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1 Peter 2:9-12 (ESV)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evil doers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
a. Where do you belong? Where is your home? Where are you from? I belong nowhere. I was born in New Brunswick to a Newfoundland father and New Brunswick mother. The home into which I was born in Lower Coverdale NB was my home for less than two years. The next home I lived in was from early 1954 to late 1955. Having managed to stay in one place for nine years I then lived in 25 different houses in 9 different communities in 43 years – that is an average of 1.7 years apiece. (I have been in our present house now for almost 8 years … That takes the average down to 1.6. Where do I belong? I do not know. I claim Newfoundland as my home but I only lived there for 15 of my 55 years. I have now lived longer in Toronto than I lived anywhere else – but I do not feel like a Torontonian – at least not in the sense of saying this is where my roots are. But that is what is so great about living here. The majority of us are from somewhere else.
I am not disappointed at the way I bounced around while I was growing up. I think it has helped me be less attached to a world that God says we are not to be attached to. It has helped create in me a desire to really go home. Jesus has prepared a place for me and I am going to be settled there for a long time. It will be – home. It has helped me see that I am a stranger here.b. This morning we continue on in our considerations of what it means to be an effective
witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The piece of Scripture that addresses that is I Peter 2:11-12. But before we get there we need to go back to verse 9.
2. 2:9 – The Purpose of Our Salvation
a. Peter identifies them with some very lofty identities – chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, a people for His own possession. Each of these titles could keep us going for a long time. So we just note that these titles unite us with the Old Testament saints, for each of these titles was said of ancient Israel. We, as they, are the chosen people of God. We are the descendants of Abraham, the offspring of David. God has chosen us. He has made us kings and priests. He has made us holy. He has taken us as His very own.
i. Why has God done all that? Why would God take sinful, hell bound, hell deserving sinners and rescue them for eternity? Why would He concoct a plan before He made the world, to redeem us from what we were in order to make us His children? Why would He send the eternal Son of God into the world to make sure that every one of those so chosen would be eternally won to Him through His work? Why would He die for them and rise for them and reign for them sand return for them?
b. Why? See why in the rest of the verse
i. 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) – that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. TBC exists to declare, from its heart, in word and deed, the magnificent worth of God..
(1) The excellencies – the moral superiority, virtue, glorious attributes – we are called to proclaim the supreme moral character of God.
ii. Or see Ephesians 3:10 (ESV) – so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
iii. Or Ephesians s 1:11-12; 2:7
iv. We are here dear ones, to show a great, gracious, loving, powerful, sovereign God to the world. But note that it says “excellencies” We are to declare His excellencies. That means, at the very least, that we are to find Him excellent. It means that He is magnificent to us.
(1) This is not a matter of telling people about how to get saved per se. It is people who are smitten with something simply talking about what has gripped their hearts. It is people who cannot get over how good and great and gracious He is. It is not being obnoxious with the Truth. It is being passionate about it. Passionate does not necessarily mean exciting. It just means that it is something that has our attention and we cannot get enough. It is more a matter of simply telling people about the Great Light. It is God focussed, God directed. This is not something that you get up one morning and decide to do. It is not another item on your “To Do” list. “Oh, I’d better declare the excellencies of God today, then buy groceries, then have my dentist appointment …” It is people who are growing in their knowledge of God and are simply stunned with what they find in Him and want others to know about it. It comes from knowing God better and better as e progress in our lives. That is why Paul’s prayer for the churches he wrote amounted to “know God better”
(a) Eg. In 1994 or 95 I helped a friend of mine move from her house – twice. She had been abused by her husband and I went to her house one night and loaded up her car and my car and her brother’s car with stuff and got her out of there to safety. Then I helped her move from the house she found into another more suitable place. At this time the musical Phantom of the Opera was in its closing days at the Pantages Theatre. I had become a fan of the musical several years before and had several of the songs and the story line memorized. I spoke passionately about the music, the story, the singing etc. One day the door bell rang and it was a courier with a letter for us. Two tickets for the Phantom of the Opera from my friend and her brother. The note said something like “No one should be that passionate about something and not get a chance to see it.” Passion, dear ones, gets noticed. It has a contagious quality.
3. 2:11- 12 – Fulfilling Our Purpose
a. Two aspects of how we fulfil that incredible purpose God has given us – 1) In our hearts (verse 11b) and in the world (verse 12).
b. 11a – First – an introductory comment about the power to obey what is about to be commanded.
i. “I urge you” – I beg of you. I plead with you. This is important. This is crucial. Peter is not being melodramatic here. He begs them that they keep themselves holy. We believe that we are saved because we were chosen from before the foundations of the world. We believe this choosing is based on pure unadulterated grace and love. We believe that all those so chosen will be forever saved and that Jesus shall lose none of all those that the Father gives Him. We believe those so chosen will be brought by the power of the Holy Spirit to repent of their sins and trust the Lord Jesus Christ to save them from their sins. And we believe that all those so chosen and repentant and believing will prove the power of their calling in them with holy living. And, dear ones, we believe that all those so chosen and called and repentant and believing do not take their salvation for granted but demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit in them by waging warfare on the enemy of their souls because they know that if they do not their souls will be lost. And we believe that none of this is contradictory. Dear ones – your soul is at stake here. The battle is for your soul.
ii. as sojourners and exiles – Peter appeals to them on the basis of them being foreigners in the world. “Since you do not belong here/since you do not hold to the values that surround you/ since you are not like the world in which you are found – then do not live like they do. For Christians to live like the world is to deny their citizenship .. .
(1) Now dear ones you will not get help in the community for the battle for your soul. You are strangers here and those who belong here want you to join in with them. Your soul is at stake. But that is not all that is at stake – the souls of those who tempt you to join in with them is at stake as well. How you respond to their enticements may very well effect their eternal destiny.
iii. “Since you do not belong here do not get bogged down in what those who do belong here get involved in”. They behave like that because they belong here. This is their home. This is not your home. Let those who are at home with such things practise them. You however should stay away from such things because you do not belong.
c. 11b – “abstain from the passions of the flesh”
i. James 1:13-15 (ESV) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. That is plain enough isn’t it? The problem is “me”/”us”. We do not sin because the world is too wicked or the temptations are too great or we were too tired. We sin because we have sinful desires. They wage war against our soul and we better get our armour on because all who profess Jesus Christ are in this war whether they like it or not.
ii. Christians can look so normal, so controlled, so in charge of their lives. But there is a war going on inside that is relentless. There is war in the soul. And there is not a believer in this room who does not experience it all the time. No one else can see the inner struggles. No one else can get inside the head and know the agonies that are there. It is a battle for the soul. And that battle is sometimes waged in the inner recesses of the mind and heart – and it feels so alone and so barren and we feel in there like we have no defences – but dear ones we are not defenceless and we are not alone. We should find great hope and encouragement that this inner struggle is not new to us and that God has inspired others before us to record their inner battles of soul…. See Paul in Romans 7:15-24
iii. The world is not going to help us in this fight. The world, when it comes to the warfare of the soul, is part of the attack against you. Well, we are talking about being witnesses for the Gospel. What does all this have to do with being witnesses of the Gospel? It has to do with the giving of the Gospel because Peter is clear here that what God uses in bringing people to himself is the changed lives of those who already know Him.
You do not fight the war against your soul by retreating from the world. There are far, far too many believers who have no lost friends, who only associate with lost people when absolutely necessary. They do not socialize with them. They seek to protect the soul by withdrawing from a wicked world. They do not realize that the wickedness of their own hearts will cause them to sin. The problem is not them. The problem is us.
d. 12 – Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable
i. The battle is not just for your soul – the battle is for the souls of those who do not yet know Christ. If you are slack in your fight against godlessness, it is not just you that you hurt. You give reason why no one should ever come to Christ.
ii. We are to live “honourable” lives. Good lives. Lives that cannot rightly be said to be evil. A world lost in darkness will not like it. They will speak evil of it. But that should not stop us. Jesus has told us that holy living will produce opposition.
iii. Then what will happen? They will speak evil of us – See 3:13-14 …
iv. What else will happen? – They will glorify God on the day of visitation
(1) They will be saved when God, in mercy, comes to visit them with grace and His offer of the Gospel
(2) They will be numbered among the saints who will welcome the return of Christ when that event occurs.
(3) So, what will happen is that our lives will make some people oppose us and speak evil against us. Some of those people will get saved because we did not let their opposition deter us from living holy lives. And one day we will stand with them around the throne of God in unimaginable glory and we will hear them singing the praises of the Saviour with us. And all the horrors of opposition and the warfare and the pain and struggle will all seem pretty small in comparison.
v. What is the honourable way of living that God, through Peter, is calling us to live?
(1) Lives of submission See 2:13, 18; 3:1, 7, 8 – Nothing goes against the grain like putting yourself under others. We are to look out for #1. Think of it dear ones. Talk to your friends about your commitment to value your employer as an authority who is over you and should be obeyed. Talk about your commitment to treat your husband as the head of the home who you have chosen, as a service to Christ, to submit yourself to. Talk about your commitment to treat the current Conservative government in Ottawa with respect and submit to it. Then read 12b and you will see how true the Bible is. But our problem is that we don’t believe these verses. We can’t believe that this is what God wants for us. We can’t see how this is a good idea. And you know why? We haven’t waged war against the desires of the flesh that war against our souls. We have absorbed and believed the views of the world in which we live.