1 Peter 3:13-16
When Peter wrote his first letter to the church, the world was dark. It was open season on Christians. Its rulers saw Christians as insurrectionists because they wouldn’t call Caesar “Lord” and as an economic threat because there was a fortune to be made in the idolatry business. The bright light of the Gospel was starting to extinguish that darkness. The godly lifestyle of believers condemned pagan culture.
Thus, Peter asked in 1 Peter 3:13-16,
Who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. [Then Peter quotes Isaiah 8:12] “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify [set apart] the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
Peter’s quote from Isaiah is God’s word for us today: “Do not be afraid of their threats nor be troubled.”
How do we conduct ourselves as bright lights at a time when we’re unjustly criticized, when some want to terrorize us? Do we hunker down? Close up shop? No, there’s never been a greater time to preach Jesus Christ than today. Our world grows increasingly dark before His return.
We go forth armed with the glorious Gospel and a mighty demonstration of love. We cannot be silent. If we do not speak out now, later there may not be anyone to speak out for us. We must be real. We must be ready. (See 1 Peter 3:15.)
Peter gives six things we must do in this dark day.
1. Enthrone Jesus Christ as Lord.
“Sanctify [set apart] the Lord God in your heart.” Have Him reigning in your life above all else. It’s not enough to claim Him as Savior. You must make Him Lord.
Have you ever bowed the knee, taken the crown off your head, and put it on His?
You cannot have what Jesus gives unless you accept who He is. He is Lord.
2. Be ready with an answer.
Few people come to us for answers because they haven’t seen anything in us that’s different. Has anyone ever asked you, “What is the reason for your hope?” If someone did, could you defend your faith? They will come and ask you for answers if you have a changed life.
Is there anything about you that’s not explainable apart from Jesus Christ? You must be ready. Our world is swimming in questions. We have the answers to people’s deepest questions.
3. Practice true humility.
“Meekness” isn’t weakness, it’s strength under control. “Fear” isn’t trembling at what is happening around us; it’s reverence for Almighty God.
Many people think Christ followers are arrogant. We must be careful when we respond. (See James 1:19-20.)
Early Christians faced horrific persecution. But through their meekness (strength under discipline), fear (reverence for God), humility, and ability to suffer for Christ, they brought the Roman empire crashing down.
Confess the sins of the church. This isn’t the time to point fingers at anyone else. The evil we see in our communities has happened on our watch.
4. Live a superior lifestyle.
Live in such a way that when we’re falsely accused, our lifestyle will be so superior they’ll be embarrassed by their accusations.
Peter said in chapter 2, verse 12, that when Jesus comes again, they’ll have to say, “Those Christians were living a blameless lifestyle.”
People should see your life standing out like a diamond in a coal mine. Out-love, out-live, out-give, out-pray, out-witness the people of this world.
When we do, others will ask about the hope in us. The Bible never said we’ll not have tribulation. We may get cast into prison. Even there we must be bright lights in a dark place.
5. Display genuine love. (See 1 Peter 4:8-9.)
Tragedies of terrorism, violence, and civil unrest become the dark velvet against which the bright diamond of God’s love, seen in us, is reflected to a dark world. This is our opportunity to be bright lights, responding in love.
This is the age in which the church must demonstrate the love of Christ and be known for our love.
6. Always hold on to hope.
The word “hope” here isn’t “wishing,” but divine certainty based on the Word of God. However dark the day, we’re on the winning side.
Our responsibility is to stand for Jesus Christ here and around the world, putting our hope, faith, and prayers in His unshakeable kingdom.
Don’t cringe in a corner. March out under the unfurled, blood-stained banner of King Jesus. God is our source of supply, the Holy Spirit our ally, Jesus our Commander in Chief. We’re brothers and sisters in this mighty army of love. May God help us in this day to be bright lights in a dark world.
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