Blessed to Suffer (7-4-15)
Grab your Bible and let’s go deeper into 1 Peter 3:
- Living Hope
1 Peter 3:13 “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?”
The Bible tells us that in our sin, apart from Christ, nothing we do will be good!
God himself said of mankind, “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5
The key is our understanding of what is good. Good is God honoring. Evil is God dishonoring.
The problem is before we were saved, nothing we did honored God. We were desperate for new life in Christ to finally be able to truly honor God with our lives and do what is good.
So when Peter says, “you are zealous for what is good”, he is saying you are alive in Christ and honoring God.
You are practicing righteousness because of Christ at work in you.
Here is his point that we must see here, WHO is going to harm you if are alive in Christ?
This is another grounding for the body of Christ to hear from Peter, we have a living hope in Jesus!
He is anchoring our souls and saying “who is going to overcome you? Nobody!
Picture Peter gathering the elect exiles together in a room and saying, “we are going out there by the order of our KING, and we are going to suffer. We are going to get sick. We are going to die. Our relationships are going to be strained. It’s going to be really hard at times, but you are IN CHRIST! “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God ‘s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-6 You have a LIVING HOPE IN JESUS- A VICTORY THAT IS SECURE- an inheritance that is undefiled and imperishable. You are held by the POWER OF THE LIVING GOD! WHO IS GOING to harm us? Nobody CAN!
This is the mega theme not only of this letter in 1 Peter, but in much of the New Testament as we, the church, are prepared for the ministry God has set before us in this time!
Jesus said it in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”
Brothers, we must stand fast on these truths so that our exile oppression, sickness, hurts, sufferings are understood as temporary engagements and not permanent perishing. See them all under the sovereign hand of God. He will not lose any of us. We will stand victorious. We have a LIVING HOPE! AMEN!
Now, Peter says, “if you are zealous for what is good”…
Are you “zealous” for what is good? Are you passionate about honoring God?
I pray for a growing zealousness in each of us.
I pray we don’t just hear God’s commands and then go about our lives like we never sat before the king and heard his divine commands for us. I pray we respond, we are convicted, we repent, and practice what is good in all we do.
James 1:23-25 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
- Blessed to Suffer
1 Peter 3:14a “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.
“But even if”= even though you will be victorious. Even though you have a living hope.
If you should suffer for righteousness sake, you will be blessed.
You will be blessed for honoring God, despite how the world sees it or agrees with it or understands it.
You will be blessed for righteous living, even in suffering which we know in this text and others, will be our assignment in our exile. We will suffer. It is a our joy to suffer for his glory.
James 1:2 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…”
If we really get who God is and what he has done to set us free and who we are now in Christ- secure and grounded in our LOVING HOPE- then we will see our exile with right eyes.
We will see it like the apostles did time and time again.
Let me show you. Turn with me to Acts 5.
Acts 5:40-41 “And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”
They were arrested and beaten for unjust reasons. They had every right in the flesh to be bitter and enraged, to pack their bags and say forget it. I am done! I am done representing Jesus. I am done giving myself to this fight.
But no, they were beaten and as they walked away, they REJOICED because they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for THE name- THE name of Jesus- The name above every name!
In case you are thinking that might have been an emotional high for them, that would have worn off with basic reasoning. Even though they were told by the authorities to not speak of Jesus anymore and even at the threat of more beatings and more cold jail cells-
Look at verse 42.
“Every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” – Acts 5:42
There are two camps…
- Someone who claims the name of Jesus for the self benefit of heaven and the avoidance of hell, but has no real skin in the game- has no real conviction to preach Jesus as Lord because it costs too much.
- The one who claims Jesus because Jesus is their new life- their very identity- their everything. They don’t act on human logic to consider ceasing because of suffering, being ridiculed, or falsely jailed. Their only soul conviction is the privilege to lift the name of Jesus on high. He is worth everything. This is the person who considers it great blessing to suffer for his namesake!
This is a wake up moment, Church. What are we doing? Which of these are you? Which are we?
I want nothing to do with nominal Christianity- the Luke warm, easy to swallow down, comfortable thing that so many modern churches are pedaling. I want the blessing of suffering for his namesake.
God, don’t take me off the battle field. Keep me in the game coach. Even though blood is running down my leg. Even though I can’t see out of my swollen eyes, keep me in.
Don’t let me get comfortable with the sidelines. Don’t let me drift into becoming a spectator.
Keep me in until you take me home.
Brother/Sister, is this your heart for your suffering or do you wish it all away?
Do you “rejoice that you are counted worthy to suffer dishonor for His namesake”?
Back to 1 Peter 3:14b “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,”
Not only will we be blessed, but we do not fear or let it wreck us with worry.
WHY? Because we know who has us and who we fight for.
Only fear God. Back to Matt 10:28:
Matthew 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Verse 14 is like being put into the game by the coach or into the war by the general. Even if you suffer or lose a limb or die, you will be blessed- you will win. When we understand who God is and who we are in Christ, then we say bring on the struggle. Because we understand in our hearts…
#1- who it is all for- His glory.
#2- that we can not be overcome.
#3- that our living hope will endure to the end whereby we win.
- Hallowed be Christ
1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy,”
The word “holy” here means “SET APART”, not profaned, not made common.
It’s the same word Jesus uses in the Lord’s prayer when he says, “Hallowed”. “Hallowed by your name…”.
Holy, set apart, lifted high above be your name!
The first thing Jesus teaches us to do when we pray is say, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” The first priority in the heart of Jesus is the height of the name of his Father. The set apartness of it!
Now, when Jesus says, pray like this, He is saying that this should be the first priority of the followers of Jesus.
Peter is now saying to us saved ones, the elect exiles, that we are to hallow Christ as Lord in our hearts. Hallowing the name of God the Father and hallowing God the Son are one.
We are to set apart the Christ, the messiah, the anointed one as LORD in our hearts.
IS Jesus set apart from or higher than everything else in your heart?
Peter is saying, regard him as unique, one of a kind!
Put him in a category by himself—the highest place, the greatest value, the most supreme treasure, the greatest admiration, the most cherished prize, the one you esteem and honor and love the most out of all persons and all things in the world.
Is he high above the rest? Meaning is he number 1 and Number 2 is below him?
- Defending the Reason for Your Hope
1 Peter 3:15b “…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;”
There is an important clarity here that I think we often miss.
It says to make a defense for the reason for the “hope that is in you”.
Meaning that people see your living hope being played out and they ask.. WHY?
They ask, why do you respond to suffering and hardship and persecution the way you do?
We cannot be casual about God’s word and his commands and his will for our lives. It is our battlefield orders.
If we are on mission, if we rightly understand our exile in this time and place while God has each of us here, then we will take his orders seriously and when given the opportunity to share with others about WHY, we need to be equipped to not waste it.
Now, this is not something that comes overnight.
Let me make this very practical about how we prepare as Peter is commanding us to here:
- Are you in the Word regularly for the feeding of your hope? If not, your hope will be on shaky legs.
- Are you in the Word regularly for the familiarity with its truth? What will you share if not the Word of God?
- Are you inviting others into your life to help you rightly understand the Word? There is protection in plurality.
- If not, you will make it say what you want on your own. But, if you are checked by others, you will speak rightly.
Look at this verse again with me:
1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;”
Notice something before I move on. Our defense, our theology, our convictions must be strong and not weak- active and not passive- growing and not diminishing- but, the action of making this defense needs to come under the umbrella of the set apartness of Christ as LORD in your life.
In other words, Jesus has to be high and lifted up- not our defense, not our doctrine, not our pride, but Jesus. This is a tension that will always exist when we are doing both. It is very problematic if the tension is gone because you either have lifted your doctrine above Christ or your have set aside your fight for truth in favor of avoiding controversy. There must be a tension.
- Doing it the Right Way
1 Peter 3:15-16 “yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
Peter is referring to a gentleness and respect that comes with speaking truth in love. To do this, one must be driven by the gospel. The Gospel must be the power and motivation for this interaction- not being right- not coming off as worthy of respect due to biblical knowledge, but centered on Christ.
A defense of our hope that is done with gentleness and respect is driven by a gospel-centered life.
The gospel says that I am not different than you in my need for the cross.
A Christian is never condescending in light of insult but only compassionate because a Christian says, “The difference between you and me is only one of degree and only one of grace.”
You see, if you’re not grounded in Christ alone, you have to base your self-image on the idea that you’re different than those people or that you are better than the next guy. This is what the Pharisees lived for. Without Jesus as your power, you can’t possibly say, “I am just like that person. I have all the same ability to do what they do.” You can’t.
Outside of Christ, you couldn’t admit it; it would utterly destroy your identity in self-righteousness.
But a Christian’s self-image is based on the free grace of God, not our works.
Therefore, we’re able to take a look at even the worst people and have compassion on them and know that this is the gospel motivation behind gentleness and respect for others as we share our defense for our hope in Christ.
We don’t respond with the weapons of reviling, disrespect, slander, and harshness like the world because we are representing Jesus.
1 Peter 3:17 “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”
There are two kinds of suffering:
- Suffering for sin (doing evil)- a consequence of the fallen creation.
Break the law… suffer jail time!
Pick a fight with someone bigger than you … suffer injury!
Don’t pay your bills… suffer late fees!
Don’t take care of your body… suffer sickness!
But there is also:
- Suffering for doing good- that God providentially assigns for his eternal purposes and glory.
Paul, Peter, and most of the faithful in the scriptures suffered for doing the GOOD work of God- beatings, starvation, false imprisonment, slander, persecution, and death.
But in these sufferings, there is a HOPE. The faithful cling to that and it endures them through the cold nights on the concrete floor of a jail cell they don’t belong in, through the beatings their bodies took for sharing their faith, through the rage they saw in the eyes of those stoning them or killing them.
BROTHERS, I pray we hear Peter say today.. we are blessed to suffer for Jesus’ namesake.
To set him apart from all the rest. May we endure suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:3)
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC