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Christian Freedom - Part 4

Good Morning Beloved,

I am so blessed, it is an honor and privilege
to be here, sharing the Word of God with you
Thank you for allowing me to do what I love

Heavenly Father,

Thank You, thank You for this time together today,
for the testimony of Christ who brings everything into such bold relief.
How we love Him. We honor His name.  Help us, O God, to follow His example.
May we give through our lives, strong testimony to His power.
Lead us, so that we live on a different plane, that little in this world would concern us
that we would trust ourselves to You and wait, patiently, for Your eternal blessing.
Make us submissive, as You have instructed us, and be motivated in doing so,because it pleases You following the foot steps of Your Son, Jesus Christ.
In His precious name we pray

"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 4

As we continue our study on 1 Peter chapter 2, as I previously stated, it is my prayer, that after we've finished our study, we will all come to know and understand, these very practical insights as to how we are expected to conduct ourselves, in the society in which we live. Which, as you already are aware, isn't always friendly toward Christians. But nonetheless, we are to peacefully summit to those
in authority over us.

Now, let's pick up where we left off, in the story of David and Saul. Turn with me to chapter 24, I Samuel chapter 24.

So, now Saul comes after David. "When Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the wilderness near En-gedi.” So Saul took 3,000 of Israel’s choice men and went to look for David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. When Saul came to the sheep pens along the road, a cave was there, and he went in to relieve himself. David and his men were staying in the back of the cave, so they said to him, “Look, this is the day the Lord told you about: ‘I will hand your enemy over to you so you can do to him whatever you desire.’” Then David got up and secretly cut off the corner of Saul’s robe." Down by the Dead Sea,  David is in the wilderness near En-gedi. David's men are saying: Can you believe this?  Here is the man trying to kill you, here is the man whose throne you are to take and the whole idea was let's kill him. Here he is in a very compromising situation.  David's conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul's robe. Now that is a conscience, beloved.  He was bothered that he had done that.

"He said to his men, “I swear before the Lord: I would never do such a thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed. I will never lift my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.” With these words David persuaded his men, and he did not let them rise up against Saul. Then Saul left the cave and went on his way. After that, David got up, went out of the cave, and called to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed to the ground in homage.  David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of people who say, ‘Look, David intends to harm you’?  You can see with your own eyes that the Lord handed you over to me today in the cave. Someone advised me to kill you, but Itook pity on you and said: I won’t lift my hand against my lord, since he is the Lord’s anointed.  See, my father! Look at the corner of your robe in my hand, for I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. Look and recognize that there is no evil or rebellion in me. I haven’t sinned against you even though you are hunting me down to take my life."

And now we're at verse 12 and following, "May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord take vengeance on you for me, but my hand will never be against you.  As the old proverb says, ‘Wickedness comes from wicked people.’ My hand will never be against you.  Who has the king of Israel come after? What are you chasing after? A dead dog? A flea?  May the Lord be judge and decide between you and me. May He take notice and plead my case and deliver me from you.”

Are you getting this? Now turn to chapter 26. "Then David asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, “Who will go with me into the camp to Saul?”
“I’ll go with you,” answered Abishai. That night, David and Abishai came to the troops, and Saul was lying there asleep in the inner circle of the camp with his spear stuck in the ground by his head. Abner and the troops were lying around him.  Then Abishai said to David, “Today God has handed your enemy over to you. Let me thrust the spear through him into the ground just once. I won’t have to strike him twice!”
But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him, for who can lift a hand against the Lord’s anointed and be blameless?”  David added, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will certainly strike him down: either his day will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish.  However, because of the Lord, I will never lift my hand against the Lord’s anointed. Instead, take the spear and the water jug by his head, and let’s go. So David took the spear and the water jug by Saul’s head, and they went their way. No one saw them, no one knew, and no one woke up; they all remained asleep because a deep sleep from the Lord came over them. " Isn't that unbelievable? Beloved, that's amazing.

Now, keep all of this in mind, as we turn back to I Peter. OK, so you ask what is the point to all of that and what does it have to do with our study? Hold on, and I'll explain it: So, here is David, who is mistreated, here is a man whose life was continually threatened, here is a man not because of any crime that he committed in complete injustice, inequity, and unfairness, who is being pursued by a wicked man who occupies a throne which he is no longer entitled to, he does not deserve and a throne which that man does deserve, here is a man who for a year and a half is a fugitive in the wilderness who has the right to be king of the nation, but here is a man who will not rebel, who will not take matters into his own hands, but he waits patiently for the Lord to work, who says the Lord will avenge me, the Lord will take care of Saul, I will not take that into my own hands, I will respect his position, I will respect his authority, I will bow my knee to him, I will not rebel.  What a model.  Talk about rights.  He had the greatest right of all, to be king.  Our fallen nature makes us want to fight back, want to demand our rights, to strike against authorities, to protest, to complain, to be insubordinate, to be unsubmissive, but that is sin.  And the proper response would be the response of David, the response of simply committing oneself to the Lord for the care of the Lord.

Beloved, we are never to take our own revenge.  The Lord will do that. And we must allow Him to do it, or we are going to deal with Him. Turn to Romans chapter 12, verse 16 and following, this will tie it all together for you. "Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.  Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord.  But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good."

I really pray that you're all getting the point of this message. Listen, to me,  if you're a child of the Lord and you're the Lord's anointed, believe me, there is no one who will get away with any abuse of you.  Remember what Jesus said in Luke 6? "If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil.  Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful." 

Beloved, do you even understand what our Lord is saying here? In other words, it's nothing to be kind to those who are kind to you, anyone can do that, it's everything to be kind to those who are not. Because only those who are in Christ are willing to do that. Can't you see it? We aren't supposed to be like those who are in the world, seeking revenge upon those who would offend us. We are called to do good, to them, and Jesus tells us, our reward is to come.

Now, the apostle Paul made a very important statement in I Corinthians. Turn with me please to I Corinthians chapter 7. Verses 20-24. "Each person should remain in the life situation in which he was called.  Were you called while a slave? It should not be a concern to you. But if you can become free, by all means take the opportunity. For he who is called by the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called as a free man is Christ’s slave.  You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.  Brothers, each person should remain with God in whatever situation he was called." Paul is telling us, that Christianity doesn't give you a right to protest anything in the social structure.

Now, if you recall, Peter is telling his readers that they are aliens who live above and beyond the world.  And then at the same time we have to be citizens who live in the world, submitting to every human institution.  And we also have to be employees fitting into the social structure and submitting to those who are over us.  And the reason is to silence the critics and to have access to evangelize them for the cause of Christ. 

All that is just background, so let's look specifically at our text.  And I'll give you just a few pointers, very simple and direct, you can see them yourself.  The mandate for submission, point one, the mandate for submission.  “Slaves, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle but also to those who are unreasonable.”  The mandate is very simple, be submissive.

Allow me to just give you the social background. I'm going to give it to you quickly so follow along with my thought here. The dominant social structure in the Roman Empire at the time of the New Testament was slavery. And in  earlier times, there had been few slaves in Rome and slavery began with the Roman conquest.  And as the Romans began to conquer the world, they used their prisoners of war as slaves.  Many slaves were loved.  Many slaves were trusted members of the family.  But in spite of the fact, that some were treated well, others were, however not. In those cases, a slave was not a person.  A slave was considered to be a thing.  They had no legal rights.  So, there was no recourse, there was no lawsuit possible, there was no civil rights appeal, there was nothing that a slave could do. Because, he was not considered to be a person. He or she was, nothing more than a thing with no legal rights.  They had nothing they could call their own.  They owned very little or nothing at all.  There was no justice for them, and they had no court of appeal.  Aristotle writes, "There can be no friendship nor justice toward inanimate things.  Indeed, not even toward a horse or an ox or a slave.  For master and slave have nothing in common," he said, "A slave is a living tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave."  Varro, another writer, divides the instruments of agriculture into three classes: The articulate, the inarticulate and the mute.  The articulate are the slaves, the inarticulate comprise the cattle and the mute are the vehicles.

Paul said, in I Corinthians 1:27-31 "Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. However, if you do get married, you have not sinned, and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But such people will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. And I say this, brothers: The time is limited, so from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none,  those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess,  and those who use the world as though they did not make full use of it. For this world in its current form is passing away."

Then, there was another writer that wrote, "Whatever a master does to a slave undeservedly in anger, willingly, unwillingly, in forgetfulness after cruel thought, knowingly, unknowingly is judgment, justice and law."  So, basically, do whatever you want to them.  There was the dominant factor of life, slavery.  In fact, it's safe to say most Christians were slaves.  "How do we know that?"  Because when the gospel went into the Roman world, Paul writes,  "Not many mighty, God has chosen the poor and the base and the nothings.” That's the slaves."  That is why in the Bible there is so much teaching, particularly the New Testament, addressed at slaves because they were the dominant force in the church.  And these issues were very present and very clear, the potential issue in the church would go something like this. OK, so you're a slave and you become converted to Christ.  Your first thought is, well if I'm free in Christ I ought to be free of this master that I'm serving, so I'm going to leave this current situation I'm in, because I'm free in Christ now. So, you feel that you need to flee from your master.  The assumption is that you have a right to freedom.

Now, then, we encounter the second problem. Let's say you have become a Christian and your master becomes a Christian. He's your master and you are his slave but when you go to church you teach the Bible study and he listens.  Now you have a difficult situation.  Because now in the social structure he's still master, you're still slave. In the church you're an elder and he's not because spiritual gifts have nothing to do with the social structure.  So the church was facing some very difficult situations here.  Although people were spiritually equal, they were not humanly equal.  So do you get that? Not everybody does have equal rights in a society, not if that society is going to function in an equal capacity.  Somebody has got to lead, somebody has got to follow, somebody has got to be in charge, somebody has got to submit. That's the way it goes, and like it or not,  that's the way it has to be.

So some people coming to Christ in slavery would say, I have every right to be free, and want to leave that institution, or I am going rebel against it.  Others would think, well because I'm over him in the church, I ought to be over him here in the estate or the home.  Since there's spiritual equality, there must be equal rights.  Not so. Not Jesus, not Peter and not Paul ever once advocated equal rights, never.  And the early church wasn't concerned about that.  They weren't at all concerned about that.  If you're a slave when you're saved, stay a slave.  Masters and slaves in the church, could get along fine.  You're one in Christ. “In Christ there is neither bond nor free, Jew nor Greek, male nor female,” spiritually speaking, they are all equal.  But when you go back into the social structure, you are to submit. Do you see that?

And guess what? It didn't upset them, because it was the strong conviction of the early Christians that though their fellowship in Christ had brought them into a relationship of equality on the spiritual level it didn't matter to them what the ordinary social structure distinctions were.  That was irrelevant, it was immaterial.  In fact, the New Testament writers and the early church were content with any natural, ethical, social structure, that as long as the spiritual dimension was right, they were good with it.  So Peter is not a social philosopher.  Peter is not a social reformer.  He is not saying, all right, you slaves, now you're all free in Christ, rebel, revolt, sit in, protest, strike. Demand your rights! No.  Instead, he is saying to them in verse 18, "Be submissive to your masters."

The word "servants" or "slaves" here, in the original Greek, was the word oiketeia, basically is the word for household slaves. Most of the slaves were household slaves, they served in some capacity to the home owner, the owner of an estate owner. Whether they were out plowing fields or doing medicine as doctors or whatever, it doesn't matter they did, the point is, they did it for some house owner, land owner, estate owner.  So they're called oiketeia. The word oikeios means house.  Masters is the Greek word despots, from which we get despot. It's a very strong word. It means absolute ownership and uncontrolled power.  So he's really talking about controlling people and submitting people.  And he says to these household slaves, be submissive. That's a present participle, to be continually submissive. And furthermore, do it with the right attitude. Don't grumble or complain, because you are doing it for the Lord's sake.

Now let's look at verse 18, "With all respect,” do you see that? With all respect.  The word used is phobos, from which we get phobias. It means fear, do it with fear.  So what is it that are they fearing?  Well, I believe it's the fear of God, not the fear of man.  Peter is especially concerned about that.  Just look at verse 17, he says, "Fear God."  Back in chapter 1 verse 17, "Conduct yourselves in fear," and there, too, he means the fear of God.  Chapter 3 verses 1 and 2 he says, "even if some disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives."  Again it's fearing God, not man.  Then, in verse 15, which also says that you are to make a defense with gentleness and fear, right there at the end of verse 15.  And in each time he uses the word "fear," he does it about several times, he has in mind, the fear of God. Not man. So he's telling us, we are to be submissive to our masters with all due fear of God.

So why does he keep saying that? I'll tell you why, because God is the One, who has set up the social order, the social structure in the first place. The employee-employer relationship is designed by God.  And so they were to submit to that social order, for safety, for productivity, for the carrying on of the enterprise of human life. Why would you want to do this? Well, keep reading, "And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.  However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil."

"Gentleness and respect” means "mild and virtuous."  The Greek term for “gentle” means reasonable, fair, yielding, ready to forgo rights. It even means be content to take less than is due.  This is a magnanimous, generous, kind, gracious person.  It's easy to submit to that kind of person. But also he says in verse 18, to those who are unreasonable, skolios. You've heard of scoliosis of the spine, curvature.  That's the word. It means bent, crooked, curved, metaphorically perverse, unfair. Unreasonable is a good translation, harsh, hard to deal with, unbending, unkind, ungracious.  But in either case, what are you to do?  Submit. That's what, submit.

In our culture today, we can leave and find another job, right? Well, in that day, in that culture, that wasn't an option.  The master could take your life because you would be a runaway slave.  You remember in the case of Onesimus, who ran away from Philemon, he ran to the city of Rome, ran right into Paul, Paul led him to Christ, sent him right back.  Read Philemon.  Sent Onesimus right back to Philemon.  He said, "Onesimus, you're a Christian, go back to the man who owned you and serve him with all your heart."  And then he wrote that marvelous little epistle to Philemon, says, "Accept Onesimus back, he's become a Christian, I send him back with love.  If he owes you anything, put it on my account."  And Paul upheld that the slave was to submit to his owner, even though the owner and the slave were both brothers in Christ.  The system stands.

In Closing...

And so is in place and the system stands. So in any case, whatever kind of boss you have, you are to submit.  "Well now what if my boss is mean?"  Look, if you trust God, and I presume that you do, right? God will take care of your boss. Just like David said. By the way, Scripture condemns the oppression of slaves. Deuteronomy16, 23:15 and  Leviticus 25:39 to 43, very clearly shows, and there's more by the way, that God condemns the oppression of slaves.  God even instituted a seven-year release of the slaves and then the 50 year release of the slaves. But God never once did not condemn people working for other people.  And He did call us to submission.

Then, in Ephesians 6 and verse 5, "Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling," again fear of God because God has established this social order, "in the sincerity of your heart as to Christ." Do you understand what he's saying here? Wow! What a statement. He's saying is you should serve your master as if you were serving Christ. Whom? Christ!
That's a powerful statement, isn't it? Isn't it? Paul there is reinforcing what Peter says.  We're to do it in the right attitude, sincerity of heart, as if we were serving Christ.  The mandate then: No demonstrations, No walk-outs, no strikes, No hold-outs, No protests, No mutiny, just submission, submission with a right attitude. And why do this? Here's the answer, right here in verse 15: "For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good." Need more reasons? OK, 
verse 21: "For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example,
so that you should follow in His steps."

Beloved, I'll leave you with this thought from verses 19 and 20, "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."

So what does God expect from Christians in the workplace? To submit, with fear and trembling, that is, fearing God's chastening on you if you don't do it with a right attitude. That's what God expects.
And what is the right attitude? Ephesians 6:6, "Doing the will of God from the heart." 

We make a profound statement to the world, when we respond in a godly way to ungodly treatment.

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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Brian Monzon Ministries

The Brian Monzon Ministries



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