1 Peter 3:10-12 ~ 20090405 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
04/05 1 Peter 3:10-12 The Reward
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
Last time we saw that Peter commands us to connect - mind, emotions and will, with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to have unity and humility of mind, sympathy and tender heartendness, and brotherly love. And when we are wronged or spoken against, we are not to respond in kind. Instead, we are to respond by blessing. Jesus said:
Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
And Peter tells us that we were called by God to respond in this way. In return, we will inherit blessing from God. We are going to look today at some big questions: What is the blessing that is promised? What is required to receive it? And should we even pursue a reward?
-Should We Love Our Life?
Psalm 34 is Peter's favorite Psalm. He has referred to already 'if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good' (1Pet.2:3)
Peter rephrases the Psalm: 'whoever desires to love life and see good days'. Is this a bad thing, a neutral thing, or a good thing? Are we supposed to 'love life'? Jesus said
Matthew 16:24-25 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
1John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
And in revelation those that 'loved not their lives even unto death' are commended.
Revelation 12:11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
We are clearly not to become too enamored with this life. So how do we 'love not our lives even unto death' and 'not love the world or the things in the world' and yet 'desire to love life and see good days'? Isn't this contradictory? It seems that Peter is not condemning those that 'desire to love life and see good days'; in fact he is using this scripture to support his statement that 'you may obtain a blessing'. Is pursuing blessing a legitimate way to live the Christian life? Is it OK to seek the reward? Should we 'desire to love life and see good days'? Shouldn't we 'deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him'? How do these things fit together? We believe that all scripture is breathed out by God and that God does not contradict himself. Let's look at the Psalm Peter quotes and see if we can find help there.
Peter is quoting Psalm 34:12-16. This Psalm was written by David when he was running for his life from King Saul. He went to the town of Gath, (remember the giant Goliath of Gath - this is his home town - enemy territory), and he was brought before the king. David perceived that the king saw him as a threat and intended to harm him, so David acted as if he were insane and the king released him [1Sam.21:10-15]. This is a Psalm of praise to God for his deliverance from danger. We're going to see that David assumes the desire for life and happiness is common to all people, and his instruction points us toward finding fulfillment in God.
Psalm 34:11-16 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. 16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
It is a given that it is the common experience of all humanity to desire life and love many days. When we look closer we find nothing in scripture to tell us this is an evil desire. In fact we find just the opposite. Jesus himself said
John 10:10 I came that they might have life and have it abundantly
John 15:9-11 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Jesus wants us to live the abundant life; Jesus wants our joy to be full. He even compares the experience of his disciples with the experience of a woman in childbirth and he says:
John 16:22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 24 ...Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
John 17:13 ...these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
So the joy that Jesus offers is rich and full, permanent, lasting, indestructible. It is a joy that is found in and defined by relationship with God:
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Peter has already pointed to this in:
1 Peter 1:8 though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and full of glory
Joy is the second thing listed in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22)
In fact, throughout the bible joy is commanded:
1Chronicles 16:10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! (Ps.105:3)
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
1Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always,
So David's logic, and the logic Peter picks up from Psalm 34 and uses goes like this: You want to live a good life, to enjoy life to the full? Doesn't everyone? And you should. God created you with that desire. Here's the only way to find those desires fulfilled: Fear the LORD; be righteous. Life lived within the parameters that God commands will receive his blessing. This is in direct contradiction to the lie of the serpent in the garden - God is withholding good from you - he made rules that prevent your full enjoyment of life. You will find more pleasure if you disobey and live outside God's will and God's commands. Both David and Peter are flatly contradicting that lie of Satan and affirming that true joy and lasting fulfillment are found inside obedience to the Lord. Do you want true satisfaction in life? Good! Pursue that satisfaction. Pursue it passionately by living life in the fear of God. Live in righteousness. James tells us that if you don't stumble in what you say you are perfect (Jam.3:2), so David focuses our attention on avoiding sins of speech. 'Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.'
Let's look at the requirements. Peter has already told us that we are to bless in the face of persecution and mistreatment. Now he goes on:
10 For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.
We start out with sins of the tongue and the lips. This reminds us of the example of Jesus:
1 Peter 2:22-23 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return. When he suffered, he did not threaten...
This is truly the most difficult area. Here's what James says about the tongue:
James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
Your mouth can cause a lot of irreparable damage. If you would live the joyful life, you must keep a close guard on what you say.
Peter goes on; 'let him turn away from evil and do good;'. We must turn away from evil. Is evil tempting you, pursuing you, chasing you down? You must turn away. Shun evil. Turn your back on it. Walk away. Run like Joseph ran – leave your coat behind and run. Get out. Get away.
But that is not enough, merely to avoid doing evil. He says we must do good. Do you want to hear a verse that I really don't like? When I was first introduced to this verse as a young man, I winced. I wished it wasn't in the bible. I wished I hadn't heard it. But once you've heard it, it's too late. There's no going back. Are you ready?
James 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
I first heard it in the King James:
James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Let that sink in. This is what's called sins of omission. It's not enough just to avoid doing what is evil. We must do what is right. When we know the right thing to do and we do nothing, God calls that sin! Neglect is sin! Failure to do good is sin! This is weighty. But Peter goes on: 'let him seek peace and pursue it'. We are to actively and aggressively pursue peace. We are to go after peace with all our might.
The author of Hebrews puts it this way:
Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
-The promise of Blessing
Now let's look at the promised reward. If we live this way, what do we have to look forward to? Peter has already referenced Psalm 34 in 2:3:
Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 ...those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.'
Peter picks up on the Psalm's promise of blessing and reward for righteous living. There is direct correlation between obedience and blessing. Blessing comes to those who live inside God's commands. You live inside the joyful abundant life when you bless those who persecute you. You find true joy when you return blessing for insult. You find satisfaction when you restrain your tongue, turn from evil, do good and pursue peace.
We need to clarify something here. Does this mean that if you live this way, that everything will go well for you? Psalm 34 says 'those who fear him have no lack .. those who seek the LORD lack no good thing'. Is this a promise from God that a Christian will never go hungry? Does this mean that a believer will never suffer from physical needs? Maybe I can claim this promise and say that since 'those who seek the LORD lack no good thing' and a Hummer would be a good thing for me to drive, if I seek the Lord he will give me my Hummer. This would be an abuse and misinterpretation of these verses. In fact, if we claim that this is a guarantee from God that we will have adequate food and clothing, we would be misreading it, putting our own spin on it. God certainly provides for his people in miraculous ways. He has also allowed some of his followers to starve or to be killed. Does that mean he was unfaithful to his promise? What we must do to rightly understand these verses is ask the question 'what does 'good' mean? How does God define 'good'? I think that food on the table and a roof over my head and a Hummer or two in the driveway is 'good'. But is that the definition that God has in mind? We must either accuse God of lying, or find a definition of 'good' that includes both the plenty that we enjoy and the starvation of our brothers and sisters in Kenya and North Korea. We need to understand 'good' to include my health and our fellow believers who are suffering the ravages of disease. 'Good' must be understood to include both the circumstance where an angel led Peter out of prison and miraculously delivered him and when Caesar Nero had him crucified upside down.
Psalm 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
How do we fit this all together? Let's look at another passage that describes in more detail how God defines good:
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Just what is the good that all things are bringing about? It is the love of Christ:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Notice, Christians were experiencing tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword; he even describes them as 'being killed all the day long'. This is part of the 'all things' that are working together for our good. It is not apart from all these things, but 'in all these things we are more than conquerors'. Why? Because even in the midst of these circumstances, the love of God in Christ Jesus holds us firm and will not let us go.
Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Look over at how the apostles describe their own condition:
2Corinthians 4:8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. ...16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
There it is. The outer nature and the inner nature. The outer nature is wasting away. The inner nature is being renewed. The afflictions we suffer are preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. We look to the unseen permanent reality. God will not withhold anything that is good; anything that is necessary to prepare our souls for glory. The medicine may taste bitter. The shot is painful. But the great physician tells us 'this is for your own good'. This is preparing you for a good that is beyond your wildest imagination.
Look back at Peter so that we can see this in what he says there:
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
Blessing, good, the abundant life consists in life lived in the presence of God. God can't take his eyes off you; He is listening intently to you. God cares for you more than you care for yourself. To have the favor of God on your life is the richest blessing imaginable. And it was made possible only by the finished work of Jesus. The righteousness I have is not my own. It is a gift given to me. I was an evil doer, and God's face was against me. But in Jesus I am freed of my guilt, clothed in his righteousness, and can now delight in the favor of God.