1 Peter 3:8-9 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.”
There can’t be unity of mind where people are not united in mind one with the other, where one person believes one way and the other person believes a different way, and neither will budge. And you can’t force anyone else to have unity of mind with you, nor are you to have unity of mind with those whose minds are not united with Christ and with the teachings of his word. So, this unity of mind has to first of all be with Christ and with the teachings of Scripture, and then we can be united in mind with those who are also like-minded with Christ and with the word of God.
If we show sympathy to others we are kind, compassionate, and empathetic to their cause. Now this requires wisdom and discernment, for there are many liars and deceivers and con artists out there trying to gain our sympathies so that they can trick and deceive us into believing their lies. And many of these con artists are within the church, and some of them are pastors. And there are many good people out there who are sincere and honest who are not being believed and therefore they are not being treated with kindness nor with compassion. And that is a very sad reality.
If we show brotherly love, one to the other, that is good. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, should care for one another and encourage one another and do good to one another. We should not be biting and devouring one another. But this doesn’t mean that we coddle other Christians in their sins or that we don’t speak the truth in love, one to the other. We do. For if we truly love each other we will care enough about each other to say what needs to be said so that our brothers and sisters in Christ will be on the right path. This is why the Scriptures say to exhort one another daily (Hebrews 3:13).
Now, when this says to not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, this does not mean that we don’t speak the truth in love to one another. This isn’t saying that we can’t confront a fellow Christian with regard to his or her sins against us. And when we are coming up against those who are liars and deceivers and tricksters who like to twist our words, then sometimes we have to be stronger in our approach, kind of like Jesus was with the Pharisees. We can’t baby those who are abusers and who take advantage of those weaker than themselves. And this is not repaying evil for evil.
Repaying evil for evil is when you get even with someone by doing an evil act against them in order to punish them for the wrong they did against you. We are not to do that. We are to forgive our persecutors. But again this doesn’t mean that we don’t confront people in their sins or that we don’t fight off the lies of the enemy with the truth. But make sure before you confront someone with what you think is sin that it is really sin. Sometimes people confront others by accusing them wrongfully of things they did not do, and sometimes this is based off of false information.
And then it says here that instead of getting even with our persecutors that we are to bless. Now this does not mean to coddle them in their sins. To bless is to do for others what is for their good, for their benefit, for their welfare. It is the opposite of doing evil. And sometimes that good is to speak the truth in love to them or to confront them with their sins against us so that they are given the opportunity to repent. For we have this idea so many times that blessing people is just saying a lot of insincere niceties to them. But lying to people is never kind nor is it beneficial nor for anyone’s good.
So, why do I do this? Why do I take these things and pick them apart and look at the positive and negative sides to them? Because these things are often being misinterpreted and misused, and sometimes to bully people into conformity that is not conformity with God but with man. This happens a lot! Unity especially is a big one. Many pastors are trying to guilt trip their people into unifying with them in their marketing adventures or with false doctrines of men which are often contrary to the teachings of Scripture. So don’t unify unless it is unity with Christ and with his word.
1 Peter 3:10-12 ESV
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.’”
Amen! There are so many truly evil people within the gatherings of the church who call themselves Christians and pastors, but who do evil to each other. They tell lies which are harmful to others, especially if the lies are about the gospel. They trick and deceive and connive evil and they are leading many people straight to hell on the promise of heaven when they die. Now, not everyone who teaches a false gospel is evil. Some of them are naïve and they are just teaching what they were taught. But we also have many wolves in sheep’s clothing in the gatherings of what is called “church.”
So, as followers of Jesus, we need to know the Scriptures, so we need to be studying them in context, and then we need to be applying the truths of the Scriptures (in agreement with the New Covenant) to our daily lives. And then we need to be discerning about lies and deception so that we are not “taken for a ride,” and so that we are not taken captive by these charmers and smooth talkers who are saying what people’s itching ears want to hear. For they are deceiving so many people with their lies. And so many people are following them straight to hell.
So, be a follower of Jesus. Be a student of the Scriptures so that you can discern lies from the truth. Then reject the lies and follow the truth. For the lies tell you that repentance and obedience to Christ are not required for salvation from sin. But they are. They are part of believing faith in Christ. All throughout the New Testament we read that we must walk in obedience to our Lord’s commands or we don’t know God and we are not born of God. And we are taught that we must no longer walk in sin or else we don’t know God and we don’t have eternal life with God. So know the truth.
An evildoer is not just one who makes no profession of faith in Jesus Christ. An evildoer is one who makes sin his practice, whether or not he professes faith in Jesus Christ. He is one who habitually and deliberately sins against God and against other humans, especially without conscience or compassion or remorse. He may profess faith in Jesus but his heart is given over to doing what is evil. And his actions follow suit. So, the face of the Lord is against all who practice evil, even if their lips confess Christ as Lord.
And those who are righteous are those who make righteousness their practice (1 John 3:4-10) and who do not practice evil. They follow Jesus in obedience to his ways and they do what he says to do. They are not perfect people, but they are not walking in sin. Sin is not what they practice. Righteousness and godliness are what they practice. And we need to understand that distinction, for many pastors today are blending the two together and the distinction they are making has more to do with who confesses to be Christians and who do not, but that is not of God.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012
With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.
Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.
Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.