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Grace to Endure

1 Peter: A Living Hope for Holy Living in a Hostile World  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:05
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Grace to Endure - 1 Peter 5:6-9

INTRO [series title slide]: In our study of the first letter penned by Peter in the Biblical canon, we are drawing near to the end of this treatise for the comfort and courage of God’s people in the face of suffering. In fact, Peter seems to believe that the persecution faced by believers might only increase in their own lifetime. But Peter has worked hard to explain that our current suffering and the taunts of our persecutors is not the final word, because in the risen Christ we have a living hope that lasts beyond our present life. In him we are made heirs of God, in him we are sustained for the battle, and in him we will be victorious when he returns to claim his own people.
Today in 1 Peter, we now come to Peter’s final commands to the believers that will help them cling tightly to God in order to endure suffering as blessing from God for their own growth, for the good of others, to the glory of God.
1 Peter 5:6–11 ESV
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Have you yet experienced in your life something so profoundly difficult that you were unsure how you would make it, how you could go on living? Many, if not most, of us have. And believers (Christians, followers of Jesus), have you also experienced the peace and rest, the comfort and courage, that comes from turning to God to plead with him for sustaining grace in the midst of that trial? Some outside of Christianity would call it simply “the triumph of the human spirit” that allows people to keep going after the deepest suffering, but I would propose to you that even the determination of the human spirit is in fact a result of the common grace that God has bestowed on all mankind in making us in his image. As believers, we face suffering, and especially mistreatment for our faith, not with self-determination to survive but with dependence on the grace of God, knowing that in him, even through suffering, we may continue from this trial to the end of our race not merely surviving but thriving.
Before launching into the details of each verse in 6-9, I’d like to pause first then and note a theme in this final section of the letter that is critical to our understanding. By mentioning it repeatedly, Peter makes it quite clear that our ability to endure under all this trial is not strictly by our own efforts, but that it is particularly the grace of God at work in us enabling us to stand firm.

Sustaining Grace to Stand Firm

“God ... gives grace to the humble” (v. 5) … the God of all grace (v. 10) … this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. (v. 12)
Peter’s quote at the end of v. 5 is the springboard for where he goes next.
1 Peter 5:5 ESV
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:10 ESV
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Peter 5:12 ESV
By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.
We often speak of God’s grace that saves us, but I don’t know if we understand as clearly that it is also God’s grace which sustains us and works in us to bless others and testify to Christ. - A couple of years ago, I was engaged in a conversation with someone in the church, describing God’s grace at work in us as we serve one another, God’s grace at work as we encourage and comfort... or as we challenge and confront one another, God’s grace at work for us to persevere in the Christian life. She seemed surprised at my use of grace that way and asked what I meant by grace when using it in that context. It caught me a bit off guard, and I stumbled through some kind of explanation of the ongoing activity of God’s grace in us and through us. Here’s my effort to describe it succinctly: Grace is the unmerited favor of God displayed through his activity on behalf of (or through) those whom he favors. - We think of grace as something static, but it is a necessary outworking of God’s goodwill.
In the midst of general suffering common to all men because of the fall, when under severe external pressure and persecution, when battling the old nature’s desire to win us back to sin… We are not sufficient for these things. We need grace. We need the favor of God at work in us.
The question becomes, WHO is our confidence in this battle? - When you are hard pressed, do you trust in yourself, or in God? Do you ultimately trust in your own intellect and determination, or in God’s perfect knowledge and sustaining grace?
So Peter keeps coming back to the importance of God’s sustaining grace in our struggle against sin and suffering, and he doesn’t leave us to wonder how we can access that grace. He tells us directly in this passage. He answers the following question for us:

What is our role in God’s grace to grant us endurance?

What is our part for God to give us the grace to suffer willingly for the good of others and for growth in Christ to the glory of God?
Humble yourself (6)
Here’s why humility has the effect of God’s grace to you and through you: “God bestows his favor on those who acknowledge their need of him.” - Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 239.
To humble yourself is to make yourself low with relationship to the authority and uniqueness of God. - Peter instructs them to humble themselves under God’s mighty hand —> I believe this is meant to be an encouragement and not a threat, which I’m afraid we could easily misunderstand and misrepresent. It is God who is mighty in authority over all things, it is he who is mighty to deliver us from sin and make us his own, it is he who is mighty to sustain us in suffering and to grow us in Christlikeness and to use us for his purposes. In other words, it makes PERFECT SENSE to humble yourself into the hands of an infinitely wise and benevolent God, who has all power to accomplish his will according to his good pleasure.
Of course, there was in fact a previous warning… God opposes the proud. So to those who refuse God, the mighty hand of God is in fact a warning as well.
But to the believers Peter says humble yourselves so that at the proper time he may exalt you. What proper time does Peter have in mind? Almost certainly he means at the revelation of Christ (rather than emphasis on some exaltation in this life)… and we do not know precisely when that time is (the return of Jesus), but we do know that He is coming. - As I wrote to my family this week on Thanksgiving day, we view our current time of suffering and sacrifice both as brief (in light of eternity) and as worth the cost (in light of the reward of gaining God)!
Before moving on, notice how this humility has super practical implications for the Christian life:
Humility before God is the foundation for getting along with one another in ministry. (v. 5a)
And humility before God is the foundation for enduring in ministry. (vv. 6-12)
What activity goes hand in hand with this posture of humility before God to grant you grace to endure?
Cast your anxiety on God (7)
This means, through prayer, giving everything into God’s mighty hands.
What do you do when the pressure feels like more than you can handle? What do you do when you are physically and emotionally exhausted? What do you do when the problem is too difficult to solve, or you can tell that there is no earthly solution or help that you can really be?
The right response is to give it to God. And the honest truth is, we should be giving it to God before it is boiling over into frustration and desperation! I wonder how many times I have been frustrated and desperate because I didn’t turn my concerns over to someone who has broader shoulders than I to carry those burdens, that I held too tightly to control of things that I should have given into the wise and mighty hands of a perfect Father?
What do we often do with our burdens? Two contrasting things we often do, and both are wrong: We hunker down and try to grin and bear it and not share it with anybody and just keep it in… until it crushes us. Or we wear it on our sleeves and everybody we come in contact with gets bonked upside the head whenever they get near us. Neither of those is appropriate, becoming a hindrance to us and to others.
Again, what we must do is give it to God to that we can rest in Him and so that he can give us grace to carry on. By the way, to truly give it to God you very well may need to, in some contexts, share it with a select number of other believers in your life that they may “cast it on God” with you and on your behalf. If you don’t share with anyone, you don’t have any accountability for friends to warn you against problem #1. And if you throw it about to everyone, you begin to wear your suffering like some royal garment (second problem above).
Why do we give it to God? - Because he cares for you.
The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Peter, Jude (2) Closing Exhortations and Assurance (5:6–11)

God is not indifferent, nor is he cruel. He has compassion on his children and will sustain them in every distress.

He is trustworthy! The underlying attitude here is trust in God, dependence on him.
I am sooo thankful for a church family that continues learning from God to demonstrate our allegiance to Him through humble dependence on Him.
While we are depending on God in prayer, we must also be…
Be watchful and sober; resist the devil (8-9)
Sober-minded: To gain self-control by sobering up… to curb the controlling influence of inordinate emotions or desires, and so to become reasonable.
Watchful: To be awake and alert… to beware.
And again there is a close connection with prayer. Paul also says in his letter to the Ephesians...
Ephesians 6:18 ESV
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Why must we prayerfully maintain self-control and keep alert? - Because the great adversary of God, making him our adversary too, who opposes God’s will and his ways, and who therefore also accuses us before God… the devil, the slanderer… is walking about seeking anyone he might devour (speedily swallow up).
Like a roaring lion: To us this seems scary. In other words, the goal is intimidation.
The contrast between God and the devil is quite striking. God tenderly cares for his children (5:6–7), inviting them to bring their worries to him so that he can sustain them. God promises to protect his flock (v. 2) in all their distress. Conversely, the devil’s aim is not to comfort but to terrify believers. He does not want to deliver them from fear but to devour their faith. - Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 242.
Peter’s emphasis then is especially that the devil wants to thwart God’s grace and glory in any way he can, so if he can do that by discouraging you, but derailing you from the mission, by causing division among God’s people, by diluting and distorting the truth…. He’s out to do any and all of these things, so we must resist him.
Resist - To be opposed from a defensive stance - This is not to say that it is passive. We are not actively seeking to put the death the desires of the flesh, to cease from sin. And since Satan is on the offensive, we actively defend ourselves by faith. The Apostle Paul, in his extended metaphor about the armor of God, calls said defense the shield of faith: [just two verses earlier from the last we read…]
Ephesians 6:16 ESV
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
If we aren’t committing ourselves and our ways into God’s care, we are in grave danger. If we aren’t alert to his schemes, we are at risk. We must stick together and resist him by faith. I have a hard time imagining either Peter or Paul advocating that this is something you try to do alone. They are speaking to people as families of faith, assuming that they are reading an applying these letters together as groups that are working together in ministry and encouraging one another in suffering. In fact, in Peter’s picture here, it would be the guy trying to go it alone who would be most likely to be consumed.
So the devil is powerful and insatiable, but he isn’t all-powerful and undefeatable. The One with truly unlimited power has already proven his victory. The cross may have looked like defeat, but it was the ultimate victory over sin and death. [Let’s come back to this momentarily as we prepare to take bread and cup of the Lord’s Table together.]
Be mindful that you are not in this alone (9)
Peter is trying to prevent the poor me, pity me syndrome. It should be a comfort and encouragement to us that “the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” - Notice that Peter doesn’t say, “It could be worse” and “There are people dealing with much greater suffering than what you are dealing with, so be thankful for what you have or for your relative comfort.” No, he doesn’t say that. Remember me repeating that we must make a concerted effort not to get caught trying to encourage one another with what is in fact the weak platitudes of earthly wisdom. It’s not really a comfort that somebody else might be experiencing something worse than me! Because that might not be true! What is the case is that we can find comfort and courage in knowing that we are not alone but that God is sustaining ALL his people who humbly seek his face in their trials!
Don’t be like “Woe is me… poor me.” Rather, find strength in knowing that God is sustaining many others in the family of faith, and has done so for many who have gone before us.
Listen to the words of someone who came to understand well the words of comfort and courage from Peter:
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength when the labors increase; To added afflictions He addeth His mercy, To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
- “He Giveth More Grace” by Annie J. Flint - Verses 1&2 and the Chorus
So too as we participate in The Lord’s Table together, here are three reminders in it (“Do this in remembrance of me”) connected with our text from today:
We’re in this together.
We humbly depend on God to sustain us.
Christ’s victory ensures our victory by faith.
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