Responsive Reading: 1 Peter 2:4-17
Key Verse(s): 1 Peter 2:15-16
Background Scripture: Romans 14:1-13
Last week, I said that if we want good to be in the world, the onus is on us to bring good into it! I encouraged that it is time for us to lift a finger and stand true to our calling. Today, I say to you, that we should use the liberty we have received through Christ, by the grace of God, for good rather than as a hindrance that would add to the world being such a cruel and unfair place.
Our calling is one that we know comes from the Lord. Scripture speaks to how God has called us according to His eternal purpose — according to His will. Some will wonder, what is the eternal purpose and the will of God?
Called by God
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote that God has called us to be in fellowship with Him as He has always desired to dwell with mankind (1 Cor. 1:9). To the Romans, Paul wrote that the Lord has called for mankind to be both justified and glorified by Him (Rom. 8:30). The writer of Hebrews wrote that God has called us so that we may receive the promise of His eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15).
Now, I want you to understand that the New Testament writers were not making up this purpose for God’s calling; they writers were keeping to the invitation that Christ shared with the world. Jesus invited all of those who labor and are heavy laden to come unto Him so that He could give them rest (Matt. 11:28).
Jesus also called for mankind to consume the bread of heaven, which He said was Him. Not only did Jesus say that He was the bread of heaven but He then invited the world to share in His shed blood that washes away our sins so that we can be raised up in His heavenly kingdom (John 6:48-54). So, let this be clear to us, we have been called to an eternal calling because the Lord desires to forever dwell with us forever.
Now, something we should understand about this eternal calling is that it comes with a calling to share the Lord’s call with all of those around us. In other words, this calling is one that requires us to put our faith into action – we must move. As shown in the Great Commission, where Jesus tasks true believers, we are to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit and to teach others to observe all things that He commanded (Matt. 28:19-20); to teach – that is a motion, that is an action.
Called to carry out God’s will
In the first of our key verses, we will see Peter touch on the concept of being true to our calling. Peter encouraged that it is the will of God, that we do good by putting to silence the ignorance of foolish men. We cannot stand by, nor sit still, nor remain quiet to the foolish ignorance that brings harm to the soul.
To be foolish, Solomon said, was to choose not to fear the Lord. In choosing not to fear the Lord, the fool is one that ignorantly chooses to despise God’s knowledge, wisdom, and instruction (Prov. 1:7). Let us remember that the wisdom of the Lord comes with knowing of His calling of eternal life and how to become a part of His kingdom.
In our recent Sunday school lessons, we have seen just how important it is for one to choose to be obedient to the Lord’s instructions. Failure to keep God’s instructions can have serious and very tragic consequences. Because the fool chooses to despise wisdom and instruction from the Lord, they ignorantly choose to go in their own way; they remain sinners.
In a couple of his proverbs, Solomon shared, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Prov. 14:12; 16:25).” God has not called us unto death but rather He has called us unto life eternal. If we move to silence the ignorance of the fool (the sinner), then we would be able to fulfill God’s will of saving souls.
When Peter spoke about our true calling of being called by the Lord, Peter stated that we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s own special people (1 Pet. 2:9). Something that you and I must understand is that we, by accepting God’s call, are a special treasure in His eyes. As that special treasure, we are to proclaim the praises of Him that called us out of darkness into His marvelous light; we are now the chosen people of God who have obtained His mercy (1 Pet. 2:10).
So, we must answer: what are we doing with the mercy and grace we have received from the Lord? Now, we know what we are supposed to be doing but are we actually doing it? Are we being true to our calling?
Being True to Our Calling
You will often hear me teach and preach about the way that we, the true believers, are to go about conducting ourselves as we carry out God’s calling.
The reason this is a major point of focus for me is because I consider what God has done for us. As Peter said, God, through His grace and mercy, called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Therefore, if we abide in this marvelous light of the Lord, the way we conduct ourselves should be just as marvelous; there is a way that is proper for us to go about carrying out our special calling.
Not using liberty as a vice
In the second of our key verses, we will see that Peter encouraged us not to use our liberty as a cloak (a cover) for vice (wickedness), but as a servant of God. So, because we are free from sin, we ought not use our freedom to go out and continue to live in sin as if there is no problem with doing so. You see, there is a major problem with doing this because we are supposed to be servants of the Lord.
God is a righteous God and His works within us are righteous as well. So, as servants of the Lord, we stand as a testimony of both His works and His fellowship. As a living testimony of the Lord, the way we conduct ourselves and the relationships we develop with those around us can speak louder than any sermon ever could. Words are powerful but our living testimony is far more powerful than any message; people tend to believe what they can witness and see more than what they will hear from someone.
With this in mind, how do you believe you ought to be conducting yourself today? I believe the answer is very obvious for the believer — we must stay true to our calling. The moment we fail to stay true to our calling is a moment that is not pleasing to the Lord. The moment where we fail to be true to our calling, is a moment that can hinder and even hurt those around us; especially those who may be weaker in the faith.
So, it is time for us believers to be like our Lord; it is time for us to be faithful and just to those around us so that we do not hinder or bring harm to their soul. So, how do we go about being more than fair to others? How do we go about conducting ourselves in a manner that is faithful and just?
Fairness to the weak
In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote about the law of liberty – a how-to guide, if you will, on how we should move and act in the liberty that we have living under the grace of God.
Paul encourages the believer to “receive” (to accept) one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things (Rom. 14:1). This thought that we see Paul focusing on here is about how we go about looking at and judging each other. How we choose to judge one another has played a major role in shaping what our world is today; this is to say that mankind has done a poor job of judging each other.
As we saw in my sermon last week, there are many people who live their lives with a mindset built on a foundation of selfish ambition and conceitedness. You will recall that one who is conceited is one that thinks more highly of themselves than they do others. Conceitedness and hate is what led to the oppression and suppression we have seen in the world in the past and is still clearly present in our world today – just look around at our society.
Now, the one that professes their faith in Christ and follows in His way ought not be conceited in their hearts; the two ways do not mix together. You see, the way of Christ is for those that can humble themselves just as He humbled Himself. What this means for us is that we must move, and therefore, we must judge with lowliness of mind rather than with a conceited mind.
So, to be true to our calling, Paul encourages us to have a mindset that receives (accepts) those who are weak in faith. The one that is “weak in faith”, we must understand, is not necessarily speaking of one being weak in knowledge or in truth when it comes to faith. This person has understanding in truth and in knowledge, however, there is hesitance and doubt in the manner that they move; they often stumble or falter in their faith.
In this passage of scripture, Paul used the concept of what one would choose to eat as an example to explain fair judgment of one who is weak in the faith. By this point in time, the Lord had gone over what one could eat with Peter as shown in the book of Acts. Peter questioned the Lord because eating what was considered to be unclean was a sin to the Jews. However, the Lord said to Peter that what He had cleansed, Peter should not call common (Acts 10:9-16).
Some of the Jews, however, chose to continue eating what was common for them to eat according to tradition. So, Paul said here, “for one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him (Rom. 14:2-3).”
In essence, both parties would judge each other as being weak in the faith. However, notice how Paul said the Lord would judge both parties; he points out that the Lord would receive (accept) them both! So, should we judge each other any differently than the Lord would judge us? Absolutely not!
Lifting each other up
Notice the follow up question that Paul then asked to the Romans. Paul asked, “Who are you to judge another’s servant (Rom. 14:4)?” This was Paul asking, ‘who do you think you are to be able to judge a servant of the Lord?’
Frankly, as Christ said in His own words, we cannot nor should we attempt to judge someone if we have not gotten the speck out of our own eyes (Matt. 7:4-5). Yet, with that being said, it certainly has not stopped us from judging each other; especially not the one that proclaims to be a child of God. The child of God is typically the first one in line to judge somebody else for their “sins” before they have even considered their own sins! How is that being fair or even true to our calling?
In that same verse to the Romans, we will see that Paul said that one’s own master will be the one that decides whether his servant stands or falls! What this means is something that you and I already know – only God can judge! The Lord will be the one to decide whether one stands or falls in the end, not us! God, you should know, is the righteous one that is more than able to make proper judgments because His judgments are righteous.
If we want to be true to our calling, this is a truth that we must come to know and accept. Once we can come to know and accept this truth, then we can properly move true to our calling without being a hindrance to all of those around us. Rather than looking to see how we can judge those around us, what we should be doing as believers is moving with a lowly heart to receive and to help uplift those who are ‘weak’ in the faith. As Paul said, we should not be spending our days disputing and arguing the errors of another!
What good has ever come from beating someone over the head over and over again because they have faltered and erred? None. Even the harshest of parents come to the realization that if they truly want their children to succeed, whoopings can only go so far but teaching and showing them the way is a better way for them to learn to do better.
Not a cloak for vice
In a verse you often hear me refer to, we will see that Paul encourages believers not to judge each other anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way (Rom. 14:13).” I have referenced this scripture so much throughout the years solely because many believers have developed such a toxic and conceited mindset.
For far too long have believers done nothing but beat up and tear down those around them. Some will say that they are merely carrying out God’s will and being true to our calling but if it is a work that is tearing someone down and offers no helping hand, it is not a work being done in the name of God! No, this is a work that is being done in the name of their own conceitedness and does not stand true to our calling!
If we are going to rebuke someone, let us do so in a manner that properly offers a way of correction by uplifting and showing God’s way. Our goal should never be to hurt or to hinder others in their walk, but to help and encourage them along the way!
To be true to our calling, Peter begs us as sojourners and pilgrims (in the world) to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul (1 Pet. 2:11). We are testimonies of God’s grace and the last thing we should want to do is portray a false image of God’s grace! As Peter said, we should not use our liberty as a cloak for vice because our testimony would be hypocritical if we, the believer, is carried about in wickedness rather than that which makes for righteous living.
How could we ever expect one to turn to Christ when we are behaving just as wickedly, if not more wickedly, than a sinner? How would that even be fair?
So, to those in Rome, Paul encouraged and said, “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Rom. 13:13-14).”
To Be Honorable
Peter encourages us to let our conduct be honorable among people — honoring all people, loving the brotherhood, and fearing the Lord (1 Pet. 2:12,17). Again, I say to you this week, that the onus is on us to bring good into this world by being true to our calling so that we can be more than fair to all of those around us. I know that we are able to do this through what scripture has shown us today.
You and I should move with lowliness of mind and not as a conceited person that would do nothing but push others away. We should move with lowliness in teaching, preaching, and showing others the way of God through His sound and righteous doctrine. Lastly, our conduct should be so honorable that if one would speak against us, the only things they would be able to say about us would be about our good works in the name of the Lord. As Peter said, they would then be glorifying the Lord in their speaking against us (1 Pet. 2:12).
Move with unconditional love
You see, we should be moving honorable by unconditionally loving all people. This is a thought that Jesus expressed perfectly to us when He asked the disciples, “If you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so (Matt 5:46-47)?”
We should move with the kind of honor that would go the extra mile! Jesus, again, encouraged, “Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with [them] two. Give to [them] who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away (Matt. 5:41-42).” You see, this way is the way to be true to our calling – a way of love and humility.
Should we live in the manner I have shared here today, then, we would live in a manner where all are honored and treated fairly. God has given to us the instructions to follow so that we can go about making this world a better place; all we have to do is follow His instructions – it begins with us.
I encourage you today to stand true to our calling. We can start off in our homes first, then move into our community and our society, and then we can take this honorable living to the rest of the world and make this world a fairer and better place.