Thursday, May 10, 2012

1 Peter 2:11-12 The Life of Aliens and Strangers

1 Peter 2:11-12: The Life of Aliens and Strangers Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 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. Peter now starts the second half of his epistle. Beloved shows us he is still speaking to believers and ones that were dearly loved by him and ones he held in esteem. Here he begins a long passage on submission in one form or another as we see in “submit” (verse 13), “be subject” (verse 18), and “be in subjection” (Chapter 3 verse 1). He speaks of submission to the state, submission in the household and lastly submission in the family. In these two verses Peter reminds us of our duty as believers in Jesus Christ. First, we must have inward personal holiness. Then our lives should reflect that inward holiness with outward visible holiness. Then he gives us the purpose for our inward and outward holiness. Peter encourages us. He urges us. This is the Greek word parakaleo, to come alongside to encourage or beg/entreat someone. It is to implore or plead with someone. God the Holy Spirit is a paraclete, a defense attorney, who comes along side us to encourage us. Next Peter reminds us of our temporary status here on planet earth. He calls us aliens and strangers. An alien is someone who lives in a country other than the one of his citizenship. He is a pilgrim. He has established a temporary residence somewhere. A stranger is a sojourner. He is someone on a journey who is just passing through. This was true in a literal sense as we see in Chapter 1, verse 1. This epistle was written to the believers who were scattered over Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. The place where these believers lived was not the place of their citizenship and they had established a temporary residence there. But this is also true of us in the spiritual sense. We are citizens of a special place, heaven! Hebrews 11:13-16, “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” The “these” the writer of Hebrews is speaking of is the list of heroes of the faith. We want to focus on one of them, Abraham. Read Hebrews 11:8-10 for a context of Abraham as an alien and sojourner. Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ “ Next, it is important for us to understand that we live in a state of war. Our lives are played out on a spiritual battlefield. A daily battle wages in our souls, with our old sin natures warring against our new creature status in Christ. God gave us a free will to exercise and allows us to choose. This spiritual battle is revealed to us by Paul in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” It would be easy and understandable for us to think our battle is with a family member, a friend, a co-worker, a boss, ourselves, etc. But that is putting the blame in the wrong place. Peter mentions our adversary in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan would like nothing better than for us to lay the blame elsewhere and keep us off target. The warring in our souls is something Paul new too well. And we do too! And he lays out our struggle in Romans 7:14-25, “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” As Peter tells us in this passage, we are to “abstain from fleshly lusts that wage war against the soul”. So we are to keep away from the desires of our old sin nature that wage war in our soul. Having spoken to us about the inner man, now Peter switches to the outer man-the importance of our conduct in front of an unbelieving world. “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles”, an expanded definition is: (Continually)-Having your conversation honest. The point is we are to exhibit a habitually beautiful life in front of unbelievers. Why? The reason is because there is an important purpose for it. “so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers”,: Hina is the Greek work showing this is a purpose clause. Then, the purpose clause is interrupted by the phrase, “in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers”. The Greek word for evildoers is Kakopoios. It refers to a criminal. The believers who Peter was writing to were being slandered and called things like criminals. Now Peter resumes the reason for the believer’s good behavior. Our good works are to cause the unbeliever to “glorify God in the day of visitation” This is literally the day of overseeing episkopa (Bishop or overseer). This word is always used in the New Testament of times when God visits in mercy and grace, Lk. 1:68, 78, 7:16 and Hebrews 2:6. The expression refers to the time when those who see the believer’s good works will be saved-visited by God’s mercy and grace. This is evangelism by lifestyle. This is the concept behind the means for evangelizing an unbelieving husband. We close this lesson by looking at Ephesians 2:8-10 to see the proper role of works in our lives.

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