Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 54
Practical Godly Living
I Peter 2:15 – 3:22
Turn to I Peter chapter 2, and in the last lesson we finished verse 14. We’ll just jump in at verse 15. Now, the next series of verses there’s not much that I can put a lot on. There’s no reason for comparing a lot of Scripture – it’s just common sense Christian living. And I’ve said over the years, whether you’re in Romans or whether you’re in any other portion of Scripture, there is nothing more practical for this day and age than just solid Biblical Christian living.
We’re not the right wing conspiracy that some would think we are, but we just feel that Biblical Christianity is so practical. Good solid Christian living gives you a happy relationship between a husband and wife. Christian living will give you good relationships between parents and children. A good Christian relationship will give you a good relationship between yourself and the community and with the nation as a whole. So Christian living is practical. The idea, even as Peter is going to lay out in these next few verses, is just common sense goodness.
I was thinking I’d like to write a letter to an editorial writer that someone had sent me a clipping of and I wanted to use Tocqueville – I’m sure many of your have seen that name. Tocqueville wrote a book about America quite a few years ago and he was just amazed at the greatness of America. But in his book, after he got back to France, if I’m not mistaken, this is what he wrote. “America is great because America is good. And when America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
Well, I couldn’t add anything to that. That says it all. And so, again, practical Christian living is just exactly that. It’s being honest. It’s living with integrity. It’s living, yes, the Golden Rule – treat the next guy like you would like to be treated. And so, this is really what Peter is bringing out now in these next verses. And again, I’d like to emphasize that these little Jewish epistles are written to believing Jews, as we’ve noted in our previous programs, when Peter writes “to the Twelve Tribes scattered.” And his writings are on the same page, you might say, as Jesus in His earthly ministry. So much is comparable that – what Jesus taught, Peter is bringing out the same things to these Jewish believers.
Now remember, they’re not believers of the Church Age yet. They are simply Jewish believers of that group that came out of Christ’s earthly ministry, composed also of the Jewish Church in Jerusalem at Pentecost. And Peter has been ministering to those kinds of Jews, now, during these years between Pentecost and his martyrdom. He never addresses the Gentile Body of Christ. I want people to realize that. There is nothing of pure Church language in these Jewish epistles. Now, granted, we’re going to have the reference to the crucifixion and the resurrection, which is apropos; but they will not claim that as the basis of salvation, and we’ll see that a little later, if not in this program, in the next one.
So much of what Peter and James and even John, and Jude say, in their little epistles, will be promoting much the same of what Christ and the Twelve taught in those three years, and what Peter carried on after Pentecost. So now let’s get into the text in verse 15 of chapter 2.
I Peter 2:15
“For so is the will of God, that with well doing (see? Doing good. Being good) ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:” We can use this verse for the day and age we live in. My, when you read the recent attacks on our President by the editorial writers of our liberal media – only because of his Christian testimony.
Well, I was just telling somebody before we started that the Muslim talks about Allah every other word. Nobody complains about that, but yet, if our President so much as intimates anything of his faith, they jump all over him. Well, that’s exactly what Peter is saying – these believing Jews were up against the same thing only, instead of being some liberal media, it was the Roman Empire, and they hated everything spiritual because they were steeped in almost the same kind of a mindset that we’re up against. It was anti-God. It was pagan. So Peter is telling these Jewish believers now that, in spite of all of the pressure of persecution, they were to never get discouraged – realizing that within a few years, the King would be returning and the 1,000-year Kingdom reign would come in as we’ve seen in the past few lessons.
Because, as Peter is writing now (probably in the late 50’s AD) in I Peter, The Kingdom prospect was still out in front. Nobody had any idea – not even the Apostle Paul – that this was going to go 2,000 more years. So everything he writes is to Jewish believers under persecution, but the worst is yet to come before the King and the Kingdom could come. All right, so he’s telling them that if these pagan Romans and the unbelieving Jews should bring reproach upon them, don’t let it bother you; but instead let your good lifestyle prove them wrong. And it’s the same thing for us today. So, yes, this is applicable even though it is not Church language, as I said before. Now verse 16.
I Peter 2:16-17a
“As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17. Honour all men….” Even if they hate you. Now that’s not easy is it? But we’re to honor all men.
I Peter 2:17b
“…Love the brotherhood (that is the fellowship of believers.) Fear God. Honour the king.” The Roman Emperors, see? And Paul tells us the same thing in Romans 13 – that we are to have respect for our physical governments, because they’re ordained of God:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. (that is government) For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” And even though they’re a lot less than what we would think they should be, we are still to respect it as government.
All right, now he comes down into the next category of authority and that is, today, what we would call the employer/employee relationship. But you’ve got to remember that back in Peter’s day, and in Biblical days, they still had slaves – but, I think I’d better qualify. I think a lot of people have often wondered, why did God condone something as awful as slavery. Well, you want to remember it’s like everything else. What God instigated in the beginning was pure and good and workable. And it was because of man’s sinful nature that it turned to the wicked direction that it went.
Now all you have to do is just stop and think that, back in antiquity, when all of this began, and even up as near as Christ’s earthly ministry, the rank and file people did not have an education. They did not have the wherewithal to have a business and to be entrepreneurs as we call them today; so what did most people have to do? They had to work for a master.And in God’s original set-up, the master was never to treat a slave like dirt. He was to be treated with some respect, and the master would give him all that he needed for a good lifestyle. Granted, they didn’t have all the luxuries of the wealthy, but who in the world needs that? I don’t. And neither does the common individual. So, under God’s original plan for things, the master and the servant was a good set-up for all concerned.
But men, in their old demonic nature, have destroyed that and it got to the place where their poor servants and slaves were treated worse than animals – but that’s not the way God intended it. But, as we see in Scripture, the servant (or what we would call today the employee) was to have respect for their employer or, in this case, the master. Now that’s all in view of a Biblical perspective on everything. Not taking advantage of the downtrodden and treating them worse than animals, but on the other hand, giving them all that they needed for their life and their comfort and, as even the Scripture says, their pursuit of happiness. And it was up to the masters to see to it because, after all, these people didn’t have an education. They didn’t have what it took to go out and make it on their own, so they had to depend on good masters. So with that as the backdrop:
I Peter 2:18
“Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; (in other words, respect) not only to the good and gentle, (that’s not so hard) but also to the froward (or to the less loveable, see?).” And they were still to recognize the master’s (or employer’s) role. Now verse 19.
I Peter 2:19
“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” Now there again, that’s not always easy, is it? And nevertheless, this is what God expects us to do as believers – to let Him take care of the vengeance part.
Let’s come back and see how Paul treats that same thing in Romans chapter 12. Paul is now giving the instructions to us as Gentile believers on how we’re to behave in the midst of an ungodly world, and you’ll see how much of this is saying the same thing. Peter is saying it to the Jews who are still pretty much under control of Judaism. Paul is writing this to Gentiles who are under pure Grace.
“Bless them which persecute you;…” It’s not easy is it? That’s just contrary to human nature. But, nevertheless, with God’s help, we’re supposed to be able to do that.
“…bless, and curse not. (now the other one is a lot easier) 15. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, (in other words, you don’t have to be at the top of the totem pole) but condescend to men of low estate,…” Be able to converse and have relationships with the people on the low end of the economic scale just as well as the ones at the top.
“…Be not wise in your own conceits. (now here it comes.) 17. Recompense to no man evil for evil…” Now that’s contrary to the human nature isn’t it? Human nature says, if he hits me, I’m going to hit him back. But Scripture says just the opposite.
“…Provide things honest in the sight of all men.” What did I tell you at the beginning of the program? That’s the Christian lifestyle – honesty, integrity.
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (now here comes the verse I wanted to really home in on) 19. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: (don’t give in to your feelings, and here’s the reason) for it is written, Vengeance is mine; (God will take care of them in His own time. God says,) I will repay, saith the Lord.”
So we’re supposed to leave the vengeance part up to God – in His own time. Remember, God’s wheels grind slowly, but what? Surely! There’s never anything going to escape Him. Now it may not be in our lifetime. It may be after we’re gone. It may not be in their physical lifetime but. sooner or later, they’re going to come up against the Holy Righteous God. So, don’t sweat it. Okay, so back to I Peter chapter 2 verse 19.
I Peter 2:19-20
“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, (you’ve done a good job, you’ve done everything right and they still jump all over you, then you permit it) and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.”
That’s contrary to our human nature. We can all readily take applause for something we’ve done well. We can also take faultfinding when we know we’ve goofed up. But, to have somebody jump on our case when we know we’ve done it right, we know we’ve done it good, that’s pretty hard to take – and yet I know a lot of people in the workplace have to come under that. But that’s where God-given patience comes in. Now verse 21.
I Peter 2:21
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” Now somebody’s going to jump up and say, “I told you, we weren’t supposed to follow Paul, we’re supposed to follow Jesus.” Of course Peter is going to emphasize following Christ because that’s where he had been those three years. And that’s all that Peter really understood was to follow the footsteps of Christ. Paul, now, on the other hand, with the indwelling Holy Spirit not only in himself but in all of us, could admonish us in several Scriptures to follow him as the Apostle of the Gentiles, as he followed Christ.
Now, that’s not a lot of difference and yet it’s some. But, here Peter just brings it right in that now, as these Jewish believers are still tied pretty much to legalism and the Temple worship and so forth, they’re admonished to remember how much Christ suffered in order to pay their sin debt. Now I’ve got to qualify. If these Jews (whether it’s in Christ’s earthly ministry or it’s on Pentecost, or these that Peter and James and John are writing, or if you want to go way back into the Old Testament) had no understanding that the work of the Cross was the basis of their salvation, then why do we have this reference to it in prophecy? Now we’re going to be looking at that in a little later time, where Isaiah 53 is so definitely a prophetic statement concerning Christ’s earthly suffering and so forth. And then, during Christ’s earthly ministry, why did they even mention the fact that Christ died and rose from the dead. Well, you want to remember this. I’ll go all the way back to Adam.
Adam never had a concept of a Roman cross. I have no compunction teaching that whatsoever. Adam had no idea that one day a Person of the Godhead would go to a Roman cross. All he believed was what God told him. And that’s all God expected him to believe. And you can come all the way up through the Old Testament, one after the other of the Patriarchs – for example, Noah. Noah had no idea of the work of the cross. But he did know that God had told him to build the ark. And Hebrews 11 makes that so plain. So what did Noah do? He built the ark. He was obedient! And God reckoned it as his saving faith.
So you come all the way up through the Old Testament; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and then the prophets – they didn’t have a clue about a Roman crucifixion. That was never invented until Rome came on the scene. So, they were saved by their faith in what God told them to believe, but God had to – how shall I put this – reckon with the sins of Adam on the merit of the cross. God reckoned with the sin of Abraham on the merits of the cross, even though he himself knew nothing of it. Now, you come on this side of the cross, it’s the same way. Ever since the cross (for example, believers like Peter and the Eleven), all they had to believe for salvation is Who Jesus was, He was their Messiah, the Son of God, the Christ. And they had no idea that it was the crucifixion, and the death, burial and resurrection that was their salvation. They didn’t know that. But, God, in His righteousness, imputed the merit of that death, burial and resurrection to these people who knew nothing of it. But in this Age of Grace we’re in now, we must believe in our heart that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again for salvation as Paul points out so clearly.
So Peter is going to make reference to Christ’s work of the cross, but not for salvation. And the reason is that these Jews can understand that, even though it wasn’t a prerequisite in their faith, it was on the merit of that work of the cross that God could forgive the sins of everybody from Adam to the last one on the human scene. Everything is based on the work of the cross even though people did not, in themselves, know about it until Paul’s ministry for us in this Church Age.
Now let me give you an example. Come back with me to Luke 18. I think maybe this will explain it as well as anything in the Scriptures. Here we’re at the end of Christ’s earthly ministry. The Twelve have been with Him now almost three years. And we know from Matthew 16, that Peter’s confession of faith was, “Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel.” And that’s all they knew. Now if you doubt that, read with me here in Luke 18. Remember, He’s at the end of the three years. They’re about ready to go up to Jerusalem.
“Then he (Jesus) took unto him the twelve, and he said unto them, Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.” In other words, Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 9, and all the way up through the prophets, are now about to come to, at least, a partial fulfillment. All right, verse 32.
“For he (speaking of Himself) shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, (to the Romans) and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: (and all those things happened between His arrest and His crucifixion. Every one of them) 33. And they shall scourge him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.” That covers all the bases. But, now look at the next verse.
“And they (the Twelve, who had been with Him now for three years. The Twelve who had had all the Old Testament probably their whole lifetime) understood (how much?) none of these things;…” Well, if they didn’t understand it, how in the world could they be saved by it? Well they weren’t. They were saved by believing Who Jesus was. But, in God’s fairness and righteousness, He could impute salvation to these people who knew nothing of the cross because of Who He is, and because of what had been accomplished. So, always remember that, even though there may be a reference that seems clear enough to the death, burial and resurrection, until we get to the Apostle Paul and the revelations of the mysteries, it was never understood to be the plan of salvation for the whole human race. That’s all I’m trying to get across.
All right, so come back to I Peter again. Peter can make reference to the death and burial and resurrection, but he does not lay it upon them as a tenet of faith to believe for their salvation. All right, now verse 22. (speaking of Christ in verse 21)
I Peter 2:22
“Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:” Well, that’s exactly what Paul says in II Corinthians 5. “He who became sin for us who knew no sin.” Peter says the same thing.
I Peter 2:23
“Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, (and we have no idea of the suffering that he went through leading up to the cross) he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:” In other words, He committed Himself to the power of God the Father.
I Peter 2:24
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” Now there again, that’s as close as Paul can get, isn’t it? And, yet, Peter does not expect these Jewish believers to rest on that for their salvation. Their salvation was believing that Jesus was the Promised Messiah, the Son of the living God. But, this was all done on their behalf in order to complete the work of salvation. All right, now verse 25:
I Peter 2:25a
“For ye were as sheep going astray;…” Now where’s Peter pulling that from? Let’s turn to Isaiah 53, and here’s the exact wording, see? And again, who was Isaiah writing to? Israel. The Jews. So Peter can rightfully quote right from this that was spoken to Israel 600-700 years before Christ. All right, here it is.
“All we (the Nation of Israel) like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him (this One Who’s coming, but they didn’t know Who it was) the iniquity of us all.”
And so Peter is drawing right from that which was addressed to the Jews for 700 years before it ever happened. And it was still appropriate that they were to understand that their salvation was really based upon the promises made to the prophets, fulfilled when Christ went and finished the work of the cross. But never, does Peter require their believing that for their salvation. Their salvation was believing that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ.
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