haters.” That is what unbelievers called Christians in the first several
centuries. Today we might phrase it as
“haters of humanity.” Pagans felt this
way about Christians because they refused to take part in the sacrifices that
were offered to the gods on behalf of the city, empire, and emperor
Greco-Roman world civic and religious life were interwoven. Sacrifices were offered to the gods in order
to secure the well being of the city. They were offered for the Roman
empire. And they were also offered both
to and for the emperor depending on where you lived.
naturally, would not take part in offering sacrifices to false gods. They would not break the First Commandment. However, to pagans this was nearly impossible
to understand. After all they offered
sacrifices to many different gods for many different reasons.
particular, the refusal to offer sacrifices for the city, empire, and emperor
was offensive. These sacrifices were
believed to secure the well being of the civic life shared by all. If Christians weren’t willing to support
civic life in this way, then obviously they were “man haters” – they hated
humanity and refused to do the things that helped all people as they lived
this morning emphasizes the challenges of living as a Christian in the
world. The challenges are again true
today in ways that mirror the first century.
They have become true during many of our lifetimes in ways that we never
could have imagined. Yet Peter
encourages us to be faithful because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, and
what he has made us to be.
our text by saying, “Beloved, I urge
you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the
flesh, which wage war against your soul.
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak
against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God
on the day of visitation.” Notice
how Peter calls Christians “sojourners and exiles.” These words describe people who live in a
particular place, but they are not native to it. They are foreigners living in
a land that is not theirs.
warns his readers to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against
the soul. The apostle had to say this
because the Christian way of life was very different from the world around
them. In the Greco-Roman world, men were
free to have sex with slaves and prostitutes.
This was considered completely normal.
But the Christians had learned instead that sexual intercourse was only
to be shared between a husband and wife.
In particular, men were being told that they could no longer do
things in the way that the world around them was doing things.
says that Christians are to keep their conduct honorable. The Ten Commandments provide a description of
how God has ordered his creation.
Christians now sought to live according to the Ten Commandments as
explained by the Lord Jesus and his apostles.
But because this fulfilled the ordering of the creation that all people
have had written on their heart, even pagan neighbors would recognize this
behavior as being good.
wouldn’t change that fact that pagans would still speak against
Christians. Peter says Christian need to
act in honorable ways so that when the pagans “speak against you as
evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of
visitation.” Pagans may speak against
Christians as evildoers. But on the day
of visitation – on the day when Jesus Christ returns in glory – they will have
to glorify God because of the way Christians have acted.
haters.” Haters of humanity. Once again, Christians find themselves being
charged with hate all the time. If you
publicly say that homosexuality is sinful and wrong, you will be called
hateful. If you say that men are men,
women are women, and that any so called transgender individual is mentally ill,
you will be called hateful. If you say that life begins at conception and that
abortion is murder, you will be called hateful.
is no worse offense in our world today than to be called hateful and
intolerant. Not surprisingly, we can
find ourselves shying away from publicly confessing what is true. After all, the world has made it very clear
what will happen if you dare to oppose the worldview that has now existed for a
mere blip in human history. Nobody wants
to be called hateful and intolerant. And so we do not speak, or perhaps we even
find our thought beginning to change so that we can fit in better.
this letter, Peter reminds us of what we are because of Jesus Christ. In the verses immediately before our text he
has said, “But you are a chosen race, a
royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own
possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called
you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are
God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
might be exiles and strangers in this world – this culture that rules for the
moment. But through Jesus Christ God has
made us his chosen race, his royal priesthood, his holy nation. In the previous chapter Peter says, “conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of
knowing that you were ransomed
from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable
things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like
that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
have been ransomed from your sinful ways by the death of Jesus Christ on the
cross. Peter writes: “For Christ also
suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring
us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” Because of Christ’s death for you, you know
stand forgiven before God.
than that, you have been born again.
Peter says in the previous chapter, “you have been born again, not of
perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of
God.” It is God’s Word applied to you in
Holy Baptism and preached to you that has caused you to be born again. You are different from your neighbors who do
this difference is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter opens the letter by saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born
again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
to an inheritance that is imperishable,
undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power
are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed
in the last time.”
have been born again to the living hope because Jesus Christ rose from the
dead. When the women went to the tomb on
the morning of Easter, the angels told them, “Why
do you seek the living among the dead? He
is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still
that the Son of Man must be
delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the
third day rise.”
Christ has won the forgiveness of your sins by the shedding of his blood. He has defeated death by his resurrection
from the dead. Because of these facts,
Peter assures us that we have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled,
and unfading, kept in heaven for υσ.
He says that by God's power ωε are being guarded through faith for a
salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
live in the now and the not yet. Already we have the forgiveness of sins. Already we have been born again and have new
life because of Jesus’ resurrection. But
we are awaiting the return of Jesus Christ when these facts will be recognized
by all. We are waiting φορ the day when Jesus will
transform our bodies to be like his, as we live with our Lord in a life where
there is no longer be any sin, or pain, or death.
we wait, we need encouragement. In the
battle against sin, we need exhortation. So in our text Peter says, “Be subject
for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the
emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those
who do evil and to praise those who do good.” He tells us to be good citizens by obeying
the government as long as it does not tell us to act in ways that violate God’s
will. Within our own system of
government, this means that we have the opportunity to be citizens by speaking
to our representatives about issues that relate to sexuality and life.
Peter urges us in our
text: “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for
evil, but living as servants of God.”
You are free – free from sin; free from guilt; free from eternal
death. But this now means that you are
servants of God – or as the Greek says literally, you are slaves of God. You have been freed from sin so that you can
What does this look like? Peter says in our text, “Honor
everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” Later
he adds, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but
on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may
obtain a blessing.” He urges, “Above
all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of
sojourners and exiles in this world. You
don’t belong to this culture because you have been born again. And so instead, you are a chosen race, a
royal priesthood, a holy nation. You
belong to God because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
God’s people in this world will mean receiving the world’s judgment. You will be called hateful and intolerant
because you confess the truth of God’s Word and refuse to listen to the devil’s
lies. We live in ways that are honorable
and true to God’s will, and people will speak against us. Yet in the
resurrection of Jesus Christ you have the living hope that points to the Last
Day. On that day you will share in
Christ’s resurrection and share in life with him. And as Peter assures us,
those who malign us now will have no choice but to glorify God on the day of