The Book of  I PETER
James J. Barker


Lesson 10
SUFFERING FOR WELL DOING

Text: I PETER 3:12-17


INTRODUCTION:


  1. Our text this evening deals with the subject of Christian suffering.
  2. Verse 13 begins with the word, "And," indicating a connection with the preceding verses.   The Lord watches over those who are righteous, "but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil" (I Peter 3:12).
  3. Peter has already referred several times to Christians suffering for their faith (1:6, 7; 2:12, 15, 19-21; 3:9).
  4. He will deal with this subject even more frequently from this point on.  In fact, it is the main theme of this epistle.   The Scofield Study Bible says, "The distinctive note of First Peter is preparation for victory over suffering. The last-name word occurs about fifteen times, and is the key-word to the Epistle" (introduction to the epistle, p. 1311).
  5. Peter wrote this epistle to comfort his afflicted readers, and to strengthen them and encourage them to stand firm despite their sufferings.

 

I. EVIL MEN CAUSE SUFFERING

  1. The word "evil" occurs ten times in this epistle (2:1; 3:9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17; 4:4, 14).
  2. A few years ago, President Bush was ridiculed for referring to terrorists as "evildoers," but that is exactly what they are.
  3. It would have been better if he would have identified these terrorists as Muslim evildoers, but his critics certainly would not have liked that.
  4. Furthermore, "evildoers" is a perfectly good Bible word (cf. I Peter 2:12, 14; 3:16; 4:15).
  5. Psalm 37:9 says, "For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth."
  6. In our text tonight, we see that suffering is inflicted by evil men because they hate God (I Peter 3:16, 17; cf. John 15:18-27).
  7. FB Meyer referred to this as a "collision with the prejudices and interests of worldly and evil men, incurring as of old their most virulent dislike, and probably their violent resistance" (Tried By Fire, Exposition of the First Epistle of Peter).
  8. The worldly crowd resents the fact that Christians do not go along with their wickedness, and so they speak evil of us (I Peter 4:4).
  9. FB Meyer also said, "Not to be hated by the world; to be loved and flattered and caressed by the world -- is one of the most terrible positions in which a Christian can find himself."
  10. This desire to be loved and flattered and caressed by the world is what led to the downfall of Billy Graham.  And it has led to the emergence of such odious characters as Rick Warren.
  11. In his new book, Decision Points, President George W. Bush says he heard Billy Graham say that some people do not need to be born again because they are "born Christian."
  12. The world loves that kind of preaching but God hates it.
  13. The words "suffer" and "suffering" are found seven times in I Peter (2:19, 20; 3:14, 17; 4:15, 16, 19).
  14. The word "suffered" and "sufferings" are found nine times.  Eight out of the nine refer to our Lord's sufferings (1:11; 2:21, 23; 3:18; 4:1, 13; 5:1, 10).
  15. There is a connection between our Lord's sufferings and ours (4:13).

 

II. THE HAPPINESS THAT ACCOMPANIES SUFFERING

  1. It may seem strange, especially to the worldly-minded, but the Bible teaches, "But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye" (I Peter 3:14; cf. 4:13, 14).
  2. Jesus said, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matt. 5:10-12).
  3. Foxe's Book of Martyrs gives many accounts of Christian martyrs burned at the stake who rejoiced in the flames.
  4. When Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burnt at the stake by the command of Bloody Mary, the Roman Catholic queen of England, outside Balliol College, Oxford on October 16, 1555, Latimer said to his friend Ridley, "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, play the man; We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."  Those were his last words.
  5. When Stephen was being stoned to death by the angry mob, he saw "the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56).
  6. And his last words were, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts 7:60).

 

III. THE MEEKNESS THAT ACCOMPANIES SUFFERING (3:15-17).

  1. "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts" (3:15), means God is to be set apart, enthroned and worshiped in our hearts.
  2. From this sanctification comes a readiness to witness for Christ (3:15).
  3. The Greek word translated "witness" is martyria (where we get our English word "martyr").
  4. The apostle John said in Revelation 20:4, "And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God..."
  5. First Peter 3:16 refers to "a good conscience" and our "good conversation."  The apostle Paul said, "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16).
  6. Maintaining a good conscience means having a good conversation (behaviour).
  7. If we suffer for well-doing, God gets the glory and we get the blessing.  But there is no virtue in suffering for our own misdeeds (3:16, 17).

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. I read a story about a pagan king who demanded that a Christian recant his faith in Christ.
  2. The Christian refused to deny Christ, and so the king started threatening him.

            "If you do not give up your faith in Christ, I will banish you!"

            "But you cannot banish me from Christ, for He said, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.'"

            "Then I will confiscate your property!"

            "My treasure is laid up in heaven.  It is safe there."

            "Then I will kill you!"

            "Then I will go straight to heaven to be with my Lord.  'We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.'"

  3. By this time the king was exasperated, and he threw his hands up in the air and gave up.


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