The Good Life
Preached by Mike Aiken
We are continuing our series on 1 Peter and today our focus is on chapter 3 vv. 8-22. In this section of Scripture we see how we are to live our lives as followers of Christ in the midst of suffering for doing good. There is no virtue in suffering for doing evil (1 Peter 2:20,21- “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.”) As Benjamin emphasized two weeks ago when he preached on chapter 2 (1 Peter 2:11-25), God takes notice of our suffering for doing what is right and he will judge righteously. As 1 Peter 2:24 says, Jesus the God-man when he suffered unjustly “continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”
This section of Scripture today starts in verse 8 with “Finally, all of you…” Peter is speaking to all Christians generally and not to certain Christians specifically (servants, wives, and husbands as in 2:18; 3:1, 7. God’s will for every believer to enjoy the good life is found in these verses. God’s will for you and I may include suffering for doing what is right but in the midst of this suffering we can experience God’s blessing and have a good life. A good life is a gospel centered life which is filled with three things which our text lays out for us. First are the attitudes and activities -vv. 8-12, secondly, heart matters are addressed in vv. 13-17 and thirdly and lastly, looking to Jesus-vv. 18-22. This is our outline for today’s message. Peter through the Holy Spirit is giving encouragement to believers who are suffering for righteousness’ sake. Suffering is a major theme which Peter addresses in this first letter of his. Now let’s look at what it means to live godly in the midst of suffering- the good life.
I. Attitudes and Activities –vv. 8-12
a. Specific actions and attitudes-vv.8-9
Attractive Virtues- v.8
Commentators have pointed out that these 5 virtues form a chiasm in structure. What this means is the first and last one are related as are numbers 2 and 4. Number 3 is in the middle and stands alone. Daniel Doriani’s comments are helpful: “At first glance, Peter seems to list five random virtues. On closer inspection, a pattern emerges. The first and last are mental or intellectual, the second and fourth are emotional, and brother love stands at the center. Further, all these traits have a social dimension.
Together, they keep relationships healthy” (Doriani, 1 Peter: Reformed Expository Commentary, p. 126)
Doriani helpfully explains: “Strong relationships begin with ‘unity of mind’ (homophrones). To have one mind is not to have identical opinions about politics, philosophy, ethics, business, food, music, and leisure. Rather, unity means that we are ‘agreeable and sensitive to each other’s concerns.’ Unity comes not from a creed or a law laid upon us, nor from a pretense that we agree when we actually disagree, but from relationships, respectful dialogue, and common cause.” (1 Peter, p. 126)
Sympathy and compassion are both emotions which are forms of love. Sympathy is feeling what others feel, whether it is joy or sorrow. Joy over victories and sorrow over sin. Sympathy puts itself in the shoes of the other and acts in appropriate ways to minister to that person. Jesus set the standard high for us in John 13:34-“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” The second greatest command is to love our neighbor as ourselves according to Jesus (Matt. 22:39). Jesus thought of others and ministered to them. Mark 10:45- “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Love thinks of the other’s needs and sacrifices time, energy, and money to meet those needs. We need to constantly be thinking how we can love our brothers and sisters in Christ who are hurting and in need. Biblical love is both volitional and emotional and is always concerned with meeting the real needs of others. If I am caught in a sin, I need someone to love me by pointing out my sin, rebuking and correcting me and then trying to restore me to fellowship. Love disciplines. There are many facets to love. 1 Thessalonians 5:12b-15- “Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” It can be as simple as sitting down and listening to someone’s story, their problems in life and offering advice but only after thoroughly listening to their hurts. You don’t need a degree in counseling to minister to people. How are you doing in this area of love? Are you doing in loving your spouse, your children, your parents, neighbors, coworkers, friends, enemies?
Humility is the opposite of pride which thinks highly of oneself and focuses on self. Doriani says that “To be humble is to suppress the desire to be important and to put our interests first. Since most quarrels come from a desire to have our way, we see that humility fosters unity” (1 Peter, 128). Humility thinks about the interests of others first (Phil. 2:3,4). It is willing to take a lower position for God’s kingdom. Humility is not a bad concept of yourself nor is it passive. Humility can be assertive but not self- assertive. To “assert” is “to state positively; declare; affirm” (Webster) Self assertion is when you insist on your rights, or on being recognized (Webster). This is where pride creeps in. Ill. Plato said the best governors for ruling the Republic were not hungry to rule. “The person who hungers for rule is unfit for rule” said Doriani (1 Peter, p. 128).
If someone hurts you with their words you will be tempted to do the same in kind. Jesus calls us to a higher standard. We are to bless those who hurt us with their words. Verbal persecution is one form of suffering Peter’s readers had to endure and we may face the same hardship as we live differently from the unbelieving world around us. They may make fun of us for being different in our speech. Illustration: The Count of Monte Cristo (one of my favorite movies) shows us how not to live our lives. Edmond was promoted to captain and falls in love with Mercedes, but there is a conspiracy against Edmond by his closest friend who has Edmond wrongly accused of a crime he didn’t commit and he is wrongly thrown into prison where he spends many years learning how to read, write, think, and fight with the sword. When he escapes prison and finds the treasure the priest told him about he becomes a very wealthy man and then sets out to meet out revenge on his best friend (who married his fiancé Mercedes) and those involved in the conspiracy. The Count of Monte Cristo is a great story and though I love to see justice meted out on the unjust I cannot recommend we imitate what Edmond did. But God is just and he will not forget the injustices committed and those involved with be judged. The good news for all sinners who deserve justice is the fact that Christ Jesus has paid our sin debt and satisfied the just wrath of God. Sin is not overlooked in the Cross it is paid for by the life of the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us.
b. The Biblical basis for these activities and attitudes-vv. 10-12
- “For” at the beginning of verse 10 is there showing what the biblical rational is for these attitudes and activities. It is a quotation of Psalm 34: 12-16.
- The good life is a life of faith which is evidenced in good works. October 31 is Reformation Sunday and it was the Reformers who said, “we are saved by faith alone but not by a faith which stands alone.” Saving faith works.
- The good life is the life of being a peacemaker (v. 11). Holding our tongues and not gossiping promotes peace in families and everywhere (v. 10). Peacemakers do good works which promote peace. Peacemakers don’t ignore their own sin or the sin of other’s (we are our brother’s keeper) and seeks reconciliation with God and others. Peacemakers use their tongue to pray and not gossip.
II. Heart Matters- vv. 13-17
- A rhetorical question starts this section in v. 13. Peter is saying no one can ultimately harm you.
- The good life does not mean there is no trouble as v. 14 makes clear. We need to be reminded that it may be God’s will that we experience suffering for doing good. When you suffer in this way you are blessed by God with his favor and peace.
- Specifically Peter tells us not to fear or be troubled by our persecutors. Jesus said we are to not let our hearts be troubled (John 14:1).
- The remedy for not letting our heart be troubled is found in v. 15 where we are told to “honor Christ the Lord as holy.” We are commanded to set apart Jesus as Lord in our hearts. This shows the importance of acknowledging the sovereignty of Jesus over all of our circumstances which includes suffering unjustly. Ill. As the Song “In Christ Alone” by Keith and Kristyn Getty says, “Jesus commands our destiny.” Jesus is Lord meaning he is our God who is sovereign and determines all things.
- In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.
- The wrong fear as we go through life is the fear of man and the right fear is God himself. To fear God means we reverence and worship him alone. Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:24-39 address the right and wrong fear to have in this life.
III. Looking to Jesus- vv. 18-22
- This section of Scripture is considered the hardest to interpret in 1 Peter and some consider it the hardest to interpret in the entire New Testament. What I am going to do is emphasize the main point of the passage and will briefly tell you what it is not teaching as well.
- Peter is stressing that Jesus suffered unjustly on his way to glory and therefore as his followers, who are in a faith union with Jesus Christ, will also share in this victory of Christ’s as well. Christ is victorious over his enemies by his death and resurrection. The road to glory for Christ was filled with unjust suffering and we too may suffer unjustly on our way to being glorified in the new heaven and the new earth. Don’t be surprised by the suffering or discouraged.
- What this passage (v.19) is not teaching is a second chance for those who have not repented of their sin and trusted in Christ in this life. Also Christ did not descend into hell after his physical death on the cross.
- This passage is also not teaching baptismal regeneration (v. 21)
- Verse 18 is a key passage on the atonement of Christ. Jesus suffered unjustly but he did this willingly and according to the plan of God for our sin and salvation.
- As we read through this passage though we don’t know for sure about all the details like Jesus was “made alive in the spirit” Is that his human spirit or the Holy Spirit? Who are the “spirits” in prison in v. 19? Are they fallen angels or humans? When did Christ make his proclamation? Was it through the preaching of Noah? Or was it at his resurrection and ascension? While we may not have certainty regarding all the details of this passage, the overall message of Christ being victorious over his enemies, who caused him to suffer unjustly, is very clear. Jesus was victorious over his enemies and his enemies are our enemies and we are also victorious through Jesus’ death and resurrection and by virtue of our faith union with him.
- Baptism in itself (formally) does not save (v. 21- “not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience.” but it represents our death and resurrection with Christ. Baptism serves as a sign and seal of our union with Christ in his death and resurrection. It is the death and resurrection of Jesus which saves and baptism points to and represents these realities. Ill. The wedding ring in marriage and baptism are analogous to each other.
The good life is not a life absent of suffering but it is a life of blessing by God as we go through unjust sufferings in this life. We must constantly look to Jesus who is our champion who has won the victory for us in his death and resurrection. He reached glory and vindication and so will we by his work for us on the cross and his resurrected life.