Saturday, January 30, 2010

Living in True Freedom

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men — as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 2:13-17)
The first line can also be translated, as Young’s Literal Translation has it, “Be subject, then, to every human creation,” or even as “every human creature” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, p. 233). That would, of course, include every governing authority, but maybe Peter has something much bigger in mind than just those authorities. If we are to submit to “every human creature,” then Peter levels the playing field: Yes, we are to submit ourselves to kings and governors, but more than that, we are to understand that we are here for the sake of everyone, not just rulers. We are here to serve whoever we come across.

Jesus the Messiah is King over all, but God has allowed governments and authorities to be instituted by men. Their rightful purpose, in God’s plan, is to punish those who do evil and commend those who do good. We are to submit to those institutions and ordinances, but only in doing good, never in doing evil.

The Greek word used for “doing good,” agathapoieo, includes moral virtue, but refers, more specifically, to doing what benefits others. Not just for those who do good things for us, but as Jesus taught, “Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return” (Luke 6:35). It is the good that flows from love. The apostle John said, “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God” (3 John 11). Just as God loved the world and gave His Son (John 3:16), and Jesus came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), we are called to love and serve others. It is this kind of selfless giving that will help clear up misapprehensions about who we are and silence our critics.

As servants of God, we are free from everything else. However, God does not give us this freedom as a license to do evil but as the liberty to do good. Paul said, “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11). Once we were in bondage to sin and our own base desires. Now we are free in Jesus the Messiah, and it is in loving God and serving others that we truly experience our freedom. Peter summarizes it this way:
  • Honor all people. We are to treat everyone with dignity and respect.
  • Love the brotherhood. We are to love, in particular, our brothers and sisters in the faith. Paul said, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
  • Fear God. We are to live in awe, respect and love for God. This will be evident in how we treat others. John said, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20).
  • Honor the king. Jesus said, ““Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). The king is to be honored, but God alone is to be feared.

Keeping the Faith When Things Get Tough
Keeping the Faith When Things Get Tough
Peter’s Letter to Jesus Believers Scattered Everywhere
Bite-Sized Studies Through First Peter
by Jeff Doles

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