Transformational Living, Part 2 (1 Pet 2:11-12)


Ben Tellinghuisen - June 1, 2014

Transformational Living, Part 2 (1 Pet 2:11-12)

2 Responses to God's Transforming Work Transcript: The great church father, Augustine of Hippo, was not a young man when he became a Christian, unlike the Spurgeon who began preaching at the age of 19 – Augustine became a Christian much later in life. And we know from his Confessions that Augustine’s mother often prayed for him and pushed him toward the church, but his father on the other hand, being an unbeliever until the year of his death when Augustine was 16, pushed young Augustine to excel in the art of rhetoric. He sent him to the best boarding schools money could afford but didn’t really care much about Augustine’s spiritual life. Looking back on that time, Augustine writes in his Confessions: “As I grew to manhood, I was inflamed with desire for a surfeit of Hell’s pleasures… My family made no effort to save me from my fall… their only concern was that I should learn how to make a good speech and how to persuade others by my words.” In particular, he said “that his father took no trouble at all to see how I was growing in God’s sight, whether I was chaste or not – cared only that I should have a fertile tongue.” Some of us parents need to heed and listen to this ancient complaint as we may give our lip service to our care for our children’s spiritual state, but in our actions care often more about their academic and worldly success. That’s just an aside. And so with this as a backdrop, it’s understood that Augustine lived a particularly licentious lifestyle as a young man. He had at least a couple of mistresses, he confessed to stealing, was overcome with gross pride and arrogance, and followed a number of different false religions and philosophical systems of thought. Then, at almost the age of 32 after several Godly men had witnessed to him, Augustine was a conflicted man. He wished to pursue God, but found himself unwilling to give up the passions of his flesh. And during an emotional time of prayer and searching, he prayed this: “’How long should I go on saying “tomorrow, tomorrow?” Why not now? Why not make an end of my ugly sins at this moment?’ …All at once I heard the sing song voice of a child in a nearby house repeating in the refrain, ‘Tolle, lege. Tolle, lege.’” Which translated means ‘take it, and read.’ – Take it, and read. After coming to his senses, not sure if he ever heard such a game before, he ran to his Bible and read Romans, chapter 13. As he read Romans chapter 13, the Spirit of God convicted him and I want you to listen to how Romans 13 ends. He says this: “Besides this, you know that the time, the hour has come for you to wake from your sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone, the day is at hand, so then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires.” And so, as he concluded reading that wonderful chapter, he says this: “I had no wish to read more and no need to do so, for in an instant as I came to the end of the sentence, it was as though the light of confidence flooded into my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled. From then on, Augustine was a transformed man and a little over four years later, he was thrust into pastoral ministry. Many since deem him the greatest theologian ever to live, and yet he was a faithful preacher and a shepherd of his flock all of his days. Before any of this could happen, Augustine need to be confronted with the fact that transformation is central to the Christian message – it’s central to what Romans 13:13-14 say, “Let us walk no longer in the darkness. Let us walk no longer in orgies and drunkenness and sexual immorality and things of the like, but let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh.” So if you are a follower of Christ, you are those who no longer make a provision for the flesh. There is a new you with new desires, with new priorities, and new actions that result from those priorities. The old you has passed away and what remains of the old desires, you fight. You constantly fight. You constantly are putting to death the old self. See, Jesus came to transform your life, as he calls every Christian to deny themselves and follow him. Last week we remember talking about a women’s testimony as it was described as a ‘train-wreck’ of conversions and that’s true of all of our testimonies. We need to die to ourselves in a train-wreck of sorts so that we might be able to live for Christ. So we now have the privilege and ability because of our Savior’s mighty work in our lives to begin living transformationally. Once Augustine came to this realization and put his faith completely in Jesus, trusting in Jesus’s power to change, God used Augustine’s transformed life in a mighty, mighty way. 2 Responses to God’s Mighty Work of Transformation This is the second week of a series on transformational living. We’re walking through 1 Peter 2:9-12 as I already mentioned and in these verses Peter highlights our response to God’s glorious work of transformation accomplished in every believer’s life and we remember last week that we noticed that were going to be two responses to God’s mighty work of transformation. 1. Proclaim the Glories of your Transformation (vv.9–10) The first response we covered last week and it was to proclaim the glories of your transformation. We saw that in verses 9 and 10 and really when we look at these verses we realize that there’s really only one command – look in the middle of verse 9. The command is found right there, “That you might proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness.” And wrapped around this key command to proclaim the glories of your transformation is a detailed description of what the transformation looks like in the life of every believer. And as we look to these verses, we realize that were three works of God’s transformation: that we are to proclaim both in the praise of God and in our testimony to the watching world. And the first we recognized was that you’ve been chosen to receive mercy. a) You've been Chosen to Receive Mercy We see that at the beginning of verse 9: “But you are a chosen race.” And we saw God’s sovereignty clearly on display in salvation and we saw in verse 9 that if we are Christian, God has chosen you. God has enlightened your eyes to behold the wondrous cross as wonderful and not as foolish, and God has elect you and in spite of our natural desires to long after sin, he has called us out of that darkness and chosen us to follow him. And we also remember in verse 9 that we saw that this was an effectual calling because we saw, “That you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you.” The Christians are those who hear the roar of the Lion of Judah and respond and God enabled the repentance and faith – was something we discussed very clearly last week, and so all acts of salvation then, point to God as not only immensely gracious, but immensely merciful as he constantly has withheld his just judgment and condemnation until he calls his chosen ones. As we see in the end of verse 10: “You once have not received his mercy, but now you receive his mercy.” We also discussed that the theme of God’s sovereignty in 1st Peter because he is writing to a persecuted church and anytime you encounter persecution, it is incredibly comforting to recognize that you serve and you follow a sovereign God. And so we’re reminded that as the world rejects you and your faith, when God allows personal disasters, different trials, it is God who is always, has been, and always will be in control. He will never leave you nor forsake and works everything out for our good. And so rejoice and proclaim God’s mighty merciful work in choosing to save you in spite of you. b) You are God's Royal Priesthood A second blessing of God’s transforming work that he accomplishes in verse 9 and we discussed this last week as well and it is: “You are God’s royal priesthood.” – You are God’s royal priesthood and we saw that right in the beginning of verse 9, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood.” This reminds the Christian that we not only have a constant and complete access to God’s heavenly throne room, as every believer is a priest of sorts, but we also are those who will reign forever with him. c) You are God's New Nation, People, and Race Well we also saw that you are God’s new nation, God’s people, and God’s race and we saw that, really throughout our passage in verses 9 and 10 last week – “You are a holy nation, a people for his own possession.” Verse 10: “Once you were not a people but now you are God’s people.” And we remember that we were orphaned, wallowing in the mire of our sin until God adopted us into his family. The church is now his people, citizens of an eternal kingdom, and so clearly, God has transformed every Christian into an undeserved recipient of his incredible eternal blessings. And according to these verses, our response is to proclaim God’s message – to proclaim the wonders of what God has done for you, in praise him and evangelism to the watching world because God desires everyone to hear the good news of his transforming power. 2. Live the Glories of your Transformation (vv.11–12) Now in verses 11 and 12 we’re going to see a second response to God’s transforming power and that second response is this: Live the glories of you transformation. We first saw that we should be proclaiming the glories of your transformation and the second is: Live the glories of your transformation. Let’s look at verses 11 and 12 now. “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable so that when they speak against you as evil doers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” As we see these two verses clearly are connected to what comes before. They also, however, act as an intro of sorts to what comes after. You see, Christians are to live markedly differently lives now as further proof of the work of transformation that has already taken place and as a result of living a markedly different life, this will affect how we respond to those in authority and that’s exactly what we get in verses 13-17, which we’ll cover next week. It also affects how we work in verse 18-21 in the servant – master relationship. It also affects our marriages. We see that in chapter 3, verses 1-7. It also affects how we suffer in chapter 3, verse 8. So there’s a sense in which verses 11 and 12 act as a hinge of sorts – closing the door to the previous section, and opening the door to the next. Now some have famously said, “Preach the Gospel always, and when necessary, use words.” I say, infamous, I should of said infamous, because it is absolutely necessary that words are communicate the Gospel. We all know that, we understand, we need to understand truths about Jesus, his character, about you – your sinfulness – in order to be a Christian. You just don’t become a Christian by watching a person’s life. With that being said, how you live is probably the single most important tool in your evangelistic tool belt. I’ll give you an illustration of this. When we first moved, we needed to take out a cupboard in our house and so I’ll called up Jeff Tebeau, and he brought his favorite tool – his mini pry bar. And he said, “I used this to tear out basically most of my house,” as he was remodeling it. Same is true with a faithful Christian life. Time and time again, it is our faithful Christian testimony that God uses to give authority to the transforming Gospel that we proclaim. And so, it can be said that our single most impactful witnessing tool is our personal testimony. We use it all the time. In college, I was getting to know another student and it quickly became evident that this young man was not a believer in Christ. And after a while, I invited him to come to our church and to our on-campus Bible study - at which point he then proceeded to tell me that he can be just as good as the Christians that he knew. In fact, many of the Christians on his floor, they went to the same frat parties he did, and they would watch the same movies and TV shows together, and in his eyes, they were no more different than him. And in fact, he even thought that he was a little bit better morally than they were. He rightfully asked, “Why should I waste my time going to a Bible study?” Now, I don’t know your circle of friends, but what would they say if you asked them to come to church with you. And first of all, would you ask them to come church, or are too ashamed of hypocrisy? Could they see a difference between you as a Christian and themselves? Whether they be Catholic, Atheists, Quasi-spiritual moral type? See, there should be a market difference between us a Christians and the rest of the world. And Peter wants to stress the centrality of transformational living to your ability to be his witness to the watching world. And so, Peter focuses on two ways that you live the glories of your transformation. We got two verses – we got two different ways we can live these glories. a) Fight the Inward Battle of Passions (v.11) The first is in verse 11 – we need to fight the inward battle of passions. We need to fight the inward battle of passions. He begins the verse like this: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles, to abstain from the passions of the flesh.” Now it describes those in the churches here as ‘sojourners and exiles.’ It’s a term that he’s already used twice. He’s already described the churches here ‘exiles’ in 1st Peter 1:1 as well as in 1st Peter 1:17, and in the first century world, Christians were those that were constantly ostracized by the society in which they lived. They were treated as second class citizens really. Becoming a Christian sometimes meant that you had to give up you job and even your livelihood. Sometimes it meant that you were being disowned by your family and your friends. Sometimes becoming a Christian meant that everything that you held near and dear to this life had to be counted as secondary. That is why it was a common idea for Christians to be counted as aliens, because our citizenship is not of this world. We see that in Philippians 3:20, which says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” So if we are truly citizens of heaven, then we are to live differently as well. That was Paul’s point in Philippians. We see at beginning of Philippians, chapter 1, verse 27 (Philippians 1:27) this truth. He says, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ,” and really that could also be translated, “Only behave as a citizen worthy of the Gospel.” In other words, you are to live as a Gospel citizen, or as a kingdom citizen. You see, our citizenship is not of this world, and so there’s a real sense in which every Christian is truly a sojourner, an alien in this present world, because we are going to be different. We don’t hold near and dear to our identity as an American. We hold near and dear to our identity as a Kingdom citizen of a heavenly kingdom. And so Christians can learn to be content in any living situation knowing that ultimately our homes aren’t anywhere on this earth. That’s why Hebrews 13:14 says, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” So, we are sojourners and aliens in this present world. Now Peter also describes Christians in verse 11 as ‘beloved.’ Now, if your translation says ‘dear friends,’ that’s an appropriate translation, but it’s a little bit of a weak translation. It doesn’t get the concept of ‘the ones who are loved.’ That’s what the original language indicates. You see, by calling these believers ‘beloved,’ Peter is saying, “Listen, I love you sacrificially. I love you deeply and you know what? God loves you deeply. God loves you sacrificially. He sent his own son to die for you.” And so wrapped up in this term, ‘beloved’ is a very rich understanding of who we are in Jesus Christ. We’re loved of God. It’s also always helpful to emphasize the positive aspects of your love for someone when you’re about to confront them of sin or potentially things that they need to grow in, as you might get into their kitchen, so to speak. You see, prior to helping my dear wife see something in her life that needs to be improved, if I’m doing it right I’ll say, “Leah, I love you and you’re doing such a wonderful job with the kids. I appreciate what you did today, but today I noticed…” You didn’t think I was going to actually tell you the one thing I’ve ever noticed in her life? And so Peter continues, “You’re beloved. I love you and I urge you as sojourners and aliens in this present world to abstain from the passions of the flesh.” Peter says if you are loved of God and are indeed citizens of a heavenly city, then start looking seriously at your passions. Fight the inward battle of your desires. The word ‘passions’ here is the inward desire of your heart. It can have both godly and sinful passions really. We can have all sorts of passions. We are passionate creatures. Here we are told to abstain from specifically though, the fleshly passions and you can assume it’s meaning the sinful passions. Peter continues to use this similar terminology in chapter 4, verse 2. If you want to turn there with me – chapter 4, verse 2 (1 Peter 4:2). He encourages the churches there. He says, “So, live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions, but for the will of God.” You might even say, “The passions of God.” He’s already used that same term in chapter 1, verse 14, when he wrote, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.” And so we get the idea that the primary source of sin, in the believer’s life ever, is not the culture and the world around us, although that is a temptation, we get many temptations from the culture and the world, but it is from within. It is our own sinful passions, our own sinful thoughts, our own sinful desires that wage war against us. See, this flies in the face of what our culture teaches about feelings, isn’t it: That they’re just natural – an amoral, or non-moral, part of us. One commentator writes this: “Such a command to abstain from these sinful passions implies the inward desires are not uncontrollable, but can be consciously nurtured or restrained. This is a needed rebuke to our modern society which takes feelings as a morally neutral given, and disparages any who would say that some feelings and desires are wrong.” And so we have to recognize as Christians that we’re fallen and that because of our sinful nature, we continue to have impure desires and continue to have impure passions. Once we recognize our sinful passions, we must constantly fight against those desires that we know to be sin; hence, the war terminology in this verse. It says, “Abstain from the passions of your flesh, which wage war against your soul.” Now, the word that is used, ‘to wage war,’ isn’t referring to a little skirmish or a one-time battle. No, our flesh is dug in in the trenches of our life and engaged in a lifelong war for our souls. Whether you want to admit it or not, you are in a battle – a war with yourself. You see, we have wrong desires whether that is our sexual lust, whether that’s passions for excesses in food, maybe it’s a passionate anger when you are wronged, or even good desires for things like financial stability, an ideal house, or the perfect family, all of which can supplant God as your highest desire. All these various desires constantly wage war against our souls. Now, it echoes James, chapter 4, verse 1 (James 4:1). James is the book right before 1st Peter, so it’s easy to flip there if you want. James 4, verse 1, James says basically the same thing. He says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this; that your passions are at war within you?” So what’s the thing that causes quarrelling, even within the church? It’s our own sinful passions. It’s the old self that rears its ugly head. See, you got to be aware of those sinful passions before you can even begin to fight them. We don’t blame the world for our struggles. We don’t blame those who’ve sinned against us for our struggles. No, we need to blame ourselves and we need to understand the root cause for our struggles with sin and they come from within. So we need to recognize that passions that remain within us and learn to fight those passions. During the time leading up to his conversion, Augustine’s passions were really at war within him, driving him to tears many different times. He described his struggles with his own passions and with his own lusts like this: He says, “Bound as I was, not by another’s iron bond, but by my own iron will. My willingness the enemy held, and out of it he had made a chain and bound me. Of a stubborn will is a lust made. When a lust is served a custom is made. And when a custom is not resisted, a necessity is made.” We’ve talked about this before; it’s the downward spiral in our lives. Once you give in to that lust, you begin to desire it and it begins to be a custom in your life and you begin to think that it’s natural and normal and something that you want to do - you need to do – and you continue to respond to in that sinful way giving over and over and over again into the temptations of your own passions. So, we need to recognize sinful passions war against our flesh and we need to fight. And so the more Augustine fed his lusts, the more they ensnared him, but the more he began to focus on the goodness and grace of God, the easier it was to break those bonds. He writes, “I was held back by mere trifles, they plucked at my garment of flesh and whispered, ‘Are you going to dismiss us? From this moment we shall never be with you again forever and ever.’ And while I stood trembling at the barrier, on the other side I could see the chaste beauty of continence,” and speaking of continence, here he’s referring the joys of controlling his passions in Jesus Christ, and as he “saw the chaste beauty of continence in all her serene unsullied joy as she modestly beckoned me over and to hesitate no longer.” And so the old passions continued to call out to Augustine, but the greater beauty he beheld in the cross of Christ, the less appealing they became. And so we see yet another image of the war that wages to release us from our bondage of sin at the point of conversion, as well as an ongoing battle that we must fight against that fleshly desire that remains within. The more we fight the battle of our passions, the more we will see and experience the joys of knowing Christ and the joys pursuing a holy life. In an epic passage that speaks of the passions of the flesh compared to the fruit of the spirit, Galatians 5 ends in a very helpful way. As you know the passage well, you see a long list of passions or the fruit of the flesh and you see the long list of the fruit of spirit - the difference in the Christian life - but Galatians 5:24 ends like this: “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Brothers and sisters, this is an apt reminder for all of us who will continue to struggle with sin in our life. This is an important reminder because it reminds us that the war – the war has been decided. We know exactly who’s going to win. We know that we have victory in Jesus Christ and that even though those passions that still remain that continue to tempt us; that will not be a lasting reality for the Christian. The war has been decided because we have crucified the flesh in Jesus Christ and his blood covers us. We’ve been forgiven completely in Jesus Christ and we have the hope to know that we can be victorious. You just have to keep on fighting. It’s always a lot easier to fight when you know the outcome, isn’t it? So we need to be those who focus on living the glories of our transformation by recognizing the inward battle of our passions within us and fighting that battle. b) Pursue an Outward Righteous Life (v.12) When we fight these inward battles, then naturally we will also pursue an outward righteous life. We’ll also likewise pursue an outward righteous life. We see this in verse 12. Peter writes, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” So here we are instructed and commanded really, to keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable. This verse is frontloaded with the main command, “Keep you conduct among the Gentiles honorable.” It’s a rather simple command. I think we can all understand that, but it’s also helpful to clarify a couple of the terms that are used. The word ‘Gentiles’ here – “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable” – This is talking about basically all unbelievers. Remember in verse 10 when he talks about the church? “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people.” Well there’s a real sense in which the church is God’s new people and we are God’s citizens of his heavenly kingdom, and the rest of the world, they’re foreigners to that kingdom. That’s simply what ‘Gentiles’ is. They’re foreigners. And so, we are to act to foreigners to the kingdom of God with conduct that is honorable. And honorable is simple doing what is right, what is morally good. So, Christian conduct is to be especially upright before unbelievers who are constantly evaluating Christ through those of us who take his name as Christians. You realize that’s what you do when you say, “I go to church,” and when, “I am a Christian.” You are saying, “I am identifying myself with Christ.” And so the world, one of the best ways they can see Christ is through you and your life. So you call yourself a Christian? They’re going to be looking at Christ in you, seeing if your conduct is like Christ’s conduct. Well, Peter goes on to further explain why we need to keep our conduct among the Gentiles honorable. He says, “So that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” “So that when they speak against you as evildoers,” I mean this speaks of something that we all know to be a reality, isn’t it? The world wants to persecute and slander Christians, making false accusations or intentionally twisting our words to make us seem worse than we actually are. It’s happening a lot today. 1 Peter 3:16-17, we see a very similar truth. Were to have a good conscience before the world so that when you are slandered those who revile your good before in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be God’s will, then for doing evil. So first off, the unbelieving world will want to make us less holy, make us more like them, it makes them feel good about themselves. It makes them feel better about the licentious life that they’re living, and hence, they might slander us. In the first century church, Christians were accused all sorts of impropriety. They were said to be cannibals as Paul’s understanding of the Lord ’s Supper, right? And then as cannibals, they were described as eating their own children. As funny as that lie is, it was actually picked up by the Soviet Union and it is used to describe Baptists in particular in the former Soviet Union. They were said to be cannibalistic – they would eat their own children. I know people who lived in the former Soviet Union who had family members who had become a Christian and the first thing they said was, “You can’t become a Christian! They eat their own children!” So it’s amazing the perpetuality that a lie like this, that a slander like this, can have. Well, Christians in the first century were also said to damage trade and different social progress. They were accused of various kinds of sexual immorality and Peter’s point is pretty clear; we need to make sure that when we are living in such a way that we are not rightly persecuted, or that the accusations brought up against us are indeed true. We don’t want to live that way. In other words, you want to live in a righteous way so that if you have an accusation brought up against you, it is a false accusation, not a true accusation. You don’t want to be a Christian who’s living an un-honorable Christian life so that someone can rightly say, “That person is a horrible person.” Like the college illustration that we found out earlier in the sermon. The man saw Christians who said, “That guy is not living like a Christian.” And so that when we are slandered, when we are wrongly accused, we need to be wrongly accused, not rightly accused for doing evil. So we need to keep on doing what is right. Now, the temptation once we’re slandered is what? What’s the temptation when someone slanders you? Anger – “I can’t believe they said that!” And you begin to defend yourself. What happens even when you are slandered within the church family? You might say, “I can’t believe they said that about me!” And you want to fight back and you want to right a treatise defending yourself. Well, writing treatises and defending yourself isn’t what we’re commanded to do here, is it? No, it’s “live a righteous life”. Pursue holy conduct so that you can to silence those who falsely accuse you by your life, not by your words. I love seeing the results of this in our verse in verse 12 – “That they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” You see, your faithful testimony to continue to do what is honorable to God, what is good, what is right, what is loving, even in the midst of slander will result in the salvation of souls. See, unbelievers will come to know Christ due in part to our faithful Christian testimonies. Without a godly life, people fail to see the transforming power of the Gospel and the transforming power of the God of the Gospel. See, too often we tend to get in the way with our anger, with our blatant sexual lust, with our incessant pride that refuses ever to admit that we’re wrong - that we have struggles within. Peter wants to do everything he can to remind Christians of the crucial role of a good testimony to a watching and largely unbelieving world. So now, when will unbelievers glorify God? What does the end of the verse say: “On the day of visitation.” What is that? What is that talking about? That’s a good question we need to ask of the text. The day of visitation, well, some indicate that this is referring to the end times or a time of future judgment, but I’m not exactly sure that’s the best case because in the New Testament, when we see the word ‘visitation’ or specifically ‘God’s visitation,’ it’s exclusively used to describe the point at which God calls people to himself, at the point of conversion, and so an unbeliever hears the Gospel message, God calls him, and he recalls the wonderfully consistent testimony of a faithful Christian in his past or maybe the testimony of that faithful Christian that is sharing the Gospel with him and they’re reminded that Christ is indeed powerful and transforms people’s lives. Further, the idea of an unbeliever glorifying God for the good that they see in Christians is a completely foreign concept to the judgments of end times. You know, when God is judging the people on the final judgments, they’re not going to glorify God for that faithful Christian testimony. They’re just not. And so we can see that biblical theme of visitation here is most likely referring to the day at which an unbeliever becomes a Christian. We can conclude with many commentators that ‘the day of visitation’ most likely is the day of conversion and because of our faithful, honorable conduct, even in the midst of persecution, those who become believers in Christ will glorify God for your faithful testimony. Peter sounds a lot like his Lord and Savior in these verses, doesn’t he? What’s a passage that comes to mind? Think of Matthew 5:14-16. You see, Peter uses the analogy that Christians were once in darkness and now have found light in verse 9, doesn’t he? And then he says in our verse that the unbelieving world will see our good deeds and glorify God at the point of their conversion. Jesus likewise had that same teaching in Matthew 5:14-16. A very common teaching that we all know, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world, a city set upon a hill which cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp a put it under a basket, but they put it on a stand and it gives light to all the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven.” May we too live lives that reflect the transforming power of the Gospel that many will be drawn to the light that as they come and see God’s message of salvation, that they might proclaim clearly his glories, they might believe in him, and that they might see Jesus as their Lord and Savior – that the Gospel might have it’s accomplished, glorious goal. It’s a helpful illustration in conclusion: Herb and Ruth Clingen were missionaries in the Philippines and they went to the Philippines right before World War II broke out and they were there before Japan invaded the island and as soon as Japan invaded, they interned all Westerners in horrible prison camps throughout the duration of the Second World War Well they, along with their young son, Bobby, were in Los Baños prison camp, and the final months of their harrowing experience were especially brutal. I mean, Ruth herself was in the final trimester of her pregnancy and at the forefront of the brutality, was a Japanese officer named Konishi. Ruth writes specifically that “Konishi was a brutal, ruthless man – surely the most hated and feared man in our camp.” He used to intimidate not only the prisoners, but his fellow soldiers with intense displays of brutality. You see, his guards shot a man in the solder for venturing out of the camp walls. As soon as he found that man, he took him behind a building and immediately shot him in the head. He had already cut meager food rations on a weekly basis causing many to die of malnutrition. Ruth also writes, “Konishi found an inventive way to abuse us even more. He increased the food ration this week, but gave us palay – un-husked rice. Eating the rice with its razor sharp outer shell would cause intestinal bleeding that would kill us in hours. We had no tools to remove the husk and doing the job manually… consumed more calories than the rice would make up for. It was the death sentence for all internees.” Well thankfully a week later, on February 24 1945, General MacArthur’s carefully orchestrated liberation of the camp successfully rescued the prisoners. Not a moment too soon because the Japanese had aimed their field artillery at the compound, Los Baños, and were scheduled to open fire later that same day. After a couple of weeks of recovery under the US Army care, the Clingen’s daughter was born healthy, even if she was a little small. Then they write this, “Years later, Konishi was found working as a grounds keeper at a Manila Golf Course. He was tried and sentenced to death by hanging. Before his execution though, he professed a conversion to Christianity saying that he has been deeply affected by the testimony of the Christian missionaries he had persecuted.” What an amazing story of the power of our testimonies. But it isn’t just a good story, this is a poignant example of the powerful influence a righteous life can have. The Clingen’s faithfulness lived purposely before slanderers, accusers, and tyrannical abusers ended up being a key tool used by God to bring about at least one man’s salvation on the day of his visitation. We cannot overstate the importance of living a transformed life. It is and will continue to be used by God as primary tool to give credence to his marvelous Gospel message and the mighty power that accompanies it. So I pray that we are those who both proclaim the glories of your transformation, as well as live the glories of our great God’s transforming power. Let us pray: God, we thank you for giving us this text that reminds us that our testimonies of our lives lived before a watching world can indeed be powerful and that before we even can live a righteous life, we need to be recognizing and fighting the temptations and the passions that wage war within us. I pray that as we go today that you would help us to have a little bit of time of introspection that we might be able to see our sin for what it is. That we may not hold on to sin as a habit, as a justified response to some evil against us, but that you would help us to see sin as sin and to learn to hate it and to fight it – not with our own power because we know that we will fail, but with your power that you promised to give us. We thank you that you have given us the privileged promise that we can know that there is no temptation which has been given to us which we cannot fight except you are the one who will fight it for us. So we pray that you would help us to be those who fight the temptations that you give us and then consequently live lives which are glorifying to you and which are purposeful for the outside world to see your transforming power in our lives. We pray that you would do a mighty work in evangelism in our own lives, that we would proclaim the glorious truths of the transforming power of the Gospel and that you would then allow your glorious gospel message to go forth powerfully transforming many lives as we have the privileged opportunity to share this good news. And I pray all of this in your Son’s holy and precious name. Amen

Scripture References: 1 Peter 2:11-12

From Series: "1 Peter: Standing Firm in this Shaky Life"

Related File

More From "1 Peter: Standing Firm in this Shaky Life"

Powered by Series Engine