What Harm is There in Doing Good?
Good evening and welcome back.
This evening we are going to be staying in , and moving the conversation a bit forward in verses 13-17.
Again, if you would like to start finding it in your Bible, we will be in .
This morning our message title was God is Watching, but the direction the Lord took us actually led us down the path of the sanctified life.
When God begins to change us, transform us, and mold us, our character begins to change.
We often talk about sanctification or entire sanctification as being filled with the Holy Spirit and doing certain things like not drinking, not fighting, not cussing, not this and not that.
Outward behaviors that a person exhibits.
And these things are not necessarily wrong, but if we are not careful we will miss the point.
Yes, our behaviors and our actions change as God changes and sanctifies us, but those things are not the END ALL those things are just the outcomes of what God is doing WITHIN US.
Sanctification is the purifying work of God that takes place in believers.
The word “sanctification” means “to be set apart for God’s use.”
So this means that from the moment we accept Jesus Christ, the sanctifying work of God begins, because at that moment we are set apart by God and God begins to cleanse us and purify us.
This work of God continues until we reach a point that we realize that there is more and God desires more.
It is here we reach that moment, that “crisis moment” when we give ourselves fully to God and experience what the COTN calls “Entire Sanctification.”
BUT, it doesn’t end there either. From there and for the rest of our lives we are continuously growing, maturing, and being cleansed and purified.
And this work of God manifests itself in our actions, attitudes, and behaviors.
We live our lives in the way Peter described for us this morning.
And tonight he is going to take us just a little bit further, a little bit deeper, if you will.
So, tonight, if you have found in your Bible, I’d invite you to stand with me if you are able, as we read . . .
1 Peter 3:13-18
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Who Will Harm You?
Who Will Harm You?
It is always interesting when a passage of Scripture starts out with a question, which is exactly what Peter does here.
He asks us . . .
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?
“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?”
So, by asking this question Peter wants us to start thinking about some things.
And one of the most basic of these is really asking “what harm is there in doing good?”
“What’s the worst that will come of doing what is good, what is right?”
If we are doing what is good and what is right, then our actions will not harm anyone else.
Sometimes doing what is right is not the most popular thing and those who are doing wrong do not like it when people do the right thing, but the right thing has never hurt anyone.
And the reason why people who are doing wrong don’t like it when others around them are doing the right thing is because it brings them under conviction.
They really don’t care what others do, they are just looking for some validation of their own sin.
When we do the right thing that validation they are looking for isn’t achieved, but a great conviction will fall on them instead.
They don’t like it so they lash out against it.
And when they lash out though there is no real physical danger, but rather they will mock you and make fun of you.
They will verbally persecute you and ridicule you, but they really cannot do you real harm because even though others may not speak out, they too know the difference between right and wrong.
So Peter is dead on when he asks us to think about the question, who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?
Some other Scriptures as well to keep in mind regarding this also . . .
17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
Also . . .
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
And finally . . .
31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Which leads us to the next point that Peter makes in this passage . . .
Suffering For What is Right
Suffering For What is Right
Peter writes . . .
14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”
Do we hear what he is saying here?
Although, no one can really find fault in us at all for doing what is right, even if we do suffer, we are blessed.
And on the surface this sounds sort of crazy. Do we feel very blessed when we are suffering for doing good?
Most of us would answer with a resounding NO!
Of course we do not feel like we are being blessed, but in reality we are.
We are blessed because doing right is having an effect on those who are the cause of the suffering.
They are trying to make us suffer because it is getting to them.
Their conscience is eating them up inside and instead of giving in to God they think the better option is trying to get us to stop doing what is right.
In some sense suffering means you are fulfilling what God has called you to do.
Jesus reminds us that . . .
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them what no-one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfil what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
There is another reason that suffering brings about blessings as well.
Paul reminds us that . . .
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Look what he says here, we rejoice in our sufferings because suffering . . .
Perseverance produced character
Character produces hope.
And hope does not disappoint us because, here it is again, God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Again, all of this is made possible by, and only by the power of God through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Do you want to have perseverance, character, and hope? Then submit to God and be cleansed and transformed by the Holy Spirit.
Peter also tells us that . . .
1 Peter 1:
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.
And finally Paul tells us . . .
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
We are blessed because any suffering that we have to endure produces a greater character, a stronger character, a character that will persevere, endure, and overcome.
And even though we may have to suffer, we also need to remember that we are not alone through this.
God is with us.
God doesn’t abandon us and leave us out here alone.
God is there carrying us through this.
And we are blessed because any suffering that we have to endure God uses it to produce a greater character, a stronger character, a character that will persevere, endure, and overcome.
So, understanding this, instead of focusing on the suffering, and fearing what they fear, Peter tells us to do something else . He tells us to not be frightened, but instead . . .
Setting Christ Apart
Setting Christ Apart
1 Peter 3:
15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Sanctify Christ in our hearts.
Set Jesus Christ apart in our hearts, not only as Savior but also as Lord.
Make Jesus Christ your Lord, your master, your deliverer.
Put Jesus Christ at the center of your heart and your life and focus on Jesus.
2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
And we are able to do this when we . . .
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
And not only are we to fix our eyes on Jesus, making Jesus the center of our lives, we are also to be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
Are we prepared tonight to explain why we have hope?
Can we tell someone who we have hope in and why?
That’s what people are searching for and we should always be prepared to share this hope with others.
Not only in our words, but also in our actions and attitudes.
You can train anybody on saying the right thing, but living the right way and doing the right thing are different things.
We can only consistently live the right way and do the right thing when we are living under God’s control and command.
But we are to do this, not with a judgmental attitude but rather with, gentleness and respect and . . .
16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
We should do absolutely everything we do with a clear conscience.
And our conscience is clear when our actions are motivated by God.
When we act out of response to the Holy Spirit and not in ourselves.
When we act this way, the slanders have no footing, no ground to stand on and they will be ashamed of their behavior.
In other words ALWAYS TAKE THE HIGH GROUND.
Always do what is right and you will never have anything to worry about.
Peter finishes up here . . .
17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
God’s way is always going to be the best way.
And tonight, I’m not sure what God has for each of us in this message.
Some of us may have faltered and not done the right thing and need to repent.
Some of us may be a victim of suffering right now because we are trying our best to do the right thing and every turn we make the enemy is there trying to attack.
Trying to get us to give up and quit.
Trying to get us to lower ourselves to their standards and their behavior.
Don’t do it. Keep doing the right thing.
In the end, God will bless you for it.
Don’t worry about the slanders and mockers, God will take care of that, you just keep doing the right thing.
Maybe some of us are here and we are discouraged.
The suffering has gotten hard and burdensome and we feel like we are all alone.
You are not alone tonight.
First God is with you and second, a whole church is standing behind you, so do not give up, keep persevering through all things.
I am not sure what each person needs tonight, but I do know God can address that need.
If you need to come and pray, come and pray.
You can pray where you are, I would just encourage you to be responsive to God tonight.