1 Peter 2:11 describes some very important concepts of the Christian's walk/life while still on earth. Peter calls Christian's Beloved. That term of endearment is used throughout the New Testament to describe those that God has gathered to Himself. The chosen race as we talked about last study. Christians, we are beloved by God. God loves us. The reason we have a Bible is because God loves us. Billions of people are outside of the Beloved of God because they have decided not to believe in God's revelation of Himself, the Holy Bible. God in His mercy tells us this: all who come to Christ will not be turned away. Entrance into the Beloved is open, Christ is to be offered to all humankind.
Secondly, Peter in verse 11 calls Christian's, sojourners and exiles. That immediately focuses my mind on our study of Genesis and the life of Abraham, which is explained more fully in the book of Hebrews, which says in chapter 11 verse 10: For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Just like Abraham and all Christians throughout the ages, we are sojourners, travelers through this life on earth, we are exiles, in that our true home is with God. Jesus told the Apostle that He was going to go away from them yet He was going to prepare a place for them where He was, so that they could be with Him forever. We are exiles, we long to be in the presence of God. To be able to stand in His presence and not be judged and condemned, but to be fully clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, able to stand in His Holy Presence. I have said before that Christians need to have a longing, a desire to be with Christ. That desire can only come from the Holy Spirit, that desire can only be increased by the Holy Spirit. I was listening to a sermon by John MacArthur today and he said that when we walk before God in obedience God will lead us, He will lead us to the place He wants us, He will lead us to do what He has ordained us to do. He will lead us to people who will be an encouragement and provide edification to us as we will to them. God's gifts are not for an individual but for the body of Christ. That statement is so true I look back on my life and the times I was not walking in obedience before God - nothing good, the times I walked before Him in obedience the sense of His presence, the joy of His presence was great. Our goal is to walk before God in obedience. It means praying for His help and grace to help us. The Holy Spirit is leading us that way, our sinful nature is taking us in the opposite direction, as we grow in Christ, we are able to walk more and more in obedience. One thing that we will find out is that an obedient life is a life full of prayer. It is the way that God has ordained it, we are admonished by Jesus to always pray and never give up.
Peter tells us that we are to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against our souls. This is vital in our understanding of the overall pattern of living a changed/transformed life. We, who had no power to change our lives in a spiritual manner, now have the assistance of the Holy Spirit to help us to come to an understanding of what sin does to our relationship with God, and to our relationship with other people. A Christian is a new creature in Christ. Christ is not on the side of sin, He came to die for us because our sin has killed us. Remember that Peter is not writing to the world, He is writing to Christian's. The New Testament describes the spiritual conflict between a Christian's new nature created in true righteousness and holiness, and the old nature that is fallen in sin and can only desire sin: as warfare.
We see the similarity on the physical level when we read about Israel's continual warfare to gain the promised land and to continue living in it. It presents a vivid example that God intends for us to see and use for this spiritual fight each Christian is called to stand up to. What Peter is telling us here is that when we engage in the passions of the flesh we are damaging ourselves. It just like a military company that is camped a few miles away from the enemy camp, and has set up a perimeter around their camp to guard against an attack, to give a warning and to delay an assault. When we allow fleshly passions to come in and dominant its just like the perimeter guards have fallen asleep and the enemy is taking free unopposed shots at us.
Peter's point is that you cant stand when you give the enemy free shots at you, your defense has laid down. Peter stresses the point that passions of the flesh wage war against the soul. Satan will wreck your body if he can and passions of the flesh will destroy your body, but what He really wants to hit is the soul - he wants to do something in your spiritual life, he knows that there is where you are communing with God, there is where you and God are linked. We need to thank God that He protects us. Peter is urging us to value our communion with Christ, to strengthen our defense not weaken it.
In verse 12 Peter warns us to live out our Christian life in such a godly way that the unsaved people around us have nothing to condemn us with or to bring shame to the name of Christ. Because as Christian's we are to present Jesus Christ to those around us, and when they do speak concerning us, the truth will shine forth through what you have done and said. This brings glory to God.
Because God is Sovereign - the One who is in control, Christians are told to be subject to human institution, to obey the government. One point here for Christian's is spoken of in the Reformation Study Bible and that is that Christian's are to obey the government and all human authority should be submitted to as long as it does not involve violation of the law of God. See Matthew 22:21 and Acts 4:19, 5:29. This is an important point because it is usually in this way that the true Christian is divided from the hypocrite. When peer pressure is placed on a confessing Christian to conform to the values and honor of worldliness as opposed to obeying Christ. The hypocrite will choose the world over Christ. Due to the desire to get along, the desire to look good in the eyes of the world, or to not be shunned and not be one of the in crowd. This is placing worldliness over the principles of a new life in Christ. Jesus spoke about it in Matthew 18 the parable of the Sower when He said that people fall away when the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and it proves unfruitful. Peter is directing us to make Christ more and more real to our hearts and He and only He is to be that pearl of great value. There can be no compromise between the value system of Christ and the value system of the world, for the Christian. We have tied our eternity to Christ. To fall away for the lures of this world proves one was never truly Christ's.
The verse that follow expresses the fact that it may require suffering to stand for Christ - which is good - and to suffer for good Peter tells us here is a gracious thing in the sight of God. In verse 21 he says in this we have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps, He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. 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. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Peter is showing us the grounds for our spiritual endurance. Christ suffered for us - He was made sin for us, He had no sin - God placed our sin on Him. Peter is showing us why we should not allow fleshy desires to gain entry into our souls, Christ has broken the power of sin over our lives. God expects us to fight, He expects us to yield to the inward work of the Holy Spirit - He expects us to exert much labor in reading the Word of God, He expects us to labor long in prayer, He expects to see us at His Throne of Grace often!! He warns us that this conflict although won by Christ requires some individual fighting still - each Christian must allow the Holy Spirit to humble us and tear down our pride and arrogance, in thinking that we can stand on our own.
Christ is the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls.We are to seek communion with Him at all cost. We are to do just as Christ did, we are to continue entrusting ourselves to Him who judges justly - we have the righteousness of Christ.
1 Peter 3 next time.