Live that they might see

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 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. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 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. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” – 1 Peter 2:11-16

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In verse eleven of First Peter chapter two, we find a shift in the discussion. Previously, Peter was encouraging believers in who we are. He reminds us that we are the people of God. Now, attention is given to how we are to live amongst an unbelieving world. We are to live in such a way that the world around us can see Jesus in us. We may preach and proclaim the Gospel with our mouth, and we should, however, if we do not live out the Gospel that others may see, the words that we speak are in vain. In other words, we must practice what we preach. If we are going to claim to be the children of God, then we must live like it. We must walk the talk. In our text we see five things that we must do in order that others may see Jesus in us and thus give glory to God.

Abstain from fleshly lusts. When we think of fleshly lust, we tend to automatically think of sexual sins. Though such sins are included, fleshly lust is much more than sexual sins. When Peter mentioned that we are to abstain from fleshly lust, he was saying that we are to abstain from all sins. As believers, there is a constant battle going on within us. The new man that we became the moment we accepted Christ as Savior, is in a constant war with our old self. We have two natures. We have the new nature in Christ and we have our old nature of sin. Just because you have been saved, it does not mean that the old nature of sin is completely gone. One day it will be, but while we are still on this earth, we still have a sin nature. Therefore, there is a constant battle going on everyday inside the life of the believer between the new nature and the old nature. Our greatest enemy is our selves. D.L. Moody said, “I have more trouble with D.L. Moody than with any man I know.” This is certainly true of us all. The flesh is constantly rising up and pulling us away from living as God would have us to live. Therefore, the first step to living that they may see is to abstain from fleshly lusts. How do we do that? We abstain from fleshly lusts by practicing the basic spiritual disciplines. To fight the war against our flesh we must use the right weapons. Those weapons are the weapons of spiritual disciplines. I have preached a sermon in the past called the seven spiritual disciplines for life. Those disciplines are: worship, prayer, meditation, Bible study, giving, church attendance, and witnessing. If we are not doing these things faithfully and regularly, there is no way we can resist the temptations that rise up within us. So, we are encouraged to abstain from fleshly lusts so that the world may see Jesus in us.

                Live honestly. To live that they might see, we must live honestly. In other words, we must be people of our word. We must let our yes be yes and our no be no. This word ‘honest’ not only refers to being truthful, but it also refers to beauty, admirable, and honor. In other words, we are to be well respected people. We are to live in such a way that people will look up to us. “We do not witness only with our lips; we must back up our “talk” with our “walk.” There should be nothing in our conduct that will give the unsaved ammunition to attack Christ and the Gospel.”[1] As believers, we are to live above reproach.

Practice good works. How can we effectively witness to others if we do not practice good works? Such good works include but are not limited to: visiting those in prison, caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the homeless, etc. As Christians, we should be known as caring and loving people who are actively involved in helping those in need.

Submit to authority. In verses 13-15 we find that we are also to submit to those in authority. There are three basic institutions that God has set up through which we live: the home, human government, and the church. All three institutions have a certain authority structure that is laid out to us in scripture. It is our responsibility to submit to that authority. By living lives of submission, we silence those who may criticize us. There are times when the authority will do things that are contrary to God’s Word. When this happens, it is better to obey God than to obey men. However, we can refuse to obey a law or command and still submit to the authority. There may be consequences for not obeying a certain law, however, we submit to those consequences, thus, submitting to the authority. This does not mean we should be passive. There are ways within the law that we can change the authority. We should be involved in such things. However, we should always submit to authority in order that the world may see our actions and be drawn to Christ.

Don’t take advantage of your liberty. In verse sixteen we are encouraged to not use our liberty for evil and deceit but to use our liberty as servants of God. I believe Peter had in mind here the liberty that we have as believers in Christ. We do have freedom in Christ. It is not a freedom to do anything we want. Instead, it is a freedom from sin. We have been bought out of the bondage of sin, therefore, we should live like it. We are not to take advantage of our liberty. In other words, we are not use our liberty as an excuse for sin and selfish activity.

Whether you like it or not, people are watching you. They are waiting for an opportunity to accuse you of wrong doing and defame the name of Jesus. Don’t let them do it. Don’t give them an opportunity. Live above reproach. Live such a life, that the world around you could never accuse you of wrong doing. Live in such a way that the world will glorify God. Live that they might see.

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 404). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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