Claiming Our Victory in Jesus
Claiming Our Victory in Jesus Do you have fear of letting others know you are a committed Christian? Peter has been teaching on submission. But in the later part of 1 Peter 3, he resumes another theme, persecution. His readers had endured persecution and expected more. Peter counsels them to not give in to fear, but rather to live in victory in Jesus. Do not let fear silence your witness. Listen to verses 13 & 14: Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." Christians should not live controlled by fear. Zeal in doing good will rarely cause you trouble. But if you do suffer for doing good, you are blessed by God. In Romans 8:17, 18, Paul assures us that if we share in Christ's sufferings, we will also share in His glory. He then adds that any present suffering is not worthy to be compared to this coming glory. So, do not be afraid. Live in His blessings and stay zealous for doing good. Christians should let their witness be heard. Peter continues in verses 15 & 16: 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. In your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Live for His glory, not for your own security. Leave that to Him. Always be ready to give a clear defense of your faith and hope. Live so that people will ask you about your faith. Speak of Jesus and act in holiness and love. Be ready then to explain your faith and be bold to do so. But witness in a Christ-like way. Speak with gentleness using kind words with humility. Speak with respect. Literally Peter says "with fear" meaning reverence for God. And speak keeping a clear conscience so that nothing will hinder your witness. A guilty conscience will hinder you from being bold in speaking of Jesus, and embarrassing behavior by you will hinder others from hearing your witness. But finally, witness boldly and do not allow fear of man to silence you. Peter next tells us in verses 17, 18, & 22 to look to Jesus for your victory. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, ... who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand - with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. It might surprise you, but it is sometimes God's will for us to suffer in this life. Suffering can be deserved by us or undeserved. It is clearly better to suffer for doing good. Trust God in everything, even when you suffer unjustly. His will is perfect even when we do not like it. As to unjust suffering, Jesus is both our example and our deliverer. Jesus died doing good. He died for our sins. He was sinless. He willingly died as the righteous One for the unrighteous. He died once for all, the sufficient sacrifice for all people for all time. He died as our substitute to bring us to God. Though He suffered, He is victorious. He died, but He was raised to life by the Holy Spirit. He then ascended to the place of honor at the Father's right hand. All angels, authorities, and powers are in submission to Him. His enemies thought they were rid of Him, but they failed. He is victorious forever. Because of His victory, we too can be victorious through faith in Him. He is our example, showing the way to victory. He is our deliverer, giving victory to all who trust in Him. You may have noticed that we skipped verses 19 to 21. They seem to be a parenthesis, so we will look at them separately. They are also one of the most difficult passages to interpret in the New Testament. Let us read them: through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also - not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ There are several interpretations of the preaching to spirits. Let me limit myself to listing three issues. Was this the preaching of the gospel or a proclaiming His victory? Was this preaching to living men, to spirits of dead men, or to fallen angels? And was this preaching in Noah's day, on the Saturday before the resurrection, or after the resurrection? While I will not take time to take a position on those matters, I will comment on what is said about baptism. Peter uses the Noahic flood as a picture of salvation. In Noah's day, mankind faced judgment for their sins. But Noah found grace with God. By faith, Noah built the ark before the flood of judgment came. The ark bore Noah and his family through the water safely as a declaration of his faith and of God's grace. This picture is now fulfilled in us. We all deserve judgment for our sins. But like Noah, we have found grace with God. Like Noah, we receive that grace through faith. And like Noah, we receive salvation by faith in Jesus before passing through the water of baptism. Salvation is by grace through faith, not by our works including rituals like baptism. As Peter says, baptism is not a removal of filth, physically or spiritually. Rather, baptism is a response of a good conscience cleansed by the blood of Jesus. We are baptized because we are saved, not to save us. Baptism is a public acknowledgement of God's authority in our lives, an act of submission to God. And baptism is an announcement of our victory through the resurrection of Jesus. If you have not been baptized, you need to make a full faith commitment to follow Jesus and publicly confess Him in baptism. If you have been baptized ... Remember your pledge to live for God with a good conscience Remember your commitment to live in submission to God's authority in all things Remember the new life you possess in Jesus that enables you to live in victory Remember to continue to boldly witness for Jesus not controlled by fear Are you living a life of victory through faith in Jesus and His resurrection? Are you boldly witnessing for Jesus or allowing fear to hold you back? Let us live for Jesus and be His witnesses!