Hope That Puts the World to Shame

Okay, here we are at 1 Peter 3:8–12. We just finished 1 Peter 3:9. Finished. Here we are at 1 Peter 3:10, which begins with this crucial word ‘for.’ Always be alert to those because they give arguments, or grounds, or basis, or support, and then he quotes Psalm 34. So that quote right there is from the Old Testament, and the big question is: What’s the point of the quote? It’s the longest quote in the book from the Old Testament. He uses the Old Testament a lot, and this is the longest, and the big question is: Why this Psalm, and why this section right here? So let’s read it.

The Use and Logic of ‘For’

See if anything becomes plain. “Because,” in other words, “don’t repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling but bless because if you bless according to your call, you’re going to obtain a blessing because whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”

For; now that’s a “for” within the Psalm. So there’s logic in the quote, and the quote is functioning logically. Just pause here.

When I was 22 years old, I discovered the word “for.” Up until then, I grew up in a Christian home, Bible-saturated. My dad was pricking; he bled Bible, and I loved the Bible. I read the Bible every day, all through college, I savored it, and my whole mindset was: The Bible is a collection of glorious nuggets. Find a nugget every day, or a lozenge and put it under your tongue, suck on it all day long, and it will feed you, and that is true. It’s just not the whole truth.

So when I was 22, and I went off and began to study the Bible seriously, I discovered it’s not just a string of pearls or a bottle of lozenges; it’s a chain, and the links hook up. And when you grasp the chain, you not only have tasty things, you have solid things, unshakeable things. So when I talk about logic, that word may carry zero emotional freight for you, but it does for me.

I love the logic of heaven. So when I said this “for” here is connecting the Old Testament quote to the logic of the passage. And this “for” here is showing that there’s a logic in the Old Testament quote itself. So what is that?

Because I think the logic of the Old Testament quote is the way the logic functions in the passage. I think that’s why he quoted it because there’s logic in it that he wanted to say: “That’s what I’m using. That’s the logic I’m using.” I think that’s the point. “So let him turn from evil, seek peace, pursue it,” because “for the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:11–12).

The Connection Between Blessing and God’s Favor

So he just said, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, [in order] that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). Because the Old Testament itself argues that way. The Old Testament itself says, “Bless that you may obtain a blessing.” The structure of the argument is in the Old Testament, “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, that is, obtain a blessing.” You’re going to get a blessing if you live this way.

So “whoever desires that blessing,” we could talk a long time about that. That’s an adaptation of the Old Testament wording, “Who desires to love life and see good days.” What a strange phrase. But at least I’ll say is, it’s good; it’s good. You want good to come, and that good is, I think, virtually the same as this blessing here.

So if you want that blessing, then keep your tongue from evil. What would that be? That would be reviling in your lips from speaking deceit, let him turn away from evil, retaliation, and do good; big deal in this letter by seeing your good deeds, they will glorify God on the day of visitation.

Let him seek peace instead of fighting back when people revile you; let them seek peace and pursue it because, and this “because” right here is unpacking this word “that,” the logic of the “that” is in the “for” of the Psalm. Bless in order that you may obtain a blessing. Keep your mouth from deceit and seek peace because the Lord, his face is shining on you if you do, and he’s against you if you don’t. That’s the logic, okay.

Law and Grace

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,” the people that are doing these things here, “And his ears are open to their prayer. But his face is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12). So no blessing is going to come to those who do evil.

Now, you might say, “Oh, that’s just law talk. That is just law talk. I want grace talk, I want gospel talk.” Sorry. You need to have an understanding of grace and gospel that doesn’t see this as a contradiction because this is not Peter saying, “That’s the way the Old Testament talks. We talk differently under Christ and under grace.” He’s using it as an argument for the way he talks under grace.

“I just said that if you’ll bless those who revile you, you’ll obtain a blessing. And the reason I said it is because the Old Testament says it.” That’s the gist of the argument, I think. Just put again in a word why that’s not a contradiction of grace and of faith alone, and justification by grace alone through faith alone for the glory of God alone, based on Scripture alone.

It’s not a contradiction of any of that because what the Bible assumes and teaches is that when grace enters your life sovereignly, freely, mercifully, one-sidedly, effectually at the new birth, you are made new, and that newness is necessary for salvation. It doesn’t cause it. You were united to Jesus by grace alone through faith alone, and then you’re new, and the newness is described here. And that newness brings down great blessing.

The Dual Outcomes of Zeal for Good Deeds

First Peter 3:13: “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?” Well, he’s going to back away from that real fast, but he says it for a reason. You want to say, “But you’re going to say in this book that the fiery ordeal is coming upon you, and that you are going to be reviled.” So, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?” Hope and expect that your good deeds are going to bear fruit.

“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake.” So immediately he says, “I know what happens. In fact, it’s going to happen.” He’s going to say it very clear. So there are times when it doesn’t happen, and good deed, zeal for good deeds produces a good response from the world, no harm. “I admire you, Christians. I’d like to be one.” That happens.

And other times teeth gnashing at what Christians stand for. “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed” (1 Peter 3:13). See more about what that blessing is over 1 Peter 4.

“Have no fear of them,” when this happens. Don’t be afraid. Have no fear of them or be troubled. “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy” — literally sanctify Christ. “Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and [in fear]” (1 Peter 3:15). I think that’s fear of God, not man, because he just said, “Don’t fear them,” right? That’s the way context works.

So if you’re in a small group and you’re having a discussion, he says, “Whoa, it says, we should be afraid of the people that we give a response to.” You should say, “No, no, no. It says right there; don’t fear them.” So this fear is fear of God.

“Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ.” So that is happening. He just told you how to respond to that. “Those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:16–17).

The Path to Shaming Opponents

Now, let’s work our way backward through this, and see if we can follow the argument. Leave 1 Peter 3:17 aside for now, and we’ll pick it up in a minute. But the goal here, communicated by the word, “so that.”

“So that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:16). So the goal of this argument here is to shame those who oppose us. Now, I don’t think that’s the end goal. It’s just a goal. You hope because you’re blessing them, right? You’re blessing. You don’t say, “Oh, good, you’re ashamed. I love to see you shamed. Really makes my day when you are made a fool of in public.” That’s not the point.

The point is that all the things they just said about your views, proof faults, all the ugly things they just said about you, Christian, somehow or other proof’s faults, and they feel like, “Wow, I just tweeted all day long about what jerks they were, and now I’m ashamed of what I said.” And you’re glad about that. But you want it to go beyond shame to giving glory to God on the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:12).

But so that’s the point in this text is. “So that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:16). Now, what leads to that? To that end, “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and [fear]” (1 Peter 3:15).

So to the end that the slanderers might be shamed, to that end, be prepared to make a defense by telling a reason for the hope you have with a certain demeanor. Here it is again. We’ve seen this over and over. This is what wives were told to have, and now everybody’s told to have it — right “a gentleness and fear.”

That’s exactly the way the wives’ behavior to her husband was described; in gentleness and in fear. Don’t feel picked on. This is not picked on. This is glorious. This is the way we want to be. We want to be able to be laughed at, scorned, have people, have fast-talking talk show hosts say stupid things, or angry things about us, and not have our harsh. Just melt with either despair or bristle with anger, but rather have a capacity in us, in fear of God, and gentleness towards others to make our response, and give our reasons. So that’s the step towards shaming.

And to that end, don’t be afraid. Let me change the color here. Don’t be afraid of them. Don’t be troubled by them, but instead, honor Christ, the Lord is holy. Be sanctify Christ, that is set Christ in a place of precious, unique value in your life. Honor him as holy or sanctify him.

When you sanctify something, you set it aside as very precious. That’s supremely valuable to me. So sanctify Christ, don’t be afraid of them. Sanctify Christ. Don’t be afraid of them. So don’t fear losing their approval. Fear treating Jesus as though he were not supremely valuable.

A Counter-Cultural Approach

“If you suffer for righteousness, you will be blessed” (1 Peter 3:14). If you do all this. Suffer for righteousness, you’ll be blessed. Because you will be blessed if you suffer for righteousness’ sake. Therefore, you don’t need to be afraid of them, and you don’t need to be troubled by them. You can simply count Christ to be your infinitely valuable, holy, supreme Treasure.

And thus, you can be prepared to make a defense to anybody who asks, and give reasons for hope, which are all rooted in him. And you can do it with a sense of peace, and gentleness, and fearing God, not fearing man, and having therefore a clean conscience as you were getting beat up verbally or even physically. So that in all of that, people would be put to shame.

That’s the strategy that Peter has for us in America today. Sounds very different than a lot of feisty, blathering Christians who fight back verbally so worldly-like. It’s just so different than what you see going on. I want to see this spirit in just one political candidate, just one. Show me one. I know he won’t get elected, but he’ll have my admiration, which won’t get him any money, and won’t get him in the office, but might cause Christ to say, “That’s beautiful.” But every candidate feels the need to be feisty.

I was listening to one being interviewed, don’t name any names, the other day, and the interviewer just kept saying, “But what I said was.” I just want to punch him. Just punch him. Shut up. She’s trying to talk to you. You’re not answering her question. You’re making your little speech. You are so arrogant. Whoever vote for you? What a jerk.

Now, you can see how unsanctified I am because that wasn’t gentle. That’s another lecture. Anyway, I’d like to be more like this as you can see, and I would like to see one or two candidates help me be like this, but I haven’t seen any yet.