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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
 sites.google.com/site/rcoamaru/
 
Title:The Christ Light
Text:1 Peter 2:11-12 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Maintaining the Antithesis
 
Preached:2022-01-09
Added:2022-06-25
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


1 PETER 2:11-12

(Reading: 1 Peter 2:4-25)

 

The Christ-Light

 

 

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ…

 

     The verses before our text are the most phenomenal words. That’s because there the most vivid description was given of the Church. And how much wasn’t pictured in such a brief passage?

     Just think of the image of the stone. This is the stone verse 4 says the builders rejected. But now this stone is nothing less than the cornerstone – the most important stone of them all!

     This foundational stone can be none other than Jesus Christ. And because he is the foundation there are all the other stones which build upon him and which connect together in him! Here the apostle joins together so much of Scripture that speaks of his Lord and Master.

     In addition to the foundation of the church, Peter also told us of the character of the Church. You see, by being joined to Jesus we also show we are of Jesus. Verse 5 describes this as “being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.”

     This is what we are together. There are no Lone-Ranger Christians. You can’t get away by saying you can worship God on your own on some mountain top. It’s only as we are joined together that God is pleased. A brick by itself is useless!

     This is why the imagery of a priest is used. For just as a priest builds a bridge for others to come to God so each of us has the duty and the privilege of bringing others to the Saviour who has found and loves us!

     And what’s more are the sacrifices the priest would make to the Lord. It’s his business to bring offerings to God. And while under the old covenant the offerings brought were animal and harvest sacrifices we now are to be spiritual sacrifices. This means your worship is an offering. And so the worship of God’s family of faith becomes not a burden but a joy.

     It was also the priest who especially sang out the praises of God. And how much aren’t we called to witness to those around us the mighty acts of God?

     Verse 9 tells of those things we are to witness to. And what amazing imagery isn’t this? Just think of it: You are called out of darkness into God’s glorious light. You who were blind can now see! And, man, what an incredible sight meets your eyes! Jesus is your way, your truth, and your life. Your life is packed full of the most wonderful meaning!

     Then verse 10 declares that you who were not a people are God’s people! You have been called out of being worthless to being the most worthy of all! You are not just any other man – you are a man of God!

     In the same breath you have been called out of not receiving mercy into receiving mercy. From being one who deserved no pardon whatsoever and who could only be very afraid of God you know his love. You know you are not afraid of him because he has saved you and lives in you. Wow! This is something else.

     And now the rest of verse 9 tells us what this means. We are those chosen, royal, holy, set apart. Just like a very ordinary thing can become the most valuable because someone famous has used it, so it is with the Christian. You have the most precious value because you belong to God and you are being used by God!

     Peter will soon go on to tell us the difference this makes. He will tell those who are citizens of heaven how they are to behave while they are this earth. He will spell out what witnessing to Christ involves in the complete range of our relationships – with civil authorities, with employers, and within their families.

     But before he does that the apostle outlines basic principles of Christian witness. This is where our text fits in. And so it is that under the title ‘The Christ-Light’ we will see what it is, first of all, to be … LIVING AS THOSE APART FROM THE WORLD. And, then, in the second place, we will see what it is to be … SHINING OUT AS THOSE ABOVE THIS WORLD. These two aspects deal with the verses 11 and 12 respectively.

 

     So let’s turn then to consider … LIVING AS THOSE APART FROM THIS WORLD. In the words of verse 11, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which war against your soul.”

     This is an urgent appeal. Peter cries out to his original readers – and to us today too! He is straight up about his concern for our safety and well-being. He crirs out: “Beloved, I urge you…”

     Now, “beloved” is an affectionate term. With the word for Christian love embedded in it he shows he’s calling out to God’s own. Indeed, the Greek word conveys a passive voice in the vocative case. So God is the agent. And the adjective expresses obligation. Peter could not be more personal than this with us.

     This tense is continued with the tone in the rest of verse 11. By describing believers as “sojourners and exiles” it’s clear we’re only passing through here. We are only temporary residents on this earth - we have only tourist visas here. Heaven is our true home. We are citizens of a city and a country up above. Like Abraham declared in Genesis 23:4 we are strangers and pilgrims.

     Using that tourist visa analogy, think of when you have been to a different country. You will note the way they do things differently there. But you’re not likely going to adopt the customs of that land you’re only travelling through. Your standard of values, your lifestyle, is different. You are a foreigner. And so Peter wants Christian pilgrims to remember their heavenly citizenship. In fact, he is absolutely clear that the last thing they should be doing is conforming to the wickedness of this world.

     The word “abstain” clearly marks us apart from this world. We don’t belong here. And how much more clearer isn’t that with what it is we’re to keep right away from? You see, we have to abstain “from the passions of the flesh.”

     Dear believer, there is a war out there – and right in here. And don’t think that the word “flesh” is about the physical side of things. This is about everything within us that pushes us to live independently of God and his control. This is whatever is motivated by selfish desires – whether it’s gross and physical, or refined and sophisticated.

     Mind you, our world now is particularly marked by the corruption of bodily desires for food and drink and sex. It sweeps over us like a flooding sewer. But you have to be ‘out of it’. You have to fight the compulsive urgings of hammering sexual music, the seductions of pandering commercials, the sadism of pornography on the internet and in films and magazines and paperbacks.

     The devil tells you to get into it – to have a life. But he is the enemy of what is truly life. What God gives for our good Satan twists to make it bad.

     We are those who show how it ought to be. As those freed from sin’s bondage we now not only praise God but witness to him right here and now! This is exactly what Peter is going spell out in detail. While we are LIVING AS THOSE APART FROM THIS WORLD we are yet in this world.

     And it’s while we’re in this world that we show this world another world. This is what Peter means later in chapter 4, verse 2. There he speaks of our living the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

     The battle verse 11 concludes with is what we fight when we avoid those dangers and keep on avoiding them. Don’t forget that these “passions of the flesh” are our own selfish, indulgent and potentially vicious, natural appetites. Like mutineers, in a moment they can raise an insurrection and wage a campaign against our spiritual devotion. They wage war against the true self.

     Paul in Romans 7:23 says, “I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” And James 4:1 talks about the fights and quarrels amongst believers coming from the desires that battle within us.

     By deliberate abstinence we must refuse to give them a foothold or a taking off ground. Our Lord perfectly showed us how to do this. When the devil tried to tempt him in the wilderness he went back time and time again to God’s Word. In Matthew 4 we hear the constant refrain he said to Satan: “It is written … it is written … it is written…” And how much didn’t he sum it up there in verse 10: “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”

 

     After the uplifting tone of the verses 4 till 10, verse 11 has spelt out the negatives. But now, in verse 12, we turn to what are definitely the positives. In the words of the second part to our text, here we are … SHINING OUT AS THOSE ABOVE THIS WORLD.

     You see, congregation, there is a bit of a paradox here. While Christians are not to be of the world, they are yet to be in the world. This is why Peter warns against the desires of the flesh, but also tells us how to live “the rest of the time in the flesh”. And this is why Peter is about to lay down the kind of ethical instruction that was common in the early church. You’ll find similar lists of duties within domestic relationships in Paul’s letters.

     Yet Peter describes these duties in a special way. Because he wants us to see that living this way, and living willingly this way, is what gives God the glory.

     Again this is not about us. We are not our own. So we do everything before God and for God. That’s the message of verse 11. And yet we also live in the world. This is why the word “Gentiles” is highlighted. It’s not here because those Peter was writing to were all Jews. No, this word is used here because those Peter were writing to are of true Israel – the Church of Jesus Christ. The verses 9 and 10 have clearly shown this.

     So the “Gentiles” here are the pagans – those who are unbelievers. And while the word “Gentiles” may seem a negative term, as though they were barbarian, it is clear here they are not. They know what right and wrong is. The Greeks and Romans also had such household rules as Peter is about to outline.

     But we have to do it better. Because that’s where those Greeks and Romans often proved very inconsistent. And they knew it! Just like today many around us will know there ought to be a certain type of attitude and behaviour in how we live. They know that the way our government is changing the moral rules isn’t how it’s supposed to be. But they’ll go easy on themselves if they happen to slip up a bit. “It’s not such a big deal” they say.

     But if you’re a Christian and you get caught out! There is no end of the television news items and newspaper articles about those misdeeds!

     And, yet, when we do live looking to the Lord it is the most attractive lifestyle. That’s what the word for “honourable” brings out. It’s about a beauty or lovely manner that shows them up!

     As Christians we live in glasshouses. We are on open display. This world has got us under a microscope. So what is your neighbour seeing in you? Is it the joy of being filled with the Spirit? Have you got that awareness of pleasing God in all things?

     How much don’t we need to confess our shortcoming in this? And yet it’s that very humbleness which is part of that living honourably.

 

     Mind you, that won’t stop them having a go at you, whether you have done the wrong thing or the right thing! When verse 12 goes on to describe the Gentiles speaking against us as evildoers it isn’t as though they see actual sins that we do. This is about when they make up things to put us in a bad light.

     This is what happens to Pakistani Christians when they are accused of blaspheming Mohammed.  But the truth is that those Muslims are lying so that they can confiscate the Christian farms. Because there is no way a Christian there would dare get himself into any trouble by speaking that way at all!

     In the time of our text even the good Christians did was taken the wrong way. One Roman historian wrote that Christians were ‘loathed because of their abominations.” And another author approved of Nero’s persecution of Christians as they were ‘a class of people animated by a novel and mischievous superstition.’

     And how about where we are here and now? How much doesn’t the faithful exposition of God’s Word and supporting traditional families bring about charges of homophobia, biphobia, acephobia, and transphobia and anti-choice? What used to be mainline belief and practice is now vilified by the media as extremist and even terrorist!

     Friend, it is nothing new. As Scripture says in John 15:20, the way they persecuted the saints of the past is the way they are persecuting us also.

     In spite of this pagan injustice, the impact of the Christian witness won’t be lost, whether in Peter’s day or ours. The community around us will see the “good deeds” of the covenant people. They can’t miss it.

     Later in this letter of Peter we see an example of how this happens. In chapter 3, verses 1 and 2, unbelieving husbands will see, and be affected by, the godliness of their wives.

     A travelling evangelist has an interesting way of beginning a conversation about spiritual matters. He would ask, ‘When did you become a Christian?’ and, depending on the answer, he would follow the lead he got.

     Once in a suburban mission he put his question to one particular member of his audience. That man replied: ‘Oh, I am not a Christian. I came to the meeting because he (indicating another man) invited me. Now he is a Christian, I have watched him for years – we work together. I have even set traps for him. And I tell you this: If ever I do become a Christian, that is the sort I want to be.’

     Congregation, all those out there will come to glorify God one day. For many of them that will be when Christ Jesus returns again to judge the world. That’s what is usually understood by this expression “the day of visitation” at the end of verse 12.

     But, friend, could that glorifying God also be when God visits them before that last day? Might it be for those we live with and work with and study with the day they see who lives in our lives – the day they meet Jesus as their Saviour! Indeed, isn’t this what our Lord Jesus spoke about when he said in Matthew 5? There in verse 16 he declares, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

     You think about that. And you pray about that. Then the Holy Spirit will bless the good deeds you do. How much won’t that glorify God?

     Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

 

Let’s pray…

 

     O Lord God, may the return of your Son find us all living honourably in this world. May our good deeds be shining brightness in the desperate darkness of this world. And so may many more be joined with us in praising you by faith upon that day.

     In your Son’s dear Name, we pray. Amen.

 

 

 

 

         

             

 

 

 

    

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

    

 

 

    

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.rcnz.org.nz

(c) Copyright 2022, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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