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It's Your Right to be Wronged

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It’s Your Right to be Wronged

1 Peter 2:11 - 25

September 11, 2005

Introduction:

Let’s take a brief look back at where we’ve come with Peter:

We’ve learned that our great salvation provides us with:

-        a living hope

-        a certain future

-        meaning to life’s trials

We know that we have change coming because everything in our pre-Christian lives centered around the “here and now” rather than on the eternal.

That change takes place in our lives as we discover who Jesus is and learn to worship Him and as we discover who we are in relation to Him so we can be faithful witnesses.

Peter has so far offered these kinds of spiritual truths to these scattered Christian pilgrims; now he becomes increasingly practical in his application of these great truths.

A couple of weeks ago we took a brief look at “Experiencing God”, a study by Henry Blackaby. There’s a common thread running through that and 1 Peter; has anyone figured out what it is? Does the word “change” ring any bells? Change is a recurring theme of the whole New Testament as God moves us from where we were to where He wants us to be because, as I think I’ve already said more than once, we are God’s plan “A” for Millet. It’s kind of awesome, isn’t it, to consider that our Creator would love us enough to include us in His glorious plan for Millet. The downside, of course, is that we will be accountable for that before Him. So, maybe it’s time we got serious about learning what that plan is and what our role could possible be. I would like all of you, if possible, to join up with a small group studying this life changing series by Henry Blackaby -  “Experiencing God – Knowing and Doing the Will of God.” We’re going to be accountable for Millet; maybe it would be a good idea to find out what that means in terms of how we live and minister. You can talk to me about that after service. If an existing group doesn’t suit your schedule, we’ll start a new one!

Today we’ll look into the practical application of the genuine Christian life in the arena of work and business. I realize that I am treading on dangerous ground here because money has become a “holy grail” in this world. Now, that’s not a surprise for the non-believer because they don’t have much else. As Jesus’ disciples, however, we (that’s you and me) know better! Well, I’m starting to get preachy here, so I better move on.

Speaking about work and money, here’s story that shows one perspective, The owner of a manufacturing plant decided to make a surprise tour of the shop. Walking through the warehouse, he noticed a young man lazily leaning against a packing crate. “Just how much are you being paid a week?” the boss angrily asked him. “A hundred bucks,” answered the lounging guy. The boss pulled out his wallet and peeled off five $20 bills. “Here’s a weeks pay”, he shouted. “Now get out and don’t come back!” Wordlessly, the young man stuffed the money into his pocket and took off.  The warehouse manager, standing nearby, stared in amazement. “Tell me,” the boss said, “ how long has that guy worked for us?” “He didn’t work here,” replied the employee. “He was just delivering a package.”

Please turn in your Bibles to 1 Peter 2:11-25, and follow along as I read as I read: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.  For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.  Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.  Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.  "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.  For you were like sheep going astray, but” now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Peter opens his teaching on this subject with 2 key verses that set the tone for the following 13 verse. Let’s read verse 11 and 12 again: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Peter reminds them that they are pilgrims on their way home; not aliens (away from home), not vagabonds (who have no home). But …. He tells them to abstain from fleshly lusts and to look forward to the “day of visitation”

We, as Christians, need to be reminded that the attractions of this present world are always at war with the eternal things of God. If, in the pressure cooker of this world, we can maintain a solid testimony, the on-looking, non-Christian hecklers, name callers, and scoffers just may glorify God when Christ returns. Matthew 5:16 says, : ”In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

Many of the people Peter was writing to were included in the 60,000,000 slaves of the Roman government. These Christian slaves were wrestling with the application of their new-found faith in the employment arena.

There are five questions these believers could have, and possibly did ask of Peter, God, or even each other:

1.     Who has authority over me?

2.     What is the extent of my obligation to obey?

3.     Why must I be submissive?

4.     What must I do when I am unjustly treated?

5.     How can I be Christ-like on the job?

Do you ask these questions, too?

Under the inspiration and direction of the Holy Spirit, Peter goes on to answer each of these questions:

First Question:

1.  Who has authority over me?

In a world that demands its rights, it isn’t always easy to be a Christian (it wasn’t then and it isn’t now), nor is it always clear just what our stand should be. People push, shove, and outright demand personal rights, employment benefits, unemployment benefits, etc, etc, etc. One went so far as to say that He had the right to go to heaven and would sue the God who wouldn’t let him.

So, who does have authority over me?  Peter’s answer is in verses 13 and 14: “Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.”

In Romans 13:1-2, Paul adds: “ Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

What does this tell us? We are to obey all the laws of every branch of government, including traffic laws and income tax laws. School laws, postal regulations, employee regulations, and employer regulations are not exceptions.

Authority must be recognized and maintained at all levels of society if we are to live in order, harmony, and productivity. In Canada we are just beginning to see what happens when the system starts to fall apart. In much of the world today, law and order have totally collapsed and anarchy reigns. The believer, knowing that God loves humility, unselfishness and obedience, is to set the example.

Our words and actions must always reflect a sincere respect for authority.

At school, the teachers and principal have authority; at home our parents do; on the bus the driver does; in town the municipal authorities do. We are to obey all the laws of every branch of government and authority. There is no room for abusing the system as a Christian. We are to obey the laws of the land, not to avoid punishment, but for the Lord’s sake.

2.  What is the extent of my obligation?

Verse 17 says, “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. “

We must put God’s will before that of man. For example, In Acts 4:18 Peter and John were told not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus Christ. They did anyhow and when asked to give account of their disobedience they answered, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  He is the ultimate authority. Non-compliance with government regulations is proper only when obeying them would violate God’s law – that means that they must come into direct conflict with the clear teaching of Scripture (not when they fail to suit our purposes)

An Old Testament example would be that of Daniel and his three friends before Nebuchadnezzar’s idols. 1 Peter 2:17 breaks this point down into small pieces or thoughts. Honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

a.   Honor all men …. Since every human being is made in God’s image and is a candidate for salvation, we have no right to despise anyone. We should never look down on others. Think of your neighbor or co-worker as a pre-believer rather than a non-believer. It’s not as negative and it rings with the hope of their eternal salvation.

b.  Love the brotherhood … our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to display totally unselfish love for our fellow believers. We have a common faith, hope, and desire to do God’s will. Then we are to,

c.    Fear God … live in reverential awe of the Lord.  As Proverbs 1: 7 puts it, “The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge. When a person reveres God, he will see all of life in proper focus, even if it means suffering at the hands of men.

d.    Honor the king … we are to “continue showing honor to the king.” (present tense) Some were speaking scornfully about Nero, but they were to honor him even if they could not admire him. We are to honor those in authority over us even when heartsick about their morals. All rulers bear authority by God’s decree. Every political leader has been given authority in order to prevent total anarchy. A good example comes from the case of  an entertainer in the court of the Roman emperor,  Genesius by name, who was asked to pantomime a Christian baptism in order to entertain the cruel emperor Diocletian. In the middle of the humorous act Genesius, who had been raised by Christian parents, was suddenly overcome with conviction and stopped in the arena and, looking straight up, said, “I receive Jesus  Christ as my personal Savior and ask you Lord to forgive me for my terrible sin that cost You Your life on the cross.” Then, lowering his eyes to the emperor and his fellow leaders, he stated, “Illustrious emperor, I want you and all who have laughed at my show to know that Christ is the true King and always be my king.” He called the emperor “illustrious” and yet stated clearly who was King in his life from that time on. As a result, he was hideously put to death. We must obey all human authority unless it conflicts with obeying God’s laws.

Are you still with me? We’ve seen who has authority over us and learned the extent of our obligation to them. Now, let’s move on                                          

3.  Why be Submissive? 

If we obey those in authority, believers leave the critics of Christ and His people with little to say. The natural response to irresponsible and unfounded accusations against us is self-defense. If defending ourselves  doesn’t work, we try to retaliate. But retaliation and defensiveness are not God’s ways. They are over-reactions. Would we want God to over-react when we sin?

The Christian way to muzzle false accusers is to manifest the Spirit of Christ and to continue obeying all laws, showing respect for all authority.

When verse 16 says, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.”,  it is saying that we are free from total subjection to any man. We are citizens of heaven, but must never use this great spiritual liberty as an excuse for malicious deeds. As God’s bondservants (literally, slaves) we will submit to human authority for the Lord’s sake. Why do we submit to governmental authority? In order to obey God. God says do it – WE DO IT!

We do not obey only because we fear punishment by earthly rulers for this would place us in the category of slaves. We submit to authority, even when human leaders ar oppressive and unfair, because we know it is what the Lord wants. We submit only because God wants us to. We are acting as free-will agents, not slaves.

4. What must I do when treated unjustly?

Verses 19 & 20 say, “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.” Obedience is easy when demands are reasonable and fair. But what if they aren’t? We must take it patiently and show one of the unique glories of our Christian faith – the wonder of God’s grace. This is our obligation.

If, for the sake of a clear conscience before God, you bear under unreasonable demands, unjust treatment, and painful sorrows, if you bear up patiently, this finds favor with God. This opens the door to divine intervention on your behalf.

Don’t look for any favors but the favor of God!

Christ is our first rate example of suffering unjustly. As verse 21 says, To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

We need to get to know the fellowship of His sufferings. Scripture says that all who live godly lives in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Expect it!

In verses 22 and 23 we read, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”  Jesus suffered blamelessly – He lived above reproach!

He suffered graciously – when He was reviled, no words of contempt came out of His mouth nor was there any retaliation on His part.

Jesus suffered trustfully – He kept entrusting Himself to Him that judges righteously – God the Father, His Father, and our Father.

Many believers have faced terrible torment with an attitude that has amazed even their bitterest enemies. Persecution of Christians is much worse now than it ever was in biblical times. You may not hear it on the news, but it is happening. As I was preparing this message, I received the latest edition of Servant Magazine from Prairie Bible College.  Here is just one example of persecution today:

“Around 200 Hindu extremists attacked a church in Moti Chowk village, Chhattisgarh, India, on June 6, while services were under way. Police then arrested nine church members and charged them with “disturbing the peace” under section 151 of the Indian penal code. The nin Christian were kept in prison for two days before being released on bail. Meanwhile the Hindu extremists called for a social boycott against the Christian community in the village, preventing them from using the community well or buying food supplies in local markets. Three days earlier, 13 Christians in Hathod village, also in Chhattisgarh were summoned to a village meeting and end the asked to renounce their faith. Seven Christians who  refused were locked up in the district jail. Police made it difficult for the Christians to be released on bail saying that the bail amount must be raised within the village. However, fellow villagers who sympathized with the Christians were afraid to post bail because of the social influence of the village headman and Hindu extremists.

Remember, if we are to be persecuted let’s make sure it’s for the sake of the gospel, not for breaking the law. For most of us, it is possible to live our faith within the framework of civil law. God has commanded us to do so that we will be respected and our message heard. We can best enjoy our freedom when we obey God and live as His servants. The first 4 questions Peter has answered -  We are under the obligation to obey authorities with submission, regardless of whether it is just or not. So, now we come to our last question to ponder. In the firm in the end if

5. How can I be Christlike on the job? 

How can I find the strength to follow the Lord’s demands? Verses 24 and 25 tell us, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

1.  Take to our hearts the fact that Jesus took the curse of our sin upon Himself, something He certainly did not deserve. We are not suffering this because of our guilt, for “He bore our sins in His own body on the tree.” What a shameful death for our sins! We should be overwhelmed with gratitude. If He was willing to do so much for us, why shouldn’t we be willing to suffer patiently for His sake?

2.  Take to heart the truth that Jesus died to separate us from our sins, “That we being dead to sins should live unto righteousness.”

We bear the same relationship to our sins as the dead do to the world they left – none at all! God sees us not as sinners, but as already “seated in the heavenly places in Christ.” We are not suffering this because of our Sin!

Hating ones enemies and retaliating bitterly when wronged may be perfectly normal behavior for sinners, but we must always remember that Jesus died on the cross “that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness.”

We can, if we will, take from our new relationship with Christ, the power to suffer triumphantly. He will be our strength when we are weak.                

3.  Take to heart that Christ’s death has brought us spiritual healing. Isaiah 53:5  says But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Man is suffering from a deadly spiritual disease which Isaiah describes, in verse 1:6, From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness-- only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil. “ Mankind, as a whole, is selfish, cruel, greedy, and immoral by nature, and the persecution we receive is only further evidence of this sickness from which we have been healed. Take every slight as a reminder of the stripes that Jesus bore that we may be healed of slighting. Take every slam as a reminder of the force anin of the selfish drive to get even!

4.  Take also by faith that Christ’s death has brought us to God. Even the worst treatment only brings us to God.

No longer aimless and without direction, we have been brought back to the Shepherd of our souls who leads, guides, and protects us as His sheep.

We have returned to the Bishop of our souls who oversees and supplies the help we need just when we need it. The, you too can take it patiently in the Spirit of Christ.

5. Use Jesus as the perfect example of how we should react to unjust suffering – He did not threaten nor did He retaliate even though the temptation to do so must surely have been there. Instead, He suffered in silence and quietly endured the pain and humiliation of the cross.

Conclusion:

Whatever the source of your unfair treatment, let God’s Word to you today draw you closer to Him. Remember that Jesus’ death on the cross has made it possible for us to be free of both the penalty and power of sin and to live righteously in all circumstances. He died in our place for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to suffer the punishment we deserve. That’s grace –God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. Now there is nothing to stop us from following His example in both suffering and righteously living. Let’s make sure that our suffering is not because we deserve it, but because we are living in obedience to our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

Him and learn tob be

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