1 Peter 2:9-10 (IV)

 

This Is What You Are (III)

Peter's first letter

 
1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

 
Review
In our previous post we started to look at 1 Peter chapter 2 verses 9 and 10 where we read: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”.
I mentioned that those verses provide answers to three questions:
What are we?
How are we what we are?
Why are we what we are?
We concentrated on thinking about what answer those verses give to the first of those questions: “What are we?” We saw that believers in Christ, as a collective whole, are “God’s people” because we are chosen by Him, we’re servants of Him, we’re set apart for Him and we belong to Him. As such, we are the spiritual fulfilment of the promises that God made to the nation of Israel in Old Testament times.
Having seen what we are, let us move on to see what answers we find in these verses to the other two questions: “How are we what we are?” and “Why are we what we are?”
So, let’s start by seeing how these verses answer the first of those questions:
How are we what we are?
In other words, to clarify the question, we could ask “by what means have we become God’s people?” How has that been brought about?
I was searching online recently and came across the following quotation from The Guardian newspaper. It reads: “Sir Alex Ferguson may have the coveted Christmas number one spot with the record-breaking sales of his memoir, My Autobiography. But not even celebrity memoirs are likely to match the publishing sector predicted to grow exponentially in 2014: self-help books”. Why are self-help books so popular? Well, I suggest that people like self-help books because they tell us that, although we might need a little bit of help, basically we can do whatever is necessary for ourselves and so they boost our egos. Yes, we might need pointing in the right direction. We might need a few helpful hints and tips, but, when all is said and done, they tell us that we have what it takes to do things for ourselves. So, self-help books encourage and confirm people’s sense of self-sufficiency and people like to hear that. They like to be told that they’re capable of doing everything for themselves because that means that they’re not dependent on anyone else.
When it comes to answering the question “by what means have we become God’s people?” the answer that many would like to give is “I’ve done it myself” because we are naturally very self-centred and like to think of ourselves as being self-sufficient and capable. They would like to think of the Bible as being a self-help book that God has written for us. It points us in the right direction, gives some handy hints and tips and then leaves us to get on with it. However, in contrast with that popular and self-sufficient view, we find that the answer that Peter gives to the question “How are we what we are?” certainly doesn’t confirm such a sense of self-sufficiency. His answer cuts right across any notion of self-sufficiency. What is Peter’s answer? We see it where he speaks of “Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”. You see, the emphasis here isn’t on anything that we’ve done. The emphasis falls on “Him who called”. That is, the emphasis is on God Himself and what He has done.
We’ve already seen that Peter says that the initiative lies with God in that He has chosen His people.
Remember from last time that Peter described us as being “a chosen race”. Now we see that God’s choice didn’t just remain as a notion in the mind of God. It was worked out in practise. It led Him to do something. He called those whom He chose.
At that point you might think to yourself that if we are God’s people because He called us to be His people then we must still have done something. We must be God’s people because we’ve responded to that call. Now, although there is some truth in that, we need to be clear that this call is much more than just an outward call. We mustn’t think of it as simply being an open invitation that we can either accept or decline as we wish. If that was all it was sinful human beings would naturally decline the invitation every time. We would never respond to the call. No, it’s very evident that this is a powerful and effective call that actually accomplished something in us and for us.
We see something similar in Romans 8v28-30 where we read: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified”.
Saying “those whom he foreknew” is another way of saying “those He chose” and Paul, like Peter, then went on to say that those that God chose “he also called”. Notice that Paul didn’t stop there. He didn’t say “those whom he foreknew he also called” and now it’s over to you. Now you decide what to do. No, he continued by saying that this being called then led on to being justified and being glorified. It doesn’t say that some responded to the call and were justified and glorified. No. All who were called in this way were justified and glorified. So, it wasn’t just an outward call. It was powerful and it achieved something.
In Romans 8, what this powerful, effective call brought about was justification and glorification. In our text in 1 Peter chapter 2 we see that what this call actually achieved is spoken of as God having actually brought us “out of darkness into His marvellous light”. It’s hard to imagine a more absolute contrast than that between darkness and light because darkness is the complete absence of light. They are as diametrically opposed to one another as life and death. But, we must notice that there’s not just a marked contrast here, there’s also a marked change. You see, Peter spoke of having been called “out of darkness”. That immediately tells us that, prior to that call, we must have been in darkness. Paul suggests exactly the same in Ephesians 5v7-8 where we read: “Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord”.
What did Peter mean by this darkness?
We can perhaps think of it as being akin to the “futile ways” that Peter said we “were ransomed from” back in verse 18 of chapter 1. We were in the darkness of a futile way of life but we’ve been brought out of it.
Then notice that Peter didn’t stop at saying that we’ve just been brought “out of darkness”. He went on to say what we’ve been brought into. What have we been brought into? Have we been brought out of darkness into a sort of gloom or semi-darkness? No, Peter says that we’ve been brought “into …… light”. That’s in keeping with the way in which Paul describes believers in Christ in 1 Thessalonians 5v4-5 where he says: “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness”. You see, we’re no longer in darkness because we’re now “children of light”.
The next thing to notice is that Peter wasn’t just saying that we’ve been brought “out of darkness into light” but that we’ve been brought “into His light”. That is God’s light. In Acts 26v16-18 we read Paul’s account of the commission that he received from the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus: “But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me’”. You see, Paul was sent “so that they may turn from darkness to light” and that is then equated to turning “from the power of Satan to God”. So, to be in darkness is to be under the power of Satan. To turn to the light is to turn to God. It’s nothing less than God’s light that we’ve turned to.
Then notice that Peter didn’t just say that we’ve been called “out of darkness into light” but “out of darkness into His marvellous light”.
You see, it’s not just light; it’s marvellous light and it’s marvellous because it’s His light. I remember that there was a Christian rock band back in the sixties called “Out of Darkness”. They’d obviously taken their name from 1 Peter 2v9 but I can’t help but wonder why they chose “Out of Darkness” rather than “into His marvellous light”. Of course, it’s a great thing to have been brought out of darkness but that’s just a first step. How much better still to have been brought “into His marvellous light”!
How are we to understand “His marvellous light”?
I suspect that when Peter spoke of having been called “out of darkness into his marvelous light” he could well have had the words of Isaiah 9v2 in mind. They say: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone”. Now, in the immediate context, which we read together earlier, that was referring to a return from exile. You see, verse 1 begins by saying: “But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish”. That’s a promise from God to one that was in anguish that their anguish would come to an end.
Who was that referring to?
Well, there’s further explanation as the verse continues by saying: “In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali”. That’s referring to God having punished the northern territories of Israel by having them deported by the Assyrians. So, it’s the northern territories of Israel that were “in anguish”. Then the verse says: “but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations”.
What’s that talking about?
Well, “The way of the sea” was a highway that ran from Damascus in Syria in a south westerly direction through Capernaum and eventually on to Caesarea on the coast. It’s the highway that returning exiles would need to follow. Saying that God had “made glorious the way of the sea” was saying that the exiles would return – hence “But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish”. That return was the immediate fulfilment of that promise. However, the passage is clearly a Messianic passage. We read in verses 6 and 7: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this”. So, it’s pointing to a time even further in the future when, through this promised child it could be said that “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone”. When and how would that be?
We find out if we look at Matthew 4v12-17.
“Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand””.
You see, Matthew starts by simply stating that Jesus moved to Capernaum which was in the north in the territory of “Zebulun and Naphtali”. Matthew then asserted that to be the fulfilment of what Isaiah had said in Isaiah chapter 9 about those “who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone”. That light was Jesus. As we read in John 8v12: “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life””.
We read something similar in 2 Corinthians 4v6: “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”.
So, how are we what we are? By being powerfully called out of darkness into God’s marvellous light which shines in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
For our next post we will see how the verses answer the second of those questions:
Why are we what we are?
~ Steve
 
Dr. Steve Orr
Dr Orr has served the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom for many years and in various capacities (preaching, teaching, etc.,). Steve is a regular contributor to the pages of Christ My Covenant. His insights into the Word of God will serve you in your personal study of God’s Word. Learn of Christ!

Proverbs 11:1-10

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 11 ESV”] A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,
but a just weight is his delight.
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom.
3 The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless keeps his way straight,
but the wicked falls by his own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.
7 When the wicked dies, his hope will perish,
and the expectation of wealth perishes too.
8 The righteous is delivered from trouble,
and the wicked walks into it instead.
9 With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor,
but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.
10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.
11 By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.
12 Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense,
but a man of understanding remains silent.
13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets,
but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.
14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls,
but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm,
but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure.
16 A gracious woman gets honor,
and violent men get riches.
17 A man who is kind benefits himself,
but a cruel man hurts himself.
18 The wicked earns deceptive wages,
but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.
19 Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live,
but he who pursues evil will die.
20 Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord,
but those of blameless ways are his delight.
21 Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished,
but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered.
22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman without discretion.
23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good;
the expectation of the wicked in wrath.
24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.
26 The people curse him who holds back grain,
but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.
27 Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor,
but evil comes to him who searches for it.
28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.
29 Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind,
and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and whoever captures souls is wise.
31 If the righteous is repaid on earth,
how much more the wicked and the sinner.
[/learn_more]

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Solomon: Weighing Things Correctly

 

Proverbs 11:1 A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.

The theme of chapter 11 is valuing – weighing things correctly. Over rating and under rating are both acts of deception. We can easily over emphasize and add spin when we want things to be seen a certain way. Fear of people and desire for being viewed a certain way can result in exaggerations and minimizations to suit the hour. It is an abomination to the Lord.
But more than deceiving others by the use of “false balances” is the problem of self-deception which arises from our failure to value things in terms of God’s economy versus that of the World.
The World’s value system revolves around three things (1 John 2:15-17): Desires of the flesh: Viewing all life from SELF – outward; Lust of the eye: Valuing the seen and what is on the surface above the unseen and the true substance; Pride of life: Security and well-being in the seen above the unseen. Living in the immediate above the eternal. When these outweigh the reality of who we are and why we were created from God’s perspective, and valuing what He tells us is worth valuing above these 3 things – nothing but misery and judgment can follow. How Solomon labors in this chapter to get his son to examine what it is he places value on, and why.

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

All sin can trace its roots back to pride. Not pride in the sense of imagining ourselves so wonderful – but more in the sense of unwillingness to submit to God’s rule. Pride that can appear emotionally humble – but acts as though self has the rights of God.

Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

This is living by principle above precept. When one has a solid sense of integrity – a life that is lived on consistent principles of action in every sphere, then many “decisions” about individual issues, are off the table and need no further consideration.
When one determines that human life is sacred as man is made in God’s image, racial discrimination, abortion, abuse of others, neglect of the poor – are simply non-issues. By principle, they cannot be entered into. The “upright” one is guided then – even though he or she is not given individual answers for every specific case.

Proverbs 11:4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

Here is a most sobering and useful thought to return to when tempted: Whatever it is you think you are gaining from your sin at this moment – it is worthless. And it will be seen so in all of its folly on the day of judgment.

Proverbs 11:6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.

The clarity and usefulness of this statement cannot be overemphasized. Either one walks in the freedom which is theirs in Christ – or they are slaves to sin. There is no other option. There is no middle ground between the two. Either we are free in serving Christ, or we are slaves to our lusts. And it behooves us all to examine ourselves regularly to see where we are in this regard. And if we find ourselves living as slaves to our sins again, to run back to our Redeemer, or Savior, and seek the working out of His setting the captives free in our own hearts and lives once more by the power of His Spirit. It is only if we walk in the Spirit, that we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16)

Proverbs 11:10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.

This is not an affirmation that it is right to shout for gladness when the wicked perish. Even our Lord declares that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. And Proverbs 24:17-18 will warn us: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him. ”
It is instead meant to be a solemn observation – that those who think they gain so much by dishonesty and deceit, in the end prove to be so onerous to others that it is a relief when they are gone. What a legacy.
~ Reid
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Reid Ferguson
Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.