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A Christian View of Submission and Suffering Part 1

22 Jun

Occasion: Sunday Worship 22nd June 2014

Illustration: Let’s pretend your name is Theolphilus, and you were born as a Greek household slave to a rich Roman centurion.  The centurion is an idol worshiper, and expects you to worship his idols as a member of his household.  One day by God’s grace you meet the apostle Paul in the market, and he begins to expound to you the story of God’s redemption through the Messiah.  This is all very strange to you, but after many weeks of teaching from the Old Testament Jewish scriptures, you come to be fully convinced of the truthfulness of this message, and you place your faith in Jesus of Nazareth as your Messiah.  You are overjoyed by the freedom you have received through your new faith in Christ, and you cannot help but tell others in the house of the beauty of this message, but to your surprise, your masters is furious with you. He beats you and tells you he will kill you if you ever mention the name Jesus of Nazareth to him.  You are in a terrible situation.  Legally, you are bound to your master, and can do nothing to escape his harsh treatment and vicious attacks.  What should you do?

Text: 1 Peter 2:17-25

Purpose: Peter wants his audience to understand the seriousness of following Christ; therefore he gives specific commands regarding many areas of life, including the lives of abused household slaves.

Proposition: God wants us to have a supreme loyalty to Him, no matter our circumstances.

There is a difference between entering the new life and living the new life.  We enter by faith alone in the finished work of Christ; however we recognize that once we are in Christ; there are certain responsibilities we have in this new position.  We have a new nature, and the gift of the Spirit. By means of this Spirit, God begins changing the way we think about life and the general way in which we walk.  By the Spirit’s work in us, God begins to change our character, molding us day by day into the image of Christ.  Anyone can say they are a Christian, but is it really true? Anyone can say they live the Christian life, but do they actually understand the seriousness of the demands of Christ?  Consider this passage that is not teaching us how to enter the Kingdom, but rather is stressing the nature of living in Christ.

Luke 9:22-26 The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

  • Daily take up his cross
  • Follow me
  • Lose his life for my sake

Interrogative: What qualities form the character of a Christ follower? We will look at this question in three parts.

Doctrine 1: A Christ follower has a right view of God: How do you view God?  Does your view of God accurately reflect the God revealed to us in Scripture?  Is your God an idol, or the real person?  Is He weak, dependent upon you, unable to do anything without your command? Does He exist to make you healthy, wealthy, and powerful, or do you exist for Him, His glory, and His pleasure?

Consider Peter’s Audience: To whom is Peter writing?

  • Servant: A household domestic slave

What would cause someone to become a household slave in those days?

  • Poverty: Someone who was very poor could make themselves a household servants for their own wellbeing.
  • Conquest: When people were conquered by another nation, like the Roman Empire, they could be forced to become household slaves.
  • Debt: When someone was in debt, they could be forced into slavery, till their debt was paid off. Proverbs 22:7 The borrower is servant to the lender.
  • Birth:Many people were born as slaves into Roman households.
  • Slavery was very common in the Roman world, and was fully accepted and legally protected.  These people in many cases had no choice but to accept their position in Roman society.  A very high percentage of the Christian church would have been Roman slaves.

Is God saying that the harshness associated with slavery acceptable? No

  • God is not justifying the mistreatment of slaves.
  • God is not discouraging those who have the legal means to get freedom from seeking their freedom. 1 Corinthians 7:20-23 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.
  • He is addressing the person who through circumstances outside his control is in the household of a domineering master who is harsh and assumed to be a pagan.

How can a Christian slave honor God in his humble and sometimes painful position in society?

Five truths about a disciple’s view of God:  

Truth 1: He recognizes God’s absolute power: He has a reverential awe and fear of God:  2:17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

Psalm 33:18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy.

Psalm 34:7 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

Psalm 96:9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

Psalm 103:17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.

How will you know if a man truly fears God?

  • Listen to him pray.
  • Watch him suffer.
  • Watch him receive praise.
  • Watch him when it seems no one is watching.

For the slave, and for the saint in our generation, the fear of God is one of the most powerful principles at work within us guiding us in our daily conduct. Do you fear the Lord?

Truth 2: He recognizes God’s infinite holiness: He strives to have a conscience that is clear before God: 2:19 This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

  • What is more valuable to you, the pleasure of sin for a season or a clear conscience before God?
  • The temporary praise of your peers or a clear conscience before God?
  • The feeling of vindicated through revenge or the fear of God?

Moses: Hebrews 11:24-27 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.  By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

Joseph: Genesis 39:9 How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

For the slave, and for the saint in our generation, the vision of the infinite holiness of God is another powerful principles at work within us guiding us in our daily conduct. Do you have a Biblical vision of the infinite holiness of God?

Truth 3: He recognizes God’s infinite beauty: He strives to do what is acceptable and pleasing to God: 2:20 What glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

How can you tell what someone believes is infinity beautiful?

  • Notice what consumes his attention and energies.
  • Notice what most often flows from his lips.
  • Notice what he is wiling to make sacrifice for.

2 Corinthians 5:9 We labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Philippians 3:8 I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.

For the slave, and for the saint in our generation, the infinite beauty of God is another powerful principles at work within us guiding us in our daily conduct. Do you have a Biblical vision of the infinite beauty of God?

Truth 4: He recognizes God’s perfect justice: He rests in God’s perfect justice 2:23 When he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

How can you tell which man rests in the perfect justice of God?

  • How does he response to unjust treatment? 
  • Does he seek revenge?
  • Does he work to destroy his opponents?
  • Does he defend himself at every false accusation?

Luke 23:34 Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

James 5:7-11Be patient…unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh…behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

For the slave, and for the saint in our generation, the perfect justice of God is another powerful principles at work within us guiding us in our daily conduct. Do you have a Biblical vision of the perfect justice of God?

Truth 5: He recognizes God’s faithfulness: He strives to be faithful, because he recognizes the faithfulness of God 2:24Christ bare our sins in his own body on the tree that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

    • God’s salvation is demonstrates His faithfulness on so many levels
    • He promised and fulfilled.
    • He was patient with men to bring His redemption into the world.
    • His salvation involves putting us right with God, justification, and make us holy, sanctification, and final salvation, glorification.  In light of God’s faithfulness, how then should we live? We are to likewise walk in faithfulness and righteousness.

Hebrews 12: 6-11 Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth…for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness…afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

For the slave, and for the saint in our generation, the faithfulness of God is another powerful principles at work within us guiding us in our daily conduct. Do you have a Biblical vision of the faithfulness of God?

Conclusion:

A disciple has a Biblical view of God, and this Biblical view of God will shape everything about the way he thinks, walks, and interacts with others. If these truths about the disciples view of God could guide and strengthen a suffering slave in the first century, then why can they not sustain you in the 21st century.  May God give us the grace to walk faithfully, no matter out circumstance!

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