Big Idea: Do Good in All Situations, both Just & Unjust
Intro: Well morning friends and visitors. My name is Matt Johnson and today we continue our study of 1 Peter – remembering (from last week) that we are ALL meant to be PRIESTS during our pilgrimage to the celestial city of heaven…
PRAYER: Well today we are continuing to think about ourselves as priests of God which is a little unpleasant. In recent years the priesthood and Christian ministry has got a particularly bad name – because priests and pastors have been paedophiles. Evil is in the church. Now if you come from a traditional church background your concept of a priest may be a CATHOLIC or ORTHODOX priest – dressed up in fancy robes and perhaps with a big cross around their neck – listening to people in confession. This is not what Peter is talking about…
If you come from a more contemporary church background perhaps your image of a priest is the POP STAR MEGA CHURCH PASTOR, like this… (Slide 2). This is Karl Lentz from Hillsong New York. As you can see he has 1) tattoos, 2) wrist bands and 3) supercool glasses he doesn’t need to wear. But hey, they’re super-cool. Hillsong started the church in New York in 2010 and almost overnight the church grew to thousands. It seemed like revival. Pastor Karl Lentz was besties with KANYE WEST. He baptised rock star JUSTIN BIEBER and I believe supermodel HAILEY BALDWIN. Almost weekly – Lentz was starring on American talk-back shows – offering Christian perspectives on various current affair issues. For many young people this is the image of priest of pastor. But this is NOT what Peter is talking about either.
Sadly, we know the rest of the story. In 2020, Karl Lentz was fired by BRIAN HOUSTON for “moral failures”, that turned out to be – multiple sexual affairs – cheating on his wife. It was terrible. And it began a string of allegations against Hillsong pastors that kept coming and coming and coming… Now I’d love to say that this was an isolated event, peculiar to Hillsong.
But in recent years the Catholic church, the Anglican church, the Uniting Church and even the Southern Baptist Convention of America have all been plagued with such stories (or worse). The Anglican Minister – I trained under for two years at Bible college – also had MULTIPLE AFFAIRS with vulnerable women and when it finally came out – it decimated the church I grew up in.
I’m sick of it. This is on us. The pastors and priests are simply the tip of an iceberg that tells us that the church is worldly, lukewarm and close to spiritual death. The church is not healthy. The church is sick. We’ve normalized sin and we’ve pandered to the flesh – under the pretense of grace or compassion. We’re compromising everywhere on truth under the pretense of pastoral care or for the sake of open dialogue in evangelism. To put it another way – HOLINESS is largely gone from the modern western church. THE CHURCH IN CORINTH is no longer the perverse anomaly of the Bible, it is now the norm of most western churches. And if there is going to be any change in the church, any change at all, it needs to begin with us.
Instead of throwing stones at all the hypocritical pastors and priests we need to turn the mirror on ourselves. What sort of priest will you be in the journey to the celestial city? Today, Peter says that as priests we need to do good and we need to do good in all situations both just and unjust – (and even as we are accused of doing evil) we are to continue doing good…
Point 1: Christians should do Good in the Pilgrimage to Heaven
Show: 1Pet.2:11-12 (READ)
Explain: Well as you can see – Christians are called FOREIGNERS AND STRANGERS in this world. We don’t really belong here. Christians are now citizens of Jesus’ kingdom that will be fully established when he returns. That is our promised land. That is our true home.
So we are travelling priests or travelling pastors – we leave behind the world that is PERISHING (because the grass withers, the flowers fall and environmental problems are now perhaps metastasizing). THAT’S THE REALITY. So we leave behind a world that is collapsing under the weight of sin, to head towards our new home – the home of righteousness. And – as we journey towards this home of righteousness – we are called to be PRIESTLY PILGRIMS who declare the praises of Jesus who called us A) out of darkness and B) into his wonderful light – to anyone who listens. So as priestly pilgrims – Peter now tells us to BE GOOD and DO GOOD during the journey.
If you look again at verse 11 – you’ll see that it says “abstain from sinful desires which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives…” If you look over the Bible reading for today – you’ll see the word (ENTER) “GOOD” gets used 6 times. (One of the times it is translated with the word “right.”) And alongside “GOOD”, we also have the word (ENTER) “EVIL” used 4 times. Sometimes it is translated by the word “WRONG”, sometimes the word “EVIL”. So the overall application for today’s passage –is do good, not evil. Now if only they still taught this in Bible colleges and Seminary’s today. Priests and pastors are meant to do good, not evil. But remember this applies to all of us. Christians (in general) are priests working for God’s glory.
Illustrate: During the protestant reformation (1500’s) this was called the PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS. The protestants were reacting against the Catholic and Orthodox churches who taught priests are a special, distinct class of Christian, better than everyone else. So, the reformers said; “No, all Christians are priests and pastors for God.” Sadly, this elevation of priests or pastors has crept back into many contemporary Pentecostal churches. How often have you heard big name pastors saying; “Don’t touch the Lords anointed.” These pastors are saying; you can’t criticise or rebuke a pastor because he has a special anointed blessing from God. Now apart from being terrible exegesis of two Old Testament passages – these pastors are trying to lift themselves above scrutiny. This is rubbish. Here’s the deal according to the Bible. If you are a hypocritical priest – I’m going to kick you up the butt for the sake of Jesus’ glory. But if I’m a hypocritical priest – you get to kick me up the butt too – because together we are meant to be bringing glory (not shame) to Jesus’ name.
But Peter does acknowledges this is hard because our sinful fleshly desires are still waging war against our soul. Put very simply – this is just Romans 7 in one sentence. This is the internal battle between good and evil.
Illustrate: You may remember the old TV shows – where they’d picture a person making a tough decision with A) the devil sitting on one shoulder and B)an angel sitting on the other shoulder. The devil is urging the person to do evil and the angel is urging the person to do good. Now today – in Sydney – most people have put GAFFER TAPE over the mouth of the angel and they’re just listening to the devil. They’ve completely seared their conscience and their foot is now flat to the floor as they fishtail down the highway to hell. That’s why, people around us don’t even blink an eye when they abort full-term babies. The angel of God – is gagged.
But as Christians this internal battle is INTENSIFIED by the Bible, by other Christians and by the Holy Spirit. God’s Word in the Bible actually defines WHAT IS GOOD. If the Bible says we should do something, like be generous, or go to church or forgive others – that is a good thing.
If the Bible says to avoid something like lying, or sexual immorality or drunkenness – that is because it is an evil thing. God defines what is good and what is evil in the Bible. So, if you’ve got two voices going off in your head all the time (one telling you to do good and one telling you to do evil) – that doesn’t automatically mean you are schizophrenic or suffering psychosis. This is simply the internal spiritual battle.
Apply: So Peter is metaphorically saying (that as priestly pilgrims) we should listen to the angel and ignore the devil. Now thankfully, when you become a born again Christian – God gives you the Holy Spirit – to help you in this internal spiritual battle. The Holy Spirit brings the POWER necessary to break addiction, overcome sin and begin to live a holy life. Of course, WITHOUT Jesus and the Holy Spirit – you are stuffed. WITHOUT Jesus and the Holy Spirit – you will just give into evil, over and over and over again. Without Gods help you are powerless to really change. That’s why I don’t hold out much hope for our world – without Jesus or the Holy Spirit.
But in a real relationship with Jesus – where you truly pray, and read your Bibles, attend church and acknowledge the promptings of the Holy Spirit – victory is possible. Little by little we can overcome sin in our lives – choosing good and rejecting evil. The problems start when we become professional priests and professional Christians – who think we can do life and ministry in our own strength. Sadly, the modern Christian church is full of pastors and Christians who do not pray, do not read their Bibles and do not really have a relationship with God. (And we then wonder why we have so many problems). Peter urges us to have victory in this battle for our soul through a real relationship with Jesus – who he explains in verse 25 – is the SHEPHERD AND OVERSEER of our souls. (You see that in verse 25). So have a REAL RELATIONSHIP with Jesus, listen to Jesus, do good, and while the pagans may still accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your good deeds – and perhaps be saved…
Point 2: Christians should do Good in just and Unjust Situations
Show: 1Pet.2:13-15 (READ)
Explain: Now here’s the big picture of verses 13 -20. Peter says DO GOOD in contexts of A) fair and just government and DO GOOD in the contexts of B)unfair and unjust masters. The point is do good (respecting the authorities of this world) – even though you are now a citizen of heaven and not really a citizen of Rome.
Now remember (if my hypothesis on 1 Peter is correct) this is a really tough word. Peter is saying to his Christian Jewish audience respect the Roman government and their representatives in Turkey – even though they just took away your homes, your business’ and displaced you to a foreign land. Remember Acts 18:2 – Claudius evicted all the Jews from Rome in 50-51AD. The Roman historian Suetonius says Claudius did this because the Jews were fighting over Christ. So on a whim and with zero regard for property law or human rights Caesar evicted all the Jews from Rome and KAREN JOBES hypothesis is that many of them ended up in northern Turkey.
Now if this is all correct – how will you be feeling about Rome and Roman authority? Inclined to submission or inclined to rebellion? Well Peter explains (in verse 14) that the purpose of authority in this world to A) PUNISH those who do evil and B) COMMEND those who do good. Authority prevents anarchy. This is what THEOLOGIANS call “just laws” and “just authority.” Authority and law exists to restrain evil and commend good. But of course, like many powers today – Rome often did the opposite…
So the Jews and Jewish Christians were accused of doing evil in Rome (because they were talking about Christ) and then they were exiled from Rome (FACT) and possibly sent to northern Turkey (HYPOTHESIS). So they are perhaps victims of the abuse of power and unjust decisions. They’ve lost their freedom, their homes, their employment etc etc all because they didn’t have a covid vaccine…
I mean because they were talking about Christ. So naturally enough, they are angry. They want revenge and they want to retaliate. But Peter says “no, continue to do good.” Insofar as you can – continue to respect and cooperate with governing authority. We have to take verse 13 seriously which says “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority – both Caesar and governors.” In the context of just laws that punish evil and commend good we must be submissive.
But Peter then goes on to talk about an unjust master. In verse 19 (he says (SLIDE 6 – 1Pet.2:19-20) Now we are in the context of UNJUST laws and UNJUST suffering. If you are a Christian and there is an authority starting to punish good and commend evil – what should you do? (PAUSE) If you look carefully (at these verses) – you will see the slave makes a difficult choice and suffers because he is conscious of God. In fact, the slave is being punished unjustly for doing good. Now who defines good? (GOD). So the slave is suffering because he has chosen to obey God and do good. NOW IS THIS JUSTICE OR INJUSTICE? Peter says (in contexts of injustice), “do good and suffer the consequences anyway,” because this is commendable to God. Christian priests must always do what is good.
Apply: Friends, we now live in a world where inverting good and evil is becoming normal. And yet, we still have to do good – despite the consequences. This past week the ACT Government took possession of the Catholic owned Calvary Hospital in Canberra – against their will. The Catholics didn’t want to sell. So the government took the hospital from them anyway (breaking all sorts of property law). Just or unjust? The Government says they had to do this for the overall health of Canberrans (which sounds strangely familiar). But were also told – don’t worry, this is not really government over-reach because the Catholics will be duly compensated. But the Catholics are saying, this is purely ideological. The takeover has happened because they refused to conduct euthanasia and abortions at Calvary hospital. So what should the Catholics do? 1) Should they do good and suffer the injustice?
Or 2) should they do evil and keep their property? Of course, 1 Peter 2 is saying – do good and reject evil in all circumstances. So I ask you to pray for me – because I am now pushing our Anglican Diocese (and our doctrine commission) to have the same courage in September this year – when euthanasia is slated to commence – in Anglican Nursing homes. I am hoping our Diocese still has the courage and conviction to choose good and reject evil.
Point 3: Christians should follow Jesus’ example of Unjust Sacrifice
Show: 1 Pet.2:21-25 (READ)
Explain: Well did Jesus suffer justly or unjustly? It depends on whose law you consider? The fact is Jesus broke the Jewish Sanhedrin’s SABBATH LAW (on more than one occasion). This was the law of the land instituted by the government. He also took up a whip (and drove the money changers out of the temple) because it was evil. He didn’t accept the status quo. And by the Sanhedrin’s interpretation of the law – Jesus did commit blasphemy when he claimed to be God.
Jesus didn’t automatically accept the governing authorities version of good and evil. Rather, Jesus lived and breathed what God said was good and rejected what God said is evil and he was ultimately killed for it. If Jesus was simply submissive AND accepted the Sanhedrin’s perverted version of truth and their perverted version of good – he wouldn’t have been crucified. So Jesus becomes the example of (verse 20) someone who suffers for doing good and endures it (in an unjust system) which is commendable before God. And Jesus does this in a good way without anger, without revenge and retaliation which is also commendable to God. This is what good looks like…
Of course, in this injustice we were all saved. Jesus the innocent one is found guilty and condemned to death. This is not just. But in the process of being unjustly condemned King Jesus pays the penalty for our sin. As Peter says in verse 24 (Slide 10 – 1Pet.2:24). Peter is giving us an exposition of Isaiah 53 and the gospel.
As Colin Buchanan sings; we all deserve to die because we all like sheep have gone astray. Bah, Bah, Doo bah Bah. Each of us has turned to his own way. Bah. Bah, Doo. Bah. Bah. But the Lord has laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all. Singing – Bah. Bah. Doo Bah. Bah. Isaiah 53:6. So Jesus does the time for our crime. That’s profoundly unjust. But in this injustice we are saved. If you believe Jesus died for you and you love Jesus for dying for you and you begin to repent of your sins – God will forgive you and He will take you to heaven. ALSO PROFOUNDLY UNJUST – because you deserve to go to hell. But Jesus willing suffered injustice so you could be saved.
Apply: This is now a live question in Sydney. Laws are being introduced to prevent us from doing good. So in love for the unborn being aborted; in love for old people being euthanised, in love for children being mutilated (under gender theory), what will you do? Even in LOVE for the third world who the west will ultimately sacrifice in order to meet our environmental, green policies – what should a good priest do? Will we stand for what is really good and be prosecuted like Jesus under unjust laws and false allegations? Or will we accept the new, empty morality and turn a blind eye to all the evil for the sake of comfort?
Friends we now live in a world with a lot of virtue signalling going on. There is a new good (abortion) and a new evil (restricting a woman’s rights) on every corner. People petition for indigenous rights, while still treating indigenous people like second-class citizens. So will you stand for what is really good – or will you simply go along with all the empty, evil virtue signalling. The hardest bit (I suspect) will be watching the INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH throw many sincere, courageous Christians under the bus – in order to save themselves. I suspect the true state of many people’s hearts will soon be exposed. (Slide 11) So what sort of priest will you be? Will you (like Jesus) sacrifice self to injustice – in order to save others? Or will you allow others to be sacrificed to injustice – in order to save self? The question is will you really do good in all circumstances or only when its good for you?