1 Peter 2:20-25 ESV
“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. 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. 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.”
Subject to Authorities
This passage of Scripture is in the context of abstaining from sinful passions and of living holy lives pleasing to God, of being subject to those in authority over us, and that of indentured servants being subject to their masters. But the truths being taught here don’t apply merely to the subject of masters and servants, but they apply more broadly to all Christians in general, for these same truths are taught in other New Testament passages, as well.
With regard to us being subject to those in authority over us and that of servants and their masters, I just want to point out that this does not mean that we have to be subject to sin, which is made clear for us in the preceding verses about keeping our conduct pure and abstaining from sinful passions and living holy lives, pleasing to God. We never have to obey any commands that go against God’s commands or that lead us into sin.
And we don’t have to remain under sinful authority unless we are citizens of a nation whose sinful leaders we are to obey. But even there if they are demanding that the people obey them and not God, then we have to obey God rather than men (examples: Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel, Jesus, and the apostles). But we don’t have to remain in “churches” that are of this ungodly world. For we are to flee that “Babylon” (Rev 18).
Suffering for Doing Good
We live in a sinful world with sinful leaders and with worldly and flesh-driven gatherings called “church,” which are not the true church, but to which many Christians go and participate in (Babylon). So, if we are abstaining from sinful passions, and if we are living holy lives, pleasing to the Lord, and if we are sharing the truth of the gospel (the whole counsel of God), we are going to be persecuted for it. We are going to be called “disunifiers, bigoted, hateful, prideful, self-righteous, hyper-religious, crazy, and weird, and we will be charged falsely with teaching “works-based salvation.”
We will be rejected and despised even by those who call themselves our brothers and sisters in Christ because of our walks of faith in the Lord and because of our testimonies for him and for his gospel. And this is because, at least here in America, so much of what is being called “church” is a mixture of true Christians, false professers of faith in Jesus, those making no profession of faith in Jesus, the world, big business, and the government.
And so these gatherings which they call “churches,” are being led by humans, and not by God and by His Spirit, and they are being run like businesses, and they are being marketed to the world via worldly and ungodly marketing schemes and business goals and ventures. And so they are catering to the world and to human flesh, and thus they have altered the church and the gospel of Christ to make them both more acceptable and attractive and agreeable to the world and to human flesh.
Thus, those of us who are still abstaining from sinful passions and who are living holy lives pleasing to the Lord, and who are still holding on to the original gospel as it was taught by Jesus and by his New Testament apostles, and who are sharing the truth of the gospel, we are being targeted for extinction, and we are being presented as the “bad guys” while those still living to the passions of the flesh in direct disobedience to the Lord’s commands are being painted as the “good guys.” Everything topsy-turvy.
Our Response to Unjust Treatment
It is important that we understand here that we are called, as followers of Jesus, to suffer for the sake of Jesus and his gospel, and that we are called to suffer like he suffered, so we are called to unjust suffering. Now, again, this does not mean that we have to succumb to backing down or to compromise or to forsaking the right way in order to follow the orders of those in authority over us. We definitely do not! Jesus did not!
Jesus stood strong on the truth and he did not bend. He kept speaking out and telling the people things that many of them did not want to hear, for he confronted them in their sins, he called sin what it was, he called them to true repentance, to the forsaking of their sins and of their idols, and he called them to follow him in obedience to his ways. And this was not optional or just recommended.
For if they refused to bow to him as Lord and to forsake their sins and to follow him in obedience then he told them plainly that he would tell them he did not know them and that they would not inherit eternal life with him, but they would be cast out into utter darkness where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For Jesus demanded repentance and obedience of all those who would choose to come after him by faith in him. He still does!
So, withstanding unjust treatment never means compromise or backing down or going into hiding or not speaking out unless God says to be silent. Jesus confronted his accusers all the time with their unjust treatments of him and with their hypocrisy and their lies and their secret sins, etc. He didn’t ever go soft on sin to make others feel better about themselves. And that is why they hated and persecuted him. And it is why they put him to death.
But he did not, in this world, try to get even with them. He did not sin against his accusers. He did not lie about them to make them pay for what they did to him. He did not trade evil for evil, but he always responded in a way that was righteous and holy, but which meant he sometimes had some pretty strong words to say to and about his opponents, but in order that others would not follow them in their wicked ways.
Why Jesus Died for Us
Jesus Christ did not die on that cross just so we would be delivered from the punishment of sin and just so we would have the hope of eternal life with God when we die, or when he comes back for us. And he definitely did not give his life up for us on that cross so that we would continue living in sin, only now guilt-free. And his plan of salvation for us is not that we just pray a prayer and now we are saved, secured, and nothing can take it away from us, no matter how we live our lives from now on.
This is God’s plan of salvation for us: Jesus Christ, God the Son, bore our sins in his body on a tree that we might DIE TO SIN AND LIVE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS. By his wounds we have been healed of our slavery to sin and we have been given new lives in Christ Jesus our Lord free from the control of sin over our lives and now empowered of God’s Spirit to live godly and holy lives pleasing to our Lord. For we WERE straying like sheep, but no more! Now we have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls so that we might walk with him in his steps and obey his commands.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]
Order My Steps
By Glenn Burleigh
Order my steps in Your word dear Lord
Lead me, guide me everyday
Send Your anointing, Father I pray
Order my steps in Your word
Please, order my steps in Your word
Humbly, I ask Thee to teach me Your will
While You are working, help me be still
Satan is busy, God is real
Order my steps in Your word
Please, order my steps in Your word
I want to walk worthy
My calling to fulfill
Please order my steps Lord
And I’ll do Your blessed will
The world is ever changing
But You are still the same
If You order my steps Lord,
I’ll praise Your name
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