Our study of 1 Peter has brought us to a critical point. It’s a critical point of application. Peter speaking to the churches in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia calls them to faithful obedience. Peter does the same for us.
The trouble is … many times faithful obedience to Jesus Christ forces us to go against the desires of our flesh and the ways of the world. Which of course, makes faithful obedience difficult. Its difficult – but worth it.
Read [1 Peter 3:8-22]
Here’s a taste:
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
– 1 Peter 3:8-9
This is a intense passage that I’ve broken down into three parts. Let’s begin with blessing.
This passage begins with “finally” which goes back to 2:11-12. Peter is concluding his discussion on living good lives among the pagans in order that they may see your good deeds and glorify God.
In the previous passages from 2:11-12 and our passage today, Peter called our specific examples. He talks to slaves. He talks to husbands and wives. In our passage this morning Peter speaks to “all of you.” There are no exceptions. There are no exclusions. There is no fine print. Peter was speaking to all the churches in the region and he is speaking to all of us.
He gives good advice: be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate, and humble. All good things but nothing earth shattering. That’s the kind of stuff you’d expect to hear in church.
Yet, verse 9 takes things to a different level. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing. This sounds like a game changer but in fact, it goes back to the very beginning of the people of God. Buried at the start of are Old Testament is the call of Abraham. In Genesis 12 God says I will be your God and turn you into a mighty nation. I will bless you and you will bless all the people of the earth. Peter is dusting off an old truth of the people of God. From the very beginning we were called to be a blessing.
… even in the face of evil and insult.
You will be offended, upset, wronged this week. Rather, than seeking revenge and retaliation seek to be a blessing. It is your duty as the people of God.
You’ll want to seek revenge/retaliation. Refrain. Instead, sincerely find a way to be a blessing. Think long and hard about it and go for it. Without evil or insult … think long and hard about blessing those around you.
Let’s look at verse 13. Peter speaks of suffering for what is right. He exhorts his original hearers and he exhorts us to not fear threats and to not be frightened. In fact, Peter states that when we suffer for what is right … we are blessed.
Life in Christ is not a life of rest and relaxation. Life in Christ in not a life on easy street. As followers of Christ you will face the troubles like every other human being. In fact, you might face added troubles in the name of Jesus Christ. If someone is telling you something else – don’t buy into the lie. If someone is telling you life in Christ is merely a bed of roses – don’t buy into the lie. Life in Christ is not a “get out of jail free card” when it comes to trouble.
While you might suffer for doing what is right, Peter encourages us to revere Christ as lord. Always keep Jesus in his proper place – at the top! Beyond that we are to always be prepared to give answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
There are a few assumptions in verse 15 ….
- This verse assumes the Christ follower is hopeful
- This verse also assumes that the Christ follower makes that hope evident to those around them.
Are these assumptions true of you?
I have to admit … I’m often around people who speak of nothing but despair. I’m often around people who don’t speak of hope but speak of doom and gloom. Unfortunately, I hear this message of negativity from the church crowd. We must change the narrative. We must be people of hope.
We must speak words of hope. We must encourage others to see the hope available. In fact, we should be such hopeful people that people ask us for a reason for our hope.
… and we better be prepared with an answer. That answer? Jesus Christ.
That leads us to resurrection power.
The tail end of this passage covers a lot of ground. Let’s attempt to break it down.
First, Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. That’s verse 18. That means when Jesus died on the cross the sin in your life was atoned for. Don’t utter: I’ve done too much. My sin is too ugly. I’m too far gone. No. Christ died once … for sins. That includes your sin.
Second, Christ died for sins but he was resurrected from the dead. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ we’ve been given resurrection power over sin, death, and anything else you can think of. Peter provides some illustrations. He gives what might be the most debated verses the New Testament has to offer. In verse 19 he mentions that after being made alive Jesus went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits and then goes on to speak of those who were disobedient long ago in the days of Noah. We don’t have the time (many of you don’t have the desire) to go into to the many interpretations of these verses. Yet, I see these verses as a resurrection victory chant. The power of the resurrection can be heard everywhere and by everyone. The resurrection victory chant proclaims: “Jesus is Lord.”
Third, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are given baptism as the symbol of resurrection power. It is not the baptismal water that saves you it is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that saves you. As you enter into the baptismal water you are uniting with Jesus in his death and resurrection. You are dying to self and living for Christ. You are dying to the old way of life and stepping into a new way of life.