“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” 1 Peter 3:18 KJV
"Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow!" These words of the great old Hymn "Jesus Paid It All" ring true for eternity. The sin debt has been paid by Jesus Christ!!! He, the sinless One, died in substitution for our sins. He is just! We are unjust. He is holy! We are unholy. He is sinless! We are sinful. The great love of God has overcome. He died a brutal, physical death to pay our ransom. He triumphed over death and the grave and resurrected to life. Because of this, we are given opportunity to receive the gift of salvation that He extends to all. Each of us must reach out and receive the gift. It's paid for and ready for the taking but we must repent of our sins and ask Jesus to become our Lord. Jesus has made it simple. We need not complicate it with all of our "additions" of conditions. "Receive" is the operative word, not "achieve". “But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART "-that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:8-10 NASB Paul was quoting from Deuteronomy 30:12-14 where God gave the Israelites the choice between life and death, blessing and cursing. Today, God gives us a choice: believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved or reject Him and be lost. The choice is ours. I choose Him! How about you?
Doing the Right Thing
Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!” 1 Peter 3:13-17 NLT
Doing the right thing is always the right thing!! I know that sounds cliche but it's true. You can't expect a good harvest from rotten seeds sown. Jesus said it this way: ““A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.” Matthew 12:33-35 NLT There are no minced words in what He said. Jesus said it like it is!!! It is utterly disturbing to me when people who have lived wickedly expect life to be good for them. Now this doesn't mean that the righteous man doesn't have hardships. In fact, living righteous in an ungodly society will get you criticized, marginalized, scandalized, and ostracized. Doing what pleases God takes wisdom and courage. We must not allow the tone of the culture to affect our character. We MUST act like Jesus, even under pressure. There is an outstanding result that comes from our devotion. God is glorified, the cause of Christ advanced, and God's blessing comes upon us and our genealogy. Lets's choose to what's right even if it causes us to suffer in this temporary world. Let's live to live again (eternally)! Let's "give what we can't keep to gain what we can't loose" (Jim Elliot - martyred missionary).
Act Like Jesus
Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.””
1 Peter 3:9-12 NLT
Jesus taught it this way: ““You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” Matthew 5:43-44 NLT Behaving like Jesus takes the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. We, as sinful humans, naturally want to retaliate when we are insulted or assaulted by others. It is difficult to stay calm and not react in a defensive manner. Can you imagine having an incident where someone rips into you and then, instead of confronting them, you say "bless you"? That is contrary to our fallen nature, but is in line with the person of Jesus Christ who lives inside the believer. On the cross, while hanging naked before the world, Jesus displayed divine character when He said "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do" (see Luke 23:34). One of the criminals that was crucified beside Him asked Him to "remember me when you came into your kingdom". Jesus responded with love that the world hadn't seen before, when He said, "today, you shall be with me in paradise" (see Luke 23:42-43). Keeping our tongue in check is most difficult when we feel mistreated. Working for peace is tough when we feel unjustly handled. However, we must lay down our lives for the sake of the Master. If we claim to belong to Him, let's strive to act like Him! God has promised blessing upon the lives of those who determine to act like Him. Today, no matter what you are dealing with, submit your will to His and let Him live through you! This is the answer!!
Love Each Other
Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” 1 Peter 3:8 NLT
What a great statement to live by! As the body of Jesus Christ, we should strive to be in one accord. It is a beautiful thing when the church lives in harmony. A church with no harmony is like listening to an orchestra with no harmony. When we all play our parts well, and in sync, we make beautiful music that brings melody to life. God is most pleased, as our Father, when He sees us, His children, walking and working in harmony. We are to love one another as family. We must be tender hearted in our dealings with each other, not harsh and cold. We must always keep an humble attitude in all things. Being arrogant and prideful is not from the Spirit of God. Imagine living in a church environment that adhered to this code of conduct. Today, by God's grace, I will strive to live by this code. How about you?
Bone of My Bone
In the same way, you husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way [with great gentleness and tact, and with an intelligent regard for the marriage relationship], as with someone physically weaker, since she is a woman. Show her honor and respect as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered or ineffective.” 1 PETER 3:7 AMP
Men, hear ye! Hear ye! The way you treat your wife is being observed by God Almighty! He made the woman from the rib of Adam in Genesis 2:21-22. God made her from the rib for a reason. He didn't make her from the foot bone lest man walk all over her. He didn't make her from the head lest she rule over him. He made her from the rib so she could walk beside him as a companion and helper (see Genesis 2:18). The ribs are the cage of vital organs such as the heart and lungs. The woman is a vital part of life. The woman is distinctly different hormonally and physically. She has anatomical distinctions that make her unique and completely compatible to man. God, the Master designer, intended this. God made her, brought her to Adam, and called her "woman" (meaning "taken out of man - see Genesis 2:23). The Hebrew word for man is "Ish". The Hebrew word for woman is "Isha". God made the woman beautiful and complimentary to man in every way. In Genesis 2:23 Adam said that she was "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh". Marriage is one man and one woman uniting in service to God! When we mistreat our wives we are, in essence, mistreating ourselves. God is the One who instituted marriage and no man has the right to re-define it. Marriage is so important that Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee (see John 2:1-11). Marriage is the first institution God placed in human society. It is foundational and absolutely essential to the proper function and stability of humanity. Marriage pre-dates Nations, Government, and Church. Marriage is identified as being a type of Christ and the church (Christ the groom and the church His bride - see Ephesians 5:22-33; Matthew 25:1-13; Revelation 19:1-10). Jesus used Jewish marriage ceremony imagery in John 14:1-3 when He said He was going to "prepare a place" for us. In the Jewish ceremony, the bride didn't walk the isle, the groom would come at a time unannounced to receive His bride. The wedding party had to be ready. The groom had been away preparing the dwelling for their new home. Jesus will, one day, return for His bride, the church, and we must be watching and ready (Matthew 24:44). Jesus treats His bride, the church (the redeemed) with love, patience, tenderness, and all the attributes of utmost Righteousness. We, as men, are to follow His example. If we do not, our prayers will be hindered and rendered ineffective.
A Gentle and Quiet Spirit
“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands. For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.” 1 Peter 3:3-6 NLT
A godly wife is more concerned about the condition of her heart than the outward beauty of her body. Expensive clothes and jewelry, as well as fancy hairstyles may make a woman feel outwardly beautiful, but they don't identify who she is. God sees the condition and attitude of the woman's heart. He is most concerned about her submission to the Lordship of Christ and the corresponding behavior that results. When Jesus is Lord of one's life, there is a mark of respect and an implied pledge of obedience that is declared by that admission. When Jesus rules and reigns in one's life, the conduct will match the profession. God's order of authority is one of the things that come in line when we are truly disciples of Jesus Christ. It is very important that the wife reverence the place and position of authority that God has given the man in the marriage relationship. This isn't to be done out of sheer obligation or forced compliance. God is watching for a heart that desires to please Him willingly. Men are human beings, just like women, and have their faults and quirks. The issue is the proper understanding and practice of God's created order. This is not about personal preferences or comparison. Sarah called Abraham her master (lord-KJV). In ancient times, this was a mark of honor and respect. The position of authority that God has given the man is to be honored and respected. Men, may I call you out for a moment? God has given you a tremendous responsibility. Do it right!! Lets's give our wives a man who, not only wants respect, but lives a life deserved of that respect. Our wives are not our slaves. They are part of us. We, ourselves, are under authority too. But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3 NLT God created marriage. He is the designer. Wouldn't it be foolish to ignore an engineers specifications in the construction of a building? God is the architect, engineer, contractor, carpenter, and all the other categories combined. He has given us clear specifications in His Word about the marriage relationship. Marriage is the bedrock of all society. It is of utmost importance that we obey God's design. When we do, it is beneficial to all of us. God knows what He is doing!!! We must not succumb to the cultural opinions or political correctness of the times. It is God that we must please!
Live It Out
In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.” 1 Peter 3:1-2 NLT
I want to refer back to yesterday's scripture text in order to address the application of it in the marriage relationship. The context of the two verses are speaking of the holy, chaste lifestyle of the woman in the home toward an unbelieving husband. The apostle Peter, by the unction of the Holy Spirit, instructs the woman to live the Christian life before her husband in such a manner as to make the gospel of Jesus Christ attractive. She must not nag at him about his need for conversion or his faults and she must allow the changed, honorable, and submissive character that the Holy Spirit gives her to draw her husband to Christ. When she lives such a life, the husband will recognize the role that Jesus plays in his wife's conduct. This will bring about the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. “And if a believing woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy. (But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the believing husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.) Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? 1 Corinthians 7:13-16a NLT Wives, place your husband in God's hands and don't try to make him like you. Let God deal with him and make him like Jesus!!! Your conduct will do more to share Christ in your home than any amount of words. Don't just go to church, own a Bible, and say you love Jesus. Live it out!!
“In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.” 1 Peter 3:1-2 NLT
God has designed and created the structure of life. It is He who placed man and woman on the earth. In fact, Genesis 2:7 declares that God made man from the very dust of this earth. Man was made from the earth to rule over the earth (see Genesis 1:26-28). In this world, God placed an infrastructure of order. Take a moment to simply read the first chapter of Genesis and you will clearly see the meticulous order that God used, and placed, in creation. There is no way to understand and live this life apart from God's order. He is the Owner. He didn't have to place a copyright on the songs the birds sing. He's the Owner! He didn't have to leave a laundry mark in the corner of a meadow. He is the Owner! He didn't have to stamp His name on the side of the mountains. He is the Owner! He didn't have to put a brand on the cattle of a thousand hills. He is the Owner! No one else can claim the created rights to anything in creation. Only Jesus can. He is the Owner!!! Since He is the Owner, doesn't it behoove us to obey His instructions that He has given us in the Owner's Manual called The Word Of God, the Bible? Our sinful nature, since the fall in Genesis 3, is rebellious to the things of God. We are corrupt and need cleansing and correction. Only Jesus and His Word can set things order. It is utterly foolish for us, the created, to even suggest that God is wrong and that our way is better. This applies to everything in life, including the role of men and women in marriage and family. Listen up men!! God has given you the highest responsibility in life. You are to reflect His image in your personal conduct and in your oversight of Eden and Eve. You have been placed in authority to enact God's will and way in this world. If you aren't right with God, you can't properly understand this role and you can't properly put it into practice. Listen up ladies!! God has created you specifically and uniquely. You are distinctly different, yet strikingly compatible to man. Any man, in his proper mind, is glad you are different. You were made from the man and as a helper for man (see Genesis 2). You have a vital role to play in the proper function of society as well. When we (men and women) disobey God's established order of creation, we self destruct. This is what is happening all around us. We think we have "learned" better than the "old fashioned" "outdated" book called the Bible. Shame on us for being so arrogant! We need to repent of our rebellion and return to the specifications laid out for us in God's Word!!! Whether we are a man or woman, are we willing to accept God's role for us and His instructions to us? Each of us are vital and necessary. God has perfectly placed each of us, men and women, in our roles. Let's pray today to properly understand them and implement them in our homes and lives. We most desperately need it. In the next few days, we will be looking at this subject more specifically. I pray God will help us get it Biblically correct.
The Good Shepherd
“Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:25 NLT
We used to be lost, like sheep, and wandering in the wilderness of sin. Sheep are animals that require oversight and protection. Sheep are completely defenseless and depend upon a shepherd to protect and guide them. Sheep are not intelligent creatures, they are very gullible. If one sheep goes astray from the flock, the shepherd must immediately seek the stray to find it. “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?” Matthew 18:12 NLT Once he finds it, he returns it to the fold. If the shepherd does not find the sheep quickly, it can become prey to wolves and other carnivorous wildlife. The best, and safest, place for a sheep is with the shepherd. If a sheep is injured, the shepherd will tend its wounds. If the sheep can't walk, the shepherd will carry it on his shoulders. A shepherd carries a staff to help keep sheep in line and to ward off impending danger. If a sheep continually breaks ranks from the fold, the shepherd will break its leg to keep it from wandering. The shepherd would rather have the sheep hurt, momentarily, than to see it become a victim of the wolf. In fact, the shepherd will gate in the sheep for the night and sleep at the entrance as the doorway to the sheep. A true shepherd would rather fight with the wolf than to allow the wolf access to the sheep. Without a shepherd, sheep are doomed to die. Jesus is the Shepherd of humanity. Without Him, we are doomed to eternal death. Satan prowls nearby, waiting for a stray sheep to pounce upon. Jesus said ““I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,” John 10:11-14 NLT David, the psalmist, said "The Lord is my Shepherd" (Psalm 23:1). David was a shepherd by trade. He knew the significance of a good shepherd. Is Jesus your Shepherd? If not, let Him take you into the fold and be your Guide and Protector. He is always ready to receive a new sheep into the family.
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” 1 Peter 2:21-24 NLT
The greatest example of suffering unjustly is Jesus!!! He never sinned!!! He was the perfect One who took upon Himself the sin of the whole world. “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” 1 John 2:2 NLT Jesus bore the sins of every human being from time immemorial throughout time eternal. Jesus is the One and only Savior!!! He was fully God and fully man. He suffered, humanly, just like us, in flesh. He was mistreated. He was denied by Peter, betrayed by Judas, doubted by Thomas, hated by the Pharisees, rejected by his own countrymen, falsely accused, spit upon, beaten, and condemned to die by sinful, unjust men. He died in our stead!!! He knows what its like, more than anyone, to be mistreated. While being treated with cruelty, Jesus always displayed an attitude of righteousness. As it states in the scripture of the day, He "left His case in the hands of God". You and I would do well to follow our Lord's example! Stephen, the first chosen servant elder of the church (see Acts 6:1-7 - some call them "deacons"). When being stoned by his peers for preaching the blazing truth, Stephen mimicked our Master in Acts 7:60 - "He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.” NLT I, personally, believe it was Stephen's sermon that brought Holy Spirit conviction on Saul of Tarsus (later to become Paul). Oh how I pray that God will give us more elders, deacons of the church who would preach like Stephen. Today, no matter what you are having to endure, place your case in God's hands.
Rev. Curtis Norris