Guarded Christian Living: A Strong Faith at the Right Time
Final Instructions, Warnings, and Encouragements – Part #2
1 Peter 5:5-14
Turn to 1 Peter 5. Last week we looked at verses 5-14, which we will study again this morning. Peter had given instructions regarding humility before God and before others. He also commanded us to cast our anxieties before the Lord, that we would acknowledge God’s power in dealing with our lives. That we are to be watchful to the dangers out there and to have a discerning spirit among one another. And we closed with Peter’s warning of two danger areas for us. One, was pride, that if we are a prideful people, God is opposed to us, as pride pits us directly against God. And the second, was fear. That as Peter experienced in his life great times of fear, we would also face the same challenges as believers.
Now this morning Peter is going to give us four encouragements that will help us to combat both pride and fear. Last Sunday evening we started a series on the gospel. The gospel of course means the “good news,” and we began by looking at the good news to Israel in the Old Testament. And we learned that not only was Israel given the information of God’s goodness and kindness, they actually experienced the goodness and kindness of the Lord. And this is vital, as I can inform you of the Lord’s goodness today, but ultimately you are going to have to experience this yourself. And the blessings and encouragements we will talk about will only be experienced by you in your life if you are willing to obey the instructions that we looked at last week.
In other words, if you are unwilling to humble yourself before God and others, what I am about to teach will not be your experience. If you are unwilling to give the Lord your anxieties, and you are determined to barge through life on your own strength; you are not going to experience the encouragement that the Lord desires to give you. If your focus is only going to be on earthly things and desires and goals so that you ignore a spirit of discernment and looking out for others through ministry, you can again miss the encouragement that the Lord is speaking of here in this passage. So are you with me? In other words, if you do not respond to week number one, last week, this morning will do you no good. So let’s pray before we begin. Father, may we know the seriousness of our lives. The opportunity that You have placed before each of us to thrive under Your Lordship of Jesus Christ. And yes, Satan would have us live fearfully and so limited. Yes, we often would rather just live our own lives in our own strength. But this is not how You created us. As we were designed to live under God and God’s reign. As this is what we are learning and this is how we will live in Your eternal kingdom. So Lord, would You give us this joy today? For we ask this in Your name, amen. Look with me at the middle of verse 5:
“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. [and end of vs 11 … God] will Himself restore, strengthen, confirm, and ground you.
1 Pet 5:5b-7 (LSB)
Now, I notice two categories within these encouragements. Two of them are current: God gives grace to the humble and God cares for you. And two of them are future: God will exalt you at the proper time and God will restore you, strengthen you, confirm you and ground you. Therefore, I would suggest that two of these are helps along the way, as we need grace to get through the challenges of life, and we need to know that God cares for us to help us through life. Whereas the other two, that God will do something at some point, are encouragements that I may have to wait for. In other words, everything that God promises in this passage is not going to happen today or even tomorrow, or even this year. But whether now or later, we all need the encouragement given both now and knowing more is to come.
Encouragement is defined as the “action of giving someone support, or confidence, or hope.” There is definitely a positive element to encouragement. It might be an acknowledgment of what someone has done, “Wow, that was great!” We as parents sometimes can be quite positive about our own kids. We might look at our child and think, they are going to be a great singer someday, or I know that they will make the NHL someday. Whereas other people may look at them and say, no, no. We can also be encouraging by saying to someone, I know you can do this. I have a tendency in sports to say to a team, you guys can do this. I know we are down 28-2, but we can come back. Now inside, I might be thinking, no, we can’t come back; but on the outside, hey you guys, if anyone can do this, it is you guys!
I don’t pay much attention to the College National Championship (College Football) in the U.S., but on Monday night, the two best teams in the U.S. faced each other for the National Championship. The two teams that made it to the final were the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs who had only lost one game all season. Now if I attended Texas Christian University, I would love the name Horned Frogs. Great name! They were against the Georgia Bulldogs who had gone undefeated all season. The game was played before a sold-out crowd in California of 70,000 people and estimated close to 20M viewers. Well I noticed at the half it was 38-7 for Georgia. And I am sure the Texas coach gave his players one of the most encouraging pep talks that you could give. Come on you guys, we can come back from this deficit! Well the final score was 65-7. Not sure what I would say to the losing team after the game. Next year, boys, we will get them!
But we need encouragement, don’t we? I do enjoy encouraging our grandkids, “you guys are great!” Remember that parents, through all the ups and downs, there is always room to say to our kids. Loved what you did there. I really appreciated this about you. So Peter is going to encourage us as believers this morning. He is going to hearten, cheer, and uplift us, for we need that. The first encouragement that God promises presently to us:
Verse 5, “God gives grace to the humble.” Paul Enns defines “grace” (in your notes) as the “unmerited or undeserving favour of God to those who are under condemnation.” Therefore, my appreciation of this gift of God is really dependent on my understanding that I am not deserving of this gift, that in reality what I deserve is nothing less than condemnation from God. And this is difficult for us. Because we may know this theologically, but it does not take too much hardship, for us to soon start to feel that I am being treated unfairly, too harshly. And these struggles and ultimate punishment for the unbeliever is not due to the fact that God is unloving. Our culture would tend to pull that string, that the God of the Bible must be unloving because he puts people in hell. No, people do not go to hell because God is unloving. No, people go to hell because they sin and they refuse to repent and refuse to humble themselves before the Lord and ask Him for forgiveness.
Know this, this is a fact of life, that you sin, you face punishment. This is a hard and fast truth that does not change. The gospel does not change this. The gospel does not present a picture of God closing His eyes to sin, ignoring sin, and choosing not to punish sin. God must, for God is just and He must punish sin. Yet this grace is shown in the fact that God the Father freely has given His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment which we deserved. And the Son freely gave His life to take the punishment that was due to you and me for our sin. That Christ upon the cross, died for every sin, ever committed, by everyone who would ever believe. This is important that we understand this. That God has not withheld punishment for sin. The punishment for your sin and my sin was not withheld. No, it was placed upon Christ. For the Lord has punished His Son for sin, and not you and I. Now we said that “grace” was the “unmerited or undeserving favour of God to those who are under condemnation.” So when we consider what God has done, this is amazing grace! In other words, if that was the end of God’s grace, that He would place the punishment that you deserved throughout all eternity and placed it upon His Son, that would be more than enough wouldn’t it?
Yet God’s grace goes even beyond that. For the promise here is that He gives grace to the humble. This is not future but this is grace given to you and I, moment to moment, day to day Second Corinthians 1:4 teaches us that God comforts us in our afflictions. Think of that, that through trials, God does not leave us on our own, but draws close to us through the presence of His Spirit. Think of the Apostle Paul who had some kind of thorn in the flesh which he said kept him humble. And Paul pleaded with the Lord to take away this heartache. But God said “no” but extended grace to Paul to help him live through that struggle. Important that we understand that this is how God works. That one, I will face trials; and two, God will not always remove a particular struggle, but will give me the strength to get through it.
I am sure we are aware of Joni Eareckson Tada, who has lived in a wheelchair since age 17. Do you think she has ever cried out to God to rescue her from such a trial? Yet God chose not to, yet she lives as a radiant light of the Lord’s grace to her. She writes, “He [God] has chosen not to heal me, but to hold me. The more intense the pain, the closer His embrace.”
Folks, when we have no strength to go on, God has more than enough. So acknowledge your need for God and accept His strength. Allow Him to push out any pride and self-sufficiency and make room for the abundant flow of God’s power. And what we lack in our weakness, God will provide by His grace. There are times when the Lord does not change our circumstances, and of course, we do not know if He will. But we do know this, He will meet our needs in the middle of that struggle. Paul writes to the Corinthians, He will rescue us. That is a promise. That’s grace. Look at verse 7, “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” The second encouragement that God promises us presently is:
This is something that you must know and experience, as words cannot adequately convince you of this. The children of Israel learned that God cared for them because they experienced the care of God in bringing them out of Egypt, rescuing them from the Egyptians. Watching their every step in the wilderness (their clothes did not wear out, God fed them, He gave them water), and then saving them from the giants in the land He gave them. Now, the Israelites were a stubborn people. If they had had their way, they would have never left Egypt, as God basically had to drag them out, for them to learn some of these lessons. But this is not what the Lord desires for the New Testament believer, as He commands us to give our anxieties to Him. To allow God to take from you not something very small, but something very big. For it says, cast your anxiety (not everyday ho-hum easy tasks we must do), but something that we cannot even hardly bear. Why? Because God desires to prove to us that he cares. God wants to prove to each of us that he is both willing and able to provide all that we need.
What does it mean in the Bible when it says that God cares for us? What does that mean? It means that God actually cares about every single thing that goes on in your life. Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me and I will give you rest.” Psalm 55:22, “cast your burden on Yahweh, and He will sustain you.” Matthew 6:30, “but if God clothes the grass of the field, if He feeds the birds of the air, how much more will He care for you?” John 10:11, “the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” Nahum 1:7, “Yahweh is good, He knows those who take refuge in Him.” This is something I can tell you. This is something you can read in your Bible study tomorrow morning. But you must also live this. How? By being willing to give, share, and cast your troubles on God, and allow God to do for you far more than you could ever ask or think. So that, when you face a trial, whether the Lord chooses to deliver you or not, your response will be, I know He cares. Grace and care. Two encouragements that the Lord presently gives to those who are His. Two more that He promises:
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.”
1 Peter 5:6 (LSB)
Exaltation is something that we usually reserve for God, as we do not think of exaltation for ourselves. Let’s first look at the condition of this exaltation, “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” What does that mean? I am down here and God is up there. I am dependent upon God, God is dependent upon no one. We talked about this last Sunday evening, looking at some of the things John Piper had said about God’s character. That God the absolute reality. There is no reality before him, God existed alone. There is no reality outside of him unless he wills it and makes it. He is all that was eternally. No space, no universe, no time, no emptiness, only God. Therefore, nothing brought Him into being, nothing supports Him. No one is able to counsel Him or make Him what He is. Therefore, everything in the universe, everything we see, everything we do not see, the big, the small, everything is secondary compared to God. And everything outside of God (which includes you and me) only continues to exist because God allows or permits it to exist moment by moment every second. As even the unbeliever, though he is not aware, every breath he takes is dependent upon the Lord. And all Peter is saying here in our passage is that because God is so big and powerful and so great, and man is so small and puny and not so great; then, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. Now, what is so difficult about that? Should be nothing!
You know we can sort of balk at a verse like this, saying that we will be exalted. Yet all the while our unwillingness day after day to exalt God means that in many ways we are trying to exalt ourselves. This brings us to our original point in the passage, “that God may exalt you at the proper time.” How will God do this? What will God do here? I have no idea! but I do know this. Listen. Christ has paid for our sin. Therefore, someday we will stand before God sinless. Because of Christ, we have become fellow heirs with Christ. So, we also will be sons of God. Therefore, how will God treat us? This becomes pretty obvious, doesn’t it? As children of God? “See how great a love the Father has given to us, that we would be called children of God, and we are!” Exalted? You and I sinners, born as enemies of God? Someday in heaven with the Father as His children?
What does exalted mean? Elevated. So will we be exalted? Sinner to sinless, temporal to eternal, earthly to heavenly, vile to righteous. Will we be exalted? Elevated? I guess so! You know when I see some of you in that new condition, I am going to conclude man, you have been exalted. You were not like this when I knew you before. You even look better! You are nicer! And you will think the same about me. For He will exalt you and me at the proper time. Finally (vs 10) the last encouragement that God will give to those who are His:
- RESTORATION, STRENGTHENING, CONFIRMATION, and GROUNDING
We could go through each of these, though time does not permit. But what I notice about Peter’s last list here is a completion. In other words, there will be at that time nothing missing, nothing lacking. As Peter uses four words to describe just how complete we will be. Everything that we will need, everything we will need to be, everything we will need to know, everything required for satisfaction, will be given to us. The ultimate completion of Psalm 34:10 will be fulfilled, “But they who inquire of Yahweh shall not be in want of any good thing.”
“Sometimes the day seems long, our trials hard to bear.
We are tempted to complain, to murmur and despair.
But Christ will soon appear to catch His bride away!
All tears forever over in God’s eternal day!
When we comprehend all that God is going to do at the proper time, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.” Father, we praise You this morning for the work You are doing in the lives of Your children. Lord, help us to trust You. May we believe and be convinced and live according to everything You promise. And may our leaning on You, prove Your love and care and goodness to us. Amen.
It is not surprising that after Peter’s triumphant finish to his letter, he writes: “To Him be might forever and ever. Amen” (vs 11). But then notice what he writes, sort of a P.S.
“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.”
- Pet 5:12-14 (LSB)
You know sometimes when we are growing spiritually, when we see the Lord working, when we are excited about what God is doing, church-life, and yelling out to God as Peter has done here, praise and might be to You Lord forever and ever! Our thoughts rightfully go to those who have been a spiritual encouragement to us. Because sometimes that grace, sometimes that care, sometimes strengthening that the Lord brings to us comes through the ministry of His people. So when Peter ponders his life and salvation and all that God has done, it is hard for him to separate that from the people of God who have greatly influenced him.
Hard for me to do that as well, as I ponder the Lord’s goodness over the years. Thank you Lord for my Mom and Dad, Pastor Rick, Phil Laird. You start to think of all the faithful people who have invested in your life and those of you here that continue to invest in my life and Anne’s. And you young people here, whom we love dearly. Such a blessing to see the Lord working in your life, that encourages us as well. And so Peter thinks of Silvanus, whom he refers to as his brother. In fact, he says that he regards Silvanus as a faithful brother. I know Anne and I often talk about you folks here at the church, and invariably we respond with something like boy, he or she is so faithful. Peter’s reference (vs 13) to “she who is in Babylon” most agree that he is referring to the church in Rome, as Peter warmly thinks of a great congregation with so much appreciation. And then the intimacy that he uses to speak about another believer, as he refers to his son, Mark, a son in the faith. Now I realize I could get some criticism here as I encourage you constantly to take the Scriptures literally, as Peter says (vs 14) to greet one another with a kiss of love. When Anne and I go back to Emmanuel Chatham, within one minute of stepping into that church, you soon realize they are the “huggy” church. Maybe Elim Bible Chapel should be known as the “kissing” church.
The elders met this past week and there is hardly a person or family we did not think about. Some of you in recent days have said things like, God is good, and you are rejoicing. Some of you have been challenged in certain ways, life has been difficult. As leadership, and I know the deacons as well, we pray for your families, and we pray for your spiritual growth. We pray that the Lord would be gracious to you, we care for you. We pray that you might not fear, that you would not be prideful. So, as we have completed the end of 1 Peter, as next week, we will begin 2 Peter. Let’s stand this morning in closing, as we pray.
Lord, we pray for each and every person here at Elim, our heart is that we would do well, that each one would have victories over sin and joy in Christ. We pray for families, for wisdom, love, unity, and that someday their children would come to Christ. We pray for the marriages represented here. Gove them peace and love. And may each husband and wife be pure in their choices, what they watch and listen to and what they think about. We pray for those who live alone or those who live with an unsaved spouse. That You would pour out a special encouragement, and kindness. We pray for the students here and those downstairs, that you would give them boldness and strength. We pray for our testimonies at the workplace, and in our neighbourhoods. We pray for boldness, compassion, and care. We pray for the spiritual growth of each one here. That we would be students of the Word and passionate for the Word. We pray for the ministry to the one anothers, that we would bring honor to our great God, that we would make Him look good. That our lives will proclaim, “To [Christ] be might forever and ever.” Father, for what we are not, make us. For what we know not, teach us. And for what we have not spiritually, give us. And all God’s people said, amen.