(A Chosen People – Series in I Peter)
Westgate Chapel 11/12/00 I Peter 2:9-12
PROPOSITION: The follower of Christ is instructed to resist personal insecurity by declaring God’s praises, fleshly lusts by abstinence, and the accusations of the world by godly living.
- WE are in a war!
* You have an enemy; a ruthless, powerful adversary. I Peter 5:8 says,
“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
* Speaking of the dangers we face as the sheep of His pasture, Jesus said in John 10:10 that,
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”
* In Ephesians 6:12 Paul writes that this war is not waged in the natural realm,
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
- IT is a frightening thing to be in a war with outdated weapons.
* That was what gave Hitler an easy victory over Poland.
- IT is disastrous to be in a war and fall asleep behind a defensive line that the enemy can easily get around.
* That was what gave Hitler the victory over the French when he navigated around the Maginot line.
- IT is ill advised to be facing war and depend on someone else to stop the enemy …and not have them show up for the battle.
* That was what gave Hitler an easy victory in Austria. They were counting on England to protect them.
- IT is a dangerous thing to see the signs of war and not prepare yourself for battle.
* That almost cost England and the allied nations their freedom in the face of Nazi aggression.
- SO it is good to be reminded from time to time that we are in a war...with outcomes far more serious and consequential than the rise and fall of nations.
- THE Christians to whom the apostle Peter was writing his epistle were in a fight whose outcome would play out in eternity...heaven or hell.
- THE battle lines had been drawn in their little communities up on the north west border of Asia Minor.
- SATAN was doing everything in his power to discredit God to them, and discredit God through them.
* If he had to divide their marriages to get the job done, he would.
* If he had to attack their physical bodies with disease or persecution to get the job done, he would.
* If he had to undermine their confidence in God, he would.
* If he had to steal their joy, or their children….this accuser of the saints of God will stop at nothing. Nothing is beneath him. No Geneva code of decency restrains him.
- AND we have only one avenue open to us.
- WE must resist him.
- IN the few verses of I Peter 2 we are going to study this morning, Peter calls those believers to what I have called Holy Resistance.
ii. personal insecurity
- ONE of the weapons that the enemy loves to launch against us is to attack our personal identity...to call into question who we are in Christ.
- IN the Old Testament there is a faithful, hard-working, high priest that God was using mightily in the rebuilding of the Temple…his name is Joshua (not Moses’ assistant, hundreds of years later than Moses).
- AND in Zechariah 3 we are given a snap shot of a scene being played out in God’s throne room, while Joshua is contending with all kinds of odds in getting the Temple rebuilt.
- THE scene is Joshua the high priest standing with the angel of the Lord before God’s throne and Satan standing right next to them accusing Joshua.
- WHAT were the accusations?
* Joshua was standing before God’s throne in filthy clothes.
• Leviticus called for a priest to wash himself before he approached God’s presence.
• Leviticus called for a priest’s clothing to be washed, and spotless before he could approach God’s presence.
- IT appears from the text that the enemy’s accusations concerning Joshua were accurate…the issue is that that was not how God saw Joshua.
- IN Zechariah 3:2 God responds to Satan’s accusation and says,
“The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”
- SATAN saw a priest in inappropriate attire for ministry.
- GOD saw a burning stick snatched from the fire….and in the verses that follow God orders new “rich garments, a clean turban, and gives Joshua a new ministry assignment.
- ONE of Satan’s weapons is the accusation that you are filthy, a sinner, a nobody, a loser.
- HE attacks your sense of personal identity.
- THAT is what he was doing to those new believers in Asia Minor.
- AND Peter tells them who they are in Christ….
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…” (I Peter 2:9a)
- THE personal pronoun, “you,” is emphatic in the Greek.
- IT is contrasted with the disobedient in verse 8 above who stumble and fall over the Living Stone, Jesus.
- YOU (followers of Christ)...are a chosen people.
- THAT is your identity in Christ….a chosen people.
- PETER draws heavily throughout this passage from the Old Testament.
- THAT word, chosen, is a word used all through the Bible by God to describe those individuals and peoples specially selected to be recipients of His covenant blessings.
* Abraham was chosen by God to be the father of us all (Genesis 18:19).
* Rebekah was chosen by God and promised to Isaac’s to be his wife (Genesis 24:14).
* Israel was chosen by God to be a nation through whom He would reveal Himself to the world.
* Bezalel was chosen to build the Temple.
* David was chosen out of all his brothers to be king over Israel.
* In Matthew 12:18 Jesus is called the chosen one of God to proclaim salvation to the nations.
- BUT what about us?
- WHAT about those insignificant people in the villages on the Black Sea to whom Peter was writing.
- THE New Testament teaches us that now, through Christ, God only has one chosen people…the church of Jesus Christ.
- IT is you and me. The great promises of God in the Old Testament are now fulfilled in the Church of Jesus.
- WE are the chosen of God.
- AND speaking of the accusations of our enemy, Paul writes in Romans 8:33,
“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.”
- THIS is one of Peter’s favorite themes.
- YOU are chosen by God’s grace to be a recipient of the covenant of His blessing through Christ Jesus.
- OF all the multiplied millions of the inhabitants of the earth God has chosen you.
- YOUR choosing is a spontaneous offer of God’s grace to you.
- BUT that is not all.
- PETER continues reminding his readers of their identity in verse 9a.
- YOU are a royal priesthood!
* Peter is drawing from Exodus 19:6, where God tells Israel His plan for them to be…
“…a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
* But in the Old Testament only a certain family could be priests who ministered to God and brought others into God’s presence.
* Now you and I are royal priests before God’s presence and ministering reconciliation to those around us in the love of the Father.
* What was assigned to a select and special family is now the privilege of each one of us.
- YOU are a holy nation.
* That word holy means “sanctified, set apart, dedicated to God’s purposes and use.
* It is no longer the nation of Israel, or any other nation that is the people of God.
* Revelation 5:9 says that Jesus has,
“…purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (10) You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
- THAT is your identity.
- LASTLY Peter says in verse 9 that you are “a people belonging to God.”
- YOU realize, don’t you, that in the hands of someone special, an ordinary possession becomes extremely valuable.
* Winston Churchill’s walking stick.
* J.F. Kennedy’s rocking chair.
* The pillow that cradled Abraham Lincoln’s head as he died.
- ORDINARY things that on their own have little value….but because they were owned by someone special their value becomes priceless.
- YOU are a people belonging to God, says Peter.
- SO much for the enemy playing off of your personal insecurities!
- BUT what is the warfare against him in this regard?
- LOOK at the last part of verse 9,
“…that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
- WE are not passive in this battle.
- WHEN we know we are chosen, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, belonging to God….we open our mouths and declare the God’s praises.
- DECLARE means “to make known, to announce, to state emphatically, in explicit terms”…..
- THIS is verbal.
- THIS is auditory.
- IT is out loud, not hidden or secretive.
- WHAT is it that you are declaring?
- THAT God has…
* Taken you out of the darkness and sin of this world…snatched you like a burning stick out of the fire.
* Brought you into the wonderful light of His presence.
* Picked you up out of the insignificance of the masses of this world and…
• chosen you,
• made you a royal priest,
• put you into His holy nation,
• and that you belong to God!
- YOUR resistance against the enemy’s accusations and lies about you is to shout from the rooftops the amazing work of His grace in your life.
iii. the lusts of the flesh
- BUT wait, there is more.
- ANOTHER arena of Satan’s strategy against you is in the area of your flesh.
- WHEN the Bible uses the word flesh it stands for those selfish, indulgent, natural appetites that are ready at a moment’s notice to lead your soul into mutiny against God.
- PETER says in verse 11 that they “war against your soul.”
- IN Galatians 5:19 Paul gives us a representative list of what they are…
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; (20) idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions (21) and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
- LOOK at Peter’s call to holy resistance against these sins in I Peter 2:10-11,
“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (11) Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”
- IN verse 1 he simply says, “rid yourself.”
- IN verse 11 he says, “abstain.”
- HOW do we do that when the power of sin is so great within each of us?
- THE secret is the power of the indwelling and baptizing Holy Spirit.
- ROMANS 8:4-5 says,
“…the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (5) Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”
- FLOWING out of a growing, intimate relationship with God through His Spirit within….is the power to abstain.
- 2 CORINTHIANS 3:18 says,
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
- THAT is how you and I mount holy resistance to the attack of Satan in our lives.
iv. the accusations of the world
- THE first arena of the battle was the arena of personal insecurity….and the holy resistance is declaring the praises of Him who called you.
- THE second arena was the lusts of flesh warring against your soul….and the holy resistance is to abstain from the sins of the flesh.
- AND here is the final arena of the battle.
- IT is the arena of public opinion.
- AND it is in this arena that the Name of Jesus has withstood centuries of assault, abuse, and accusation.
- IN Peter’s day the Church of Jesus was under fire….
* Cannibalism…..because of what was being said about their communion services.
* Immorality….because of how close their fellowship was.
* Dividing families….because new believers were cast out of their homes.
* Disloyalty to Caesar….they wouldn’t worship Rome.
* Bad for business…when people turned to Christ they left the pagan temples and its trade.
- IN our day the Name of Christ has been dragged through the mud and in many cases the accusations have been valid.
- SATAN will do everything in his power to discredit the Name.
- PETER’S antidote?
- I PETER 2:12,
“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.”
- THAT is your holy resistance.
- LIVING a good life.
* In your speech.
* In your attitude.
* In your work habits.
* In how you treat those around you...especially your enemies.
* In your finances.
* In your relationships.
* In your choice of entertainments.
* In your marriage.
- YOU and I are in a war.
- ETERNITY is at stake…for you, for your children, for many who are taking their cues off of your life.
- SATAN is cunning and powerful.
- ON your own you are no match for his assault.
- PETER gives the believers three avenues for holy resistance:
1. Declare the praises of Him who brought you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
2. Abstain from the sins of the flesh that war against your soul.
3. Live such good lives that the pagans in your world will glorify God in the day He visits us.