20th July 2016
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 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. I Pet 2:9-10 (NIV)
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 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. I Pet 2:11-12 (NIV)
In verses 9-10 above, the Apostle Peter describes
- a) our identity (a chosen people, royal priesthood),
- b) our value (God’s special possession) and
- c) our assignment (that you may declare his praises).
He then goes on to explain how to best do this. He gives us four things to pay attention to, four things that must be addressed in order for us to be God’s people.
1) The Foreigner’s Mindset. He is saying that we should get used to the fact that we don't always fit in very well with the popular culture and values of the day. The reason for this is that we are not citizens of this world but strangers, pilgrims who have a heavenly home. Let your status as a temporary resident of earth reshape the way you live your life here.
2) The War in Your Soul. Before becoming a Christian, the war in your soul is a battle you cannot win. You may be successful at restraining yourself from sin and evil but you can never fully deal with the root that pulls you towards the dark side. Coming fully to Christ involves seeing sin and your sin nature for what it truly is:
- A force too powerful to manage
- A debt too great to pay
- A stain too deep to cleanse
- A nature impossible to change
- A rebel that shakes its fist at God
- A power that dominates the world
- An evil that brings despair
The one and only solution for sin and its consequences is Jesus, his death and resurrection. All other attempts at sin management are superficial and cannot deal with the source of our sinfulness. The finished work of Christ is the total answer to human sinfulness. When Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), He meant it! While we still struggle with sinful inclinations and impulses after coming to Christ, our souls are now engaged in a battle we cannot lose. His victory becomes ours simply by trusting and resting in His finished work instead of our feeble efforts to suppress and manage sin.
3) The Good Life. How to make a positive impression? Live the good life. Note that the definition of the good life has nothing to do with possessions, position or pedigrees. Peter is saying that the good life is not a matter of net worth but of net impact. The next point explains this further.
4) The Glorious Outcome. Two ultimate issues in life involve the battle of the human soul (point 2 above) and whether or not God is fully recognized and given the glory He deserves by the good way that we live our lives. Author David F. Wells says that when God’s people are not demonstrating the true weight, freight and substance of who He is, He becomes irrelevant or “weightless.” In other words, when God does not shape our character, values, and lifestyle, we actually make Him unimpactful. In His book, God in the Wasteland (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994) Wells says:
“It is one of the defining marks of Our Time that God is now weightless. I do not mean by this that he is ethereal but rather that he has become unimportant. He rests upon the world so inconsequentially as not to be noticeable. He has lost his saliency for human life.
Those who assure the pollsters of their belief in God’s existence may nonetheless consider him less interesting than television, his commands less authoritative than their appetites for affluence and influence, his judgment no more awe-inspiring than the evening news, and his truth less compelling than the advertisers’ sweet fog of flattery and lies. That is weightlessness.”
The great challenge before us is to live our lives in such a way that He receives glory and thus makes an eternal impression on those around us. Do others see the evidence of deep change in our lives? In spite of their confusion about Christians, can they see a difference in you and me?
When life is good, glory follows!