1 Peter 3:13-17
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
We all need to learn to deal with fear in our life. And I am not just saying this because of what is happening in our world today. If we are all honest...before all these things started happening, we’ve always had our share of fear from time to time. What are we faced with today, illness, financial security, safety…these things has been the main focus on everyone’s minds, correct! Well…my brothers and sisters, it is now time to let these things be and fix our eyes back on Jesus.
You see…God’s people are not to live in fear. Fear should not be our god. Fear can rob us of our joy, our peace, our security in our Lord Jesus. Yes, I said it! Our security is in Jesus. The Apostle Peter has some reassuring words for us today from 1st Peter 3: 13-17…In Christ there is "No need for Fear".
Suffering is inevitable: "And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” Peter’s question must have hung in the air for a long moment when the Christians who first received this letter and heard it. They were no strangers to suffering and indeed had suffered for doing good. Peter is addressing no run of the mill believers. They were very zealous for the Lord in fact in the original language of the Greek New Testament these were people who "burned with zeal" to desire earnestly! What was it that they were so passionate about? Trusting in God regardless of the cost!
Peter was not dismissing the fact that they were suffering. In fact he was telling them that as a result of their righteous lives in God’s care, their blessedness would be such as to turn off all the malice of their persecutors and make their suffering itself to be a joy!
Someone asked C.S. Lewis, "Why do the righteous suffer?" "Why not?" he replied. "They’re the only ones who can take it."
Peter says God’s people are blessed for their suffering. That is a reoccurring theme in God’s word. There is something about great hardship that allows our Faith… if it a genuine faith to shine! What good is faith if it’s never tested? The testing is where many would fail. The trying of our faith is more precious than Gold as scripture says! Greatness often lies hidden beneath an easy or comfortable life, only to emerge when suffering is applied to such a life.
I am speaking to many today who is in the midst of suffering. It has torn at your heart and sapped your strength. You are today a weary follower of Christ. For the Lord, and His great cause you don’t burn with passion, you couldn’t be categorized as being someone who desires Him earnestly! And it’s all because of suffering, suffering you believe is undeserved and unwelcome! Could it be that suffering has come to you not as an enemy but as a friend? A friend who will take you by the hand and heart and show you the depths of God’s sufficiency?
"And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?
Church, let me say it again, suffering is inevitable, face it in the strength of the Lord! Be passionate about your faith, desire Him earnestly.
Saying no to fear. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” The apostle Peter is saying literally "Do not be affected with fear by the fear which they try to inspire in your heart"
Why and what do Christians fear? Peter of course is describing the fear that often is found in the committed believers heart! We fear many things as it relates to this world’s perception of us.
What is the heart of Peter’s thinking here? In the context of his day it’s simple not to be afraid to assert your love and passion for God! Risk being misunderstood to be a person of faith! In that regard the admonition to not be afraid spans the centuries! What it comes down to is this, Am I as a follower of Christ willing to allow the Lord to direct my life, shape my ethics control my conduct, even if it set’s me at odds with society? A society that wraps itself tightly around the idea that one should "Do what you want, there are no moral absolutes and in fact truth is not in a person it’s not in Christ it’s in what I feel at the moment! "Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened."
"Fear not" or "Be not afraid" is found three hundred and 65 times in the word of God! That’s one for every day! "Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened." There are legitimate fears, fears that cause us to be cautious! Like driving through a stormy weather! Or the fear of wild animals or heights! Peter wants us to not be afraid to live for Jesus to let His life dominate our own. Some may wrongly conclude that such devotion will eradicate our individuality. On the contrary you will become the "you" that God destined you to be when you…."Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened." How is that possible you ask? Is there an antidote for spiritual fear? Yes!
The antidote for fear is…
1 Peter 3:15-17
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Peter states that believers are to, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts”. Lord means “Kurious” it has it’s meaning in the old testament and is referring to Jesus as Jehovah God! Christ means the anointed One and speaks of the Jewish Messiah. Peter in no uncertain terms is challenging all believers then and now too, set apart their Messiah the Lord Jesus as Jehovah, the very God in their hearts, giving first place to Him in obedience of life. When we think of Jesus being Lord, the appropriate response for Christians is to bow to Him as master! The second person of the trinity is to be Lord and master of our lives! He is our resource our defender when persecution comes. After all, He is and will always be the One in control!
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
Suffering is inevitable, circled on the calendar of our life, our days will prove to be quite difficult! Are you ready for such a time of suffering? Are you a fearful person? We can learn to say no to fear. Fear should never be our master. Though life can and often is difficult, they will be in His hands, guiding you, leading you, watching over you….and all will be well! Impossible? No not in the least!
But church… Sunday only Christianity will not cut it, God is looking and waiting for people to seek Him with passion and trust Him with the faith of a child! If your bible is neglected and your spiritual fervor is burning low, you won’t stand when the winds blow and adversity strikes! You will wilt like a flower. It doesn’t have to be that way…but that’s a choice we make every day. Will I, do I … “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord”
A.W. Tozer says that people who are crucified with Christ have three distinct marks:
Notice the conduct of God’s people. If were to have a vital part in touching this country, our friends and neighbors we must, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
When Peter writes of believer’s needing to be ready to give an answer, he is using a word that would be well known in legal circles. It literally means an attorney who defends his client. Christians must be prepared to share the Hope i.e. the life of Jesus is a clear direct well thought out manner! "But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander" Character is much better kept than recovered.
Let me give you one more reminder of who we belong to…
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Here’s the truth. Each of us will face fear at some point, it is what we do with it that matters the most. We must claim our position as God’s children! Let me say that again, “WE MUST CLAIM OUR POSITION AS GOD’S CHILDREN!” We have the power, through Christ to overcome fear when we apply His words to our lives!
He says, “Fear not, for I am with you”. Who is the I Am in this verse? That is our God, Jehovah!
The sovereign Creator of the universe. “I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” It doesn’t matter what we face in this life, we belong to God. Listen… God is saying, look here…you are in My hands, I got safely in the palm of My hands, I will uphold you, I will strengthen you, I will help you! That is our God church and He does not lie!!! Let me remind you of what God said…I AM YOUR GOD!
If we’re to live trusting rather than fearful, encouraged rather than discouraged when suffering comes our way. We must constantly apply the antidote for fear. Consistent Christian living is the most effective way to point others to Christ! Because when we share His love, our lives will back up our words!
Let Us Pray:
Father, we thank you and praise you today. We thank you for your words and your promises. Father, how grateful we are, for your awesome love for us. And Lord, we know that you know all about fear, but You said… “My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Lord Jesus, we will trust in You with all of our heart, for this is Your will. Thank you Lord Jesus for your message today. We Love You, we praise you. In Jesus name we pray. AMEN!
Pastor Richard Santos
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