Strong Faith at the Right Time (1 Peter 5:5-11) – Mark Ottaway
Guarded Christian Living: A Strong Faith at the Right Time
Final Instructions, Warnings, and Encouragements – Part #1
1 Peter 5:5-14
Turn to 1 Peter5. In these last 10 verses of 1 Peter, he will give some last-minute instructions to those he is writing, and they are centred on four major areas which we will look at this morning: instructions, dangers, encouragements, and the importance of people.
“You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished among your brethren who are in the world. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, strengthen, confirm, and ground you. To Him be might forever and ever. Amen. Through Silvanus, our faithful brother as I regard him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and bearing witness that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.”
1 Pet 5:5-14 (LSB)
Now in this passage, I wish to show you the various areas we will discuss. This week we will look at the instructions: (vs 5) you younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; (vs 5) and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another; (vs 6) therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God; (vs 7) casting all your anxiety on Him; (vs 8) be of sober spirit, be watchful; and (vs 9) resist him [Satan], and be firm in the faith. We will also look at two dangers this morning: (vs 5) God is opposed to the proud; and (vs 8) your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Next week, we will look at Peter’s encouragements: (vs 5) [God] gives grace to the humble; (vs 6) [God] will exalt you at the proper time; (vs 7) [God] He cares for you; and (vs 9-10) knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished among your brethren who are in the world. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, strengthen, confirm, and ground you. Inserted in this passage is what I would call a final proclamation: (vs 11) to Him be might forever and ever. Amen. Finally, Peter speaks about the importance of people: (vs 12-14) “Through Silvanus, our faithful brother as I regard him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and bearing witness that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.” So let’s begin with the instructions: “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders” (vs 5a).
- Be Subject to your Elders (vs 5)
This theme of submission has been a theme throughout the whole letter. And in this passage, he is specific to young men. But we can extend this to “and all of you” (right after in the verse). A number of weeks ago, we addressed the responsibility of the elders and deacons, but here Peter is speaking about the attitude toward the leadership. He uses the term “be subject.” This is a term that means to place yourself “in line” under their authority, for these are the men whom the Lord has called to lead a certain church body. Question, are there situations where the leadership is corrupt or not giving good leadership? Well, certainly that could be the case. And I would suggest that there are two good reasons to not align with a church family. One, is its teaching. In other words, if you disagree with the central doctrines of the church, then yes, there is reason you need to move on from there. Now that does not come lightly, but you need to consider biblical truth. Therefore, you need to think deeply about what the Bible says and what it teaches. Paul told Timothy that he needed to accurately handle the word of truth. Therefore, we as hearers need to accurately and deeply, consider what is being taught. I am careful about everything I teach and say here at Elim, and that is only possible if I am given time to consider my thoughts and my outline and my instruction, which the leadership here gives me that time, as truth is so essential over the long-term in deepening our relationships and spiritual depth.
A second reason to move on from a church ministry is if I cannot align with the leadership. In other words, if I for some reason, cannot align with the elders’ leadership. Because I cannot cause division, I cannot cause tension, I must move on. Again, I must be careful that this is not me, as I must be certain that I am not the cause of this conflict or problem. And wherever I land, wherever I sense the Lord leading me, I must settle in, and place myself under the leadership. Because subjecting to the elders is essential. Second instruction:
- Clothe Yourself with Humility (vs 5)
Notice Peter says to clothe yourself with humility toward one another. Lord, I really like this person and that person at church; but them, I am struggling with. Yet notice Peter does not give us any wiggle room here, as he does not say to be humble before this person and that person. No, he says to be humble before one another. As each of us comes to church, some may get more dressed up than others. Some wear more formal, some more casual, as we often differentiate between us by how we dress. We might see someone in our community and think, I wouldn’t dress like that! And this sort of places yourself over them, insinuating that you know better than they do, at least in how we dress. Interesting this term “clothe yourself,” and the teaching here is that when it comes to humility, we all wear the same thing, as we all clothe ourselves with humility. This word to clothe yourself, literally gives the idea of someone putting on an apron and serving. Do you understand how binding this is? That I am willing to serve you. That you are willing to serve me. That we are all willing to serve each other. And this does not have to do with our personality. We may assume that someone quiet is more humble, but that is not necessarily true, for it is a condition of the heart. For a quiet person can sit back and puff up his chest and look down on others. While the person who may be the outgoing leader, the person who may be very social, can often be extremely humble. So, we are not talking here about personalities, we are talking about the heart. And where does humility all begin? “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God” (1 Pet 5:6a).
- Humble Yourselves before God (vs 6)
This reminds us that true humility is not a human thing. It is not the same as something we might see in the world. Are there humble people in the world? People who are willing to come alongside others and serve them. Certainly there is. But this unique type of biblical humbleness must begin with a humbleness before God. This must begin with a biblical heart that has first learned to repent of sin and live a life that is submissive before the Heavenly Father. In other words, I can only truly serve you, and you can truly only serve me, if we have first learned to serve God. If we do not first get this, our ability to humbly serve one another will only be self-manufactured and short-lived. Instructions to be subject to your elders, clothe yourself with humility, and humble yourself before God. Next, “casting all your anxiety on Him” (vs 7a).
- Cast All Your Anxiety on God (vs 7)
When you cast something, the truth is, is that you give it away. Lord, here it is, I can’t resolve this problem. I believe we always want to remember that God desires that we would give things to Him. In our prayers, Lord, this is my heart, this is my desire; and therefore, I give it to You, to do whatever You chose to do with this. That word anxieties means our deepest pain, hurts, and despairs. And it means that I am willing to give to Someone I can trust and who has the power and wisdom to do that which is right and best. This is quite a resource, isn’t it? That the all-knowing, all-powerful God of the universe commands us to lean on Him. That no matter what happens to you, God says to spread, toss, cast your troubles upon Him. What are you troubled about this morning? A relationship, an unsaved family member, a financial issue, a work problem, a marriage challenge; cast all of it on the Lord. This is a command of God. Fifthly (vs 8) “Be of sober spirit, be watchful.”
- Be Watchful (vs 8)
This literally means to “stay awake.” Be alert, think deeply about everything that is important: Christ, life, the truth, family, marriage, church, salvation, your witness, obedience, work, commitments, responsibilities, those in need around you. This is the ability to see through to the core issue. This is the ability in parenting to see beyond the exterior action to the inner character. A watchman when he is protecting a city or fort will have to stay awake when others are sleeping, they will see a lot of activity, though much of it is not dangerous. But a good watchman notices something that is of danger. The ability when relating to others within the body here at church, to not only hear what others are saying, but also to be able to listen, think about, and acknowledge the danger or concern.
I think of someone who is watchful and of sober spirit, as someone who does not quickly alarm, though he will alarm. But it is not just random words. It is a thought-out, caring, warning to others. One who is slow to speak and quick to listen. In other words, this is not an opinionated person, this is a person who gives clear, sound, warning, and advice. Yes, there may be a time when a watchman must scream out hurriedly when there is obvious danger. But a good watchman must also be watching deeply and closely to even notice the danger. It would be sort of like when there is an attack, and numerous people call out their opinions and initial thoughts; and then everyone turns to the watchman for the best response. That’s the watchman. And this is what you are called to be in the setting that God had placed you in. In your arena of responsibility, to give wise caution, direction, and warning. Finally (vs 9):
- Be Firm in the Faith (vs 9)
This is likely one of the greatest challenges in the Christian community today, to be firm in the faith in which you have committed to. Proverbs 4:27, “do not swerve from the right or the left.” This means that all of us must “know” truth. For how can you be firm about something that you are uncertain about? True, not all are teachers, but all Christians are to be studiers and examples of the faith. On New Year’s we are prone to start various kinds of commitments entering a New Year. I am not sure where this started, as it does seem bit of a strange idea, that because it is January 1, I am committed to do more exercise, read more books, stop smoking. But for some reason we are sort of programmed that way.
No one seems to say on January 1 that I am determined to drink more milkshakes or watch more TV. But in a spiritual sense (not necessarily January 1st, it is vital to be disciplined, to use time wisely. Good to consider the deep study of God’s Word, a more committed walk; as we might physically. Good to stretch ourselves spiritually. Maybe there is something good spiritually that you have chosen not to do. Maybe something that would do you good, you have chosen not to attend. Maybe deeper theological matters that you have decided that it is not for you to think about. And I guess the question is, why? What if I attended this class or service? Or what if I started in this ministry? What if I were determined to read this book? In other words, what might be a challenge to me to be more firm in the faith?
We are all passionate about something, even if it is a passion for sports, video games, or relaxation. But what is it Lord, that You would desire me to be passionate about, so that, I would become more firm in my faith? Peter gives instructions: be subject to your elders, clothe yourself with humility, humble yourselves before God, cast all your anxiety on God, be watchful, and be firm in the faith.
Well there are two major hindrances to these six instructions. One is a danger from within; the other is a danger within, but is caused from without. Let’s first look at within. “for God is opposed to the proud” (vs 5).
- Pride (vs 5)
“[F]or God is opposed to the proud.” If you want God against you, then “be proud.” Pride sets oneself directly against God, and this is one of the most fearful places to be, finding yourself on the other side of God. And our human nature can even convince itself that God is on my side because of my goodness, it’s You and me Lord. Somehow I believe that God accepts me because I am okay, or I am better than others. That kind of thinking oozes with self-promotion and pride, and actually pits God directly against me. The prophet Isaiah wrote, as the Lord is speaking:
“For thus says the One high and lifted up Who dwells forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the crushed and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the crushed.’”
Is 57:15 (LSB)
I know this is not a perfect example in God’s sovereign election, but it is like the Lord picking teams, and those He chooses are those who exemplify humility. Those who realize they do not deserve to be chosen. For the Lord also says in Isaiah 66:2:
“But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”
Proverbs 16:5, “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to Yahweh.” Now understand this flies in the face of the teaching of our culture: that we are to be self-assertive, that we are to be our own person, that we are to have a very high view of ourselves, and that we are to live our lives “my way.” There is little thought in our society that we are to esteem others better than ourselves, to do nothing out of selfish ambition, and to give preference to one another in honor. We see this in the sports world. Now I am a sports fan, you know that, but what does a guy do today who scores a touchdown? Shows his muscle or does some kind of ridiculous dance in the end zone. Part of me just wants to be the coach for one game, and say, “Listen, you guys are benched for the rest of the game!” See, you thought I was nice!
Think, what are likely some of the hardest things that you and must deal with in life? What do they often centre around? Pride, thinking poorly of others, being jealous of others, thinking too much of self. And Peter warns us here that our natural inward slant towards pride can derail our willingness to be submissive to others, derail our godly growth in humility, and it places us in opposition to God. Secondly, there is another danger within, yet caused by an outside source:
- Fear (vs 8)
“Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (vs 8) An imposing enemy makes us cower doesn’t it? All four of our boys played high school football. CK in Chatham was generally quite good and would win within their own region, and invariably if CK made it out of Chatham-Kent, we would play the winner of Lambton, which was often Northern in Sarnia. Well I remember watching a few years where we played Northern for the championship. And they are not in our region, so we had not seen them all year. And they just looked extra big, and they wore black uniforms. As a Dad, I didn’t like them. I think I would describe them as roaring lions seeking whichever of my sons they could devour.
A large opponent can instill fear. And when a lion roars, he instills fear in others. He doesn’t even have to be smart. You can be quite stupid and roar. But this lion, Satan, is also crafty as the Bible teaches us. So, he specifically here is going to oppose you in your stand in the faith (vs 8-9). He is going to steal from you, not your confidence in yourself, but your confidence in God. In fact, when we are fearful we tend to cave into ourselves, don’t we? When we are opposed we tend to cower into self-protection. And it causes us to lose everything that would otherwise cause us to rejoice in confidence because of our relationship with Christ.
Think of everything that may have concerned you this week. Often it is things that steal from us joy and therefore losing our assurance in God, as Satan has his way in slowly devouring all that the Lord is doing within us. And so every time God pushes us in this direction, we either refuse because we are too prideful to submit to the Lord’s leading. I’m not doing that. I don’t need to admit that. Someone else needs to do that, not me. Or, we allow the roar of Satan to put us back in the corner and we become afraid to step out for God. What if I fail Lord? What if I look bad? What if I lose my job or my acceptance?
I think of the difficulty in which Peter wrote these words, as he considered his own life years earlier. Think of Peter as he stood around the campfire as His Lord was being crucified. A crowd appeared to Peter as a roaring lion asked him if he was with Christ? Certainly not! Then it said a slave approached Peter. A slave who appeared to Peter like a roaring lion and he asked him, did I not see you with Jesus in the garden. No! Then a servant-girl appeared to Peter like a roaring lion, asking, are you not one of the disciples? And as his confidence in his Lord was zapped from him, he replied, “I am not!” Yes, Peter had to write these words years later to warn of the roaring lion, as he knew this firsthand, of a roaring lion who desires to devour your confidence and joy in Christ. But it did not begin there, did it? Turn to Mark 14:26-31.
“And after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away, because it is written, “I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” But Peter said to Him, ‘Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.’ [Peter seems to think the others were not as faithful as he was] And Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, that today, this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.’ But Peter kept saying insistently, ‘If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ [Peter seems to influence the others] And they all were saying the same thing also.”
Mark 14:26-31 (LSB)
What is it with you? Those of you who have never repented of sin and come to Christ. It is either pride or fear that keeps you from making that decision. Or that act of obedience of faith that the Lord has been nudging you about. It is either pride or fear that will keep you from saying yes to God. (pray) Lord, I pray for every heart in this congregation this morning. Forgive us of our pride. Keep us from fear. Enable us to obey your will, whatever that might be. And all God’s people said, amen.