Basic Facts from… 1 Peter (Part 3)

Basic Facts from… 1 Peter (Part 3)

In 1 Peter 2:11-12, the Holy Spirit sets up a contrast between the typical Gentile approach to life in the first century and the attitude God desires to see in His children. The heathen perspective of the Greco-Roman society was that it was “normal” (even expected and “desirable”) for a person to embrace and indulge every physical desire, and yield to every temptation. Hedonism was the standard for human behavior throughout most of the Gentile world, and self-restraint was seen by many people as strange and even unnatural. The gospel of Christ, however, emphasizes that Christians should recognize and avoid the spiritual/ eternal damage caused by such an unbridled way of life (cf. Romans 13:14 & Galatians 5:16-19 & 24).

The word abstain (vs. 11) is reflexive in its character (it’s something we do to/for ourselves, not something someone else forces on us), and it means we choose to “hold back” from physical “cravings” and desires that are contrary to the moral standard Jesus taught and demonstrated. As Christians our lives should focus the joy of eternity with our Creator, rather than on satisfying the momentary lusts of our current existence (cf. Hebrews 11:25). Peter’s words at the end of verse 12 – “… that…they may, by your good works…glorify God…” parallel what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16 about living so that GOD receives glory because of our lives! Note that the point Peter makes here is that we are each personally – individually – responsible to make the right choice between abstaining from sin or “indulging” in it.

In verses 13-17 Peter makes the same basic point that Paul made in Romans 13, about Christians’ responsibility to obey civil laws and authorities. Notice in vv. 15-16 that Peter “roots” this responsibility in our submission to God, as a practical way of illustrating that God’s way is better in every respect than living in rebellion and self-will. The examples of the apostles in Acts 4:19 and 5:29 represent the only “exceptions” to the rule that Peter presents here – of submitting to civil laws (even when we don’t “like” or agree with them). In those passages we see that (ONLY) when human authority comes into conflict with Heaven’s authority, Christians must then choose submission to God over obedience to men.

One of the most challenging statements in Peter’s inspired writing appears in 1 Peter 2:21, where the apostle tells us that Jesus set a deliberate example for us with the way He lived in our world. It is important for us to remember that He experienced all the temptations, trials, and challenges that we do and successfully resisted every one of them (vs. 22-23, cf. Hebrews 4:15). In John 13:13, He told the disciples, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.” In verses 14- 17, His application is that each disciple should follow His example because this is the essence of what it means to be a “disciple” (follower, pupil). The expression in vs. 21 that we should “walk in his steps” provides a vivid illustration of exactly how “closely” Christians are to follow the Master’s example – we are to put OUR feet in HIS footprints!

-Dave Rogers


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