1 Peter 2
1Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,
2like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,
3if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
In light of the fact that we have been given new spirits within us that are able to be holy and clean temples of God, we ought to make our outer members conform to our new inward reality. We are to lay aside any evil speaking of another person, seeking rather to speak words that are wholesome, kind, tender, and that seek to build others up (Ephesians 4:29, 31-32). We are to lay aside any deceit and lies so that we can be trusted and keep our word to others. We are not to manipulate or use others for our own advantages and purposes. There ought to be no hypocrisy. The church of God cannot explain to the unsaved that it is acceptable before God that the church is full of hypocrites. Peter says that it ought not to be so. God has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness, so it is we who are at fault if we do not lay aside our hypocrisy. The world has reason to laugh at our testimony when we live like hypocrites. We are not to envy the things that the world envies, becoming materialistic and never being content with what God has given us. Never are we allowed to have evil intent towards another person, despising them and seeking to avenge ourselves or do them in. Having laid all of the garbage aside that is common for any community group, club, or association made up of human beings who are not reborn of Christ, believers are to long for the pure milk of the Word of God just like a baby does. A baby will fuss, cry, panic, and throw a fit if they do not get their milk. They long by instinct and because of pangs in their stomach for their food. We are to be like them, longing for the pure Word of God. Through the Word of God, we can grow in respect to salvation. Yet only the person who has truly been reborn can understand the Word of God by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit must give illumination of the heart and mind which He will do for any who seek God with their whole heart. We as believers have tasted the kindness of the Lord in terms of our salvation, and it is His kindness that has caused us to repent and continue in a life of obedience.
4And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,
5you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
The believer has come to Christ and received Him as the truth even though most of the world rejected Him. Christ is precious in the sight of God. We also, having received Him, are being built up as living stones into a spiritual house. Spiritually, we are being built up into a corporate temple of Christ who indwells His church and is Himself the foundation and cornerstone. We are given the role of priests to serve in the temple of God ministering in the presence of God as we offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God, namely a life of obedience (Romans 12:1-2).
6For this is contained in Scripture:
"BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone,
AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."
7This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve,
"THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED,
THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,"
"A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE";
for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.
9But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
10for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.
Those who receive Christ and become part of His temple are promised to not be disappointed. They become grafted in as God’s chosen people, as a holy nation, and as a royal priesthood. This is all in addition to have been adopted as sons of God and having an inheritance coming. There is an entire identity change. As such we are to live like it, being consecrated in all of our behavior. Those who do not receive Christ do so because they disobey the Word of God. It is only the Word of God which contains the hope of their redemption in that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Since God knows beforehand who will fail to receive Christ because they love their sin and the approval of man over the approval of God, the unbelievers are appointed by God for doom in hell for eternity. Just as sure as our inheritance is as believers, the destiny of the unbelievers is just as certain. We need to be mindful that if its wasn’t for the mercy of God Who chose us by His will and design as He did the people of Israel in the Old Testament, we would have no chance at being saved. Only those who believe can become the true chosen race of God, whether Jew or Gentile. Since this marvelous adoption has taken place, we ought to be praising God for His marvelous and excellent works. If it wasn’t for His mercy in calling and choosing us to be His own, we would still be destined for hell. Thus we are to proclaim His greatness.
11Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.
12Keep 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.
In light of our new calling and place as the people of God, we are to live like it, keeping our behavior excellent among the world which is watching us to see if we are indeed different and changed. This is why hypocrisy has the devastating effect that it does. We cannot as Christians accept hypocrisy as normative. This must change if we are to recover an effective witness and testimony. Hebrews 12:14 says that without holiness, no one will see God. We must live like we are aliens and strangers in the world since we are citizens of heaven. Thus we are not to indulge in the fleshly lusts that those around us indulge in. Peter’s audience literally was made up of those who had been displaced from their homeland. When entering a new area it is easy to adopt new customs and behaviors, especially to fit in and gain a foothold in the society. Peter is saying that the believers must guard their behavior so that they keep a pure testimony and do not let the lusts of the flesh destroy their soul by polluting their mind and tarnishing the desires of their heart. No believer is exempt from the power and lure of sin and being led away by its lusts. If believers keep a good testimony, then it doesn’t matter what accusation anyone might bring against them. They unbeliever will be moved to glorify God because of the good deeds of the believers as they observe them. Good deeds are a visible manifestation of God’s love to the watching world and they are to be done so that others can see. Someday God will return, and it is important that man glorify God now so that they will glorify Him then and not be sentenced to hell. How we live has great implications for whether or not those watching us will end up in heaven or hell. Sin is a serious issue.
13Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,
14or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
Submission is a key part of holiness. Believers are to submit themselves to every human institution, whether in government or at work or in any other hierarchical system. Submission doesn’t mean that we sin against God if we are told to do something that violates our conscience or the Word of God. It simply means that we do not act unruly and that we honor the person in charge. It is easy to speak evil of a supervisor behind their back or to not do a good job because one doesn’t like his boss, but God tells us to submit and do as they say, even if we think it is dumb. Government is an institution that God honors because generally speaking those who are good will be praised and those who do evil will be punished, though that is not always the case. A government can be evil, and as such it must be defied.
15For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.
One universal application of the will of God is that we do right and thereby silence the objections to faith and any credible mockery of foolish men. It is tough to ridicule a person forever when it is obvious that they are innocent and especially when they do not retaliate. Many times people revile Christians just to provoke them. If they can provoke them to anger, then they feel justified in their unbelief. We must understand that some people just don’t know the truth, having never been given an opportunity to respond to the gospel of Christ. We must be mindful of this ignorance, keep a pure testimony, and seek to share the message of the gospel with them as we earn their respect and trust. At other times, we must simply declare the gospel, not worrying about having a rapport established.
16Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.
We are freed from the power of sin and death, but that does not mean that we can let grace be an excuse to do evil. We cannot sin that grace may abound. Grace frees us to live for God, as willing slaves who submit to His Lordship and will.
17Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
Part of holy living is that others are honored and esteemed more highly than ourselves. Brothers and sisters in Christ are treated as family and with Christlike love. God is feared, knowing that He disciplines those Whom He loves and does deal with wickedness. The whole church in Acts 5 is said to have feared God because of God’s judgment upon Ananias and Sapphira. God doesn’t tolerate sin, and we must remember that. We are told to honor the political leaders as well. Though we are ultimately citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20), we are to render unto earthly authorities the respect that is due them. As Jesus said concerning taxes, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21).
18Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.
19For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.
20For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
Servants are to submit to their masters and employees to their employers. Now if a master was beating and abusing his slave, that is a different matter. It is just that some authorities are tough to handle, being unfair, demeaning, impersonable, and so on. If God has placed a person in such a position and they know that they are where God wants them to be, then they must submit unconditionally, doing their work to the best of their ability. This is the testimony that could cause an unjust master to repent. A rebellious slave only encourages further unjust treatment. We are fortunate that in our day and age many people can simply switch jobs if they have a difficult boss. This is fine and Biblical if God leads that way. Yet while a person is still under the unfair authority, they must be sure to give him honor simply because of his position of authority, even if there is nothing honorable in his character or business practices. God is honored when a person endures unjust treatment with a good attitude and unrebellious heart. There is credit before God for suffering unjustly and being treated harshly while enduring it with patience. This requires fixing one’s hope completely on the grace to come. Such suffering is different altogether from suffering when a person deserves it. This is undeserved suffering when a person is doing right. We must patiently endure the unfair treatment, honoring the authority, and trusting God to take up our case.
21For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,
22WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;
23and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
Christ is our example in how to suffer unjustly. He was without sin and did nobody any harm, yet He was executed on our behalf. While He was reviled, He did not taunt back and curse in return. He didn’t threaten anybody that He would get revenge. He simply entrusted Himself to God who is the Avenger of unrighteousness and the righteous Judge Who sees all (Romans 12:19). God will not let wickedness go unpunished, so we can rest in His hands when suffering unjustly. The key is that we understand that suffering is part of the calling of the Christian. The Christian will be taunted, reviled, and discriminated against at times in his life, and he must not threaten in return. He must just submit and be obedient, honoring the unjust supervisor even if everybody else speaks in a reviling manner.
24and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
25For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
Christ died so that we would die with Him and to sin and live to righteousness. The calling of the Christian is righteousness and holiness despite suffering and persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 says that “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Persecution and suffering is part of the definition of being a Christian. The world hated Christ, and they will hate His followers. Yet Christ has enabled us to live to righteousness. No amount of persecution, suffering, or unjust treatment allows us to continue in sin. We have been healed from the damage of the enslavement to sin and Satan so that we can be free to submit to Christ. Before we knew Christ, we had been straying like sheep which needed a Shepherd, but now we have come to the true Shepherd and Guardian of our Souls. He leads us where we need to go, protects us along the way from succumbing to evil, and He preserves our inheritance and sonship.