Christian Duties in the Church, Landmark BC, February 25, 2018
Introduction: Peter gives us a description of good church membership and how we are to act towards each other.
I Peter 3:8-17
8 Finally*, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye
are thereunto* called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
10For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
11 Let him eschew* [turn aside from] evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death* in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
Verses 8-15 The apostle here passes from special to more general exhortations.
He teaches us how Christians and friends should treat one another.
Christians should endeavor to be all of one mind [Unity] in the great points of faith, in real affection, and in Christian practice; they should be like-minded one to another, according to Christ Jesus (Rom. 15:5 ), not according to man’s pleasure, but God’s word.
He advises each one to show compassion and be sympathetic one for another; To show pity, compassionate and humility to those who were in distress, and to be courteous to all.
To love as brethren
II. He instructs us how to behave towards enemies. The apostle knew that Christians would be hated and evil-entreated of all men for Christ’s sake; therefore,
1. He warns us not to return evil for evil, nor railing for railing; but, on the contrary, “when they rail at you, do you bless them; when they give you evil words, do you give them good ones; for Christ has both by his word and example called you to bless those that curse you, and has settled a blessing on you as your everlasting inheritance, though you were unworthy.’’ To bear evils patiently, and to bless your enemies, is the way to obtain this blessing of God. Learn,
(1.) To render evil for evil, or railing for railing is a sinful unchristian practice. To rail is to revile another in bitter, fierce, and reproachful terms; but for ministers to rebuke sharply, and to preach earnestly against the sins of the times, is not railing; all the prophets and apostles practiced.
(2.) The laws of Christ oblige us to return blessing for railing.Mt. 5: 44, “Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those that persecute you. You must not justify them in their sin, but you must do for your enemies all that justice requires or charity commands.’’ We must pity, pray for, and love those who rail at us.
(3.) A Christian’s calling is invested with glorious privileges and also it obliges him to difficult duties.
(4.) All the true servants of God shall infallibly inherit a blessing, however, the full possession of it is reserved to a time in the future.
2. Find peace with mankind.
He gives an excellent prescription for a comfortable happy life in this quarrelsome ill-natured world (v. 10): it is quoted from Ps. 34: 12-14. “If you earnestly desire that your life should be long, and your days peaceable and prosperous, keep your tongue from reviling, evil-speaking, and slandering, and your lips from lying, deceit, and dissimulation. Avoid doing any real damage or hurt to your neighbour, but be ever ready to do good, and to overcome evil with good; seek peace with all men, and pursue it, though it retires from you. This will be the best way to dispose people to speak well of you, and live peaceably with you.’’It is the duty of Christians not only to embrace peace when it is offered but to seek and pursue it when it is denied: peace with societies, as well as peace with particular persons, in opposition to division and contention, is what is here intended.
3. He shows that Christians need not fear that such patient inoffensive behavior as is prescribed will invite and encourage the cruelty of their enemies, for God will thereby be engaged on their side: For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous (v. 12); His ears are open to their prayers; whose ears are always attentive to the prayers of his servants in their distresses, and who will certainly aid them against their unrighteous enemies.
The face of the Lord is against those that do evil; his anger, and displeasure, and revenge will pursue them; for he is more an enemy to wicked persecutors than men are. Observe,
(1.) God hath a special care and paternal affection towards all his righteous people.
(2.) God doth always hear the prayers of the faithful, Jn. 4:31 ;
1 Jn. 5: 14; Heb. 4: 16.
(3.) Though God is infinitely good, yet he abhors impenitent sinners and will pour out his wrath upon those that do evil. He will do himself right, and do all the world justice; his goodness is no obstruction to his doing so.
4. This patient humble behavior of Christians is further recommended and urged from two considerations:—
(1.) This will be the best and surest way to prevent suffering; for who is he that will harm you? v. 13. This, I suppose, is spoken of Christians in an ordinary condition, not in the heat of persecution. “Ordinarily, there will be but few to harm those who live so innocently and usefully as you do.’’
(2.) This is the way to improve sufferings. “If you be followers of that which is good, and yet suffer, this is suffering for righteousness; sake (v. 14), and will be your glory and your happiness, as it entitles you to the blessing promised by Christ’’ (Mt. 5:10 ); therefore, “You need not be afraid of anything they can do to strike you with terror, neither be much troubled nor concerned about the rage or force of your enemies.’’
First, to follow always that which is good is the best course we can take to keep out of harm’s way.
Secondly, To suffer for righteousness sake is the honor and happiness of a Christian; to suffer for the cause of truth, a good conscience, or any part of a Christian’s duty, is a great honor; the delight of it is greater than the torment, the honor more than the disgrace, and the gain much greater than the loss.
Thirdly, Christians have no reason to be afraid of the threats or rage of any of their enemies. “Your enemies are God’s enemies, his face is against them, his power is above them, they are the objects of his curse, and can do nothing to you but by his permission; therefore trouble not yourselves about them.’’
Instead of terrifying yourselves with the fear of men, be sure to sanctify the Lord God in your hearts (v. 15); let him be your fear, and let him be your dread, Isa. 8:12, Isa. 8: 13. Fear not those that can only kill the body, but fear him that can destroy body and soul, Lu. 12:4, Lu. 12: 5.
We sanctify the Lord God in our hearts when we with sincerity and fervency adore him when our thoughts of him are awful and reverend when we rely upon his power, trust to his faithfulness, submit to his wisdom, imitate his holiness, and give him the glory due to his most illustrious perfections.
We sanctify God before others when our deportment is such as invites and encourages others to glorify and honor him; both are required,
First, A full sense of the divine perfections is the best antidote against the fear of sufferings.
Secondly, The hope and faith of a Christian are defensible against all the world.
Thirdly, Every Christian is bound to answer and apologize for the hope that is in him. We are to be ready to give an answer to every man for the hope that we have in Christ.
Fourthly, These confessions of our faith ought to be made with meekness and fear. Not in haughtiness, revenge, spitefulness, or better than thou attitude.
Conclusion: The Bible is our guidebook to teach us HOW TO PLEASE God, LOVE OTHERS, AND LOVE OURSELVES.