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Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1304

May 28, 2017 1 Peter 5:5b-11

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

 

 

“God Will Work It All Out”

 

If you have not been able to attend worship during any of the previous four Sundays, let me review where we have been in 1 Peter. Peter is writing to exiles, a people who have been persecuted and driven from their homelands. They are displaced and part of what I believe Peter wants to convey is how to live faithfully as Christians in exile. We have also talked about our own exile, not a physical exile but one of spiritual dimensions or emotional displacement. We are a church that has found itself in a new context in America, no longer the church that influences culture and politics, and no longer the nation traditionally known as a Christian nation. It is not completely gone, but we see more and more the demise of religious freedom and the loss of a national Christian climate across the whole of the country.

So what does Peter teach the first century Christians and those of us in the twenty-first century? In chapter one we learned to find our comfort in God’s Word. It is to the Bible we must turn and return for our encouragement and hope and perspective. Chapter two opened our eyes to our freedom in Christ. No matter what religious liberties are under threat, we are always free in Christ and nothing on this earth can take away that freedom. Chapter three teaches us to be completely devoted to Christ and ready to defend the hope that is within us. There is hope, always hope, because Christ is our savior. Chapter four revealed an attitude for prayer, love, and glorifying God in all things. We noted that these are all attributes no matter whether we are in exile or not. But they are reminders that when our context finds us exiled, these are the blessings we can still receive from God in things like His word, freedom, devotion, prayer, and love.

Today we conclude this series with chapter five and the encouragement at the end that God will work it all out. We will look at four points: clothing, humility, attentiveness, and restoration.

 

5bClothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

 

 

  • Clothe Yourselves

 

I really like the metaphor of clothing ourselves. Peter tells us to clothe ourselves with humility. We will take that particular topic up in the next outline point. Here I want to think about clothing ourselves as a metaphor. The imagery is taking off the old clothing to put on new clothing. In biblical terms we talk about the old nature being crucified and the new nature being put on. It is best revealed in Colossians 3:5-14

 

5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

12Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.


 

 

Paul’s phrase to “put to death” is the same meaning of putting off the clothing of sexual immorality, impurity, lust...anger, slander and so forth. Verse 10 speaks of putting on the new self. In the new self we put on the clothing of compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and so on. Above all, Paul says to put on love. You may recall last Sunday that Peter also says to put on love above all else.

I find it interesting that clothing ourselves is used as a metaphor for how we live. As we were discussing this on Wednesday at Bible study, we noted that clothing can reveal, sometimes more than we want to see, or, clothing can hide things. Usually people try to hide the immorality and rage and sins that they commit, just as we sometimes try to hide our bodies under certain clothing. In that sense we use “clothing” to hide. We hide behind our sin.

But sometimes clothing reveals something. I joked about how we don’t always want to see what is revealed in a physical sense, but with the new clothing of the new self, we can see the love and compassion that God gives. We can see forgiveness and patience become an attribute of our lives.

 

 

 

  • Humble Yourselves

 

Peter spends three verses on humility. In those verses he tells us to be humble toward one another. God gives grace to the humble. Humble yourself under the hand of God. These are all taught throughout the Bible. It is in the teachings like “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7) for only by humbling ourselves will we truly fear God. It is in the teachings like Jesus gives, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). Obedience and love also require humility.

To humble oneself is to think more highly of others than of yourself. It is to recognize our place before God. It is to repent, to love, to serve, for it takes humility to do all these things. The good news is that God gives grace to the humble and that grace is what empowers us to live as Christians.

God tested Israel in the wilderness to humble them and see if they would keep His commandments. Prior to that, Pharaoh refused to humble himself before God and let the Israelites go. In our quest to be more like Jesus we must be humble. Jesus himself was humble: Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly (humble) in heart, and you will find rest for your souls(Matt. 11:29).

One day the humble will be exalted by God. But exaltation is God’s doing, not our own. God is constantly inverting the status quo, making the first, last and the last, first. Exalting the humble and humbling the exalted. This is done in God’s time, meanwhile, we are to humble ourselves before one another and before God.

 

 

  • Keep Alert

 

 

Next, Peter says to be sober-minded and watchful. Specifically he points to watching out to what the devil is up to. You may remember that Peter also said to be sober minded for the sake of our prayers in chapter four. Peter calls on us to pay attention and be attentive to the works of the devil. Of course, we might extend that watch to sin and the ways of the world, to the things we should put off in order to put on Christ. We keep alert to all that would seek to devour us. We resist compromising God’s truth. We resist when the devil tempts us to test the Lord. We resist when we realize we may not be doing what God has called us to do.

In order to keep alert, we must also be attentive to God’s word and how it leads us to all that Peter teaches. We seek to open our eyes and hearts to learn how to be watchful and how to be sober-minded.

 

 

  • God’s Restoration

 

 

What final word does Peter give to exiles? It is a word of hope, specifically that God will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. When I was growing up and things might not have been looking good in any given situation, my father would always try to assure us that everything would work out okay. If I wanted to try to buy something but did not have enough money, he would tell me everything will work out. Certainly God our Father will work all things out and that is the word Peter gives to us as exiles. We continue to trust and hope in God because he promises to restore us to our home. He promises to confirm us in our faith and to strengthen us in our journey. He will establish us as His own. The promise is for full restoration, a homecoming from exile. For us that means one day Christ will return and straighten out the mess we have made. God will restore all things in fulfillment of His promises.

This is perhaps the best word for exiles. Exile is not the final word for God’s people. One day God will bring us home. For Peter’s original audience that probably meant returning to their homes and to safety. For us it means one day coming home to Jesus as full citizens of heaven. We might home it means a return to prominence in our nation and to the influence we once knew, but ultimately it is heaven. It may not be possible to return from the exile we have experienced in our nation. We may not get back our full liberties to faithfully own a floral or baking business that holds to one man and one woman in marriage, but we will one day see the exaltation of the humble. We will one day put on the clothes of praise and worship like that in Revelation 3, clothed in white, never again to know the stain of sin. We will one day know the full restoration of creation and humanity and all will be as God intended. This is good news for all in exile. Amen.