Like the Face of an Angel

1 Peter 3:8-12 ESV

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For

“’Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’”

When this passage of Scripture instructs Christians to have unity of mind with one another, it is speaking of the mind of Christ, not the mind of humans in their marketing goals and visions and plans. For many of today’s market-driven churches are stressing unity, and they are putting people on guilt trips to pressure them into such unity, but it is not unity with the mind of God but with the minds of humans who are building earthly kingdoms.

So, be wise, and know the difference. We are to be united first and foremost with the mind of God and we are to then be united in mind with one another with that mind of God. And we learn what the mind of God is by studying the Scriptures in their context and not by jumping all over the place in the Scriptures and reading Scriptures consistently taught out of context and oftentimes then misinterpreted to say what they don’t mean at all.

The mind of God, thus, is holiness, godliness, honesty, moral purity, righteousness, uprightness, self-control, faithfulness, sincerity, death to sin, living to God, obedience to God, and love for God and for our fellow humans with a love which comes from God, for God is love. Therefore, this love will involve moral purity, honesty, uprightness, and faithfulness, etc. And love does no deliberate harm to its neighbor. Love does not sin against another.

But not everyone has that mind of God and the love of God within them, for not all know God, not even all who profess faith in Jesus Christ, God the Son. And so there are going to be people who will do evil against us, perhaps as a regular practice, because they don’t have the mind of God, and because they prefer their evil and their adulteries and their lies instead of living godly and holy lives in moral purity with the kindness and love of God.

But when they do evil against us, and when they revile (insult, abuse, attack) us, we are not to do evil back to them, but we are to do good to them, and to love them, and to pray for them, and to say to them what will be for their moral and spiritual benefit. And this involves speaking the truth in love to them and confronting them with their sin and calling them to repentance and to walks of faith in Jesus Christ, for this is for their good.

And we are to keep our tongues from speaking evil and deceit, and we are to be truth tellers, even though it may mean humbling ourselves and owning up to something that we did or said that was wrong that perhaps we didn’t recall doing or saying until it is brought to our attention. We should always be willing to tell the truth even if telling the truth puts ourselves in a bad light, and even if it means losing friends or whatever. Truth trumps!

And we are to turn from evil and to do the good that God has called us to do. And we are to reject the lies which tell us that we don’t have to repent of sin or that we don’t have to obey the Lord or which lie about us when they say we are teaching “works-based salvation” because we are teaching the true gospel which instructs us that we must die with Christ to sin and live to his righteousness. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous who live righteously, and he is attentive to our prayers, but not so to the wicked.

1 Peter 3:13-17 ESV

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”

In an ideal world, if we are doing good, we will be praised and treated kindly for our good deeds. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a sinful world full of sinful people who hate and who sin against one another. And so we will be mistreated for righteousness’ sake even by others who profess to believe in Jesus Christ like we do. And we will be slandered by those who hate us and whose desire it is for others to hate us, too.

But we are blessed of God when we suffer unjustly for the sake of righteousness. God will use that in our lives to mature us in him, to train us in godliness, so that we might share in his holiness, to humble us, to purify us, to make us more like Jesus, to test our faith, to strengthen us in our faith, to teach us perseverance, to strengthen our godly characters, and in order that we might learn to rely on God and not on ourselves.

[Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Matt 5:10-12; Lu 21:12-19; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12; Jn 15:1-11]

So, we are to have no fear of our persecutors, of those who despise us and who speak evil against us and whose goal it is to turn others against us, too. For God is still on the throne. He is still in charge over all things. And whatever is happening in our lives God has allowed for his purposes, and so we need to trust him with our circumstances and with our enemies whose goal it is to destroy us and to turn others against us.

In our hearts we are to honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that is in us. And “asking” may not come with kind and thoughtful inquisitive words, but it may come with sharp rebukes and false accusations which require a response, like Jesus faced, and like the NT apostles faced, to which they did give answers and defenses to their opponents of their faith and practices.

And gentleness means controlled strength. For Jesus and the NT apostles and even the deacon Stephen, who was a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, spoke some pretty strong words to the Scribes and the Pharisees and the teachers of the law due to their hypocrisy and their false righteousness, and because of the wrong influence that they wielded over the people. Sometimes when we are fighting the lies of Satan we have to speak with the strength and power of God behind our words which won’t be fluffy words.

And I am certain that the Pharisees, and the like, did not feel respected by Jesus, and Stephen, and Paul, and by the other apostles who spoke strong words of rebuke against them. So, I’m just saying here that to the gentle we can be gentle, but to the obstinate and the liars and the adulterers who mock God and his word and who slander the servants of the Lord, especially if they are claiming faith in Jesus Christ, sometimes a strong exhortation is what is appropriate, spoken in love, of the Spirit of God.

But we should never speak out of anger or resentment or hatred or envy or jealousy or in order to get even, etc. And we should not speak in our own strength or willpower but we should speak as we are led by the Holy Spirit in what to say and in how to say it, and we should exercise self-control and not let the words or the actions of our opponents lead us to being out of control, for that may well be their goal to get us riled up so we will “blow our cool.”

Through it all we are to maintain a good conscience before God, and we should be continually looking into our own hearts to make certain that we are not reacting in the flesh, and that we are not speaking lies to cover up our own failures, so that when we are slandered, those who revile our good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. And what did they see when they looked at Stephen? They saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Songs in the Night

An Original Work / December 18, 2013

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84

Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.

I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!

Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.

I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!

Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.

Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!

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