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Our Responsibility to Others
1 Peter 2:13-17
Our Responsibility to Others
1 Peter 2:13-17
Peter is moving systematically unfolding what the Christian life is all about. We have been called by God, as a result we have been justified, sanctified, reconciled, sealed and added to the body of Christ as living stones.
Peter spells out the extreme price that was paid in order to receive God's gift of eternal life and forgiveness.
Next, Peter points out that the old life had to go and our new life in Christ embraced. Meaning that some old habits had to go, and new habits developed.
A process of putting off and putting on in order to conform to the image of Jesus Christ.
As children of the living God we should reflect His image in our lives.
Now we are confronted with our relationships to the government, masters and family. Obedience is a constant struggle for most of us.
God has called us to a life of obedience to him and this controls how we deal with those around us. Obedience is self-control and really is the key to a stable lifestyle.
Shortly after arriving at the Keller household, Annie Sullivan wrote, "I am convinced that obedience is the gateway by which knowledge, yes and even love, enter the mind of the child."
With this remarkable insight, Sullivan had the courage to teach Helen to obey to sit at the table, to eat properly, to fold her napkin. It was by first learning obedience that Helen learned the concept of language and grew to love her teacher.
Annie Sullivan's words speak to us as we reflect on our relationship to others. "Obedience is the gateway by which knowledge, yes and love, enter" our minds. It is in acts of obedience that we grow in the knowledge and love of God.
T.S We are now presented with the way to respond to Civil Government.
I. The Function of Human Government
The general function of human government, as instituted by God, may be said to be threefold: to protect, punish, and promote.
a. The Function of Protection: The moment Adam sinned it was obvious that civilizations would need some form of restraint and rule to protect citizens from themselves.
An example of this function is seen in Acts 21:27-37 where Roman soldiers step in and save Paul from being murdered by his own enraged countrymen in Jerusalem.
b. The Function of Punishment: Both Paul and Peter bring this out. Paul writes that duly appointed human officials are to be regarded as God's servants to "bear the sword,"
that is, to impose punishment upon criminals (vv. 3,4). Peter tells us that governors are "sent by him for the punishment of evildoers" (1 Pet 2:13, 14).
c. The Function of Promotion: Human government is to promote the general welfare of the community where its laws are in effect.
Paul commands us to pray for human leaders "that we may
lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (1 Tim 2:1,2).
1 Peter 2:13,
II. Our Responsibility to Human Government
It is impossible for a believer to be a good Christian and a bad citizen at the same time.
As children of God our responsibility to human government is threefold:
a. We are to recognize and accept that the powers that be are ordained by God.
"Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." (Rom 13:1)
This truth applies even to atheistic human governments unless, of course, the law is anti-scriptural. In that situation the believer must obey God rather than man (Acts 4:18-20).
In fact, when Paul wrote those words in Romans 13:1, the evil emperor Nero was on the throne. See also Titus 3:1.
b. We are to pay our taxes to human government (Matt 17:24-7; 22:21, Rom 13:7).
c. We are to pray for the leaders in human government.
"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior" (1 Tim 2:1-3).
We are to take responsibility for the right ordering of civil society without falling prey to the idea that it is within our power to build the Kingdom of God on earth.
III. Civil Government-Obedience
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.
1. The Apostle Paul supports this command in Romans 13:3
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good.
. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. (Rom 13:3-4)
The concern here is the restraint of evil, promotion of the public good, and punishment of wrongdoing—this is based on the fact that God establishes all authority (Rom 13:1).
There is a need to maintain peace and order in society, God leaves nothing to chance He has set in place civil authority to maintain a measure of control.
When we fight against or disobey the authorities, we are in rebellion to God who put them in place.
God has created all the foundations of human society—work, family, and the government.
We understand that governments can be corrupted and when that happens God deals with those who have misused their authority.
The apostle's intent was therefore to command submission to every human institution because everyone is put there by God.
We have a responsibility to be obedient to civil authorities, to employers (2:18; Eph 6:5; Col 3:22), and in the family, submitting yourselves to one another (Eph 5:21-6:2).
IV. Community-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.
Henry Thoreau said, "Be not merely good; be good for something."
That was Jesus' challenge to the man who wanted to know what he could do to inherit eternal life. He had been good at making money, in being morally upright and keeping the commandments; but that is not the ultimate good: he must also give of himself and what he has in behalf of others.
He needed to also realize that "The gift without the giver is bare."
John Wesley proposed an excellent guide to goodness. He said, and he practiced what he preached:
Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, At all the times you can, As long as you can.
Someone else has expressed the ideal of goodness in a wonderful way, saying. "I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore, that I can do, or any goodness that I can show to my fellow creatures, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."
Herod was a power-hungry ruler whose actions reeked of evil. We can't explain his actions, or the actions of anybody else who acts in evil ways.
And despite our best efforts to create an atmosphere of cooperation and kindness, it is unrealistic to think we are going to eliminate from the face of the earth divisive, rude, evil people.
Our only choice, unless we want to give in or give up, is to work around the evil. Yes, this is an imperfect world, but that does not
relieve us of our responsibility to work for what is good and right.
If anything, the evil present in our world only accentuates the need for us to do something.
Someone penned a few thoughts and titled the piece "Anyway."
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway!
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway!
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway!
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway!
Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway!
The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with the smallest minds. Think big anyway!
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for some underdogs anyway! What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway!
People really need help but may attack you if you help them. Help people anyway!
Give the world the best you have, and you will get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have any way!
A well-to-do woman who is a member of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian church in Pennsylvania was asked why she came to church.
"I come to worship to pray and to sing and to listen. But most of all, I come for the benediction.
Because that is the moment that I am reminded who I am. That is the moment when, one more time, I am pushed by God out into the world to be the very presence of Christ."
This is the benediction which is used every week at the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church:
Go out into the world in peace;
hold onto what is good;
return no one evil for evil;
strengthen the fainthearted;
support the weak, and help the suffering;
honor all people;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This, of course, is just an elegant way of echoing John's very tough, very good news: "Repent! for the kingdom of God is at hand."
Conclusion: What amazed the Pharisees and the Herodians about Jesus' comments was how he refocused the issue to something much bigger than they had intended.
In essence Jesus said, give Caesar what he has coming, a silver coin with his image on it. It's already his anyway, so let him have it back.
But give back to God all that God deserves, which is everything, including yourselves.
The fact of the matter is that Jesus did not say much about human government; and the rest of the New Testament provides different responses believers should have in response to human government.
In Romans 13 Paul paints a positive picture of the role of government and commands Christians to obey it;
but in Revelation 13 the author describes a government gone demonic and warns believers to resist it unto death.
According to the book of Acts, it did not take Jesus' followers long to discover that "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). What we owe to God is infinitely more than we owe to Caesar.
The Words of 1 Peter 2:17 help put the issue into perspective: Fear God, honor the king."
There is a world of difference between those two obligations, no matter where we draw the line between God and the government.
In the last resort, then, Caesar is Caesar, and God is God."
"Whenever I take the opportunity to actively love God in personal obedience,
I end up sensing a new tenderness in my heart toward Him and a stronger resolve to obey again next time.
Obedience is not an end, but a means-a means to express our love to God,
and a means to increase our love for God. It is a catalyst in the process of loving God and becoming more like Jesus."
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