Who hasn't been burned? Think for a moment. Most of us can recall times when our trust has been violated, either by a family member, a colleague, or even a salesperson.
No one enjoys getting ripped off. Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll points to a passage in 1 Peter where the apostle gives us Spirit-inspired counsel on how to rise above our grievances. By the time the program is finished, you'll be equipped with scriptural tools for coping.
Chuck titled his message, Hope Beyond Unfairness, pressing on even though ripped off. Peter writes in the last part of his second chapter words of great wisdom and wise counsel. It is all wrapped up in one word, chapter 2, verse 13, submit. Here were Christians scattered all over the country. They are named for us in the first verse of chapter 1.
Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia, five different regions. They're away from home. They have been blasted out of their houses. Unfair persecution has come from an absolutely insane ruler named Nero. The bodies of their friends have lit the Colosseum in Rome and it will happen again and again and again.
Lives have been slaughtered and will continue to be. It's fitting that Peter addresses unfair treatment. These believers were the target of mistreatment by government, by neighbors, people notorious for cruelty had the faces of Christians on their dartboard. And Peter writes to these people and he has the audacity to say, submit. Jesus said, render to Caesar what Caesar has coming due. Render to God what God has coming due.
Interesting the order, isn't it? Paul exhorts us to pray for those who are in authority over us and he wrote that when there were emperors on the throne who despised the name of Christ. He said, pray for those in authority over you, for kings, for all who were in authority. 1 Timothy 2. And Peter says, as we're going to develop the thought, submit. You have a pencil, circle the word in verse 13, which is the command.
Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake. And then he describes what? In chapter 2 verse 18, again, circle the word, be submissive. Same root word as submit in verse 13. In chapter 3 verse 1, the husband's favorite verse. In the same way, wives, be submissive, circle that to your husbands. Chapter 3 verse 5, in this way, in former times, holy women also who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, being submissive. There's the word again. He's on to it.
He stays on it even through verse 22, the end of chapter 3, speaking of the Lord Jesus, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven after angels and authorities and powers had been, there's the same word, subjected to him. Same root word, submit, to be subject to, to subordinate oneself to. And I'm convinced in my heart that if we were good students of submission, we would get along a lot better in life. It is the one thing that works against our nature. I don't want to submit. I don't want to give in.
I won't let him have his way in this. And so we live abrasively. Now let's unravel this knot because some of you are churning. I can feel it. You're churning with me already.
You're thinking if you only knew what? Okay, don't bother. Look at verse 13 again, chapter 2, submit yourselves for the Lord's sake, not for your enemy's sake, for the Lord's sake, to every human institution.
Remember, Nero's the king, whether to a king as the one in authority or to governors as sent by the king for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. You don't need me to fuss around with the verse. You understand English.
It's the very same in the original. There's nothing I can add to it. Our problem is not understanding what it means. Our problem is doing what it says, isn't it? Now, why? What's the reason behind the command? Verse 15. For such is the will of God that by doing right, you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. See the word silence. You may silence the ignorance of foolish men. It's the word for muzzle. First Corinthians 9, verse 9 talks about not muzzling the ox that treads out the corn.
Same root word as this one, silence. You see, prejudice rumors were flying in those days about Christians. They're a secret sect. They are people of another kingdom. They follow another Lord. They have plans to overthrow.
And they were the target of those kind of slanderous rumors. Peter says by submitting, by doing right before God, you will muzzle the mouths of those passing around those rumors. Let's make it in light of today's terms because we're not living in Rome. There's not a Nero on the throne.
Not yet. Civil authorities have responsibilities in our day. We live in a city. We build a church building in a city where the civil authorities have rights that are to be acknowledged and obeyed. They have no right to tell us what to preach, what to teach, or which philosophy to adopt as a church.
They've gone too far if they attempt to do that. If they do that, we rebel because there is a higher law than their law as it relates to the declaration of truth. However, they have the right to say, in this room you may put 150 people and no more. It is not our right and it is not wise for us to put more than the amount stated by the civil authorities. The fire department says you are not to put seats that are open, that are folding seats, that aren't fixed in a worship auditorium like this one where we meet. To do that is to rebel against the authority. They have a ratio between how many cars are parked in a parking lot and how many people may sit in an auditorium.
Two to one or three to one, you may figure that way. And when you build, you've got to provide the parking for that X number of people if you're going to have this particular size worship gathering. And we're to cooperate with that. We are to submit to the authority of those rulers. That helps muzzle the rumors that we are just a maverick group that will do as we please, thank you. We prove and we gain nothing by rebelling against the civic authorities.
In fact, we lose. Now note two phrases in these two verses. 15, for such is the will of God.
And verse 16, but use it as bond slaves of God. Very important that we have the right perspective. We do not submit because we necessarily agree. We do not submit because we deep within could support the rules, the codes, the regulations.
At times they seem galling and terribly restrictive. We do it for, you just read it, because it is the will of God and because we are bond slaves of God. Now you see the principle comes to the surface. Right in verse 16, I've got the principle underlined, do not use your freedom as a covering for evil.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? If you're studying the doctrine of grace with us, you know that we are dealing with, we have recently dealt with using or abusing grace so that our freedom is a cloak for evil. And how unwise that is. Peter says the same thing Paul writes about in Romans. In fact he gives you in little staccato bursts five commands and wrapped within the commands is that main principle. See the commands act as free men. Only do not use your freedom as a covering for evil. Use it as bond slaves of God is another command. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. We must forever be aware of our temptation to abuse liberty. So easy to stretch it, so easy to make it work for us, rather than for the glory of God. Moffat writes, the warning of a wise leader here who knows how fanatical tendencies need to be disciplined.
Now there is an example followed by the example. An example that Peter turns to in verse 18 is slavery. Slavery. Let me read you just an excerpt from a man's study of the subject of slavery in the first century.
To understand the real meaning of what Peter is saying, we must understand something of the nature of slavery in the time of the early church. In the Roman Empire, there were as many as 60 million slaves. In very early times, there had been few slaves in Rome. Slavery began with Roman conquests, for slaves were originally prisoners taken in war. By New Testament times, as we have said, slaves were counted by the millions. It was by no means only menial tasks which were performed by slaves.
I found this interesting. Doctors, teachers, musicians, actors, secretaries, stewards were slaves. In fact, all the work of Rome was done by slaves.
In fact, I just read that in the next sentence. By this time, the Roman attitude was that there was no point in being master of the world and doing one's own work. I believed that for years, but it doesn't work in my family. Let the slaves do that, and let the citizens live in pampered idleness. The supply of slaves would never go done. Slaves were not allowed to marry, but they cohabited. And the children born of such a partnership were the property of the master, not of the parents. Just as the lambs born to the sheep belong to the owner of the flock, not to the sheep.
One more paragraph. It would be quite wrong to think that the lot of slaves was always wretched and unhappy, and that they were always treated with cruelty. Many slaves were loved and trusted members of the family, but one great inescapable fact dominated the whole situation. In Roman law, a slave was not a person, he was a thing. And he had absolutely no legal rights whatsoever.
However well he might be treated, he remained a thing with nothing in the world to call his own, not even himself. For that reason, there could be no such thing as justice where a slave was concerned. Aristotle writes, there could be no friendship nor justice toward inanimate things. Indeed, not even towards a horse or an ox, nor yet towards a slave. For master and slave have nothing in common, wrote Aristotle. A slave is a living tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave. The only difference between a slave and a beast or a farmyard cart is that a slave happens to be able to speak. Peter Chrysologus sums the matter up, whatever a master does to a slave, undeservedly, in anger, willingly, unwillingly, in forgetfulness after careful thought, knowingly, unknowingly, is judgment, justice, and law. That is simply to say that in regard to a slave, his master's will and even his master's caprice was the only law. Now I want you to hear that a little bit lengthy, but I wanted you to hear that because Peter addresses slaves. I suppose the only analogy might be today our employment where we work for bosses. Maybe that would be an appropriate analogy and I want to draw some comparisons as we step into verse 18 and following because I think there's something analogous here.
Slaves, verse 18 begins. Lead an insurrection? No. Challenge your master?
No. We're back to our word again. Christianity, by the way, did ultimately overcome slavery, but it was not in God's agenda for it to happen in the first century. As a matter of fact, hold your place.
It just dawns on me. 1 Corinthians 7, I believe, says something about staying a slave if you are a slave. 1 Corinthians 7, where is that?
Verse 20, 7-20. Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called. Were you called while a slave?
Do not worry about it. But if you are able also to become free, rather, do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freed man. In your spirit, you're still free. That'll make it bearable is the implication. Likewise, he who was called while free is Christ's slave.
You were bought with a price. Do not become slaves of men, brethren. Let each man or each one remain with God in that condition in which he was called. Pretty clear, isn't it?
Back to Peter. It's awful hard for us in America to read verses like we're going to be reading correctly because our frame of reference is so American. It's so Western. It's so 20th century that we try to rewrite it to make it fit us.
But we shouldn't do that. Let's let it speak for itself. Slaves, be submissive to your masters with all respect. Well, that's great if you have a good master. It's wonderful if you're a slave of St. Francis. You know, if you're working for some marvelous saint like a boss or slave master.
But verse 18 doesn't talk to slaves in that situation. Not only to those who were good and gentle. But also to those who were unreasonable.
Let me go through this very carefully. 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, patiently enduring it. Ah, this finds favor with God. For you were called for this purpose. Peter is writing to believers who have the Lord Jesus living within.
He is appealing to believers in their situation to live with what is occurring. Submissive ultimately to the Lord and then on this earth to those with whom or for whom they work. Not only to the good and gentle, but also to the unreasonable. Do you have an uncaring boss? Do you have a superior who isn't fair?
Do you deal with unreasonableness where you are employed? There's a lot for you in verses 18 and 19. Now there's no credit due a person who suffers for what he has coming to him. If you break and enter a home. If you steal from that home and sell the goods you stole for drugs and then you deal drugs and then you are caught. You will be brought before the authorities. You will hopefully be found guilty and hopefully have to pay for your crime. Over a period of months, maybe even years because you have done wrong. Now if you patiently endure your jail sentence.
No one in society is going to think good. That's wonderful that you were such a patient prisoner. You've gotten what you had coming to you. You deserve the punishment. So you've taken it and hopefully done so patiently and you've learned from it.
You've learned from the wrongdoing and the punishment that followed that it doesn't pay. Now verse 19 says I want you to go a step further for this finds favor. In fact if you have a new American Standard Bible the margin you may notice renders it correctly. Grace. Here we are again. This is grace. This is grace on the block. If for the sake of conscience toward God you bear up under sorrows when you're suffering unjustly. Here you are a hard working faithful employee.
Diligent, thoughtful, prompt, caring, working for a boss who is belligerent and stubborn and short-sighted and unthankful. If you patiently endure that situation that causes grace to be on display. And I've got news for you. It finds favor with God. It finds favor with God. Well most of us can readily identify moments when we've been treated unfairly and we can't understand what God is up to. In 1 Peter chapter 2 we find ample evidence that God is at work.
You're listening to Insight for Living at a message from Chuck Swindoll titled Hope Beyond Unfairness. If you'd like to learn more about this ministry visit us online at insightworld.org. First I thought you'd be encouraged to hear this story from a pastor who listens in South Carolina. He said Chuck I trained in seminary for the pastorate but shortly after graduation I contracted Lyme disease and was delayed from entering full-time ministry. I was in chronic pain confused and wondering what God was doing. One evening when I was feeling especially discouraged I tuned into the Bible Broadcasting Network. I heard you say some of you are wondering why you've been delayed in doing ministry you've been called to do.
Maybe you've been sidelined due to sickness. My jaw almost hit the floor. That was me. I knew God had arranged for me to listen at just the right moment. Thank you. Well let me pass along his thanks to all those who financially sustain Insight for Living. In many respects your generous giving has impacted pastors like this one and so many more. So thank you. This season marks the end of a critical time here at Insight for Living and our reserves are dwindling.
Here's Chuck. From time to time we find it necessary to pull back the curtain and give you an unobstructed view behind the scenes. As a valued member of our listening family you need to know that we're facing an overwhelming financial need that could impact you in the days and months ahead. Giving levels have dipped well below our capacity to maintain current ministries and our need is nothing short of urgent. And yet even in this crucial hour we're absolutely confident that loyal friends like you can help us close the gap before the June 30th deadline. If everyone who benefits from Insight for Living Ministries pitched in and did their part we would readily take care of the shortfall. So let me thank you in advance for generously investing so that together we can fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples of all the nations. Giving is really simple when you go online or give us a call or write us a letter. In closing let me express my warm sentiments toward our friends like you by reading this warm affirmation to the people of Philippi. Listen to Philippians 1 verses 3 through 7 as they are found in the New Living Translation. Paul wrote these words, Every time I think of you I give thanks to my God, for you have been my partners in spreading the good news about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.
So you have a special place in my heart because you share with me the special favor of God. And here's how to get in touch with us at Insight for Living. If you have access to our website just follow the simple instructions online at Insight.org. Or if you'd like to speak to one of our ministry reps here's our phone number. If you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888. Again that's 800-772-8888. Or you can give a donation online at Insight.org. I'm Bill Meyer inviting you to join us next time when Chuck Swindoll continues his message called Hope Beyond Unfairness on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Hope Beyond Unfairness, pressing on even though ripped off, 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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