First Peter with Andy Murray

The Mission

1 Peter 2:11-12

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

What Really Matters?

Matthew 16:24- 26

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul.”

am-132x132.jpgHow often do we pause to consider the kinds of things that really matter – I mean really matter? Jesus here draws our attention to something that really matters and should be abundantly obvious: what happens to your soul really matters.

The soul is simply another way of saying you, your life, your person, who you are. Jesus asks the rhetorical question: what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? The answer is undeniably: it will profit him nothing – in fact it will be infinite, incalculable loss. It will be absolute ruin and devastation and misery.

It seems ridiculous that Jesus would even have to ask the question. Is it not the most obvious thing in the world, that it doesn’t matter how much pleasure or power or praise we accumulated and experienced for 70, 80, 90 years in this world if at the end of it we are cast into everlasting ruin?

No sane person could disagree and yet how many of us and how many in our neighborhoods and in our nation go days, months, years without giving so much as a thought to the possibility that we might be utterly lost?

A War is Raging

Peter makes a statement in verse 11 that each one of us needs to consider and take to heart.

1 Peter 2:11

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

A war is being waged against our souls. Peter tells us that there are powers in this world which are set against us and are seeking to bring us to everlasting ruin. If sinful desire are allowed to win – you lose your very soul.

We’re talking about the most relevant, significant, weighty issue you could think of that every person must face, and yet for the average American this issue is studiously ignored day after day after day.

People are passionate about scientific advancement, passionate about political goings on, passionate about healthcare, passionate about exercise and nutrition, passionate about the economy, passionate about the arts and entertainment, passionate about civil rights, passionate about poverty, passionate about retirement and financial investment, passionate about sports teams, passionate about pets, passionate about tv shows, passionate about the intimate details of Hollywood celebrities.

Ours is a culture in which people are passionate about many things — but somehow the most relevant, most significant, most weighty issue one could possibly imagine has become pushed out of this culture’s public conversations and concerns. I believe I can say without exaggeration that I have never had a conversation with an unbeliever in which they brought up the issue of the dangers facing the soul, how one is saved, how one might escape the ruin of their soul (the only exception might be the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have come to our door). It is not that no one thinks about it, but very few people around us take the perils of the soul seriously.

Sojourners and Exiles

Which is exactly the reason you and I are aliens and strangers in this world. You bring up the most significant issue, the issue every person should care about, and you will see how alien that subject is in this culture. It is seen as an intrusion into homes and activities and passions. It is an unwelcome visitor at our parties. It is an inappropriate, socially unacceptable subject and if you care about it and dare speak about it you are alien. You will be an intrusion, an unwelcome visitor. You will be inappropriate and unacceptable — a bur in the saddle of this culture.

How alien are you? How different is your home? How alien is your heart? How alien are your conversations with friends and family? Is this issue, namely, the war being waged against your soul, something you are passionate to understand and passionate to engage in so as to gain victory over those forces seeking your everlasting ruin? Are you aware of the battle? Are you conscious of the dangers? Are you serious about your soul and the souls of those you love and the souls of your fellow sinful man who is losing the war?

When Perspective Comes

There is coming a day — a day Peter has mentioned in this letter 3 or 4 times already — there is coming a day when the issue of our souls will be front and center in everyones’ mind. On that day when every soul stands before its Maker, when each one stands before the cornerstone and chosen by God and precious, when each one is either separated to the right or to the left and sent to everlasting joy or everlasting ruin. There is coming a day when those of this culture will suddenly see that all the things, which they passionately pursued, should have taken a back seat to this.

God Ignored

But, if the all important issue of the everlasting ruin of our souls and the war being waged against it is a subject that very few take seriously, than the issue which lies beneath that issue and in fact permeates throughout that issue, is a subject even fewer take seriously. Even if you find that rare person who is so concerned about the future of their soul that they actually want to talk about it — even then, it is extremely unlikely that they will be talking about the glory of God.

You can, if you go looking, find what is called the “religion” section of the newspaper and there you find articles and discussions that are religious — but, oh, how rare it is to hear people talking about the glory and majesty of God! Oh, how rare it is to find a person in this culture consumed with a passion to know God as He is, to love Him, to praise Him, to talk with other about Him, to point others to Him, to make know the character and deeds of God immortal, invisible. Rare is the person who rejoices in His plans and His purposes and His ways and His redemption and His infinite, eternal, and unchangeable Being, His wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

The Being who created all things and who holds the universe together and before whom we will all stand — should be first in our minds.

Colossians 1:16-17

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And yet, the drum beat of our culture is one where God does not weigh on our minds much if at all. God is weightless and insignificant and trivial to those around us.

Sojourners and Exiles

But, what Peter says to us is really significant. He says,  

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

What is Peter saying? He is saying that our conduct in this world is to be so markedly godly that unbelievers see it and glorify God on the day of visitation. We are to be those who care about the glory of God. We are those who have tasted that the Lord Jesus Christ is good and who care to praise God and honor God and lift High His name and to see many others do the same.

And so now Peter points out that this makes us strange in this world. Our hopes and passions are other worldly – not rooted in this world – and so we are strangers and aliens here. We care about the glory of God and about honoring Him and praising Him and pleasing Him and enjoying Him. Our neighbors are doing everything they can not to think of Him as they run after the trivial and gobble up as much pleasure as this world will offer. Peter says, ‘as aliens and strangers – be different!’

Be so holy that other may see your life and glorify God.

Our lives are to be aiming at helping others glorify God. That is helping them honor Him and praise Him and lift high His name. Everything you do is to draw attention to God! Every aspect and action our lives is to give testimony to the importance of God in this world so that others will see that testimony and give God glory.

Evildoers

We do it as aliens, which means even as our conduct is honorable, many will speak against us as evildoers. Those in darkness do not like their unfruitful works exposed for what they are. Men love darkness rather than light. If you walk into a dark room letting your light so shine before men many will not appreciate it. In Romans 1:32 Paul describes the natural man as not only participating in all kinds of things that they know God has forbidden, but giving approval to those around them doing the same things.

You want to fit into this world and get along without trouble? Just go with the flow. Don’t seek the mind of God. Don’t live with a radical intentionality seeking to please God. And don’t you dare even hint that God may actually disapprove of certain desires and behaviors. Just keep your Christian character private and your mouth closed and you will be fine.

But if you take Peter seriously, if you take the glory of your God seriously, and you actually endeavor to draw attention to God with every thought, word, and deed, some will hate the very sight of you. Just as they did to our Lord.

Matthew 10:24-25

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

But it is these very people, who may malign and slander you, who need Christ and need you to point them to Him. Because the day is coming when they will stand before the King.

Glory On the Day of Visitation

I believe that “the day of visitation,” mentioned here in verse 12 by Peter, is the day Christ will appear in the last time. This is a recurring theme in Peter’s letter (1 Peter 1:5,7,9,13). He is constantly directing us to look to that day when all accounts will be settled before the King.

So, if that is what Peter is taking about what does Peter have in mind when he says that we are to keep our conduct honorable among the nations that they may see our good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation? Glorify God in what way?

Some argue that Peter simply has judgement and the condemnation of the wicked in mind here. As we saw last week, God will be glorified even if many disobey the Word and stumble over Christ. There is a way the wicked will, however unwillingly and unwittingly, glorify God in the end.

Others look at this idea that the sinful nations will glorify God as they are convinced, and they think this because Peter, will, for example, talk about wives winning their husbands without a word by the conduct of their wives. So, this shows Peter has salvation in mind.

For my part, I think Peter has both in mind, but always with the desire for the latter way of glorifying God (in salvation).

Good Deeds and Glory to God.

Either way, Peter’s point is this: our lives matter. Our conduct before the world matters. God has placed us here to draw people’s attention to God.

For some, this will mean, when they stand before God, that their condemnation and shame will only be reaffirmed because they not only rejected God but also rejected the witnesses God sent to them (1 Peter 3:16).

For others, our conduct in this world will mean, when they stand before God, that they will be among the number who love His appearing and are welcomed into the joy of their Lord.

Your life matters.

Not because our example will save anyone. It is not my life which is the power of God for salvation. What people really need is to hear about Jesus Christ the Righteous Savior.

But it is your life which is intended my God it be a clear testimony that Jesus Christ the righteous Savior saves and is worthy of honor and praise and is strong and trustworthy and beautiful and worthy to be hoped in!

Your life is to be an unmistakable message that God is your refuge, that Christ is the cornerstone of your life – He is all your hope and stay. That we have learned to be content in this world with plenty and with poverty because Christ is our all in all. That we have learned to take criticism and even persecution because Christ is the unshakable foundation of our lives in this world and the one to come.  

Peter is telling us that our lives ought to be light in a dark place. They ought to make unbelievers pause and ask, where in the world did those people come from? Peter says, “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

People ought to be able to look at us and see that we have placed our hope upon something glorious and strong and precious, something they do not have.

How is it that these people can forgive?

How is it that these people can bear with one another?

How is it that these people can turn the other cheek… again?

How is it that these people can bear criticism and rejection?

How is it that these people can face adversity and financial instability without fear?

How is it that these people can love one another in truly self-sacrificing ways?

What is their hope?

Is it obvious that your hope is different from theirs so that they would even ask you about your hope?

Ongoing War For your Soul

I think it is very significant that Peter is addressing Christians and he assumes they will still have evil desires, “abstain from the passions of the flesh (sinful desires).” The testimony of the New Testament is that we who are new creatures in Christ still have the flesh – that is sinful inclinations. Peter says evil desires are waging war against us. It is sinful desire which is seeking to ruin you.

So the difference between our unbelieving neighbor and ourselves is not that we no longer have sinful desire and they do. Rather, it is that we have the Spirit of God and they don’t. We are those who have been born again and made children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. So we are those who, by setting our hope on Christ, abstain from the passions of the flesh. We do not live and behave like the world who does not know God. We do not live and behave like those who have set their hope on the things of the world.

The Christian is the persons whose eyes have been made to see that none of those things will satisfy and all of those things when they are embraced bring forth death and everlasting ruin. They will kill your soul. Christians are those who set their hope in Christ.

So, we are those who can be generous with our money because we know that Christ is a far more precious treasure.

We are those who can resist the temptation to experience a forbidden pleasure because we know that to know Christ is what our hearts are really longing for.

We are those who can withstand the criticism of others because we know that it is truly God’s approval we crave and His approval is fully secured because of our Lord Jesus Christ and His work of redemption.

A Call to Mission

Note that Peter did not call us to a verbal campaign nor a political campaign, as good as those may be — but to radical godliness. To saltiness and brightness. If you want to see God glorified and many brought to faith in Jesus Christ — be godly. Seek God. Set your hope on Christ. Live like He is what really matters and when the world asks, where did this person come from? What are they hoping in? Be ready to give a defense for the hope that you have with gentleness and reverence.

We are called to mission. We are called to set our hope on Christ, turning away from evil and doing good, that God may be glorified and many thousands may enter the celestial city with us, who will praise the excellencies of God forever and ever from the heart.

Matthew 5:16

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

~ Andy

About Andrew Murray
Andrew “Andy” Murray was born and raised in New Hampshire. His father, pastor Loren Murray, served Fellowship Bible Church in Chester, NH. At six years of age Andy trusted in Jesus Christ and was baptized. He was brought up “acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” At the age of 12 his father was in a fatal car accident. Reflecting on the loss of his dad Andy writes; “I see now the wise and loving hand of Christ in my life, as He used this event to, shape, mold and press me toward Himself. It was this event that sparked in me an earnest desire to know God from His Word. By His grace, this desire has continued to grow.” Andy met his wife, Elizabeth, at Philadelphia Biblical University (now Cairn University). They have four wonderful boys. Visit Windham Bible Chapel.