Beloved, I urge you as aliens...
1 Peter 2:11-3:7 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
3 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
There is a distorted view of how grace affects sin. Some believe that because of grace, sin no longer matters; that there are no longer consequences for sin, so we are free to continue in sin because we are forgiven by grace. In today’s text Peter says: Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. In John 8:34-36 Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” Using grace to justify sin, or saying that we are free to sin because of grace is contrary to what Jesus says. By grace we are free from sin; not free to sin. If we act on our freedom in Christ, it is to be obedient to God not in bondage to sin. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
The text says: You have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. Christ is our example. Many people look at what Jesus did when He was here and try to say what they believe He would do if He were here today. Because He associated with sinners and outcasts, many believe that if Jesus were here today He would embrace the sins of our culture. Luke 5:30-32 explains what Jesus was truly doing in associating with outcasts and sinners. The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Jesus motive and purpose then was not to embrace sin, but rather to call sinners to repent so that they could be free from sin. Jesus died for our sins so that today, people can be freed from sin and live righteously. Revelation 21:27 describes what heaven will be like when Jesus does return. Nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Jesus taught us to pray saying: Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We are not to try to align heaven with earth. Earth is to be like heaven. If we truly want to know what Jesus would do today, we only need to look at what He did and what He will do. Hebrews 13:8 says: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Many people are offended by the Biblical instruction to wives and husbands as it is mentioned in today’s text. They say it is an outdated mindset that is unfair to women. The truth is that it is foolish to believe that men and women are the same. Genesis 2:24 says: A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. The differences between a man and a woman were not intended so that they would be opposed to one another, but rather so that they would complete one another. For those who are proponents of gender equality, they too can look forward to the way it is in heaven. In Matthew 22:30 Jesus says: In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. Then we will all be complete in Christ. Until that time, since we live in the world, the text says: Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.