Suffering For Righteousness Sake

Scripture: I Peter 3:13-17 {CSB}

13 Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. — 1 Peter 3:13-17 (CSB)

INTRODUCTION

Peter understands something that a great many do not understand today: we are all going to suffer. When I say that, I mean Christians. Paul said to young Timothy– “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Our suffering is not an “if” but a “when.” Christians are called to suffer. We are going to suffer one way or the other: we can suffer for doing wrong or we can suffer for doing what is right. In terms of community and civil authority, those who do right suffer the least but in God’s kingdom, those who do right often suffer the most and Jesus is the prime example. Jesus did nothing but good. He never sinned, not even once. No one on this earth could accuse Him of sin and yet He suffered more than anyone. This world rejected and hated Christ because He was good, not because He was bad.

When I came to this part of the country 40 years ago, I had a deacon who worried himself to death about my unpopularity. He liked me and he wanted everyone to like me. Of course, I offended some people right off the bat and I had folks who despised me, almost from day one. I was aware of my approval ratings but I did not give it a lot of consideration. I told him time and again, “Jesus did not die of old age. He was crucified by folks who hated Him.” Somehow, this truth never sunk in.

Folks, we are not in a popularity contest. We do not seek the world’s approval. Yes, you may suffer less by conforming to their standards: Peter tried this himself. He tried following Jesus from a distance; even denying a relationship with HIM and Peter did all of this to protect himself from the vicious scorn that was being poured out of Jesus. The closer to Jesus you walk, the more you will suffer the scorn and contempt the world has for HIM. But when Peter tried this, he was tormented in his conscience and he had no peace. So pick your poison. The point is: you suffer either way you go so why not suffer for the right things and have peace.

TRANSITION: So Peter is giving these persecuted believers a format or guide on HOW TO RESPOND TO MISTREATMENT how to live in a pagan invironment. REMEMBER: Peter is blue colar; he is practical. These are things that will work. To suceed we need…

1. A PASSION FOR DOING GOOD

13 Who then will harm you if you are devoted [passionate] to what is good? 

2. A WILLINGNESS TO SUFFER

14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed.

Jesus said…Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {Matthew 5:10}

As a matter of fact in the next verse, Jesus says, You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me.

How is it that Peter says we are “Blessed.” Who is the source of our blessings? Who has the ability to bless us most? God, the giver of every good and perfect gift. When He is pleased with our willingness to suffer for righteousness [Christ] and He will bless us for doing the right thing.

Peter is not speaking hypothetically, he knows from experience. God can be trusted on this matter.

3. A FOCUS ON CHRIST…THE LORD

14 Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy…

The devil is a playground bully, he loves to threaten and intimidate. This is his game. Anytime we give in to fear or to his empty threats, we are destined to fail. The classic example is Elijah verse Jezebel [devil]. She send him a threatening message and he fled the country which is exactly what she wanted. We cannot panic.

Actually Peter is quoting Isaiah 8:13-14….where king Ahaz is panicing

12 Do not call everything a conspiracy these people say is a conspiracy. Do not fear what they fear; do not be terrified.
13 You are to regard only the Lord of Armies as holy. Only He should be feared; only he should be held in awe.
14 He will be a sanctuarybut for the two houses of Israel, he will be a stone to stumble over and a rock to trip over, — Isaiah 8:12-14 (CSB)

Isaiah’s message to Ahaz is clear: “You are fearing the wrong object, stop being afraid of these people and fear God. Give Him regard as the LORD of the Armies. Only He should be feared or awed. A man fearing spirit will lead to compromise and failure. Don’t give in to intimidation. Folks it is going to happen. People are going to try to manipulate you by using intimidating tactics. I have had at least three people to make a vow, to my face, to ruin me if I did not consent to their desires. I even had one to pronounce a curse on me. We cannot give into threats. If we do, we will be follwing Satan and not Christ.

When I was a child, Christians could live in our culture without fear of persecution but those days are gone. If you are out spoken on the right of the unborn to life or the evil of homosexuality, you will be persecuted.

Isaiah’s point to Ahaz was simple: Look to Yahweh and Him alone. Stop focusing on your enemies [Israel and Syria] or your false friends {Assyria}. Ahaz was doing what men commonly do, He was leaving God out of the equation. He wasn’t giving Jehovah any consideration.

4. A HOPE OF GLORY

Be ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and respect.

The Greek word for ‘defense’ is ä-po-lo-gē’-ä and you don’t have to be a scholar to recognize this is the root of our word apology and from this word we get ‘apologetics’ which is the defense of our faith. Appolos was probaly not the first but he was the most renown of the time. Paul was also an apoligist. Both he and Apollos could take the O.T. Scripture and prove that Jesus was the Christ. Of course, the greatest of our time is C.S. Lewis. But Peter is not directing this statement to brillant minds like Lewis, he is talking to every day, run of the mill, believers like you and me.

If there is one area where I have really dropped the ball, it is here. I have been attempting to witness for Christ for over 50 years and I’m still {sad to say} not very effective. Other than being lazy and missing opts to share my faith, my biggest problem is to slow down, relax and listen to the person I am sharing with. I entertain no illusion that I have the gift of evangelism and I have failed many times to be gentle or show respect. I have even been known to argue in my earlier days. I had a man tell me some years ago, to get off his property, that he was not interested in anything I had to say. I should have graciously dismissed myself, got in my vehicle and drove away but no, I had to have the last word…“You are not interested in knowing the way to heaven...and then I quoted John 14:6 before he had time to get his gun.” At the time, I thought I was planting seed but it is more likely that I reinforced his bias against Christians.

5. A CLEAR CONSCIENCE

Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame.

Paul said to Timothy {I Timothy 1:19} Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.

What a wonderful analogy: the Conscience is the ships hull and faith is the cargo. If you rupture your conscience, your faith will leak out and so will your joy [David]. But there are a couple of other things in the hull of your conscience and they are COURAGE and PEACE. We have to stay up to date on our repentance and confession because we need a good conscience.

The bible does speak of:

  1. Good Conscience {I Tim. 1:5}
  2. A Clear Conscience {I Tim. 3:9}
  3. A Defiled Consicience {Tit. 1:15}
  4. An Evil Conscience {Heb. 10:22}
  5. A Seared Conscience {I Tim. 4:2}

CONCLUSION

Some of you know about my recent post on Facebook that riled the liberals. I made the statement that Doug Jones is stooge. He is bought and paid for by the rich Sadducees in NY. The man did not have the liberty to change his mind no matter how many constituents called. The power brokers of the Democratic Party had already told him what to do: he represents them, not Alabama. He lied to us when he said he would support President Trump. Lying is wrong and so is slander and he has done both. Was I wrong to call him out? According to my liberal friends, I was hating and judging. The man is not my enemy. He is ignorant and misguided but he is not my enemy and God knows I do not hate him. I don’t want anyone else to hate him on account of what he said to me. He like Jones is a dupe. He is being used. Satan is the master mind and he is the real enemy. We have spiritual problem in this country and guns and ammo will not fix it. We need REVIVAL.

  1. If I have a PASSION FOR DOING RIGHT
  2. A WILLINGNESS TO SUFFER
  3. A FOCUS ON CHRIST
  4. A HOPE OF GLORY
  5. A CLEAR CONSCIENCE

…those who disparage {Accuse, speak evil of, slander] your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame….he might be converted. I will not win him by telling him how stupid he is for drinking the government coolaid.

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