CHRISTIAN SAINTS, STRANGERS AND SOJOURNER IN AN ALIEN WORLD — By Lyall Johnston
And, living in a world that is alien to the Christian saints, are we under any obligations in this world?
So, who are the Christian saints being addressed in Scripture?
Well, that's us - that's you - that's me.
Again, let’s ask the question, are we the Christian saints under any obligation (in this present world), and, why is it that we are called strangers and sojourners?
We know that we are living in an alien world and the apostle Peter addresses this very question. King David addressed the subject, the apostle Paul addresses it, and Jesus Christ Himself addressed it.
We know from the historical accounts in the Gospels that Jesus Himself was regarded as an alien to the religious culture of the Jewish leaders of His day. His teaching and doctrines were received by many of the ordinary people, but, He was rejected, along with His doctrines by the religious hierarchy.
Let's read what the apostle Peter has to say. If we turn to I Peter 2, we're going to begin with just a brief review of some of those factors that we learned about Peter.
First Peter is writing from Babylon not Rome. A number of Bible commentators say that Babylon here is referring to Rome. However, Peter was never in Rome (FREE PDF) and there is ample proof of that from within the Bible itself. If you need proof of this then go online to our website (cbcg.org) where you will find a series on this subject. Peter was never in Rome, but there was a Peter in Rome, but it was not the apostle of Jesus Christ.
Next, the epistles of James, Peter, John and Jude are called the General Epistles, they are not the Catholic Epistles which Catholicism like to claim. So that's a lie. They are the General Epistles written under inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the servants of God.
Another factor about the General Epistles is the question, “Where did Rome move the General Epistles from and where did they place them in the New Testament and why?”
John the Apostle placed them immediately following the book of Acts. Much later, after Christ had sealed off the New Testament through John, Rome moved them from there, and, where do you think they moved them to? The answer: as far away from the Gospels and Acts as they possibly could – right before the book of Revelation at the end of the New Testament. And today, that is where you find them in most translations.
And, guess what book they placed immediately after the book of Acts? Romans, followed by the rest of the apostle Paul’s epistles.
Question: Why would they do that?
Answer: To endorse the lie that Rome is now the city which has the authority of God to change the truth of God and His laws and commandment and thereby create its particular brand of heresies as it saw fit.
When you check a King James version of the Bible, for example, you'll find, that the book of Acts is followed by Romans. However John and his team working on the final canon of the entire Bible in the first century in Ephesus, did not place them there; they placed the General Epistles immediately following the book of Acts for a very vital reason.
The General Epistles of James, Peter, John and Jude are really fundamental in the three basic tenants of our faith and doctrines and those are:
These epistles lay a foundation and prepare the reader for Paul’s epistles which are sometimes more difficult to understand as Peter pointed out:
“And bear in mind that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation, exactly as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has also written to you; As he has also in all his epistles, speaking in them concerning these things; in which are some things that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable are twisting and distorting, as they also twist and distort the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (II Peter 3:15-16, Faithful Version throughout).
To repeat that critical information: Rome, contra to the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit changed the order so that Rome would seem to be the place where the headquarters of the very Church of God had moved from Jerusalem to Rome. That is an outright lie and was one great deceptive act. Jerusalem is the City of God. It was in the days of ancient Israel, continues to be today and at the return Jesus Christ its King will take up His dwelling there to rule ALL nations.
Another factor is that if we look at the direction to which Peter addressed the members in the northern parts of Asia Minor:
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect strangers scattered in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (I Peter 1:1).
A quick check in a biblical atlas reveals that Peter begins mentioning the areas from the eastern portion of Asian Minor (modern day Turkey), and moves westwards to the western regions. A little geographical information and a little logic should strongly convict anyone to reject the idea that he, Peter, was writing from Rome and not Babylon.
Again, Peter being a Jew makes no reference to Judaism whatsoever. He had learned a valuable lesson from Paul’s admonition (Gal 2:14).
Continuing: Peter’s epistles are filled with much practical information that we really need to pay attention to. We can't do that fully here but at least we can have a look at some of those things that Peter is teaching us because he's teaching us under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He is nearing the end of his physical life and what he wants to do is to fill the brethren with hope so they would continue in the hope set before them and that they would endure right up until end of their lives; to endure all life situations no matter what problems they may face.
We are going to pick this up in the second half of first Peter where he gives us some very practical advice about our responsibilities in this present world in which we live. The Bible says that we are to be in the world but not of it; Peter help us to know how to accomplish this in a manner pleasing to God.
Annually, prior to the Passover what do we normally do? Don't we examine ourselves to see whether we are ready and prepared to participate in the Passover, to see what may still remain in us that doesn't belong in us because we have now become the possession of God? We belong to God. We are his people because he has purchased us, with what? We see the answer stated in the first chapter of Peter -- the precious blood of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:19).
I Peter 2:7 Peter reminds the brethren of the preciousness of Jesus Christ to them and to us today. He precious to us today, among many other factors, because He is our example. We desire to be like Him. We want to eventually be exactly like Him -- which we will be in the resurrection.
One thought that has been coming into my mind of late, thinking in terms of getting older, “How much longer do I have in this world?” I don't know, no one knows this of themselves. What we do know is that at the return of Jesus Christ whether we are raised from the grave or raised being alive, the glory from God is going to be put upon us by the power of the resurrection. And everything about our old sinful self and life is going to disintegrate. It is going to be incinerated, burn up entirely, and every particle within us that is not in the image of Jesus Christ will cease to exist.
Day by day we strive and we struggle to overcome our weaknesses, but what we are not able to overcome in this life, our weaknesses and the sin that lies within is going to be totally eliminated and we're going to have that glorious spiritual body. This is our hope and this is the hope that Peter was instilling in the brethren not only to them only, but to us today and eventually to everyone worldwide. In doing this, Peter is fulfilling the commission, the very command that Jesus gave to apostles that they were to take the gospel of the kingdom of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ to the house of the Lost Sheep of Israel. Peter and the other apostles are still doing that today by their writings and we continue in that work as we live our lives according to the writings of the scriptures.
Strangers and Sojourners
In II Peter 2 we see just who and what we are by God’s specific calling and how God Himself looks upon us. Verse 9 “but you are a chosen stock…” we can read these words and skip over them, but if we stop, pause, meditate on them and talk about them with God our Father and with Jesus Christ our Saviour so that they become a part of our thinking, a part of our heart, and our mind, and our very being, “a royal priesthood.”
This is how God sees you and me today. Profound words! Deep -- with tremendous spiritual depth of meaning and what we look forward to, anticipate, and hope for. We need to meditate on these words to draw out the fullness of their meaning.
The more we study the Scriptures, the more we spend time and talking with our Father in heaven, the deeper these thoughts become to us. “A holy nation….”
That's the Church of God, the ones that God has called out. God says we are a holy nation now. Do you feel holy, royal or special??
Let’s read verse 9 again: “But you are a chosen stock, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a possession of God, that you might proclaim His excellent virtues, Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
I think a lot of the times we don't, but, understand -- that's exactly the way God sees us. God sees the finished work that we can't see. We sometimes get frustrated with ourselves we get disappointed when we make mistakes, when we sin. We have to go back and claim that precious blood of Christ and it is there for us 24/7! That precious blood of Christ never goes away for the people of God. So we are a chosen stock, a royal priesthood, a holy nation now.
That's not talking about the alien world in which we live, and it is alien to the way of God. That's why we are called strangers and sojourners just like all of God's people have been down through the ages right back to the days of Abel. “A people for a possession of God…”
- God's possession
- you belong to Him
- you are a child of God
- God possesses me
- I belong to God
Now why are we a possession of God?
Peter goes on to show us that it is so “That you might proclaim His excellent virtues…” His mighty works.
When we go back and read in the Old Testament and discover some of the attitudes, and ways in which the nations hostile to Israel recognized that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was a very powerful God. They recognized His mighty works and from time to time when God intervened with the Gentile nations, such as, the Philistines, the Amorites, the Moabites and others, they were afraid of the God of Israel. Now that's the God that you belong to. That's the God that possesses you, and each one of us. And God wants us to show forth his mighty works, his excellent virtues, to not to be ashamed of the name of Jesus Christ, because, if we're not ashamed of the name of Jesus Christ He is going to confess us to His Father as he introduces us to Him face to face in person. Perhaps saying something like “This servant is one who showed forth our mighty works. Here Father, is a member of the body, My body, the church of God, that upheld my name that kept my commandments, that was faithful, that resisted Satan.”
Continuing, “Who called you out of darkness…” the darkness (deception) of this alien world in which we exist. We use the term aliens because some of the meaning of that term also relates to the fact that we are sojourners, strangers, itinerants (also, outsiders, foreigners, transient [like a guest in a hotel, not staying or permanent]).We don't belong to this world; we have to live in it but not be a part of it. This is such an incredible calling God has given to us. So God “Who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light…” and…
- as we read the Scriptures
- as we obey the Scriptures
- as God unfolds his truth to us…
- is His truth!
- it's His word!
- it's all about God the Father!
- it's all about Jesus Christ
Let talk about the little word “of”
“of” is the possessive case. It denotes belonging to something or someone.
We are the people of God because He has purchased us with a price – meaning we belong to Him. That price was the precious blood, the crucifixion, the sacrifice the suffering, the death of His own very Son (of God), an eternal everlasting sacrifice available to you and to me
- moment by moment
- hour by hour
- day by day
- month by month
- year by year for the rest of our lives.
What a privilege that is, to be called the people of God, the children of God who had not received mercy before God calls us, but now, we have received mercy.
Now we come down to verse 11 to that statement that we began with “BELOVED, I exhort you as strangers and sojourners to restrain yourselves from fleshly lusts which war against the soul…,” and we know what that war is like. We battle, we are at war like soldiers in battle, at war as we struggle against Satan who is like a roaring lion seeking to devour us.
- he never gives up, day by day, but…
- God delivers us
- God takes care of us
- God protects us
Peter continues: “…I exhort you as strangers and sojourners….” We are Strangers and Sojourners in this present world…Aliens!
Have you ever been a stranger and a sojourner in this life, like living in a country other than the one you were born in? Many have.
I have here a document here which goes back to 1963. It’s my first passport. As I show this to you, you will notice on the bottom it says New Zealand. But look at the top.
What does it say?
You can see it says “British Passport.”
That was the style of passport when we transferred from New Zealand to the UK, (Britain). When we went to England, my wife and family, in 1963, we were actually British subjects. Had we stayed in England we would have remained as British subjects or citizens. However, while we were there the law was changed, and when we left the UK, we lost that status of being British subjects and the ability to live and dwell in England under the previous status. If we were to attempt to return to the UK now we would have enter as aliens in the sense of strangers as sojourners. As we did in 1996, and yet our roots are there physically. Our son was born in the UK so he is a British subject.
In 1977 we had the opportunity of moving to the United States. While we were living there, we were required to carry a card to show who or rather what we were. This card, about the size of a business card had the words “RESIDNT ALIEN!” along the top edge. This was a constant reminder that we were living in the country by pleasure of the US government. If we had broken the law we would have faced deportation.
When we travel to the US now, we are granted entrance with the status as visitors on a limited basis. Our eldest daughter has lived in the US basically since 1977 and has become a US citizen.
As the children of God, we are ALL strangers and sojourners in this world. That's how the world looks at us, the saints of God. Because of that, and, because we are in the world which is hostile to the very Word of God, it's hostile to God and to His ways because the ways of the world are not the ways of God. It is the god of this world who is ruling the nations, ruling the governments and institutions, even the churches of this world (but only within the confines God has placed on him).
Yes, there are many people who still have some sense of right and wrong and attempt to live by good moral standards. I believe we see that today in those who are standing in opposition to the evil taking place. We see the growing hostility between the Progressive and the Populist Movements, the growing hostility between the left and the right, the Conservatives and the Liberals who are leaning further and further toward Cultural Marxism and the death of the West. And yet, there remain those in this world that do not want to see the world turning the way it is to the left to the ways of Satan the devil, even though they are unaware that is what is actually taking place.
It has been said that when 50% of a nation is righteous then basically that nation is going to continue along on a level path or maintain the status quo. But! Yes there is a BUT. But once it tips the scales and you find 51% are living unrighteously the nation is on the way down and out. Right now I think probably many of us feel that we're more than 51% going in the wrong direction. Just as a point of reference, maybe at 60% maybe more or less, but it's increasing, exponentially.
Personally I feel that if President Trump remains in office, Oh!! I read the other day that actually President Trump is retiring. Did you read that? He is going to retire in 202 -- someone very optimistic about him gaining a 2020 re-election. But, isn’t he's the one man at this point in time, as far as we're concerned, as far as we can see, the man with his finger in the proverbial dyke, trying to hold back the flood waters of evil that will overwhelm us when the “dyke” bursts?
Hopefully, if he remains President for another term, this will give us more time to do what God has commanded us to do, to take the gospel of the coming kingdom of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ into all the world as a witness just before the end time events. And that's our daily commission the commission of every member of the body of Christ.
Next Peter continues by mentioning the “fleshly lusts” and we can turn to many scriptures that show they war against our souls, our very being. The fleshy lusts war against our beings. It was mentioned earlier, that at the time of the Passover we examine ourselves to find out what still remains in us that is still going against a very law of God. The actions that we get involved in contrary to the will of God, not that we want to, but because we don’t want to be involved in, but we have not yet succeeded in overcoming. As well, there are other areas we have not been able to see; those things we have not been able to recognize; those things that we desire to overcome.
I love that scripture in John 14 and verse 30 where Jesus says…
“I will not speak with you much longer because the ruler of this world is coming; but he does not have a single thing in Me.”
…in other words, He is stating that there was not one single thing in Him, a way in which Satan could influence or affect Him. This is truly what we desire and are working toward. To be like Jesus in every way so that Satan does not have one single thing is us.
Satan constantly points the finger at us as we can read in Revelation 12:10-11 where he accuses us day and night before our God. He can say, “Well look, you've got this problem, you've got that problem, you've got this sin that you haven't overcome.” But here is the response we have to his accusations:
But they overcame him through the blood of the Lamb, and through the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death. (Rev 12:11)
However, we are still strangers and aliens, even though we do slip up, even though we do sin at times, we do not practice sin habitually any longer. God possesses us. God has given us that absolute privilege to be able to claim the blood of Christ when we do make a mistake, when we do sin not because we're practicing sin as an ongoing event, or an ongoing part of our nature, but in a moment of weakness, when we allow a thought to linger in our mind. That is when of course we can fall and we roll over. Immediately we realize what has happened. Then we just feel like we've got a mouthful of gravel as the Proverb mentions (Prov. 20:17), and we go back and we confess it before God and ask him just a wash us clean. And although our sins are as scarlet the blood of Christ will make us as white as wool and snow again (Isa 1:18).
Again, fleshly lusts will never leave us, they are always lurking in the background, we must learn how to rule over them (Gen 4:7). We are learning to grow in the Grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, developing that relationship with God the Father and His Son so that They will then empower us, and we have all the power in heaven and on earth to overcome the sin that lies within. This incredible power of the Holy Spirit, not to perform miracles and wonders, but the power of the Holy Spirit…
- to put on the mind of Chris
- to follow in the ways of God the Father
- to obey his laws and his commandments
- to make it possible continuing in His way of life.
Obligations of the Saints
Peter gives us a lot of practical instructions throughout his two epistles. Practical instructions means what to do, why do it, and how to do it. For example, in verse 13 (II Peter 2) he tells us that we are obligated to submit ourselves to the king. “Submit” is a KEY WORD for us to pay special attention to and heed. Submission: that's a physical act that we are not only to do, but, also an attitude God desires within us.
In the mind of God, submission is more than a physical act, IT IS A SPIRITUAL ACTION. It is a spiritual event or act. It is a part of what “walking in the Spirit of God” is about. We carry out an act of physical obedience, BUT, it has a spiritual application and every physical law of God, everything that God has given us to do, every instruction in the Scriptures may sometimes seem pedantic. Sometimes we may thinking, “Well, I'll do this, that's all there is to it” -- but there's a spiritual intent behind it. That's what God sees and desires within us. God sees we are using his Spirit. As it says here, to submit ourselves to the king, that’s not just a physical deed, God sees that and He takes it personally as far as we're concerned.
Because it tells God where we're coming from. So we are to have our lives honest amongst the Gentiles that is we are to be honest and you know we can look at the commandments 5 through 10 and if we're obeying those Commandments then we're being honest amongst the Gentiles. And also the first four Commandments, and our obedience to God not to hide our faith, and not to be ashamed of the fact that we are God's possession.
On the other hand, we don't have to go up to people and say to them something like, “Look I belong to God, I'm a Christian, let me help you with your problems because I've got all the answers.” No! No, that's not the way that we are do it. Having your way of life honest means being truthful, following the laws and commandments of God. So that is having your life honest amongst the Gentiles. Today, Gentiles are the rest of the world not yet called. For the saints, it doesn't matter whether we are of the house of Israel or from a Gentile nation, meaning someone from another nation, not a physical Israelite, who God has called and placed in his body. We are all a part of spiritual Israel; we're part of the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Why this instruction apart from obedience to God to having your way of life honest amongst the Gentiles? “So that although they speak against you as an evildoer…” (v. 12), do you know they may even call you an atheists?
Why would they do that when we are obeying God and we're called atheists?
Because we don't have idols
We don't worship idols
We don't keep their festivals and their holidays of Christmas Easter and the rest.
Therefore we're pagans, as far as they are concerned, and we deserve to be put to death in their minds. Isn't that true?
If we read some of that material that John Gunther has been presenting about the Christians during the Middle Ages, and the persecuted church, and the joy they had, the amount of knowledge and the gospel they possessed -- they were regarded as aliens and “worthy” of death!
That is how Catholicism regarded the saints and the church of the Most High God at the time. So let us not be surprised if we live into a time like that, when we are going to be hunted down and hounded for our very lives. Many of us will be martyred for the sake of the gospel, but what is the end result of that. What's the end result of all those who have been martyred, those who would not bow down and worship idols?
- idols that can't move
- idols can't talk
- idols can't hear when people pray to them, but above all of that…
- idols can't save anyone!!
There's only one name under heaven we're in heaven and on earth whereby man can be saved and that one name is the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ of Nazareth our Saviour -- we the purchased by God the Father with His blood (Acts 4:12).
I love it when John (Guenther) was referring to the fact that here were these Christians that had the Word of God, they were spreading the Word of God, they were filled with joy, and with a knowledge that when they were being martyred that their martyrdom was actually going to spread the gospel -- and in that they took great joy. Isn't that amazing Faith, Hope and Love?
So the result of our being honest among the Gentiles, obedient regard obeying God’s commandments, in having witnessed your good works, even though today they call us evil or maybe even atheists, what's the end result of that? Let's see what Peter has to say, “that they may glorify God in the day of visitation.” Let’s ponder on that truth. While you being persecuted in some way today because you're a Christian, maybe by a family member, maybe somebody at work, maybe some of your friends, God will use that situation to His advantage in future.
When I made the changes to walk in the newness of life, in the way of Jesus Christ, most of my former friends of old, particularly those of our high school days, were no longer really interested in me anymore, because I'd gone off the deep end. Because I was now a little strange in what I now believed. Have you had that happen to you when people look at you and think you're strange because you keep the Sabbath and tell you “that's Jewish”? And, “You keep all those Jewish Holy Days. We don't have to do that we've been set free of all those old Jewish practices.” We know that that is not true and we rejoice in God that he actually called us. He has given us to understand and know the meaning and what those Commandments result in.
So again “…having witnessed your good works they may glorify God in the day of visitation.” The day of visitation is a reference to the return of Jesus Christ. Our actions today in front of all those people that God hasn't called and isn't calling, we are actually performing a witness as God's possession, as his strangers, aliens and sojourners -- but we're not strangers and aliens and sojourners to God.
- we are his children
- we belong to him
- He is doing a work
- His work, in us and through us.
Paul in addressing this with the brethren in Colossae revealed how God regards us. Although we will not be in the kingdom until the firs resurrection, God al;ready sees us there and Jesus tells us that one of the things He is doing is preparing a place for us (John 14:1-3)
“Giving thanks to the Father, Who has made us qualified for the share of the inheritance of the saints in the light;.\ Who has personally rescued us from the power of darkness and has transferred us unto the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col 1:12-13)
We come down to verse 13. “Therefore submit yourself to every human institution….”
Did you catch that keyword?
What is the key word in that sentence -- SUBMIT!
Note: Peter uses the term “Therefore” as a reference to what has already been stated up to this point.
“Submit” is a word that is alien to this world. Nobody wants to really submit. Oh, they may profess it, but deep down they really don't want to submit because that is a foreign concept in this world. What’s more the meaning of submission in this world normally means forced subjection, not voluntary.
To the body of Christ, the Saints, we have this instruction “Therefore submit yourself to every human institution for the Lord’s sake whether to the king as supreme….” Yes, we are to submit to the king.
…” Because we are not submitting for the sake of an institution or a person. We are, however, doing this, submitting for the King of king’s sake, the Lord Jesus Christ and God His Father’s sake from whom all our knowledge and instruction comes.
Do you remember Jesus’ response when He was asked about paying tribute to Caesar? (Matt 22:17-21). He said to them “Show me the tribute coin.” They brought a silver coin to him and He asked them “Whose image and inscription is on this?” When they said “Caesar’s” He replied… ”Render unto Cesar what is Caesar’s and the things of God to God!”
Going forward to the 14th verse the instruction show we are to also submit to the kings representative, in this case the governor… “Or to governor as sent by him to execute vengeance against evildoers, and to praise those who do well.” For this reason as well we need to avoid evil and do well or suffer the penalties.
Jesus submitted himself to Caesar’s governor Pontius Pilot. It was not that he agreed with Pilot but that He submitted to him. He didn't argue, He said very little, just answered a question and made a statement. Most the time he kept silent and look at the result, He was crucified, died, buried, raised on the third day and now sits and the right hand of God the Father in heaven above as Lord and Master, High Priest, and King in the coming kingdom of God. That's why God wants us to follow the example of Jesus Christ. We do this for the Lord’s sake and it is pleasing to God for it is His will for us to do so.
Notice the next verse because it adds a little to what has already been said… “For so is the will of God that by doing well by doing well yourselves you may put to silence the ignorant yes the ignorance of senseless men.” Oftentimes we can do that just by remaining silent as Jesus did. If you say nothing and let the other person say whatever they are going to say to you, criticise you, condemn you, they will eventually run out of something to say, they are silenced!
Verse 16. we see that we as free verse 16… “As free and not using your freedom as a cover for evil but as bondslaves of God.” First and foremost we are the bondslaves of God; we need to keep that thought at the front of our minds and thinking. That in everything we do, in every situation we come to, in every circumstance, in every interaction we are the bondslaves of God because He called us to be just that. He wants us as bondslaves but He has given us freedom, not freedom to follow the dictates of our own heart but the freedom to follow in the way that he has given to us.
Verse 17 Here Peter summarises four things that form a basis for what follows.
- Show honor to everyone -- Sometimes that's hard to do in the world today when we see the terrible things that people are doing, nevertheless, show honour to everyone Any judgment we make is on their actions not on the person because every human being is a potential son or daughter of God. That's what God wants for them, so we honour all men even though we may hate the evil they do – we are to love righteousness but hate evil is the message that comes from God throughout his word.
- Love the Brotherhood -- Much is written about the love we are to have toward the Brotherhood. As we love one another God sees it. If we love the Brotherhood we are showing God that we love Him. Peter started that subject in chapter 2 verse 11 he says Beloved. Now where did he learn that? Did he not learn that from Jesus Christ? All the Apostles in their writings speak in this manner.
- Revere God This is to fear God in the right way. A fear to disappoint Him. It is to hold Him in the highest place in our minds and hearts. A desire to please Him above all else.
- honor the king -- It is worthy of note that we are to revere God but only honor the king. God is supreme, Jesus Christ is supreme! Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords over all kings over all lords over all rulers of this world and he's coming back to take over ALL the nations of this world
Servants and Suffering
We have come now to the section about servants and about their obligations “Servants submit yourselves to your masters with all fear” Today we can all look upon ourselves as servants. First, we are all bondslaves or servants of God. Because we are bondservants to God, Whoever else we may be under and particularly in the realm of employment, we are first bondservants of God. As servants to our employers we may sometimes have some very difficult situations on our hands. If someone in the company we work with is against us, often we'll find that if you have a supervisor that's over you that's causing you problems, is harassing you, hassling you, or even abusing you in some manner, don't necessarily expect the company, if you go to the company, to listen to what you have to say. As a rule of thumb the company will support the Supervisor over an employee.
In today’s world employment can be very difficult for us to obtain as servants. It is not always possible to find another job if there are serious problems where we work. Submission to an employer, in the sense of “Servants, submit yourselves to your master with all fear—not only to the good and gentle ones, but also to the harsh and unjust ones” is a course we may need to take. However, if we are required to do something contrary to the Word of God we must do as Peter did when ordered “by direct command not to teach in this name (Jesus)” he responded to the high priest with these words… “We are obligated to obey God rather than men.” If this occurs we then trust in God and if necessary, find other employment with His help.
We are obligate first to obey God rather than men even if it costs us our job and ultimately even if it costs us our life. We have the witness of all of God’s martyrs, they refused to reject the name of Jesus Christ and his way and lost their lives. Jesus tells us that that is all they (men) can do. Man can only take our physical life, so we don't fear men because of that.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but do not have the power to destroy the life; rather, fear Him Who has the power to destroy both the life and the body in Gehenna” (Matt 10:28).
Summary: God wants us to be submissive (keyword). In this passage it says submit yourselves to your masters with all fear of God, we are not to be in fear a master, employer or others but to submit and honor.
Notice again what it says about submitting to our masters (or whoever may fit that roll in our lives).
Regardless of the situation, you can apply this to your life where you are, “Because this is acceptable: if, for the sake of conscience toward God, anyone endures sorrow, suffering unjustly” (v. 19).
Peter now comments on the cause and effect of disobeying or doing good.
v. 20. “For what come commendation is there if disobeying and being beaten, you endure it?
But if while doing good you endure suffering, this is acceptable with God.”
Here is the attitude that God the Father desire to see in us, not being punished for disobedience, BUT
by doing good this is acceptable with God.
Side Bar: In the past it was taught that by being submissive to the ministers we learned obedience to God. Nowhere in the Bible is this taught or found!! This lead to a climate of control by many in the ministry, but not all.
If you are enduring suffering at work, at home, at school knowing that if we are doing good or well “this is acceptable with God” -- He knows, He sees,
Who are we? We may be servants to another man or another woman as it is in the world today, but we're not bondservants to them, we are bondservants of God. God is the One Who spread the heavens out with His hands and He shaped the earth with His hands. Who is more powerful than Him? Who do we want to be bondservants to? God or man? We can be the servants of men but behind that we are bondservants of God and God wants to see within us submissive attitudes, repentant attitudes, humble and contrite spirits as Isaiah put it in Isaiah 66:2. It is acceptable to God if we are suffering for doing what is right. The reward are ahead of us, from God Himself for doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Him. We sometimes forget this.
Our perfect example in both submission and suffering
Verse 21-24 “For to this you were called because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow in his footsteps. Who committed no sin neither was guile found in his mouth; Who, when he was reviled did not revile in return; when suffering, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; Who Himself bore our sins within His own body on the tree, so that we being dead to sin, may live unto righteousness; by whose stripes we are healed.”
This is why studying the life of Christ is so important and also the life of his servants the apostles and all His servants down through time. There is much value in doing this as we learn how they were able to come into that intimate relationship with God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel.
Note the last phrase of verse 24. Note only did Jesus die for our sins His body was beaten for our healing. The stripes that were laid on Jesus Christ body is for our healing. That's why when we're sick we have the instruction to call the elders of the church and they will anoint you with oil (or send out an anointed cloth if not able do so in person) and by the prayer of faith the sick are made well (John 5:14-18). We commit ourselves into the hands of God and we wait patiently for God's His intervention. We leave it in His hands. If sin has been involved, we confess our sins and also insure we are eating healthily.
We know that all of our body’s ailments will be banished in the resurrection. God heals us according to His will for us and in His timing. He knows our needs. A study of Paul’s situation is very helpful to understand why God heals in different ways according to our needs. You will find this in II Cor. 12:6-10.
The last verse (25) in this chapter is interesting. Peter is addressing primarily the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel. So the wording would seem to have this in mind. Today we are all God’s sheep so it does apply to all the saints. “For you were as sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”
Who are the sheep that had gone astray wasn't it the ten northern tribes of Israel? Here is Peter writing this epistle to the very area where we know there were many of those of the ten tribes were at this particular point in time after their captivity in Assyria.
I'd like to encourage everyone as we conclude to go to Hebrews chapter 11 and see where the Saints of old had their eyes focused. They recognised the fact that they were sojourners and strangers in this alien world. They were all anticipating the kingdom of God that was yet ahead for them. The kingdom made not by the hands of men but by the very hands of God, the City of God, the kingdom of God, and, that is our goal as it was theirs. That’s why the Bible calls us strangers and aliens in this world.
As strangers and aliens and sojourners God wants us to be obedient to Him, regardless of how men may treat us. God wants us to be submissive rather than proud and arrogant and vain because that way God is able to get his teaching into our minds into our lives into our hearts into our beings so that we can truly let the mind of Jesus Christ dwell within us.