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Godly Living B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
June 14, 2024 4:00 am

Godly Living B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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June 14, 2024 4:00 am

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Because of the ongoing observation of the character and quality of a Christian's life, an unbeliever will glorify God in the day when God visits him to save him. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Today John is going to help you deal with the challenges and the struggles of being a Christian in a world that, by and large, wants nothing to do with the Christ of Scripture. So how do you live out your faith in a cynical, even hostile environment?

How should you respond to a hostile boss, to government policies that dishonor God, or to the strife you may experience from living with an unbelieving spouse? John's going to answer those questions and more in this study he calls, Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land. So follow along with John as he begins today's lesson.

Let me invite you, if you will, to open your Bible now for our time in the study of God's Word. We're looking at 1 Peter chapter 2, beginning in verse 11, Peter writes, "'Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds as they observe them glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond slaves of God. Honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if when you sin and are harshly treated you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it, you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.

We lay a platform of credibility. We lay a platform that speaks of the validity of our faith when we do what is right, when we live a righteous life. So Peter here is calling us to that righteous life in a hostile environment. He calls us to that in verses 11 to 20 and then in verses 21 to 25 he gives us the perfect example of it who is Christ. In verses 21 to 25 he shows us how Christ lived a perfect life in the midst of a hostile environment. But before he gets to the example of Christ, he talks about what we are to be. And basically as we think about our obligation to live godly before the watching world, he divides it into three identities. First of all, he says we are aliens in verse 11.

We are aliens. Secondly, starting in verse 13 and running through verse 17, he discusses our role as citizens. We are aliens, but at the same time we are citizens. And then thirdly, he discusses our obligation from verse 18 to 20 as servants.

And all of us fall into that kind of role. We are aliens, yet at the same time we are citizens and we all serve under someone, somewhere. And so as Christian aliens and Christian citizens and Christian servants, we have three arenas in which we are to demonstrate our influence for Christ. And by the way we live, we will either feed the fires of criticism or we will extinguish them. We will either affirm disbelief or we will confirm the validity of faith, verses 11 and 12.

We are aliens. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. And so we are called to literally the Greek word is, hold oneself away from fleshly lusts. What does he mean by fleshly lusts?

Just a general term. It doesn't just mean sexual immorality, that's part of it. He means strong cravings of our depraved nature, strong cravings of our depraved flesh.

That's what he means. Not just sexual sin, but anything that is the expression of the craving of our fallenness. Fleshly lusts show up in a number of things. Galatians 5.19 gives you a list. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident.

Here they are. Here's what fleshly lusts produce, immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, that's hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, which makes the list almost endless. That's sort of a supernatural et cetera.

The list is very long. Fleshly lusts are simply all of the strong cravings of the depraved flesh. This is incompatible with verse 4 and 5, that duty of offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. So here we are on the one hand called on to desire the Word and to offer up spiritual sacrifices. At the same time we've got fleshly lusts attached to our unredeemed humanness. By the way, it will be redeemed someday when we see Christ. Romans chapter 8 says we wait for the redemption of our bodies, and at that point we will be whole in our purity. Until then we are a redeemed soul in an unredeemed flesh. And so we must abstain from fleshly lusts.

Why? Look at verse 11 again. Because they wage war against the soul. They wage war against the soul.

That's a very serious matter, my friends. That little simple term which literally means in the Greek, it's eitanos, it means which by its very nature. Fleshly lusts and their cravings by their very nature wage war against the soul. And so it is the very nature of your unredeemed flesh to war against the spiritual new life that God has placed in you. That's why Paul in Romans chapter 7 is so distressed as he finds himself in the middle of that horrendous spiritual battle and he says, I see a principle in my members, the members of my body waging war against the law of my mind. I have war in me.

Same expression. The principle of God's truth and holiness and purity and waging war against it is my flesh, the members of my body, my unredeemed flesh. And then James sees the very same warfare in verse 1 of chapter 4.

He says, what is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members. There's a war going on. There's a war inside of you. Now that war is a raging war. James makes it very clear that it's a serious, serious war. Lust battling your soul, lust conceiving its fantasies, drawing them into your mind and leading you into sin.

This is spiritual warfare. What does he mean by the soul? He means the person, that's all. You as a living being. That's not some compartment in you, that's you. When man was created, he became a living soul.

That's the totality of man, the person himself. By the way, the word wage war is a very strong term. It's a military term. It means to carry on a military campaign. It isn't the idea of a skirmish or a battle or a one-time shot.

It is a long-term campaign. And the idea here is a very interesting personification. Fleshly lusts are personified. That is, they're made into persons in the imagery here as if they were an army of rebels, as if they were an army of guerrillas who intend to capture and slave and destroy the human soul. And the term implies not just antagonism, but a continual aggression that is malicious and ongoing and doesn't stop.

It's an incessant search and destroy mission. Fleshly lusts wages against you. So Peter says, stay away from fleshly lusts.

When you give them any space, you give them the advantage in their malicious aggression against you. Do not fall to that assault. Go to chapter 4 for a moment. In chapter 4, he says, verse 2, we are to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. We lived long enough in the lusts of the flesh.

Read Ephesians 2. But now, verse 3, the time already has passed for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles. That's over. You already pursued a course of sensuality, lust, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. That's in the past.

That is over with. It's time for you to abstain from all of that. In the words of John, love not the world neither the things that are in the world, for the world passes away in the lusts thereof. But the one who does the will of God abides forever, and all that is in the world, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life is not of God, but is of the world. So you stay away from all of that, all of it. Now, we realize that the world allures us and the flesh is the beachhead by which its allurement takes place. And Peter simply says stay away from it. Don't pander your fleshly desires.

They want to destroy you. Do you remember the classic allegory, the holy war? John Bunyan pictures a city and he calls the city Mansoul because it represents the soul of man. And he pictures the city as surrounded by high walls. And the enemy wants to assault the soul of man. But there's no way over the walls, there's no way through the walls. The only way the enemy can get to the soul is through the gates. And of course Bunyan has I think four or five gates.

But you can reduce it down and simply say there's only one gate. The only way that Satan can get into the otherwise impregnable soul of a believer, the only way he can get in is through the gate of fleshly lust. It's through the gate of fallen desire. And beloved, if you keep the gate closed, you can't lose. You cannot lose.

You say, how do you do that? Galatians 5 says, walk in the spirit and you'll not fulfill the lust of the flesh. It's all about living in the spiritual dimension. It's all about walking in the spirit's power.

So it all begins with an inward and private discipline. That's where the battle starts. You wage war on the inside. And the weapons of your warfare are spiritual, not fleshly. We're in war folks. And you must put on the armor, Ephesians 6, if you're going to stand. So we're aliens in the world.

We are strangers in the world. We must testify to this world of the viability of Christianity and the validity of the gospel. And that starts with a disciplined life on the inward private side.

But there's more. The Holy Spirit not only calls for discipline that is inward and private, but He calls for deportment that is outward and public. He calls for deportment or behavior that is outward and public. Verse 12.

And this is so simple, we don't need to spend a lot of time on it. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles so that in the thing in which they slander you as evil doers, they may on account of your good deeds as they observe them glorify God in the day of visitation. What He's saying here is just keep your behavior noble.

Behavior means your daily conduct, your manner of life. Excellent is the word kolos. It's one of those almost untranslatable Greek words that is so rich in meaning it takes about six or seven English words to give you the sense of it. It means lovely, fine, winsome, gracious, fair, to look at, noble, excellent.

It is the purest, highest, noblest kind of goodness. So now He's talking about the outside. Having been disciplined in the inward and private side, you are now to have a deportment on the outward and public side that reflects that inward discipline. He says that your behavior is to be excellent among the pagans, the ethnos, the ethnics, the nations, the peoples. He means the unsaved world.

And by the way, ethnos is often used for the unsaved world. 1 Corinthians 5, 1, 1 Corinthians 12, 2, 3 John 7. If you're going to try to witness to the unbelieving world, then you've got to have your behavior honest, your behavior excellent, your behavior lovely, fine, winsome, gracious, fair, to look at, noble, righteous. In other words, the quality of our transformed life must be visible to the unsaved world.

There are no secret disciples. This is the heart of evangelism, my friend. This is the heart of evangelism. There must be inner purity and there must be visible fruitfulness. There must be inner purity and outer fruitfulness.

So that, what's the purpose of this? Verse 12, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds as they observe them glorify God. You're going to turn the tables on them. In the very things that they discredit you, you're going to prove them wrong.

And you're going to even lead them to the believability of the gospel. In the thing in which they slander you, he simply identifies the hostility and animosity of the unregenerate world. In using the word evildoers, he uses a word that is very strong. It expresses the idea of a very wicked person who should be punished.

It's used that way three times here in 1 Peter. It means someone who is worthy of severe, serious punishment. It is really, from the standpoint of the pagans in ancient times, a term of abuse or contempt. They threw it at Christians. When they called them an evildoer, they were abusing them verbally.

It was a contemptuous term. By the way, the pagan world commonly abused Christians verbally. They were despised, they were distrusted, and they were hated. In fact, if you study any of the persecutions from this time in the first century up until, say, the second century, the end of the second century, you note all kinds of slanders against the Christians.

It's a fascinating study. They accused them of all kinds of things. They accused them of insurrection. They said they were guilty of rebelling against the Roman government and all other human authority. They accused them, amazingly enough, of atheism. Can you imagine Christians being accused of atheism? The reason they accused them of atheism is they wouldn't worship the Roman gods and they wouldn't worship the Roman emperors who claimed to be gods.

The Roman gods and the Roman emperors expected worship and when the Christians wouldn't worship them, they said they failed to worship the true gods, therefore they're atheists. They accused them of cannibalism. By about 177 A.D., they had prescribed that the Christians were eating the flesh of human beings, that one of their delicacies was human flesh. There was accusation against them that they killed and ate children at their feasts. They were accused of immorality.

They were accused of Oedipaean intercourse, which is incest, and you can read about that in some of the ancient writings. They were accused of damaging trade and social progress. They were accused of wrecking homes. They were accused of leading the slaves into a rebellion because the slaves who came to Christ had a new dignity of life and this threatened the social structure. They were accused of hating men since they were opposed to the world system. They were accused of disloyalty to Caesar since they would not declare that He was Lord and they would not offer Him incense.

And they were being accused and mocked and slandered in every possible direction. And Peter is saying there's only one way to do away with all of that and that is to live an excellent life, an absolutely excellent life. That's what the apostles did. You never read, says Horace again, you never read about the resolutions the apostles passed.

You only read about the acts of the apostles. Now how effective can this be? Verse 12. It can be so effective that on account of your good deeds as they observe them, present tense verb, as they go on continually observing them over a period of time, as they observe them, they will glorify God in the day of visitation. They will glorify God in the day of visitation. And they say, well what does that mean?

And I want you to catch this and we'll wrap it up with this. What is the day of visitation? Very wonderful phrase.

Very wonderful phrase. If you go into the Old Testament, you find that is a common phrase, very common phrase. The fundamental sense of the term is simply visitation. The obvious indication here is the visitation of God or the time when God visits them. In the Old Testament, God visited man in a number of ways, but basically for two reasons, blessing or judgment. He visited them to bless.

He visited them to judge. In Isaiah chapter 10, verse 3, where this phrase comes from, there is recorded a visit of God for judgment. In Jeremiah 27, 22, where the same idea occurs also, God visits for blessing, for deliverance, for rescue, for salvation. In the Old Testament, God is said to visit His people to bring them out of Egyptian bondage. God is said to visit His people to bring them also out of Babylonian bondage.

In 1 Samuel chapter 2, it says God visited Hannah to rescue her from barrenness and thus it was a visit for blessing. And then there are other times, several of them in the Old Testament when God visited sinners and enemies for judgment. But all of the New Testament usages of visit refer to a visit for redemption. Listen to Luke 1,68, blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He visited us and accomplished redemption.

In Luke chapter 7 and verse 16, we also read similarly. It says in regarding Christ, God has visited His people and this obviously for redemption. And as you move toward the end of Luke's gospel in chapter 19 and verse 44, it talks about the time of the future when judgment will come and the end of the verse says because you didn't recognize the time of your visitation. That is, you're going to be judged because you didn't know when God visited you to save you. You rejected the visitation of salvation, He'll come in judgment. So all of those visitations of the New Testament have inherent in the expression the idea of a visitation for salvation.

That's a very important point, a very important point because I think that's exactly the way Peter understood it. What he is saying is simply this, that because of the ongoing observation of the character and quality of a Christian's life, an unbeliever will glorify God in the day when God visits him to save him. In other words, at the time when the marvelous grace of God begins to move on the heart of an unbeliever, he will respond with saving faith and glorify God because he has remembered the tremendous testimony of believers that he saw.

That's what he's saying. At that time when the Lord moves on the heart of the unsaved and enables them to discern the truth of sin and the gospel and opens their heart, they'll remember the lives of faithful Christians. What a beautiful thought.

What a marvelous thought. And that is exactly what God has called us to, to live that kind of life. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. Today on Grace To You, John showed you that an obedient, righteous life is a powerful tool for evangelism. He calls his current study, Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land. Now, again, John, you look today at the vital role our actions play in our witness for Christ. But in terms of importance, how do our actions, the example of our life, how does that compare with the actual words we use to communicate the gospel? Well, obviously from a scriptural standpoint, we are to live what we speak. Our words and our behavior are to be consistent. That's spiritual integrity.

But think about it. That is absent in the world in which we live. The corruption of the lives of people in our society is just really staggering. It isn't that they're so evil. It's that they're evil and it's acceptable. There's not a day goes by that we don't hear about lying leaders, corrupt politicians, destitute of any morality, seemingly. And that goes not only for our own nation but all across the globe. We see horrific lack of morality, lack of character everywhere. Certainly in the media, the movie people, the music people.

I mean, it goes on and on and on. So here we are as believers, endeavoring to live lives of integrity and honesty and purity and godliness, because that's the message we preach. That's a great challenge. I want to offer you a book called The Quest for Character. And I want to send this to you free if you've never contacted us before. Very few moral qualities are still prized by society at large. In fact, people seemingly don't even care about that. Genuine virtue has been pushed aside, but it's critical for those who are believers. The Quest for Character, beautiful hardback kind of gift book, we'll send it to you free if you get in touch with us for the first time. Thank you, John.

Well, friend, Jesus said that believers are the light of the world, so how do you make your light shine so brightly that your unbelieving friends and relatives and coworkers and neighbors can't help but see Christ in you? Find out in John's book The Quest for Character. Yours free if it's your first time getting in touch. Contact us today.

The Quest for Character makes a great gift for someone you're discipling or for a friend who just came to Christ. Again, it's free if you've never contacted us before. Email your request to letters at, or you can also call us at 855-GRACE.

If you've called or written before and you'd still like a copy of The Quest for Character, it costs $12 and shipping is free. Order online at, or you can call us at 855-GRACE. And if you're thankful for lessons like the one you heard today, would you let us know?

It's important for us to hear encouragement from you. You can send us a note by email. Our address is letters at And to reach us by regular mail, our address here is Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for being here today and join us for Grace to You television this Sunday, Direct TV channel 378, and then be back on Monday when John helps equip you to live under a government that's hostile to biblical principles. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-14 05:25:22 / 2024-06-14 05:35:03 / 10

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