Relating & Resisting

Posted: February 21, 2010 in 1 Peter

1 Peter 5:1-14, “Relating & Resisting”
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Watching the Olympics, it’s been pretty common to see athletes get some last minute instructions from their coaches in the final seconds leading up to the event. They’ve spent months (and years) preparing for this very moment, and their coaches are encouraging them, forewarning them, and doing whatever they can to help prepare them for what they are about to face.

Peter could relate. The churches he was writing to were suffering, and they were about to endure much more. He’s been writing to them to encourage them to keep pressing on – to keep holding fast to Christ Jesus – to remember that their Lord Jesus had already gone before them in suffering and purchased their salvation. Peter wrote to them about relationships in the home, in the church & with the government, and how everything the church did was to be done for the glory of God. Of course, he could only write so much; the rest they would have to experience as they went forth in the power of the Holy Spirit.

So as Peter closes his letter, he closes with some last-minute final instructions. He prepares them for what to look for in their pastors, how to humbly relate to one another as the people of God, and how to stay prepared for their adversary the devil who was always on the prowl for them. Overall, Peter’s final instructions was for the church to stay utterly grounded & dependent upon the Lord Jesus Christ, no matter what area of church life they were looking at.

1 Peter 5 (NKJV)
1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:

A. Peter isn’t just talking to any elder members of the congregations; this is a specific exhortation to pastors, as is clear in verse 2. But before he actually gives the exhortation, he lays the background for it in describing himself.

B. 1st description – Peter is a “fellow elder.” He’s just like the rest of them. Gotta love his humility on this point! Peter is an apostle (one of the most prominent apostles, at that), but he doesn’t press the issue based on his authority. He just saw himself as one of the guys – just another pastor who had a bit more experience than the rest.

C. 2nd description – Peter is a “witness of the sufferings of Christ.” Here’s where his greater experience is seen. All of us in a sense can say we’re witnesses of Christ (that’s exactly what Jesus told us we’d be in Acts 1:8), but Peter is a physical eyewitness of the sufferings of Christ. He was there when Jesus was arrested in the garden – he was there when Christ had His mock trials – he was there when Jesus was nailed to the cross…Peter saw it all. When Peter writes of the sufferings of Christ, this is not an abstract theological truth for him; this is personal history.

D. 3rd description – Peter is a “partaker of the glory.” Some see here a reference to Jesus’ transfiguration when the Lord was glorified – but Peter was a witness to that; not necessarily a partaker. Seems more likely that this is a reference to heaven, where Peter (like every believer in Christ) will actually partake of the glory of Jesus that will be revealed. We’ll be co-heirs with Christ & reign with Him for all eternity. It blows the mind to even try to imagine!
__a. In a sense, this progression for Peter is a similar progression for all of us. We may not be physical eyewitnesses of Jesus’ sufferings on the cross, but many people know the facts about Jesus’ sufferings. Walk up to most random people in Texas, and they’ll be able to tell you the bare facts about Jesus – that He died on the cross & rose again. The difference between them & someone who’s a believer is that the believer has moved from the point of just knowing the witnessed facts to actually being a partaker of the glory of Christ. … Have you partaken of the Lord Jesus? Is He your personal Lord & Savior?
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2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;

A. Cements the idea that Peter is writing specifically to pastors here. Not every older person is called to shepherd as an overseer; that’s a calling specific to pastors. That said, those who are elders in the faith & have walked with Jesus in maturity have are a HUGE value to a local fellowship! You might not be called to pastor a congregation, but you can surely mentor a younger believer in the Lord. (Titus 2)

B. Pastoral function #1: shepherding. This goes to the heart of how the Lord Jesus reinstated Peter back into the ministry. (“Do you love me? Feed my lambs…” John 21) The idea here is service. Shepherds do not sit back & passively collect all their needs from a flock; they actively serve the sheep – guiding them, feeding them, tending to their needs, keeping them healthy, etc. Pastors who expect the congregation to serve their every need & whim aren’t truly “pastors” at all, by definition; pastors are shepherds. (Clarke) “Feed the flock – Do not fleece the flock.”
__a. Keep in mind, that the flock a pastor shepherds is not ultimately HIS flock; it’s the flock of God! That’s not only emphasized to keep a pastor humble; it’s emphasized as a reminder that pastors are accountable. Those who teach will receive a stricter judgment (Jas 3:1) because we are tending to people who do not belong to us; they belong to God Himself.

C. Pastoral function #2: oversee. This is the same root word often translated as “bishop.” The idea here is leadership. Pastors are servants, but they are servants who lead. How to lead? Peter gives several aspects here:
__a. Lead willingly: Those called to pastoral service ought to carefully examine their calling before entering in, but they should still be willing to enter it. And once there, they ought not to be lazy in service – i.e. they shouldn’t have to be compelled to do what God has called them to do.
__b. Lead eagerly/selflessly: The pastoral ministry is not a place for those looking to see what they can “get” out of it. To see some teachers, you’d think the ministry was just another entrepreneurial enterprise – one more way to make a buck. That’s exactly what Peter is warning against here. Pastors are not to serve for “filthy lucre” (KJV) – they’re not to be in it for selfish gain, but to selflessly serve the flock of God to the glory of God.
__c. Lead by example: It’s been often said that it’s tough to lead someone where you’ve never been. It’s tough for pastors to preach about holiness when their lives are anything but. Or to extol the love of God when they never personally show it. Pastors ought to lead 1st by example, walking right alongside the people with what he exhorts them from the Scripture to do.

D. “Ok, that’s some nice instruction to pastors. But what about the rest of us sitting here – is there any application to us in this?” Absolutely. If you’re a parent, you serve much of these same roles with your children. Serve them – lead them. Lead them willingly & selflessly & by example. If you serve in a ministry in church, you can do much the same thing. A worship team member can help lead worship willingly, eagerly, and by example… A Sunday School teacher can do the same – those who serve in the cleaning ministry, ushering, etc. Beyond the context of church, this also applies directly to our evangelism. How else are people God has surrounded us with (at work, in our families, our neighbors, etc.) to hear the gospel unless we do it willingly, eagerly, and by example? … Peter gives the instruction here to pastors because he himself WAS a pastor – so that was who he could speak to. But the basic principle is the same for all of us as believers in Christ.
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4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

A. Note the description of Jesus. He’s the “Chief Shepherd.” … (He’s the Good Shepherd, and the Lamb of God, and much else, too!) … But Peter’s obvious point is that all the elders who serve as shepherds of local congregations are not chief shepherds. There’s only ONE Chief Shepherd: the Lord Jesus Christ! The rest of us are merely under-shepherds who serve the Chief.

B. Contextually, Peter is giving the elders a very good reason to serve selflessly. They don’t need to seek out riches here; they’re building up treasure in heaven. If they serve Christ Jesus faithfully now, they can be assured that they will “receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” Not a crown of olive branches that will wither & die; the crown of glory given us by God Himself – which we’ll promptly cast back at His feet in worship.

C. When is the crown of glory given? When Jesus “appears.” When He comes back…and Jesus IS coming back! 🙂
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5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

A. Peter addressed the elders; now he addresses the ‘youngers’… Obviously the principle is bigger than just age/maturity in the church – everyone is supposed to submit to everyone else. The word used here is the same word used of wives submitting to their husbands in 1 Peter 3:1 & Ephesians 5:22…which also tells us that submission is not limited by gender. This is a principle that everyone in the church ought to abide by! Our Lord Jesus willingly submitted Himself to God the Father when He prayed in the garden prior to going to the cross (“not My will, but Yours”) – we ought to expect to do the same & submit ourselves to one another in His love.
__a. Define “submission”: We need to be careful not to impose any misconceptions we may have upon the word. This is not a reference to harsh unquestioned subjection & obedience; this is a word used of a willing submission to a role – like a soldier falling into his/her place in line during a march.
__b. What does this look like in the Church? It does not look like so many modern-day cult-like atmospheres where a person does something simply because their “pastor” or favorite teacher told them to do it, without looking into the Bible to see if it is true. Our final authority is the word of God – and part of our submission to one another includes hearing the word of God from one another. Ideally, submission among members of the church is when we lay down our egos & hear one another & love one another as we continue to point one another to Jesus.

B. Notice the emphasis Peter is putting on this principle of submission & humility. It’s implied to the elders & mentioned 4 times in 1 verse here to the rest of the church – this is important! Even the word picture Peter uses is evident: “be clothed with humility.” How visible is your clothing? (Hopefully, very visible! 🙂 ) THAT’s how evident our humility ought to be towards one another… Scholars note that this word was specifically used of a slave who would put on an apron before serving. So it is with us. Jesus took on the form of a servant & told us to do likewise…

C. OT quote (LXX): Proverbs 3:34 Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble. [] The wording may be a bit different, but the idea is exactly the same. Those who scorn God will be scorned by God, but God will give grace to those who humbly seek Him for it. We just saw this in James (4:6). James used this quote in the context of salvation overall, showing that those who resist God in their pride (shown by their fleshly actions & enmity against God) are resisted in turn by God. Only those who humble themselves in repentance are the ones who walk closely with Christ Jesus. Peter’s context here is different – this isn’t just a principle with our initial salvation, this is a principle that applies throughout our entire lives as believers.
__a. Brings up a key question for application: how do we act towards one another in the church? Are we proud, full of ourselves, and always trying to push our own ways & preferences upon one another? Or do we relate to one another in humility & submission – seeking the Lord’s glory before our own? This goes straight to the heart of what we’re supposed to exemplify as believers in Jesus: love. Love is the primary fruit of the Spirit & selfless love is the most visible sign we’re Jesus’ disciples. If we’re always pushing our way & our agenda & our “rights” & our whatever, we’re likely not acting in love towards one another. Love isn’t consumed with self; love is primarily about others.
__b. Maybe that describes you – if so, don’t get offended by it; allow the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to your heart, repent from it & ask Him to help you.
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6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

A. Again, this is very similar to what James said – James 4:8-10 (8) Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (9) Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. (10) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. [] Whereas James takes it from the point of repentance (turning away from acting like the world & start acting as believers in Christ), Peter takes it from the point of provision. God is our provider.

B. The point? We are to humble ourselves. We don’t need to worry about exalting ourselves – God will take care of that in His own time & His own way. The very fact that every born-again believer in Christ Jesus will be living with Him eternally & reigning with Him in heaven is more exaltation than we can possibly conceive! Any other exalting the Lord does in this life is pure gravy!
__a. But take this in context with verse 5. We are to humble ourselves (God gives grace to the humble) – but if we don’t humble ourselves, we need to expect to BE humbled (because God resists the proud)…

C. Why is it people often try to exalt themselves? Because many times they’re trying to provide for themselves. “If I’m going to get ahead in my company, I’ve got to put the other guy down so I can look good… I want people to think I’m super-spiritual, so I’m going to do XYZ in front of them…they’ll see how spiritual I am then! …” They’re so busy in trying to provide for themselves that they forget Who it is that is already our provider: God. God Himself is our Jehovah Jireh – He provides for us. [Abraham 1st called God by that name with Isaac – Gen 22:14] The idea here is that we don’t have to shoulder our cares & burdens all by ourselves, thinking that we’re the only person who’s going to provide for us – if we don’t exalt ourselves, then we’re going to suffer. (That’s sheer pride! …) Instead, we can trust God with our cares, because God cares for us…
__a. God knows every single one of your needs!
__b. God is by no means powerless to provide for your needs! God is capable of handling your cares.
__c. God loves you & cares for you as His own child!
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– Switches gears here. Goes back to the idea of suffering & temptation in their time of trial & persecution…

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

A. We have an enemy: the devil. He’s got many names throughout the Bible, but here (and often in the OT) he’s simply referred to as “the slanderer.” The devil slanders the name of God, the word of God, and the people of God. Despite how many movies portray him otherwise, the devil is not some sort of misunderstood angel or supernatural guy who had a bad turn – the devil is our adversary & the enemy of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. From the beginning the devil hated God & his hatred will last throughout all eternity.

B. Dealing with the devil #1: Watch out for him! The devil isn’t a bogeyman that doesn’t exist – he’s not some urban legend made up to scare people into the faith. The devil is very real & active in this world – he’s vastly powerful & commands legions of principalities & powers of demonic forces. (That said, the devil is not ALL-powerful. He is a limited created being, just like any other angel. God is infinitely more powerful than the devil!) But Christians cannot properly resist the devil if they do not acknowledge his existence, or are unaware of his attacks. We need to be wary – be sober – be watchful. We need to understand the devil wants to devour us – to either kill us physically or do anything in his power to entice us to renounce our faith. Whether that means he comes in unabashed evil persecution, or tries to entice us with lies as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14), we need to beware.
__a. As an aside – if the devil is walking about now, then it means he cannot presently be chained, as we are told he will be during the 1000 year millennial reign of Christ (Rev 20:2-3). Despite what some may teach, the time we’re in right now is NOT the millennial kingdom – we wait for that time with excited expectation when we will not only know by faith that Jesus reigns, but we will actually see Him visibly sit on the throne & reign over all the earth!
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9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

A. Dealing with the devil #2: Resist him! We flee temptation, but we resist the devil…sometimes that act is one & the same. The idea is that we are to take a stand in battle & not move from that spot (Eph 6:13). God doesn’t leave us unequipped to take that stand – He’s given us the armor of God & the power of the Holy Spirit. But He didn’t outfit us with the armor so that we would lay it down in time of trial; we need to be prepared to take a stand for our faith & be firm.
__a. We need to understand that the time of our own culture’s general acceptance of Christianity is quickly coming to an end. More & more of our culture is becoming resentful of the claims of the gospel & openly hostile to anything that smacks of Christ. Soon, it’s no longer going to be “easy” to be labeled a Christian – like believers around the rest of the world, we’re going to have to be prepared to resist the devil & remain steadfast in our faith.

B. Although it may be news to some of us (hopefully not), we need to understand that nothing we experience by way of spiritual warfare is new. We may have new technology that brings temptation – we may have different cultural issues that we deal with – but all the basics are the same. The basic temptations never change (the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life) & our basic enemy is always the same with the same tactics (to steal, kill, and destroy). Whether we’re in 1st century Jerusalem or 21st century Texas, there’s no suffering we experience that someone else in the Church has not. … There’s a fellowship there! Just as there is a fellowship we experience with the Lord Jesus & His sufferings, there is a fellowship we experience with one another as we suffer together for our faith. …
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10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

A. Dealing with the devil #3: Be strengthened against him! We don’t fight against the enemy in our own power; we fight against him in the power of God. Peter goes into detail here…

B. God gives us grace. He is the “God of all grace” & any grace we need to fight, to resist, to stand firm, to endure is available in our Heavenly Father. We never need worry if He will give us what we require in our time of need – we can go to Him & ask boldly for it. Just as Paul learned, God’s grace is sufficient for us – whether we abase or abound.

C. God gives us a future – “eternal glory.” Resisting the devil may not be easy, but it’s relatively easier when we realize the final outcome is already determined. Yes, battles may continue, but the war is already won – and the devil knows it better than anyone. Whatever we may face in this life, we are assured of spending the rest of our existence in the eternal glory of God…and that’s a marvelous motivation for us to keep on keeping on!

D. God gives us a Savior to that glory, “by Christ Jesus.” Our future presence in glory is not something for which we are depending upon ourselves – thank the Lord! If the promise was based upon our works & abilities, we would all fail, and we’d have every reason to be despondent in the face of the enemy. But it’s NOT based upon us; it’s based upon Christ! Our future is assured because of Christ’s past work & present victory. Our hope of glory is based solely upon Him!

E. God assures us of His present work – “perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle”. When we are harmed, God restores us. When we are weak, God strengthens us. When we have been shaken, God settles us. Absolutely these are all things that happen in the future in heaven, but praise God these are things we can be assured of right now in the present!

F. God assures us of this work even when we suffer. Our suffering isn’t a sign of God’s disapproval; our suffering simply tells us God is working in our lives – “after you have suffered a while…” As Paul wrote to Timothy, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim 3:12), we can be assured that in the same way all who desire to follow Christ will suffer through the attacks of our enemy. But at the same time, we know that God will use these things for His glory & for our good.
__a. There’s a flip side to this that ought to encourage us: our suffering is but for “a while.” There is no permanent suffering for a Christian. To the born-again believer in Jesus Christ, ALL suffering is limited to this life alone…in everlasting eternity as eon stretches upon eon, we will live forever with our Lord & Savior apart from suffering!
__b. For those who reject Christ, their suffering only begins in this life… God loves you & would spare you from that fate! That’s one reason He sent His own Son to die in your place on the cross…
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11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

A. Amen & amen! Jesus is worthy of the glory… Jesus is worthy of the dominion…
B. One day we’ll join in the mighty chorus of creation singing praises to His name regarding these very things!
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12 By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand. 13 She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

A. Final greetings. Silas (Silvanus) was Peter’s scribe for the letter…served as the 2nd witness to the truth of the doctrine in the letter (“by 2-3 witnesses every word will be established…”). Peter seems to have been in Rome by this point – this was the church “in Babylon.” Mark was likely John Mark who had been mentored by Barnabas & restored to Paul – now serving with Peter. The Gospel of Mark is actually thought to be Peter’s testimony – Mark recorded what Peter taught word-for-word.

B. Stand in grace…remain steadfast in the faith that we are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ to the glory of God.

C. Live in peace…with each other, with all men, and with God.

Conclusion:
Peter’s final instructions to the church turn to church life in miniature. Peter addresses pastors relating to churches, churches relating to one another, and the church’s fight against our enemy.

A. To pastors: lead well…ultimately we serve Christ.
B. To people: be humble…trusting God for our provision & exaltation.
C. To all: be prepared…we have an adversary who wants us dead. Our power & strength comes not from ourselves, but from the Lord!

In all of this, Peter underscores how utterly dependent we are about the grace of Jesus Christ. His grace is foundational to all of this! Pastors will never properly serve their congregations if they’re not serving Jesus (nor parents with their home, or whomever). We will never submit to one another if we are not 1st submitted to Christ… We certainly will never resist the devil in our own strength; we must be strengthened & established by the Lord Jesus.

How dependent are you upon Christ? Do you understand your dependency? Beware of pride when it comes to your walk with God…it’ll cause you to fail every time. Pride will cause you to trip up as an example to others. Pride will stop you from submitting to the rest of the church. Pride will take you straight into the traps of the enemy. If pride’s been your stumbling block, cast yourself upon Christ – ask for Jesus’ help to crucify your pride & help understand your dependence upon Him. God gives grace to the humble – so humble yourself before Him & receive of His grace.

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