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Christian Freedom - Part 3

Good Morning Beloved,

Thank you all for joining us.
I'm glad you're here.

Heavenly Father,

We thank You for this portion of Scripture 
we also thank You for those who literally put their lives
on the line for us to study instruction as these. We thank You 
for those in authority, those who take part in the ministry which You 
have ordained for civil order, even though we do not always agree with their decisions
Father, we would just pray, for their relationship with You, that they would know You,
the One true God, through Jesus Christ Your Son, that they would know the God whose institution they are upholding, that they would know Him personally, intimately through faith in Jesus Christ. 
Father, I pray, Lord, that they might come to the recognition of their own sin, abuses in authority
and the sacrifice of Christ as their Savior and accept Your plan for forgiveness. They would know that He gives forgiveness and embrace Him as Lord and Savior, and come to know You and they would enter into that eternal life which You give to all who put their faith in Your Son.

Lord, I also pray that we would all respect their authority, even when we disagree with it and we thank You for Your Word that speaks to all these issues of life we face and for the treasure it is to all of us.
We pray things in Christs' name

"Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. For it brings favor if, mindful of God’s will, someone endures grief from suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if you sin and are punished, and you endure it? But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God. For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps."
I Peter 2:18-21

Today's Message: Christian Freedom - Part 3

You will recall, we have been studying I Peter 2, specifically, our focus has been on verses 11-17. As we continue our study of I Peter, today we will be moving forward in our study focusing on verses 18-21. The overall theme is about how we as believers are to live in order to eliminate criticism, how we are to live in order to eliminate the criticism that the world wants to throw at us. The key statement here, we have already read, is in verse 15. It says, "For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good." It is just amazing how those who would criticize Christianity are silenced by a righteous life. Beloved, this is the greatest platform and foundation for our evangelistic ministry. The life that you and I live is extremely crucial, as to the effectiveness of our message.

As we continue in our study, I would just like to point out, how blessed we are to be sitting at the feet of Peter, that beloved apostle of Christ. We don't have the opportunity to do that very often.  Peter, although he is a key figure in the gospels, he did not write as much as the others, there are just these two brief epistles. And so it is a very special privilege for us to be able to spend this time studying these wonderful letters that the Spirit of God has drawn out of the heart of this great man. And anyone who has walked with the Lord for any length of time and who has studied the Bible extensively, would likely also have a special affection for Peter. So, as we begin our study today, I don't want us to forget who it is that is our teacher, as we begin to examine more closely this text.

Beloved, it is my prayer, that after our study, we come to know and understand, these very practical insights into the society in which we live. In general, as I have tried to assess the culture in which we all live today and we do that all the time, I have come to the conclusion that the only sacred value that our society upholds, and as such, the only real pervasive moral obligation is equal rights. That's essentially our only morality. We don't have any sexual morality. We don't have any ethical morality. And our society certainly doesn't have any spiritual standards. In our world today, we seem to know very little about family values, true friendship values. We don't seem to comprehend the true meaning of love, or compassion. The truth is, that we really don't seem to understand relationships at all and we do not cultivate and nurture those relationships, with a carefully thought out sense of values and morals.

Beloved, we are therefore, left with a culture, that would be the pervasive moral, ethical statement of equal rights. That has become huge in our society, our culture. Equal rights. And I suppose, the new cultural morality, is the morality of equal rights. Everybody has rights in our society. Nobody talks about sacrifice, nobody talks about privileges and respect for others, and certainly, nobody today, wants to talk about God. Yet everybody talks about rights. Everybody is into their particular groups rights. We seem to have more rights than governing rules. We have women's rights, we have children's rights, we have gay rights. We even have the rights of those who have HIV/AIDS. We have ethnic rights. We have illegal immigrants' rights. We have students' rights. We have criminals' rights. Muslim rights. Conceal carry rights. Freedom of speech rights, with no apparent regard for what we say or whom it offends. And then we have employees' rights. We even have the rights of the homeless and the rights of the unemployed, abortion rights, and let's be honest, the list literally goes on, and on, and on.  Everybody has rights and everyone is into their rights. Yet the rights of Christians, those of us, who would uphold biblical morals and standards, seem to be losing our rights.

We have select government officials, who have suggested, that churches should be permanently shut down. We have preachers, who teach everything, with regard to modern philosophy, and self-care, but refrain from teaching sound doctrine, deeming is culturally irrelevant. And we have so called Christians, who conduct themselves, just as poorly as the society they condemn.

And, if you don't get the rights that you think is due you, then you now have the right to take it out on the society and whatever governing authority that is over you. Strikes, protests, demonstrations, insurrections, rebellions against governments, against companies, walk outs, have all common place occurrences in our society. People have the right to rebel against those in who are in a position of authority, who they believe aren't giving them what they think they have a right to. And the underlying mentality is this: Everybody is equal, I have a right to everything and if you don't give me what I have a right to, then I will rebel against it, I will fight back, I will lead a mutiny against you, and I will harass you, every way possible, including but not limited to publicly, just to get my rights. I will protest. I will damage your property, I will do whatever it takes, because it's my right. I want what is my right. And you do not have the right to withhold my rights from me. In summary all of this, outbursts of rebellion, mutiny, protests and strike are now simply a part of our society. It is a means for gaining instant gratification for those who demand their rights in the social structure. We now have a society conditioned to rebellion, to selfishness, and protest, whether passive or active.

So, that now brings us to our study, how should Christian respond to all of this? What should be our response to a protest? A protest rally against a company, who upholds the biblical standards, which stands against society in one form or another. What should we do? How should we act in the face of all of this.

Beloved, I believe Peter gives us the answer.. For some of you this may be very practical. And if you have not previously dealt with any of these issues, it's very possible that you will. Certainly we are all to one degree or another, impacted by one or more of these issues in our society today.

I believe, the instruction that comes to us in this Scripture is very practical, more practical to us today, perhaps more than in many other cultures where these kinds of things do not happen, or occur as frequently. Peters' message is basically says is summed up in a single verse. Verse 18, "Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel." 

I find it utterly amazing how Almighty God authoritatively can take the immense complexity and corruption of social system construct and reduce it the proper conduct to one simple sentence, which is exactly what He does. Certainly the issue of insurrection, of rebellion, of protest, of sit-ins and walk-outs and strikes have been debated ad infinitum, and nauseam. There have been committees, boards, groups, panels, discussions, books and yet it can all be reduced to one statement: "Submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel." Only God can manage to do that. 

Now, however, that runs against the grain of the world today. But it is consistent with what we have already learned in the text. Back in verse 13-15, where Peter said, "Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good." We as Christians, are called, as you may remember, to submit to the government. Here we are called to submit to those who are over us, those who are our bosses, those in authority over us for whom we work.

Back in verses 11 and 12 Peter identified us as Christians as aliens. We are strangers, he says, and we are aliens in this culture. We are different, we really don't belong here, we live our lives at another level, we are in the heavenlies. But even though we are aliens and we belong to another society and another world and are citizens of a heavenly kingdom, we still must function, in this current society, as long as we're in the flesh, as citizens. So in to verse 13 he discusses this matter of citizens. And he said, we are to submit to every human institution. And now he takes it a step further and moves from citizens to employees. The word "slaves" has to do with the role of employees. As citizens we are to submit to the government that is over us, ordained by God for safety and protection of mankind. And, we are to submit for the Lord's sake.

I'm sure you are aware, that he key verse of the whole passage, "For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good." When we live the way God calls us to live in society we silence those who criticize Christianity and who criticize the Lord. We silence those who criticize our faith, because we live such good, noble, ethical lives in the society that they have nothing left which they can criticize us for. So to silence the critics of the faith so that the furtherance of the gospel may go out, and to even be convincing to the critics, we are to live a very particular, righteous kind of life, one that seems to be unknown in our world today. And let's be honest, in living that life there is no place for rebellious upheaval against the government, against our employer, or our fellow man, there is no place for asserting our rights. Do we understand that? Because that is what he's saying. It's not our concern to have rights in this world, it is our concern to be obedient and be submissive first to God, and then to the authorities in this world. We will inherit all of our rights, our privileges in the world to come; because there is no place for rebellious conduct in the life of a "True Christian." Which, I am sad to say, would exclude many of the self-proclaimed Christians, we now see in the world today. Those who would profess Christianity in name, yet do not uphold its standards.

Allow me to further illustrate this to you in what I believe, is a special way, by turning to the Old Testament to 1 Samuel chapter 16, and I want to talk a little bit about David, because David provides for us a fairly graphic illustration of the right kind of attitude. And I think you'll find this fascinating as we examine David's life.

Now in I Samuel chapter 16 we read this in verse 1, "The Lord said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected a king from his sons." God says to Samuel, I have rejected Saul, so he will no longer be king, that, of course, because of his disobedience to God and his false kind of worship. He actually tried to function as a priest and invaded the office of priest and there would never come out of his loins another ruler again, God said. So Saul himself was rejected, now Samuel was acting strangely about the whole thing. And God says to him, "How long will you grieve over Saul?" It was apparent, that rejection of Saul from being king was painful to Samuel because he had become personally attached to Saul and because he knew a change of dynasties could bring about civil war, which would even further the weakness of the nation of Israel. But, God wasn't pleased with Samuel's pining grief. It was excessive and God says, so how long you going to do that?

By the way, grief I suppose to most of us seems sacred, and when we see someone grieve, we are somewhat reluctant to say anything about it because it almost a sacred thing. But grief, even though we may perceive of it as an almost holy emotion, can be excessive. It can take on the darkness of sin. It can be so excessive that God will chasten it because, excessive grief is evidence of a lack of trust in God. It shuts God of the equation and it questions God's Sovereignty and it questions God's wisdom, and it questions God's love for us. And that's where we find Samuel. By way of his excessive grief, he was questioning the wisdom of what God was doing, he was questioning the Sovereign decisions of God. And so God says, to him, stop this grief, fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons. Who selected the last king? Who selected Saul? The people. And what was their criteria? He was taller and apparently more handsome than every one else, literally a popularity contest. So God says I will reject their choice and choose one for Myself.

Beloved, this begins, in biblical history, a magnificent period in God's plan of redemption. The one whom God selected was none other than a man, who was named David. David, the least likely of all of the children of Jesse, David is the one, God has chosen. Turn with me to the 16th chapter to verse 11 and following, "Samuel asked him, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” he answered, “but right now he’s tending the sheep.” Samuel told Jesse, “Send for him. We won’t sit down to eat until he gets here.” So Jesse sent for him. He had beautiful eyes and a healthy, handsome appearance. Then the Lord said, “Anoint him, for he is the one.” not thinking, of course, that Samuel would be interested in his youngest son, Jesse had left him with his flocks.  And then we find this, "He was ruddy with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance." This was the man. He was handsome. He was ruddy, that is manly, masculine, tanned, if you will, and had beautiful eyes. "And the Lord said, ‘Arise, anoint him, for this is he.’" 

Now, I have heard it said, "Didn't God choose David by the same criteria as the people chose Saul?" Well, yes and no. He chose the most handsome of all of Jesse's sons but it just so happened, He also chose one who had the potential to have the greatest character of all, as evidenced by the tremendous legacy which David left us in the Psalms. "So Samuel took the horn of oil, anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of the Lord took control of David from that day forward. Then Samuel set out and went to Ramah." He had the Spirit of God upon him. "Now the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul, and an evil spirit sent from the Lord began to torment him" God allowed him to be terrorized by a demon. To be sure I make this clear, it wasn't that the Lord sent the demon. It is, however, that the Lord permitted and actually in a sense I suppose dispatched that demon to terrorize that wicked man. And we see in verse 15, that everyone obviously recognized it, "so Saul’s servants said to him, “You see that an evil spirit from God is tormenting you."

David is anointed, David then has a right to reign, David is the new king and Saul has been cast aside. This doesn't set too well with Saul, obviously. He is very angry over this. Let's look at chapter 17 verse 55 and following, "When Saul had seen David going out to confront the Philistine, he asked Abner the commander of the army, “Whose son is this youth, Abner?” “My king, as surely as you live, I don’t know,” Abner replied. The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is!” When David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the Philistine’s head still in his hand. Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” “The son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem,” David answered."

Now turn to chapter 18, "When David had finished speaking with Saul, Jonathan committed himself to David, and loved him as much as he loved himself. Saul kept David with him from that day on and did not let him return to his father’s house. Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as much as himself.  Then Jonathan removed the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his military tunic, his sword, his bow, and his belt." This is very important. David is a powerful warrior, so Saul is begins to resent and hate David. Jonathan becomes part of God's plan to protect David from the murderous intentions of Saul.

Now, pay attention to this, "David marched out with the army and was successful in everything Saul sent him to do. Saul put him in command of the soldiers, which pleased all the people and Saul’s servants as well. As the troops were coming back, when David was returning from killing the Philistine, the women came out from all the cities of Israel to meet King Saul, singing and dancing with tambourines, with shouts of joy, and with three-stringed instruments. As they celebrated, the women sang: Saul has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands." And as we can all imagine, this did not sit well with Saul, he became furious. This was all very displeasing to him." Saul was furious and resented this song. “They credited tens of thousands to David,” he complained, “but they only credited me with thousands. What more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul watched David jealously from that day forward." We can just imagine Saul's thoughts, "David had the good looks, he had all the power, he had great ability as a warrior, now the women were singing about him, what else is there but the kingdom?" So the next day when the evil spirit, we see in the next verse, he plans to kill David. "The next day an evil spirit sent from God took control of Saul, and he began to rave inside the palace. David was playing the lyre as usual, but Saul was holding a spear, and he threw it, thinking, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David got away from him twice. Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had left Saul. Therefore, Saul reassigned David and made him commander over 1,000 men. David led the troops and continued to be successful in all his activities because the Lord was with him."

Now, you might think things couldn't get worse for Saul, right? Wrong! Let's look at verse 28, "Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved him, and he became even more afraid of David. As a result, Saul was David’s enemy from then on." I mean, isn't that icing on the cake? This guy you despise and you learn that your daughter loves him?

Then in chapter 19, we can find that Saul tells Jonathan, his son, and all his servants to put David to death. But Jonathan, Saul's son, cared greatly for David, so Jonathan told David saying, ‘Saul, my father, is seeking to put you to death, therefore please be on guard in the morning and stay in a secret place and hide yourself. And you'll remember there's a wonderful story about how Jonathan warned David. There is even a wonderful occasion that Michal allowed David to escape, you remember, and put a false body in the bed to spare David. So the children of Saul did all they could to save David.

Then again in verses 9-14, "Now an evil spirit sent from the Lord came on Saul as he was sitting in his palace holding a spear. David was playing the lyre, and Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear. As the spear struck the wall, David eluded Saul, ran away, and escaped that night. Saul sent agents to David’s house to watch for him and kill him in the morning. But his wife Michal warned David, “If you don’t escape tonight, you will be dead tomorrow!” So she lowered David from the window, and he fled and escaped. Then Michal took the household idol and put it on the bed, placed some goat hair on its head, and covered it with a garment. When Saul sent agents to seize David, Michal said, “He’s sick."

Now, in following the details of this story, you may have perhaps forgotten one very critical issue..
David has been anointed king. David has the right and the power to rule over the nation. Saul, this wicked, dispossessed man, who has been given an evil spirit is trying to take his life. Now you would assume that at some point in time David would start to cry out for his rights. From this point on, chapter 19, where he has to escape a third time, David becomes a fugitive. So, now, let's pick up the story in chapter 23, most interesting. David is a fugitive, for a year and a half, a year and a half he's wandering around, hiding. Verse 15 and following, "David was in the Wilderness of Ziph in Horesh when he saw that Saul had come out to take his life. Then Saul’s son Jonathan came to David in Horesh and encouraged him in his faith in God, saying, “Don’t be afraid, for my father Saul will never lay a hand on you. You yourself will be king over Israel, and I’ll be your second-in-command. Even my father Saul knows it is true.” Then the two of them made a covenant in the Lord’s presence. Afterward, David remained in Horesh, while Jonathan went home." Saul is after him, Saul wants to kill him, and David, who has been anointed king is hiding.

In Closing...

I'd like to introduce a thought into your life, perhaps you are having some issues, with an employer or person in authority over you. It just might not have anything to do with your spiritual activities, it simply be God chastening you, maybe you're a disgruntled, complaining worker, now before you react to this, think about it for a moment. I know from personal experience, yes, I know, it's difficult to wrap your mind around that though, isn't it? That, I pastor Brian, could have had, at times, a wrong attitude, but it's true. and let me just say, that if you have the wrong attitude, God will chasten you. He doesn't care what your title or position is.  Ephesians instructs us to do it with fear and trembling, so if you haven't a healthy fear for the Lord. Just think about that.

We'll pick this up again, tomorrow, and see how far we get in our study. I hope you are as excited to hear about it as I am to teach it.

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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