Vs. 23, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” Peter exhorts us all on how to live in this crazy world. We have hope we hold onto that literally is “living” and grows (Vs. 3)…not just a living, but also a lasting hope! This hope leads to faith…a faith that is not tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. Hope also should lead us to live a life of holiness (Vs. 13-21). Such a simple word, but so hard to live by. Holiness means to live “set apart” from the world. Remember, if we are not “set apart” from the world, that means we are putting the world first and that translates into “hatred towards God.” Let’s let God’s enduring Word change these wretched hearts of ours.\
Regarding application…How are Christians to Love? Vs. 22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” Answer: Love deeply from the heart! Question: How do we love sincerely and deeply? Answer: Obey God’s Word/Truth! Do you see where this is going? We cannot love sincerely & deeply if we are not rooted in God’s Word! We may be able to grasp a little of what love is…but in order to live and love the church & its people…we must first walk daily with Jesus. We cannot seperate obedience & love. It’s preposterous to hear some Christians talk about modern day “Legalism” and how we should just love each other. This life is not a “free pass” to Heaven when it comes to life on earth before eternity! We are called to take up the cross of suffering & shame. Question: Are you loving your brothers & sisters deeply?
Vs. 8, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” As Peter closes this letter, we see that he wants us all to remember our battle is not against flesh & blood. No matter what transpires or what suffering we may have, we are called to remain faithful to the work God has given us (Vs. 1-5). We are also reminded to be humble and think of others as better than ourselves (Vs. 5-7). And lastly, we need to be ever watchful of the enemy and be alert like a shepherd in the night with his sheep (Vs. 8-11). And the culminating factor will be that as we endure to do these exhortations, one day we will eternally be with our Lord & Savior!
Regarding application…Legalism Vs. Willing Heart. Vs. 2, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be…” While Peter is addressing the official leaders in the church, I absolutely believe this admonishment applies to us all! God doesn’t call us to serve the church and then see our heartless attitude. What if you asked a favor from a friend and were really hoping they could help you…and their response is, “Okay, I guess…” and their shoulders sulk and their attitude of their face & actions show they really would rather do something else. Question: How would you feel? First off, not much of a friend…you would probably feel bad for asking them to do that favor…and maybe remember not to ask them again in the future. We should never do things simply because God has commanded it….we should do it because of a willing heart. When we begin to complain or have that bad attitude…simply look to the cross and remember the blood that was shed for you. If that isn’t inspiration enough…than nothing in this life will ever be.
Vs. 1, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.” Peter has already addressed everyday suffering, but now he tells of specific persecution & suffering to come. We are reminded that when we suffer it really is a road to purification (Vs. 1-6) But another real plus to suffering that it most definitely will unite a church who seeks to do His will (Vs. 7-11). But the greatest factor of suffering is the fact that when we suffer, Christ is glorified. Christ is Glorified = We suffer. We suffer = Christ is glorified. This should be a stark lesson on why we should never complain when we suffer. Regarding application…Loving Covers Sins. Vs. 8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” What a wonderful verse! This is one of my favorite reminders about love in the Bible! Fact #1 – No one is righteous…in other words…no one is ever going to be perfect. Everyone is going to hurt you at some point in your life. Fact #2 – We are to love with the love of Christ. Not our own ability to love, but to love through the eyes & heart of Christ. Love still loves no matter what. If this were truly practiced…there should never ever be a divorce between believers. If this were to happen…people would stop holding grudges and sins against each other.
Illustration: Show me a church where there is love, and I will show you a church that is a power in the community. In Chicago a few years ago a little boy attended a Sunday school program. When his parents moved to another part of the city the little fellow still attended the same Sunday school, although it meant a long, tiresome walk each way. A friend asked him why he went so far, and told him that there were plenty of others just as good nearer his home. “They may be as good for others, but not for me,” was his reply. “Why not?” she asked. “Because they love really love me over there,” he replied.
Vs. 15, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” AMEN! This is one of the many reasons why we read His Word…so that we always have a response to give with love & gentleness. Christian women should remember that beauty truly comes from the inside, not the exterior (Vs. 2-4). Christian men should treat their wives with gentle love and honor (Vs. 7). We also are reminded of the word we don’t like to hear, but it is one all Christians must come to grip with…”suffering.” Anybody can suffer for doing wrong, but Christians must learn to suffer for doing what is right. Of course, Jesus is the example for us to follow.
Regarding application…Humble Responses To Insults. Vs. 9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” Peter encourages Christians to act like & respond like Jesus. He endured suffering and ridicule without a vindicative response. There is a contrast between our natural tendency as human beings, to get even when we are offended versus with the way we should act as believers. Now…for a little “context” lesson…who are those who Peter is admonishing us not to repay evil with evil? Look no further than Vs. 8…Peter was not addressing some evil Roman pagan empire or the false prophets and teachers…Peter was addressing those who belonged to the family of God. Christians were paying evil for evil towards each other…the ramifications are obvious. If the outside world saw supposed Christians treating each other like this…than what would be the point of church if they act just like the rest of the world? Unfortunately, this same exhortation exists for us today. Most of us have probably been a part of a church split or seeing congregations get rid of Pastors etc… It’s moments like these that we see the church not practicing true love from Christ. Let us throw off that attitude like we deserve something and remember that if Jesus the very Son of God could humble himself before His own creation…than we could surely humble ourselves with each other.
Vs. 24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” Suffering. Not a very pleasant word to think about, huh? Yet, Peter would address this topic and show us that we are not the only ones who would suffer…Jesus set the example for us. We must desire to grow and the only way to do that is taking the spiritual food so that we can endure the sufferings in this world (Vs. 2-3). We are also reminded as Peter quotes both Isaiah & Pslams how Jesus is our conerstone (Vs. 4-8). As Christians, we may think that the only one we need to obey is God, but Peter reminds us as people who bear Jesus’ name, it our duty to respect and obey the law of the land that we live in. If we don’t we could lose our testimony…so long as it does not go directly against the Bible (example: Sharing Christ).
Regarding application…Declaring God in Our Life. Vs. 9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Question: How do we delcare the praises of Him? By being a living “testimony” of how God worked and works and will work in your life! How do you know how to live a Christian life? Sure you can learn it from the Bible, but it enhances our learning process when we see it from other believers. That’s why church is so very important. When we obey & show our testimony of living for Jesus, we can teach someone by how we live in a very effective & perhaps even faster way if they simply just learned about God on their own. The power of declaring God and what He has done for us can change peoples lives! You are all teachers for God simply by the way you live for Him!
Introduction: The Apostle Peter wrote what you are about to read while he was in Rome in A.D. 63 or 64. As you read to his words, keep in mind that Peter knew what it meant to deny Jesus, to endure beatings, to be threatened and soon he would be martyred for his loyalty to Christ. He had also seen his friends die and the church scattered. But Peter knew Christ and nothing could shake his confidence in his risen Lord. So Peter wrote to the suffering church that was spread throughout the Roman world. He comforts them with the hope of eternal life and challenges them to live holy lives loyal to Christ. (NIV Audio Bible)
Vs. 23, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” Peter exhorts us all on how to live in this crazy world. We have hope we hold onto that literally is “living” and grows (Vs. 3)…not just a living, but also a lasting hope! This hope leads to faith…a faith that is not tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. Hope also should lead us to live a life of holiness (Vs. 13-21). Such a simple word, but so hard to live by. Holiness means to live “set apart” from the world. Remember, if we are not “set apart” from the world, that means we are putting the world first and that translates into “hatred towards God.” Let God’s enduring Word change these wretched hearts of ours.
Regarding application…How are Christians to Love? Vs. 22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” Answer: Love deeply from the heart! Question: How do we love sincerely and deeply? Answer: Obey God’s Word/Truth! Do you see where this is going? We cannot love sincerely & deeply if we are not rooted in God’s Word! We may be able to grasp a little of what love is…but in order to live and love the church & its people…we must first walk daily with Jesus. Question: Are you loving your brothers & sisters deeply? If you pray for sincere & deep love….God will honor a heart that truly desires & believes it’s possible.