1 Pet. 3:13-17, Suffering for the sake of Christ

"And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong."

  1. Verse 14, You are blessed if you suffer for the sake of righteousness.
    1. Now, most of you would not equate the word "blessed" with suffering.
      1. The word here translated "blessed" (makarioi; cf. 4:14) and was used by Jesus in (Matt. 5:3-11). To be "blessed" in both contexts does not mean to "feel delighted" but to be "highly privileged."
      2. Christians are not to be afraid of what men can do to them (cf. Matt. 10:28). Rather, in context, Peter's exhortation to fear God rather than men.
    2. One of the best ways to overcome the fear of persecution is to be persecuted.
      1. I remember out at the swap meet ministry I had a few years ago when this pair of huge Samoans approached. One of them threatened me because I spoke out against Mormonism -- they were Mormons. Neither liked what I had to say and one of them, who was as big as a barn, threatened to beat me up. I stood my ground (with heart pounding) and trusted God. Nothing happened.
        1. After it was over, I felt the peace and assurance of God.
    3. The blessing is from God, not from man.
    4. The fact that we live in this world that has so many unbelievers in it and has so much demonic activity in it is a guarantee that you will be persecuted; that is, if you are living for Christ.
      1. This is a demonstration of the righteousness of God when the world does not like His ways.
      2. Your reward in heaven will not be lost.
    5. However, if you are never persecuted for your faith, perhaps you are not living it properly. This does not mean that if you are not persecuted you are not a good Christian. But, it does mean that the gospel offends people and you can suffer the consequences for it.
  2. Verse 15, But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
    1. The first command is to put Christ first in your heart.
      1. It is more important to love Jesus and follow Him your innermost being than it is to be able to give great answers to tough questions.
      2. This is because of the cross. Only because of the cross can we live for Jesus. We are redeemed by His blood and grace and it is He who empowers us to live for Him.
      3. Jesus said in Matt. 12:34, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." - So, work on what is in your heart: attitude, focus, etc.
    2. The second thing is to be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks...
      1. This is important for several reasons:
        1. It honors God
        2. It strengthens your faith
        3. It answers the questions of the unbeliever so they are without excuse.
    3. But you need to know what you believe and why
      1. Have you studied your doctrines?
      2. Have you studied why you believe what you do?
      3. Are you ready to give answers to the unbelievers on why you oppose abortion, homosexuality, moral relativism, etc.?
    4. For the most part, the only thing an unbeliever will see of God, is you.
      1. How do you represent Him?
  3. Verses 16 -17, and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
    1. A believer's testimony should not be given in an arrogant manner but with gentleness and respect.
    2. But, make sure the sin in your life is taken care of. Be reconciled to God and to one another in confession and harmony.
    3. Is there a sin in your life that is keeping you from fellowship with God? Then confess it to Him and be forgiven.
    4. Are you right before God?
    5. Do you have a clean conscience before the Lord?
    6. It is important to be right before God so that when you are slandered, the accusation will have no basis in truth.
      1. You might be wrongfully accused, but at least you know you are right before God and before men and can then make a true and easy defense.
    7. But, sometimes we must suffer for what is right.
      1. Sometimes when you stand up for what is right, you can be unjustly accused.

Conclusion

You should be so centered on Jesus, so close to Him, so sure of Him, that when you are persecuted you have no fear.

You should overcome fear by putting Christ first in your life.

All this is so that you might be a proper and good witness to men. You are to give good reasons for your faith, but more importantly, you are to live the faith in your life by sanctifying Christ as Lord in your heart so that what is in your heart will come out in your words and deeds.

So that if God would will that you suffer, you can do it for His glory.

 

 

 

 
 
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