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“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:11-17)
Up to this point, Peter has primarily focused on the people of God as the people of God. You are the children of the Father so be like your Father and love your brothers (but there’s no mention about the Gentile neighbor kids). You are God’s house and this is what it looks like from the inside, but how does it look from the outside? Now the front door of the house is opened up and the children of the Father are about to enter the world. But Peter warns that the world is a war zone––a war within you that has consequences for the world. And this war must be fought by those who fully submitted to the Lord.
“Beloved” (vs. 11)
Peter begins with a pleading admonition, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against your soul.” He wants them to know that they share their identity with Jesus, the Beloved Son of God (Mt. 3:17, 17:5). What did Jesus do as the Beloved? After his baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, and then the Beloved of God battled Satan. After his transformation, Jesus moves toward Jerusalem where he tells his disciples that he’s going to make war and must suffer and die and be raised from the dead. So when Peter calls us “Beloved” it means more than a mom’s parting words, “Stay safe and make good choices.” The beloved are filled with Spirit and on the mission of the Father.
Soul Warfare (vs. 11)
The beloved as sojourners and pilgrims are to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against your soul” (vs. 11). Within each of us rages a war whether Jesus will rule as king or not. You align with Christ or against Christ. And your life and heart and words are all skirmishes. This should cause fear, but not despair. Fear, because this is of chief importance, but not despair because if you are with Christ and Christ is with you, you are on the victorious side.
Gentiles Glorify God (vs. 12)
The impact of your fight is not just for your soul but the salvation of unbelievers. Abstain from sin and have honorable conduct among the Gentiles so that “when they speak against you as evil doers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” Those who give glory to God are the good guys. That means that bad guys become the good guys, and this is initiated by how Christians live. God’s people are not only on the defensive, repelling the attacks of our sinful desires, but on the advance through your obedience. Tell us, Peter, how we can do this?
Submit for the Lord’s Sake (vs. 13-14)
“Therefore, submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.” Our reaction should be to submit to Peter’s command to submit. The test of submission is when you are required to do something you don’t want to do, but is required of you. You can only submit to man’s authority once you have submitted to God’s exhaustive sovereignty. “Submit for the Lord’s sake.” Jesus is Lord and his Lordship is over all and he has established all those in authority (Romans 13:1). That means that Donald Trump is the Lord’s ruler. Barak Obama is the Lord’s ruler. Caesar Augustus and Nero and Pilate are the Lord’s ruler. Any government from the Roman Empire to US Senate to the Moscow Board of Adjusters has been established by Jesus. And so we submit because our obedience is before God.
“But Peter, what if the government commands us to do what God commands us to do something to disobey God?” We have a very clear, and simple word from Scripture––obey God.
“But Peter, you didn’t live in a world like ours. You didn’t have a corrupt government like us.” Yes he did. We don’t submit to the government because it’s godly. We submit to the government in order for it to become godly. We demand the government to submit to God, but we have failed God’s commands to submit to our government. The fact that the world still looks like world is a failure of Christians to look like and live like Christ.
Free to be a Slave (vs. 15-17)
Your submission to kings is a powerful weapon for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom. “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” Your good life and good conduct will silence those who deny God. Peter says you have been set free, set free to be the slaves of God. And God commands you “Beloved, abstain from fleshly desires. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”