Submitting to God’s Authority

Unjust Suffering
1 Peter 2:19-20 ESV

“For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”

The context here in verses 13-18 (not quoted) is that of instructions regarding being subject to people in authority over us. But some of these instructions here may apply to all of us in a broader sense, and so I believe that is where I am to focus this teaching. But let me say this. There are always exceptions to the rule of being subject to those in authority over us.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were commanded to bow down to and to worship a golden statute. They refused. They were thrown into a fiery furnace but Jesus rescued them. Daniel was told he could not pray to any god or man other than the king. He refused. He was thrown into a den of lions. God rescued him. The apostles were told they must stop speaking in the name of Jesus. They refused. God rescued them, too.

So, we do not have to obey sin. We do not have to obey those in authority over us if they command us to disobey our Lord and any of his instructions to us. If obeying humans means disobeying God and sinning against our Lord in any way, then we can refuse to obey humans. But depending on the level of authority that people have over us, that may result in us being mistreated, persecuted severely, or even put to death.

So, we may be called upon, in some circumstances, to endure unjust suffering for doing good, for doing what is right, and for refusing to do what is wrong. And this may happen within the gatherings of the church, as well. I have been banned from a “church” property for telling the truth respectfully, and in the correct context, and I have been put on church discipline (a different “church”) for refusing to tell a lie.

But let me add this here. Just because it is called “church” it does not make it the church. Many human institutions are calling themselves the church because there are some Christians who attend their religious institutions and their gatherings. But the church is the body of Christ (followers of Jesus) with Jesus Christ as its true head, and the Scriptures are its rule book and the Holy Spirit is its guide and counsel.

So, if you are going to gatherings called “church,” but they are following the rules of men, instead of the commandments of God, and if marketing schemes and business practices are what they are following instead of the Scriptures, and in place of the Holy Spirit, and if institutions of men are its head and not Jesus, you can leave. For we are instructed to come out from Babylon so we don’t share in her sins and in her punishment (Rev 18).

Called to Suffer
1 Peter 2:21-23 ESV

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 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, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

The Christian life is a life of suffering for the sake of the name of Jesus and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. If anyone tells you anything differently from that, they are selling you a lie. For we are called to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, becoming like him in his death. For Jesus told us we would be hated and persecuted as he was.

So, Jesus is our example for us to follow in how he dealt with unjust suffering, and believe it or not, he didn’t always remain silent and do nothing about it and just let them have their way with him. He resisted and he rebuked the Pharisees, and he didn’t yield to their intimidation tactics nor did he let them influence him to stop obeying the Father.

They hounded him continuously because he didn’t do things their way, because he didn’t follow their customs and traditions and man-made rules and their twisting of the Scriptures to their own advantage to excuse away their own practices while trying to accuse Jesus falsely because he was healing people on the Sabbath.

Jesus didn’t bow to them. He walked away from them. He didn’t let them take authority over him to where he then didn’t do the will of God the Father. And sometimes he rebuked them strongly and he called them out publicly with regard to their hypocrisy and their lies and their false righteousness and their secret sins.

Jesus was meek, but he wasn’t weak. He wasn’t a push over. He stood strongly on the truth and on righteousness and he refused to cave to pressure to yield to human institutions in place of yielding to God the Father. He spoke the truth in power, but in love, but in full conviction of the Spirit of God, and he didn’t spare people’s feelings by refusing to tell them the truth.

Yes, Jesus suffered unjust treatment at the hands of sinful human beings, and even when he had to speak the truth strongly to some people, it was still for the good of all who heard it. It wasn’t to be mean or to be hateful or to get even with those who were mistreating him. He said what he said because it is the truth that sets the sinner free.

That We Might Die
1 Peter 2:24-25 ESV

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

Jesus did finally submit to his persecutors and he did let them take him away and beat him mercilessly and crucify him on a cross as a common criminal even though he had done no wrong but only good. But this was because this was what he was called to do at this specific time in order to bring salvation to the world. Until it was the right time, this did not take place.

And the purpose for why he gave his life up for us on that cross should be the same purpose that drives us to endure unjust suffering for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is that the people of this world might die to sin and live to righteousness. And it is the reason that we speak the truth in love and we expose the lies and call out what is false, too.

Jesus didn’t die that horrible death on a cross just so we could be forgiven our sins and so we could go to heaven one day. He died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (see also Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17). He died to transform us, and he died to conform us to his likeness. And this is what he taught when he lived on the earth, too.

Jesus taught that if we are going to come after him that we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die with him to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we try to save our old lives we will lose them for eternity but if we lose our lives for his sake, i.e. if we willingly die with him to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness, then we have eternal life with God (See Luke 9:23-26; cf. Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).

The whole goal of our salvation is that we would leave our lives of sin behind us, be changed by the Spirit of God, and now walk in obedience to our Lord wherever he leads us, that we might live holy lives, pleasing to God. We were straying like sheep (past tense) but now we have returned or turned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls to follow (obey) him in his ways.

Mary, Did You Know?

Songwriters: Greene Lee Rufus / Lowry Mark Alan

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy
Is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re
Holding is the great, I Am

Mary, did you know?

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