Those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior have been vindicated of guilt and shame.
It's a wonderful outcome and a huge relief. But we should be clear, God's grace and mercy does not grant His children permission to live as they wish. Peter warns us that the world is watching. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll guides us through 1 Peter chapter 2 where the apostle portrays the wonderful mercy of God paired with the command to wage war against our sinfulness.
Chuck titled today's message Hope Beyond Guilt. In the study of 1 Peter, I've come across six lovely portraits that Peter paints. Six specific titles God gives His people. Right away, verse 4 of 1 Peter 2, the emphasis falls on Christ. Coming to Him, by the way, the context is in verse 3, if you have tasted the goodness or the kindness of the Lord. Now, coming to Him, verse 4 continues, as to a living stone, remember that word picture, rejected by men but choice and precious in the sight of God. When we come to the Lord who is full of kindness, we come to the living stone as we're going to read later, the choice stone, the cornerstone of the house of God, the family of God, the living stone, rejected by men but choice and precious in the sight of God. Now, here's the first title or portrait of God's people.
And you also as living stones. So the first picture we have in scripture is we are living stones in a spiritual house. That's verse 5. As living stones, we are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In verses 6 through 8, Peter describes the Lord Jesus, accepted by some as Messiah, rejected by others. For this is contained in scripture. Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious cornerstone.
And he who believes in the Messiah shall not be disappointed. This precious value then is for you who believe, but for those who disbelieve, he quotes again from the Old Testament, the stone which the builders rejected, this became the very cornerstone and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. For they stumble because they are disobedient to the word and to this doom they were also appointed. The first, we are stones, living stones in a spiritual building. Second, we are priests in the same temple. I mentioned in verse 5 that reference, we are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood.
Look down in verse 9, you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood mentions it again. One of my favorite verses out of Hebrews says this, chapter 13 verse 15, through him then, Hebrews 13, 15, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God that is the fruit of lips that give thanks to his name. You want to know what your sacrifices include? They include the sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of our lips that give thanks to his name. Years ago, the priests sacrificed blood, sacrificed animals on altars with literal fire and literal smoke.
Now the literalness is gone, but the significance is still there. We as God's people approved by God, born again by God's power, we now are not only parts of the same building being built, we are a part of the priesthood in the same temple. Back to 1 Peter chapter 2, we're offering up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God. Here's a third pen portrait, we are a chosen race. See back in verse 9, you are a chosen race. Now before this gives anybody a feeling of self-appointed pride, before you start believing something that isn't true, let me remind you that you were not chosen because you were that great a deal. Over in Deuteronomy chapter 7 verses 6, 7, and 8, there is a great three verse analysis of why God chose his first nation. Turn back to Deuteronomy 7, 6, 7, and 8, for you are a holy people to the Lord your God, speaking to the people of the Hebrews. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession out of all the peoples who were on the face of the earth. Now if you just read verse 6, you could think, not bad, must be something great about us.
He picked us and nobody else. Well verse 7 will help take the edge off that. The Lord did not set his love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.
Then why? Why would God choose us as a part of his chosen nation? Verse 7, because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which he swore to your forefathers. The Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. I challenge you to find one statement in verses 6, 7, and 8 that describes how great we are, or how great the Hebrews were, or how significant they stood out among all the other people.
It's not there. The Lord chose you because he chose to choose you. He set his love upon us because in the goodness of his own heart, he said, I want you to be mine. Fourth verse 9, you are a holy nation. So we're a stone in the building that's being built.
We're a priest in the same temple. We are a chosen race. We are a holy nation. Interesting, isn't it, that within this great nation of ours, there exists another nation.
It's a nation that is set apart. See the word holy, we've looked at it before rather in depth back in chapter 1. Holy means to be set apart. You are a holy nation. You and I make up this set apart body of people for a special purpose, to represent, to be ambassadors for the king, the Lord Jesus Christ. We live in a nation that we love, and in this nation, there is a set apart nation, a nation within a nation, a body of people set apart for his special purpose and glory.
I'm turning right now to Philippians chapter 3 verse 20. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. That'll do something to you if you are connected too closely to things on this earth. All the time I'm on this earth, and all the time you were on this earth, child of God, we are citizens away from home.
Our citizenship is in heaven. Be careful about your involvements on this planet. Don't dig your foundation too deep. As a friend of mine always says, keep your tent pegs real shallow.
Keep them shallow. You're just passing through. Peter says we are a holy nation.
Look at the next one. We are a people for God's own possession. I love that in verse 9. A people for God's own possession.
That'll do something to your innards when you study that. Talk about a feeling of dignity. You and I, child of God, have been purchased with a price.
We are therefore to glorify God in our bodies. We are not even our own possession. You are not your own. You have been bought with a price. There's one more on the list.
If I count correctly, this is number six. We are God's people who have received mercy. We are a people for God's own possession that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light for you once were not a people. Let's don't live so long in the family of God that we allow our memory to be blurred and we forget what it was like when we weren't.
You once were not worth mentioning. You were once not a people to him, but now you are the, definite article, people of God. You once had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Now the whole point of Peter is wrapped up in verses 11 and 12 where he comes to us with the words, Beloved, I urge you, now watch closely, in light of your role as a living stone in a building that will never be destroyed, in light of your being, these things he's described, a priest in the same temple, a chosen race, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, people who have received mercy. He says, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. 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. In other words, your life will be the reason they turn to Christ. I've put it together in four rather simple suggestions and I think all four are woven into verses 11 and 12.
First he's saying, live a clean life. I urge you as aliens and strangers abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Don't think for a moment that it makes no difference to the lost person how a Christian lives. You're kidding yourself if you think only Christians care.
Many a non-Christian this very day has his or her eyes on a Christian and is determining the truth of the message of Christianity strictly on the basis of how you live, how you work, how you conduct yourself with your family. Peter says in order to get their attention, do something that they themselves don't do, abstain from fleshly lusts. Interestingly, there was another occasion of a pastor who failed sexually in his responsibilities as a man of God. That wasn't just something that scandalized the church and broke the hearts of his congregation. That was something that made the front headlines of the newspaper in the city where he has been ministering for years. Don't think it's of no concern how the believer lives or how the minister serves. He says abstain from fleshly lusts that wage war against the soul.
Here's the second statement or suggestion. Leave the lost no room for slander. Leave the lost no room for slander. It says here, keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles. That's the word for the lost person. We're always concerned about how we'll appear to the saved. He says keep your manner of life or your behavior excellent among the lost.
I loved this when I found it. When Plato was told that a certain man had begun making slanderous charges against him, his response was, I will live in such a way that no one will believe what he says. He's making these slanderous charges against me and they're not true. I will live in such a way that no one will believe what he says.
Sometimes you are completely at a loss to set the record straight. So you have to say what David said on more than one occasion in the Psalms, indicate me oh Lord according to my integrity. Lord you know that I'm clean. You know that my life is lived above board. You know that I have nothing to hide. You know that I haven't yielded to fleshly lusts.
You know that my record is clean, pure. Vindicate me according to my integrity. Leave no room for the lost to slander. Third, do good deeds among the unbelievers.
See how he puts it? That they may on account of your good deeds. It's very easy for Christians to be so tunneled that we limit all of our good deeds to fellow family members. You're driving along and you see someone has a flat tire and they need help. You don't roll your window down and say are you a Christian with a flat tire? And the person says yes. Oh okay and you pull over and help them. If someone is in need it makes no difference whether they're Christian or non-Christian. Don't limit your good deeds to those in the family.
Notice on account of your good deeds, not good words. The Gentile that is the unsaved are looking at deeds. They're not listening to words. They're up to here with words. They're watching lives.
When the good deeds are indisputable then the unbeliever says there must be something to it. Fourth and finally, never forget we are being watched. Never forget we are being watched. It says as they observe your good deeds. If you think the only people watching you are other fellow priests in the royal priesthood, you're whistling in the dark.
You're kidding yourself. Warren Wiersbe in a little book on 1 Peter called Be Hopeful says in a chapter entitled Somebody's Watching You. In the summer of 1805, a number of Indian chiefs and warriors met in council at Buffalo Creek, New York to hear a presentation of the Christian message by a Mr. Cram from the Boston Missionary Society. After the sermon, a response was given by Red Jacket, one of the leading chiefs. Among other things the chief said, Brother, you say that there is but one way to worship and serve the great spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it?
Why not all agree as you can all read the same book? Brother, we are told that you have been preaching to the white people in this place. These people are our neighbors. We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while and see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good, makes them honest and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will then consider again what you have said.
That was back in 1805. I think similar words are said in a different setting in this generation. I wonder how many people are saying to themselves, hmm, I hear what they've said. Now we will watch. We'll take notice of them.
We'll see if what they say is the same thing they do. We are all of these wonderful things described in this passage of scripture, all because we have received mercy, not because we deserve them, but we're living as aliens and strangers in the land that is not our final citizenship. We must be careful of the good deeds because we are being watched. I'd like for us to get quiet before the Lord for the next few moments. Let's focus on an area or two of our lives that the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse right now. If you know the Lord, maybe it's an area of neglect or it perhaps is some overt sin that still has a domination over you.
It's just kind of a personal plague that you've been living with. This is a great moment for you as a child of God to turn it over to the Lord, to confess to him the wrong that has broken your relationship with him. Remember the words, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So as a child of God, do that right now. Now truth be told, you may not be in the family of God. You may have never met the Lord Jesus. You may have never even come to the cross and faced the truth concerning the breakdown of your relationship with the living God.
So I invite you to do that now. The Lord has his arms open. His son has paid the complete penalty for your sins at the cross. There's nothing left for you to pay.
There's nothing left for you to do. Jesus Christ has done it all for us. The only thing that stands between you and him is unbelief. So right now, I urge you to make that decision, to turn your life over to Christ, to accept what he has done for you, that complete payment for your sins, and to invite him into your life right where you are right now. Simple prayer like this, Lord, I confess to you I am lost. I am a sinner. Nothing I can do will in any way gain your favor, but I can believe in your son, and I do that now. Willingly, consciously, and joyfully, I take Christ as my Savior and Lord.
If you have done that, you have become a believer in Christ, and a whole new beginning is open for you. Now join me in prayer, will you? Father, thank you for the reminders we have had today.
Thank you for the importance of living a clean life. Help us to do that by your power for your glory. Lord, help us to leave no lost person any room for slander in our lives. May our behavior be excellent among the Gentiles, even as your disciple Peter exhorted us to do. May we do our good deeds among the unbelievers. May we live our lives openly and with integrity before those who are lost. And may we never forget that we are living our lives being watched as they observe our good deeds. Thank you, Father, for any goodness that comes from us comes through the power of Christ. And thank you for those who have this very day trusted in your Son. We pray they will begin a life that will be a transforming experience for them. May they come alongside those who can mentor them, a good church where they can be growing up in the faith. And may they come to know your word and use that as the guide for living from one day to the next. Thank you for Christ who has loved us and given himself for us. And we focus our full attention on him as a result of what we have heard today. Through his great name we pray these things. Amen. Well that's some practical advice we can implement right away. Coming from the wisdom of 1 Peter chapter 2, you're listening to Insight for Living and Chuck Swindoll's message called Hope Beyond Guilt, Becoming Living Stones.
To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. Stay with us because we've set aside several minutes to hear closing comments from Chuck in just a moment. But first, if you're wrestling with guilt and mistakes you've made, you're not alone. In fact, we often hear from your fellow listeners who describe their battle with regret.
Left untreated, regret turns to shame. I'm thinking of this comment we received from a young father who said, Chuck, at age 29, I'd accepted a lucrative position as an attorney. I was too busy to go to church. Plus, I had begun an affair.
About that time I started listening to your program on my daily drive to work. As I started paying attention, I realized I had never accepted Jesus as my Lord. My life was a mess.
I cried every day as I drove to work. How could a wretch like me be saved? Well, your simple and straightforward presentation of the gospel finally penetrated my mind. I surrendered my heart to Jesus. The rest of his note describes his recovery and his gratitude for clear Bible teaching.
That is so encouraging. And when you partner with Insight for Living, you're playing a significant role in making disciples of Jesus Christ. Chuck, sometimes we mistakenly assume that the Great Commission of Jesus was only for professionals, but Jesus included all of us, didn't he? No one is excluded from the Great Commission of Jesus to make disciples. You've often heard me say that God calls some people to go, and he calls other people to send. When Jesus gave his final marching orders, he did not discriminate between the two. Preachers, pastors, evangelists, and missionaries are goers.
You might call them boots on the ground. Those who give generously from their personal resources to support the goers are the senders. We cannot have one without the other. At Insight for Living Ministries, we provide opportunities for both, but especially for people like you who are senders. Your gifts are directly applied toward making disciples of men and women all around this great big world, many in languages other than our own. You've likely heard my recent comments about the urgency of our financial needs. Many loyal senders have already responded. We're so grateful for this groundswell of support, yet we must keep our eye on the goal.
We have a long ways to go. The next few days will determine the future of Insight for Living Ministries. So, please pick up your phone, or go online, or if you prefer, send a donation in the mail today. Although many of our ministries hang in the balance, I'm not dissuaded nor discouraged. Instead, I'm asking God to meet our needs through friends like you. Thanks so much for hearing my heart and for investing in the Great Commission of Jesus to go and make disciples of all the nations.
Remember, He promised to be with us all along the way, even to the end of the age. This season marks a major deadline here at Insight for Living, and we're asking God to help us close the books on solid ground so we can step forward with boldness. Your support today will make all the difference in reaching this goal. To give a donation today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. That number again, 800-772-8888, or you can give a donation online at insight.org slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us when Chuck Swindoll describes what he calls hope beyond unfairness.
That's next time on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Hope Beyond Guilt, Becoming Living Stones, was copyrighted in 1988, 1990, 1996, 2006, and 2010. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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