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Ethics with fear

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1 Peter 1:17-21 (ESV)
17
And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Ethics with fear!

·         This is the third of the four exhortations in this portion of Peter’s letter.

·         Recall that the first two were;

·         Hope; that is; set your hope fully on God’s grace

·         And we just finish holiness; Be holy as God is holy

·         Today we look at fear God.  And we still have the exhortation of love one another.

·         Verse 13 is still at work here, preparing your minds for actions and being sober-minded

·         Peter wants his readers to know, you are exile and it’s difficult

·         Things are not working out the way you would like them to

·         You want advice and you also need advice

·         Because you are born again, you can set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

·         Because you are born again as obedient children do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance

·         Because you are born again, your status will not change but your ability will change

·         Because you are born again you are able to be holy in all your conduct

·         In this process of your ability changing, if you call on Him

·         The first point that needs to be made is the conditional statement, ‘if you call on Him’

·         Here is where, my brothers and sisters, the family illustration fails

·         An infant knows nothing else to do but cry and those cries are for appeals for help, be it food, care, or comfort

·         Toddlers and little children know how to ask for help

·         They know how to call on the family and the father in particular

·         When you are born again in the faith, this is a learning process.

·         If you call on Him, this is not blessing Him or praising Him, in this context, but as the original language points out, this calling is an asking for or an appeal for help that is actually needed

·         The present tense of the verb, call, suggest regular or habitual calling to God for help

·         Being exile presents some real issues, external issues and internal issues that are ever present

·         Issues that soon or later drive you to your knees in prayer and supplication – Lord Help!

·         This calling on Him is one of the marks of a Christian, some of you here today, have learned and are learning, to call on Him

·         You may have thought that you could hold out, hang out, sign out but to no avail

·         You may have thought that you were old enough, smart enough, powerful enough, healthy enough, but to no avail

·         You might have called on friend, relative, teacher, preacher but to no avail

·         You began to understand better the meaning of the song and now it becomes your prayer – Pass me not oh gentle Savior, hear my humble cry, while on other thou are calling, do not pass me by!

·         I’m calling Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry!

·         And if you have learned to do this, and seeing Him and realizing Him as Father,

·         Now you can pray as Jesus instructed, Our Father;

·         The Give us this day our daily bread part of the prayer

·         The lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil part of the prayer

·         In the midst of this exhortation, do you also see the reminder that in this ethics, keep your theology straight

·         Again the family illustration fails here!

·         Not just any father, notice the word Father in my Bible is capitalized but the verse goes on to say, ‘as Father who judges, that is decides, prefers, evaluates, rule on, distinguish

·         The old preacher would say “yall don’t hear me!” and so many times that may just be a figure of speech

·         But New Hope you must hear me today, I am not talking about judgment as in judgment day but this passage says; “Father who judges” and judge continually!

·         Just like the verb ‘call’ is present tense and is continuing, so is this verb ‘judges’ it is also present tense and is continuing

·         It’s ongoing judging

·         This judging, by the Father, is done impartially meaning unprejudiced, unbiased showing no favoritism

·         And this impartial judging is according to each one’s deeds

·         Again in the original language this word is not plural but singular according to each one’s deed,

·         You can’t get over on this Father,

·         Your thought, is judge, your word, is judge, your action, is judge, your reaction, is judge, that glance, is judge, that smirk, is judge, that mummer, that grunt, that stomp of your feet, is judge

·         Judging impartial can simply mean is it a work of faith or is it a work of self-interest.  Listen

Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)
21
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

·         If you call on Him as Father realize that He hears you as Father, knows what you’re going to say before you say it as Father and knows the intentions of your heart as Father

·         Now in this context, ‘conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile’

·         I call this ‘Ethics with fear!’ and it is an expansion on verse 15 “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,”

·         ‘conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile’

·         I want to make a point of clarification here; some of the modern translations will say ‘reverent fear’

·         The NIV for example says; “Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear”

·         I further want to point out that this translation soften or make the meaning more comfortable for the modern reader

·         In the original language the word means ‘fear’, reverence is part of the definition but it is not the entire definition

·         This text is dealing with more than the idea of reverence and awe during worship or praise

·         Fear in this context is fear of God’s discipline

·         There are several Scripture texts that speaks of fear of God and for the recording here are a few look them up, read and meditate on them this week; Proverbs 1:7, Matthew 10:28, Acts 5:5 & 11, Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:12-13, 1 Timothy 5:20, Hebrews 4:1 and 10:31.  Here is the one I find helpful for me. Listen

Hebrews 12:5-11 (ESV) 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

·         Ethics with fear for how long?

·         Throughout the time of your exile

·         On a macro or large scale, all your earthly life because this is not our home and we are just strangers traveling through this barren land but it is also applied on the micro level

·         But before going to that point which is my closing point, notice that Peter gives the reason why by reminding us of who we are and whose we are.

·         Brothers and sisters, never grow tired of being reminded of who you are and whose you are.  Listen again

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

·         The father may say something like this to the family members

·         You know where we came from because you have heard the stories

·         The father would remind the family at times of the hard work and the price paid to get you where you are today

·         He would finish off by saying, that’s why I expect so much more from you and your brothers and sisters.  I don’t expect you to be like other people because you are part of this family and you have a vital role in it.

·         Peter says; knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways, the worthless ways, the useless ways, the thoughtless ways, inherited, passed down, handed down from your forefathers

·         The word for this is only used here in all of scripture and it is a strong word – meaning the teachings and or traditions handed down from ancestors

·         Are you beginning to notice that Peter’s theology is getting stronger and stronger.  For here you have a people with strong traditions and background,

·         Peter is saying; the ancient tradition of home and nation is broken because of Jesus Christ who has set them free

·         The ransom was paid in blood, not with perishable things such as silver or gold but the precious blood of Christ

·         Even with your ancient traditions they pale in comparison to eternity past; He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, before there was a place to establish ancient traditions

·         That is why they are futile because what Jesus has done is so amazing this lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

·         Peter is saying that I want to remind you even in exile, when things are not going right, the tendency is to resort back to the old way of handling things even when you ask God for help

·         Peter is saying you don’t have to have faith and hope in those futile ways any more but now your faith and hope is in God.

·         New Hope, what does this have to say to you today?

·         Peter writes to elect exile, believers who are exiled from their homes and belongings

·         This was imposed upon them by others who disagreed with their faith

·         This is the macro or seeing it from the larger perspective

·         You can leave here today, drive in your own can to your own home and engage in the freedom of your activities but Peter is writing to a group who no longer have those privileges or you may identify with the macro this way; as I said earlier, you know that this world is not your home and you are pilgrims traveling through. 

·         You have joined with the choir and sung about your home, your robe, your crown, over in glory and how it’s yours all yours

·         But I would like for you to hear this message and leave here applying the micro approach, the small, the individual, the situational, and the circumstantial way

·         Many of you who are here and are listening to this still hold on to the passions of your former ignorance,

·         You hold them and you are teachers of them

·         Now you of course don’t call it that not do many see it that way

·         You treasure, still treasure, the inherited ways from your forefathers even though they are futile.

·         Allow me to give an example.

·         When two people get married and ask me to officiate the wedding ceremony, one question I usually ask is;

·         When you get upset or are upset, how do you want to be treated and how do you think your future wife or husband want you to treat them when they are upset.

·         One answer is usually consistent from at least one if not both

·         “LEAVE ME ALONE!”

·         How do you handle stress, distress, aggravation, lost, confusion, disillusionment, disagreement, pain that’s physical, emotional?

·         When you get mad with blank, what do you do?

·         Most of you that I know shut down, shut up and shut out

·         That my brothers and sisters is self imposed exile

·         LEAVE ME ALONE; if you speak to me, I won’t hear and if I hear, I will not answer, and if you force me to answer, I will only say what you want to hear in order to get you out of my space

·         You have walled yourself in, exiled

·         A micro exile can last for a few minutes, a few days, weeks, months or years

·         In this state I may still engage in other activities, even church stuff, even prayer

·         Now that I have establish that context, hear Peter’s words;

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,

·         That ethics with fear!

·         Peter goes on and say to you my brother or my sister

knowing that you, with your upset, aggravated, all your pain that only you know about, were ransomed from the futile, worthless, useless ways inherited (passed down) from your forefathers (I mean this is how you deal with things, it’s part of my culture, my nature, my makeup, I learned it from my people and I’m passing it on to my children and grandchildren),

but you were ransomed from all of this, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you, You my brother, You my sister 21 who through him You are believers in God, The same God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

·         Leave here today knowing that every deed, every thought, every action, every feeling, every emotion

·         God the Father judges impartially

·         Take the Father seriously especially during those times of your micro exile

·         Conduct yourselves with Godly fear, in Jesus’ name - Amen

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