s given the church. The church is God’s institution to keep order in society. Are you surprised, because I am not, that Satan would be attacking the government, and that Satan would be attacking the family, and He is trying to disassemble it altogether, and the church, because that’s how society falls apart, without that.
Lay that aside, now. That’s sort of a review on submission. I want us to look at the first summary Peter gives. I say it’s the first summary, 1 Peter 3:8 he starts the verse, “To sum up..” So, we know it’s a summary, but it’s not his only summary. 1 Peter 4:7-11 is a summary. Peter says something, and he keeps summing it up. It’s one of his characteristics, but let’s look at the first summary. 1 Peter 2:16&17, “Act as free men. Do not use your freedom as a covering for evil. Use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, and honor the king.” That part, “act as free men,” that’s part of his summary, but I’m going to set that part aside because he illustrates it more powerfully when he says to those who are literal slaves to act as free men. So, when I get to that, I’m going to give that part of the summary. Once he reminds them that because they have an indwelling Pilgrim in their heart, they don’t have to look at willingness to be done unto as a bondage. They can still live free. He gives the summary in verse 17, “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God and honor the king.” I’d like to say a word about each of those.
To put this summary in perspective, I’m just going to remind you of how we closed our session last time. I encouraged you, or God encouraged all of us, to see things as God sees them, to see things through His eyes. How does God look at it? What vision does He have? Last time I showed you that God’s standard, “Submit to government,” and they’re wicked and cruel and they’re powerful, and in many cases, they have no mercy. If I look at that with these eyes, to the natural heart, my life would be filled with fear. I would tremble that the government has such power. When we look at the nations with these eyes, they’re threatening. Russia is destroying Ukraine. China is threatening Taiwan. North Korea is threatening South Korea. Iran is threatening to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. All of them are threatening the west. It’s so fearful if we look with these eyes. So, God invited us, and we read it last week, Isaiah 40:15, and here’s how God sees the nations, “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scale. He lifts up the island like fine dust.” That’s how He sees the nations. We tremble and say, “They’re so huge and so threatening,” and God says, “Like a drop in a bucket. They’re just like a piece of dust on the scale.” Isaiah 40:17, “All the nations are as nothing before Him. They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.” That’s how He sees the nations.
I didn’t read this verse last time, but as I reviewed, I read it, and I’ve got to share it with you. Isaiah 40:23, “He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. Scarcely have they been planted; scarcely have they been sown. Scarcely have their stock taken root in the earth. He merely blows on them and they wither. The storm carries them away like stubble.” That’s how God sees the rulers of this world. When we trust the One who sees the nations like that, there’s a measure of peace that can come into our heart. We can rest.
Well, what I’d like us to do is take this summary, where he says, “Honor all men, and love the brotherhood, and fear God, and honor the king,” and take each one of those, and see what it looks like when we look through the eyes of the Lord, because with the natural eye, it’s a lot different. Let’s begin with verse 17, “Honor all people.” The natural eye, let’s start there. How do we see “all people”? Well, we say that all men are sinners, and they’re all wicked, and many have made themselves repulsive by what they’ve gotten involved in, their habits and their vices, and so on. Some neighbors look out the window and they scorn those who maybe have given over to drugs or to alcohol, or something like that. Even the sinners themselves might be embarrassed and ashamed, and they don’t want to be seen by others. We might think as Christians that we honor all men. The guy who stopped suddenly in front of me when I’m driving, he’s a jerk. And the guy that passes me on the wrong side, he’s an idiot. And those who oppose my political views are insane, and are brainless, and out of touch, and they’re maniacs. How does that fit in with honoring all men? The drunkard is sometimes repulsive, and the addict is a fool, and we use words like “pervert and freak and disgusting and contemptible and worthless”. Sometimes, people even take God’s holy name and put the word “damn” after it, as if it were a prayer and ask God to damn them. Many see themselves the same way. Perhaps, and I’ve seen some, in their deep, deep hearts they wish it wasn’t that way. They’d love to get out of their situation and try over and over and over and keep failing, but that’s how they see themselves, and that’s how the natural eye sees them. But how does God see them? Honor all people. KJV says, “Honor all men,” and the NASB, “Honor all people,” Wuest just leaves it out and says, “Honor all, honor everybody.”
This is a great passage, to be honest, about race relations. Racial prejudice is a sin, a sin against God. Honor all men, women, children, all conditions, and every race. God is not a respecter of persons. How does God see them? He sees them as He created them in His image, the possibilities of a royal nature being in them. He loves them and longs to redeem them. He wants them saved. That’s how He sees them. He sees everyone as sinners who are redeemable, who can be saved, and He desires them. He looks at the drunkard and He longs for the day that He can live inside him, that he can be a temple, that He can live in there forever. The worst of people are to be honored and looked at that way. God’s heart bleeds for Putin. He shed His blood to save him, and you can fill in any name you want. He loves the sinner and gave His life’s blood to redeem them. We’re to see them as God sees them, not as sin ruined them, not as we think we’re so much above them and they’re beneath us. We’re not to look at people as they have been made themselves, but to see them as God can make them, what He can do. It’s a tremendous difference, and you need a miracle of God in order to look at them that way, but God sees all men as He designed men to be, inhabited by Himself.
Do you see the power in a testimony like that? If you actually trusted the Lord to see all people like that… You see, here’s the outcast. He’s being shunned by everybody, and he feels hopeless in his heart, but you’re trusting the indwelling Pilgrim in your heart, and you go up to that outcast, and you honor him, and you look at him as Christ looks at him. You treat him as one created in the image of God, in whom there are possibilities, in whom God can dwell. Do you see how that could encourage him or her? That would give them hope. That’s the ministry that He’s talking about; submit to the Lord and look at people as God looks at them. 1 Peter 3:15 again, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart, always ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you. Give an account for the hope that’s in you.” And we discussed the hope that’s in you; it’s the living hope, by the resurrection of Christ, the hope in you is a Person, and His name is Jesus, and when you honor all men and see them as God sees them, they’re going to respond and ask, “Why are you treating me kindly, and why are you loving me?” And then you can tell them about the living Christ, the hope that’s within you. See, that’s God’s message of evangelism, and that opens the door to share Christ.
Let’s take the second one, 1 Peter 2:17, “Love the brotherhood.” The brotherhood refers to Christians, the family of God. It’s a smaller community. It’s not all men. We honor all men, and see them as God sees them, but the brotherhood is the church, the Christian. We belong, not as men and women, but as saved men and women to this group. How does God look at them? I love Isaiah 63:9, “In all their affliction He was afflicted.” They don’t go through anything that the Lord doesn’t go through with them. If He lives in my heart, in all their affliction, I’ll be afflicted. I don’t have to force myself to weep over Jerusalem. Jesus lives in my heart, and He weeps over Jerusalem. I trust Him, and I weep over Jerusalem. We’ve got to trust the One who lives in our heart. All Christians, everyone, is family. We’re family and we’re brothers and we’re sisters in Christ, and we identify with each other, and we rejoice with those that rejoice, and we grieve with those that grieve.
I think I might have shared this testimony, but some time ago the Lord adjusted my vision. I was looking at it with these eyes, and the Lord suggested that I might make a difference if I look with these eyes. I was bothered, now this was a Christian, the brotherhood, I was bothered by some Christians who had the right words, they were using Bible words, and I looked at their life, and I said, “You hypocrite.” I just saw them as a hypocrite, because I could not see Christ in them. I wanted to and I looked for Christ. One night I was praying for a particular brother that I thought was backslidden, and departing from the Lord, but he had the good testimony, but I didn’t see Christ in him. The Holy Spirit, I was going to say the Holy Spirit spoke to me but let me clarify that. There’s no voice, there’s no vision, there’s no dream, there was no apparition, I just had the thought, and I believe God gave me that thought. He spoke to me; that’s what I mean. Having said that, it was as if God was saying to me, “Ed, you’re having a problem seeing Christ in that brother? Have you tried seeing that brother in Christ?” I’ll tell you, that made a difference. It made a difference in my heart. I can’t see Christ in them, but they’re in Christ, and by looking at it that way it changed all of my critical attitude. That’s how God sees them.
He already mentioned about this brotherhood in 1 Peter 1:22, “Since you have an obedience to the truth, purified your soul for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.” What a beautiful passage! So, we honor all men. We see them as God sees them, potential Christians, and potential temple. Honor the brotherhood, or love the brotherhood, and I think it would be very helpful if we started remembering that every Christian, no matter how backslidden, no matter how confused, are in Christ Jesus, and if we could see them in Christ Jesus, it would make a great difference.
And then fear God. How does God see that? I think Christians are a little bit afraid of the word “fear” when it comes to the Lord. They don’t want to apply it, so they say, “Well, when it says ‘fear God’, what it really means is “reverence, hold God in high honor, respect, worship,” and that word is used that way. For example, in Psalm 119:38, “Establish Your word to your servant as that which produces reverence for You.” Here’s how the KJV translates it, “Establish Thy word to Thy servant who is devoted to Thy fear.” So, fear and reverence are the same. But there’s another use of the word “fear”, when it comes to God’s sovereignty over nations, whether it’s over Hitler or some Ayatollah or a Putin or a Biden, or whatever, when God is chastening a nation because of its sin. I showed you one time how the prophet Habakkuk struggled with this idea of the Lord using a more wicked nation, and God gave him rest by saying, “I’m doing a work in your day. If I told you, you wouldn’t even believe it. Trust Me. What you’re seeing is My working, and I’m dealing with a nation.” He’s dealing with the USA, as well. That put rest in his heart, but he’s still human. Habakkuk didn’t all of a sudden say, “Okay, Lord, you’re going to judge the nation, and I’m going to be praising you.” Spurgeon said, “It like Grandpa’s picture over the fireplace; he doesn’t keep smiling when the house burns down.” We’re not like that; we’re human.
After Habakkuk found rest in the Lord, and God said, “Because of sin I’m going to judge your nation,” here’s how Habakkuk describes it. Habakkuk 3:16, “When I heard, my belly trembled, my lips quivered at the voice. Rotten has entered my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up unto the people, He will invade them with his troops.” We’re to fear the Lord, reverence, but we are also to fear Him, and be afraid. You see, the context here was that many of these Christians were fearing the Romans who were persecuting them, and they were not always honoring the Lord, because of that fear they were responding in an unhealthy way. Peters says, “Don’t you understand the One who lives in your heart? You’re fearing man? You better start fearing the One who lives in your heart. You better fear God, and the kind of fear, afraid. You better fear God. Isaiah 8:12&13 mentions this, “Do not say a confederacy to all them to whom this people shall say, a confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread.” Don’t fear those who are beating you up. Fear the Lord. Matthew 10:28, “Fear not them which kill the body and are not able to kill the soul. Rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.” That’s not reverence; that’s fear.
The most a persecutor can do after they torture you, is kill you. Once you’re dead, they’re done. They can’t do anymore. They can’t insult you and they can’t hurt your feelings and they can’t say bad things about your family, and they can’t hurt you with a weapon. If they stick a sword in you or pins or needles it’s not going to bother you. They can’t hurt you anymore, but that’s not true of the Lord. After death, you’re still alive and He still has power. He says, “Don’t fear them that kill the body; fear the One that can kill the body and the soul and put them in hell forever.” So, there’s a passage that says, “fear the Lord.” That’s how God sees it. “Don’t fear men, fear Me. I live in your heart.” It’s a hundred times better to be martyred than to sin against the Lord. That’s what He’s saying. It’s not a sin to be hurt. The Lord will give you grace, but do not sin. Fear the One who lives in your heart.
Now, Peter begins to illustrate that wonderful principle. That was his summary, and then he goes back to the government. He starts with the government, and he ends with the government. So, we honor all people; we see them as God sees them, as potential Christians. We love the brotherhood, as God loves them. We see them in Christ Jesus. We fear the Lord, not men. And then we honor the government. He just rounded it off.
Now he comes to another illustration and it’s submission of the slave to his master. Once again, Peter chooses the extreme illustration. Slavery in New Testament times was a terrible, terrible thing. Now, it changed a little when it entered Christian households, and many times the slavery became regulated servanthood, and in some cases, they actually became part of the family. In fact, the Greek word that’s used here is the word “domestic” and he’s just saying household slavery. But in Roman society as a whole, the non-Christian setting, slavery was a shameful dehumanizing common practice. The lot of the slave was miserable in the extreme. They were regarded as worthless, property, cattle, and they could be bought and sold. There was no law against how they could be treated. They could be treated terribly, and there’s even illustrations of a sick slave becoming food for the animals. They were terrible. But now the grace of God came in, and the slave got saved. What a new dynamic! What a new dimension! When that slave got saved, in his heart he felt free. He hadn’t been free all his life, and now he feels free. In fact, the majority of the churches that are listed in the New Testament were made up of converted slaves, the majority of the churches. So, Peter takes this illustration, how should a redeemed slave respond now that he’s saved, to either his unsaved master or maybe his master got saved, how is he to submit or respond to that, now that Christ indwelt him? The Pilgrim after God’s heart lives in his heart, and how is he to respond?
Now, although Peter doesn’t deal with it, there’s other scriptures about how a slave should respond to the master, how should a master respond to the slave; it goes both ways. He keeps turning it around all the time. Since we’re studying 1 Peter, I don’t think this is the time for me to give the overall view of how it’s dealt with in all of the scriptures, but I think some of the questions that would come to the mind of a redeemed slave would me, “Now that I’m redeemed, am I redeemed from being a slave?” Peter doesn’t answer that. That’s answered in 1 Corinthians 7. They might have asked, “Do I treat my master differently now that he’s a Christian and I’m a Christian?” Peter doesn’t answer that. That’s answered in 1 Timothy. They may have asked the question, “Now that I have rights, can I claim back wages?” That’s answered in Titus. So, Peter doesn’t deal with that. I’d like to stick with Peter, and Peter’s approach is, “We submit to delegated authority by trusting the Lord for the ability to submit, whether the master is saved or unsaved. 1 Peter 3:15, this is what submission is, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart.” Surrender to the Lord, and then to men. You don’t surrender to men.
Peter is not encouraging slaves to bow the knee to clay masters. He’s not doing that. He’s saying that your submission is to the Lord and not to men, but it has to be real. Don’t fake it. You’ve got to trust the Lord. It must be real. Don’t submit just because you are forced to. There’s no liberty in that or freedom. That’s not submission, if you’re going to live in bondage. Don’t resign in despair, “Oh well, there’s nothing else I can do. I’ve been born a slave and I’m going to stay a slave, just a sad acceptance of my lot.” That’s not how to submit. God is not saying to become a stoic hero and grin it and bear it and tighten up your jaw and go through it no matter what, even if it kills you.” The submission that God is saying is the submission that pleases God, the submission that will set you free, the submission that will become redemptive, and it will minister unto others. 1 Peter 2:13, “Submit yourself for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.” Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord, rather than for men, knowing from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.” It’s the Lord Christ whom you serve.
In this connection, let me point you to 1 Peter 2:19, “For this find favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.” That phrase “conscience toward God”, don’t miss Peter’s point here, or God’s point. Sometimes the word “conscience” has to do with that built-in preacher that God put in our heart, discerning right from wrong, to be able to decide that. That’s how it’s used in 1 Peter 3:16, “keep a good conscience..” He’s talking about that kind of conscience. But conscience is used another way. Conscience can be an awareness.
I built a ladder one time, and my grandmother broke her leg trying to use my ladder. The step broke. I’m not a carpenter. So, I can say that I’m conscious that ladder is not stable. I’m conscious that you’re in the room. Your conscious that I’m in the room. That’s not moral right and wrong. That’s just being aware. And in 1 Peter 2:19 he said, “Be conscience toward God.” Have you heard of Nicholas Herman of Lorraine? Have you heard of Brother Lawrence? It’s the same person. He wrote that wonderful devotional called “Practicing the Presence of God.” If you haven’t read that, it’s quite a read. It’s wonderful. He joined the Carmelite order, not to become a priest, but to serve the priests. He just served the table. Here’s his confession from the book, “There’s no difference for me if I’m in a prayer room, if I’m kneeling at the sacrament or if I’m doing dishes, because I live in the conscious presence of the Lord.
Peter is saying to these Christian pilgrims, “You need to submit to your master, but you better be conscious of the presence of the Lord.” I don’t want to try to improve on his book, “Practicing the presence of God,” and I tried to copy that, and I spent so much time practicing that I was in bondage by the end of the day because I felt guilty that I didn’t practice it all day long. So, God doesn’t call me to write books, but here’s a good title, “The Unpracticed Presence of God.” Practice the un-practiced. He’s focused on me all day, whether or not I’m focused on Him. I needed to know that.
Anyway, that’s Peter’s revelation to the servant, “Be conscious at all times of the Lord.” That’s what pleases Him. 1 Peter 2:20, “This finds favor with God.” That’s what gives you liberty, act as free men. 1 Corinthians 7:22, “He who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise, he was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.” That’s what makes it all redemptive. 1 Timothy 6:1, “All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.” Titus is even more pointed, Titus 2:9-10, “Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith,” now here’s the reason, “so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.” Their submission adorns the doctrine of God. What does that mean. It just makes it beautiful; it adorns it and makes it beautiful. That was the testimony; God is pleased, you’re free and Christ is manifest.
As we close this morning, I want to give the clincher illustration that Peter gives, and to be honest, at first, I thought, “It doesn’t fit. It just seems strange and out of place.” 1 Peter 2:25, “You were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” How did we get from submit to masters to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls? I just didn’t see the connection at first. What does that have to do with slaves submitting to their masters? He reminds them of who they were. He reminds them of who they’ve become, and how they’ve become who they were to who they now are.
Who were they? 1 Peter 2:25, “For you were continually straying like sheep,” that’s who you were, and his point seems to be, “You slaves need to understand submission to your master, but you were set free from a greater slavery than the slavery of men. You were slaves of sin, and Christ has set you free.” That’s the verse before it, verse 24, “He Himself bore our sin in His body on the cross, so we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”
I want to quote the prophet Zachariah to keep with this figure of Shepherd. Zachariah 13:7, “’Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man, My Associate,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered.’” The Shepherd had to be smitten in order that the sheep could be brought in. There’s a description of that Shepherd in John 10:11, there’s a title, “I’m the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” So, who you were, you were like sheep going astray, until the good shepherd came in and died for you. Where are they now? 1 Peter 2:25, where are they now? “You were continually straying like sheep. Now you’ve returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your soul.” There’s also a title for this Shepherd. It’s not the good shepherd. The good shepherd died. Listen to Hebrew 13:20, “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” The Good Shepherd has now become the great Shepherd living in you to do God’s will, and to please the Lord, and to enable you to submit.
Peter is not finished yet with Shepherd. 1 Peter 5:4, “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” So, He died as the good Shepherd, and He lives in you as the Great Shepherd, and some day He’s going to come as the Chief Shepherd. In every case it’s Jesus, it’s Christ. Christ lives in me now and He lives in you to do the will of God, to do what is pleasing. In the Old Testament we have a Psalm, number 23, the Shepherd Psalm. I’m going to read for you as the New Testament interprets it.
Jesus is my Shepherd I shall not want.
Jesus makes me lie down in green pastures.
Jesus leads me besides quiet waters.
Jesus restores my soul.
Jesus guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley
Of the shadow of death,
I’ll fear no evil, for Jesus is with me
Jesus’ rod and staff they comfort me.
Jesus has prepared a table before me
In the presence of my enemies.
Jesus has anointed
My head with oil.
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy
Will follow me all
The days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house
Of Jesus forever.
That’s the One who lives in your heart. That’s the great Shepherd and that’s what He’s doing, and those slaves needed to know, seeing it as the Lord sees, honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king, and servants submit yourselves to the Lord to live in you to do His good will and good pleasure and please Him. And all these things in the Shepherd’s house; He lives in me and you as the great Shepherd. One of these days, maybe soon, the Chief Shepherd will appear.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your precious Word. Again, we want to say not how we interpret or what we think it might mean, but everything You’ve inspired it to mean. Will you work that in our hearts. We want to thank You so much for being the great Shepherd, in order to perform what we can’t perform. Make these things real for us. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.