Pressing on after being Ripped-Off
Ever brought a car that was Lemon?
Ever sent away for some marvelous $16.95 gadget and end up with about 85 cents worth of plastic?
Who hasn’t been taken in by a smooth-talking salesman?
Who of us hasn’t been taken advantage of or “ripped-off?”
Have you ever been ripped-off spiritually? That really hurts when we suffer the consequences of something that wasn’t our fault or we didn’t deserve. If you have ever been treated like that, you’re in good biblical company.
David was ripped-off by Saul and hunted down for 12 years.
Esau was duped by his brother Jacob.
Joseph was viscously mistreated by his brothers.
Now while God ultimately used all these circumstances for their good initially all of these men could have said, “This is unfair!, I don’t deserve this!” So what is the natural reaction to “unfair Treatment?” Here are three reactions to think about.
First: There is the aggressive pattern; we blame others.
In so many words this reaction says “I don’t just mad, I get even.” It’s like the fellow who was bitten by a dog and was told by his Doctor, he had rabies. Where upon the man took out a piece of paper and made a list of all the people he was gone to bite that day.” Do you have such a list?
The blame game may temporarily satisfy an aggressive inner itch, but it doesn’t lead to a lasting solution.
Small wonder God warns us in Romans 12:19, “…avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath…vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Second: There is the passive pattern; we feel sorry for ourselves. We throw a pity party, complaining to everybody that, “life just isn’t fair.” Again this can turn to retaliatory anger.
This reminds me of some fellows in the military stationed in Korea. While they were there, they hired a local boy to cook and clean for them. Being a bunch of jokesters, these guys soon took advantage of the boy’s seeming naiveté’. Day after day the little fellow took the brunt of their practical jokes without saying anything. No blame… no self-pity… no temper tantrums. Finally one day the men felt guilty about what they were doing, so they sat down with the young Korean and said, “We know these pranks aren’t funny anymore, and we‘re sorry. We’re never gone to take advantage of you again.” It seemed too good to be true to the houseboy. He said,
No more sticky on stove? Nope they replied
No more water on the door to get me wet? No
No more nail shoes to floor? Nope never again
Okay, the boy said … “no more spit in the soup.”
Even in a passive mode, you can spit in somebody’s soup.
Third: There is the holding pattern; we postpone or deny our feelings. But underneath, our feelings eat away at us like acid.Though these are all very common, don’t expect to find any of these reactions in Peter’s letter where he is helping us to live out our Christian life, in our Hostile World.
So what is it God has called us to do, as we live in this hostile environment?
Some would have us think, as Christians we have been called to change the world, that my friend is just not Biblically true.
We have been called to be the instrument of Salvation, so that men and women can receive Jesus Christ and be called out of the world as a separate group of people, called the church.
In chapter 2 Peter defines for believers how to survive in this Hostile society.
Peter calls theses believers to a life of HOPE in the midst of a society that would breed despair.
Peter calls these people to a life of HOLINESS when they are surrounded by corruption and sin.
Peter calls them to a life of HARMONY with each other as the badge of discipleship they are to love the brotherhood.
Peter calls them to a life of PROGRESSIVE GROWTH and DEVELOPMENT based upon the spiritual hunger which was breed in them when they came to Christ. “As new born babes you are to grow as you desire the pure milk of the Word.”
Now Peter switches gears in the book from the THEOLOGICAL to a very PRACTICAL application of life, as he challenges us how to so live in this world that is hostile to our Christian faith.
Peter gives us THREE key relationships which enable us to live in our culture. Then he gives us the example of one who suffered for all of us, the Lord Jesus Christ.
First: We relate to our culture as SOJOURNERS, verses 11-12.
“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; (12) Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
In verse 11 we have a PRIVATE and INWARD responsibility as sojourners. As pilgrims and strangers in this society, we ultimately do not belong to, we must not conform to the surroundings patterns of life. This world is not our home so we can’t get involved in its styles or programs.
I Peter 1:14 warns us, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.”
Romans 12:2 reads, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
I John 2:15-16 tells us, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world…For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh…, is not of the Father, but of the world.”
James 4:4 warns us, “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?…”
Now Peter says in verse 11, “Abstain from fleshly lust…” The word “abstain” means to keep away from sinful desires. Peter was concerned these believer who were living in this very wicked environment, would not bow to the values and morality of the society. Here is another call to purity of life.
In the last of verse 11, Peter tells believers, earth is a BATTLEGROUND. It’s the place where we combat the lusts that wage a war against our souls.
In verse 12 we have a PUBLIC and OUTWARD responsibility as sojourners. It is interesting to note Peter is not so much concerned as to what we say but rather how we live. Notice the word “conversation” which means conduct, how we live.
Without reading them Peter uses this word 4 other times in I Peter – 1:15; 1:18; 3:2; 3:16. In all this Peter is saying we should so live that we seek to make “GOD LOOK GOOD BEFORE THE UN-REGENERATE WORLD.”
Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may SEE your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Don’t think for a moment it makes no difference to unbelievers how Christians live, dress, talks, walks, acts and reacts. WE LIVE OUT OUR FAITH BEFORE A WATCHING WORLD.
That’s why Peter urges us to abstain from fleshly lusts, “in order to get their attention” and to prove that what we believe really works.
Do you realize how many non-Christians are watching us this very day, determining the truth of the message of Christianity strictly on the basis of how we live?
Living a clean life isn’t merely a nice option to consider; it’s the least we can do to demonstrate our gratitude for God’ marvelous grace in our lives.
Let me conclude this point by saying what a powerful witness there is when someone can stand up and say, because how someone so live at my place of work or in my neighborhood, their life style pointed me to Jesus Christ.
Second we are to relate to our culture as SUBJECTS, verse 13-17.
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; (14) Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. (15) For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: (16) As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. (17) Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
Here are three things I want to call your attention to:
First: Notice in verse 13 a COMMAND to “Submit:” It’s important to understand the historical context of this command.
The ROMAN EMPIRE was not a benevolent monarchy. It was a dictatorship ruled by the insane demagogue Nero, who was notorious for his wickedness and his cruelty to Christians. Many of the believers who received Peter’s letter had suffered persecution.
The bodies of believers had bloodied the sand of the Roman Coliseum. Then their corpses soaked in oil had lit that vast stadium.
So because of this mistreatment by the government, should these Christians pick up arms and resist with such a leader at its helm. Peter says “SUBMIT.”
Jesus said in Matthew 22:21, “Render… unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” I am to pay my taxes because God requires it.
Paul tells us in Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” I am to obey the laws of the land, because God says we are to.
And in I Timothy 2:1-2, the Apostle Paul tells us to prayer for those who are in authority.
The believer was not put on earth to overthrow governments but to establish in the human heart a kingdom not of this world.
There may be instances, when we must stand our ground and disobey a law that is contrary to the law of God. We are not to buckle under by compromising our convictions or renouncing our faith.
In Acts 4:18 Peter experienced this where he was commanded “not to speak or to teach in the name of Jesus.” But the apostles kept right or preaching until they were dragged before the tribunal and asked in Acts 5:28, “Did not we strictly command you that ye should not teach in this name?”
Where upon the apostles replied in acts 5:29, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29
Forced to make a choice between a clear command from Christ and an order form human authorities, they rendered obedience to God. Over the years I have said this to politicians
I have no problem with the government saying that our buildings must conform to building code standards of fire health and safety.
I do draw the line when they would try to come in and tell us what we are to teach or what I can or can not preach from this book or whom we can or can not hire as staff.
The way to live honorably, Peter says, is to “submit.” This Greek military term means “to fall in rank under an authority.”
This submission to authority is not only in respect to God, but to lesser officials as well, such as our President and Governor as well as police and teachers.
I am convinced that if we were good students of submission we would get along a lot better in life.
I am also convinced it is the one thing that works against our very natures, which argues, “I want my rights; you can’t make me do anything.”
Let’s get one thing clear, our problem is not in understanding what submission means, our problem is DOING what it says.
Second: Notice in verse 15 the REASON to “Submit:”
In verse 13 we are to “submit” because the Lord says to.
In verse 15 we are to “submit” because it is the will of God.
Now if we do what the law says we “put to silence foolish men.” The Greek word translated “silence” here means “to close the mouth with a muzzle.”
You see the first century Christians were targets of all sorts of slanderous rumors. So by submitting, Peter said, “BY DOING RIGHT BEFORE GOD” they would muzzle the mouths of those passing around such rumors.
Thirdly: The CATEGORIES that represent it, verse 16-17. In little out bursts, Peter gives us four domains where we are to be submissive.
As a humanitarian we are to, “honor all men” with dignity
As a Christian we are to “love the brotherhood”
A as believer we are to, “fear God” means to reverence God.
As a citizen we are to, “Honor the king”
And wrapped around the commands is the principle: “Do not use your freedom as a covering for evil.”
At the outset we said there are 3 key relationships which we sustain to the culture in which we live.
First we relate our culture as SOJOURNERS, verses 11-12. We are here for a short time so don’t get caught up in the culture.
Second we relate to our culture as SUBJECTS verses 13-17 under the dominion of people God has sent to be over us.
Thirdly Peter tells us we are to relate to our culture as SERVANTS, verses 18-20.
“Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. (19) For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. (20) For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.”
To understand the full import of what Peter is saying we must understand something of the nature of slavery in the time of the early church where there were as many as 60,000,000 slaves in the Roman Empire.
It was by no means only menial tasks which were performed by slaves. Professional people were slaves too. In fact, all the work of Rome was done by slaves. Romans attitude was that there was no point in being master of the world and doing one’s own work. “Let the slaves do that and let the citizens live in pampered idleness.”
Slaves were not allowed to marry, but they could cohabit; and the children born of such partnership were the property of the master, not the parents. In Roman law a slave was not a person but a thing; and he had absolutely no legal rights whatsoever. For that reason there could be no such thing as justice where a slave was concerned.
For us in the 20th century America this is hard to understand. It’s easy to work for a kind “Boss” but as the last part of verse 18 says it’s not so easy to work with a “Boss” who is an unreasonable taskmaster.
Do you have an uncaring boss or supervisor that isn’t fair?
Do you have to deal with unreasonable people?
Unfortunately the natural tendency of the human heart is to fight back against unfair and unreasonable treatment. But Peter’s point is “Revenge is totally inappropriate for one who has submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”
In verses 19-20 the contrast is eloquent. There’s no credit due a person who suffers for what is coming to him. But if you are doing that which is right and working for a boss who is belligerent, stubborn, and ungrateful, and you patiently endure, “THAT FINDS FAVOR WITH GOD.”
Can you see why the Christian philosophy is absolutely radical? We don’t work for the credit or the prestige or the perks! We work for the glory of God in whatever we do.
Now in verses 21-25 we find the purpose of all this.
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (22) Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: (23) Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: (24) Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (25) For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”
What is the purpose of all this, so that you might follow in the steps of our Lord Jesus, who suffered for us. Absolutely no one was ever more “ripped-off” than our Savior. Jesus was the only perfect Man who ever lived, yet He suffered continually during His brief on this earth.
He was MISUNDERSTOOD, MALIGNED, HATED, ARRESTED, and TORTURED. Finally, they crucified Him and Peter says we are to walk in the steps of Jesus.
Verse 22: “Who did not sin…”
Verse 23: “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again…”
Verse 24: “Who his own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree…”
Why should Christ had suffered, He not only did so for our sins, but also to cause us to return to our Savior for protection rather than defending, “our rights.” verse 25.
Remember, it was because DAVID refused to take vengeance on King Saul that we remember his story, in may of the Psalms, to this day.
Remember it was because JOSEPH was so willing to forgive his brothers that we admire him to this day.
Remember it was because JOB did not waver in his faith, in spite of all those unfair calamities, that we have a great example of PATIENCE.
Have you been ripped-off then press on, one day the rewards will come.
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon “Pressing on after being Ripped-Off” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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