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Redemption and The Work of our Hands (Vol 23) - Work as service #2

Sunday English Service - 22 APR 18


Alright, let’s turn to 1 Peter chapter 2. We’ve been teaching on the subject of work. We first talked about why work. We showed you how God has made us, created us in that way. He Himself works six days and rests on the seventh day, the Bible says. And He has made us in His image and likeness, that’s why we work. We work because God has got a vision for this world and we are working to bring to pass that vision that God has. We work for God’s glory. We work to show forth God’s glory. And when we work like that, we get a great deal of satisfaction and sense of fulfillment from that kind of work. And God is glorified through that. And God’s purposes are fulfilled. Now these are some of the reasons that I showed you for why we work. Now, after that we began to look at why work is difficult. That’s a very important subject because God gave work as a thing that brings great pleasure, fulfillment, and joy, full of meaning and purpose but sin made work difficult, brought a curse upon work. This very important aspect of our life came under the influence of sin and the fall and became a burden to us where we’ve got into a place where we had to eat out of the sweat of our brow, as the Bible says. So difficulty in work is as a result of sin and we talked about that.

Now, we’re in the third part of this teaching where we’re talking about redemption and the work of our hands. See, Jesus came 2,000 years ago to redeem us. And to redeem us means to bring us back to the position that God has wanted us always. You see sin touched every area of our life. Sin is such an evil thing. It did not leave even one area out. It touched every area of our life, our spirit, our soul, our body. Every aspect of our being, inwardly, it touched. We are messed up inside because of sin. Our thinking is messed up. Our feelings are messed up. Our whole life is messed up in every way, you know, to state that at the least. And not only our inward life is messed up, our world is messed up. Our relationship with others is messed up and the total life of mankind is messed up through sin. And therefore, salvation is not something that just saves you and gets you forgiveness of sin and takes you to heaven. It is much more than that since sin touched every area of your life, salvation also is meant to touch and change and make an impact upon every area of your life. Otherwise it’s not real salvation. So we’ve been looking at this, how redemption impacts work and what kind of changes must happen as a result of work. So, I want to continue with what I started last week. Last week I talked about how work must be done as a service, how we must be servants at work, you know. And I want to continue that today.

One of things that you often hear Christian people say is that our spiritual life is just a private matter, ought to be a private matter, and it is not something to be made public, you know. And I think a lot of people believe that, you know, leave your religion at home. Leave your spirituality at home. When you go to work, just work, leave your spirituality or religion at home. I can understand why some of them said it, because some Christians have gone to the extreme. They go to the work like this, you know, and they pray there, they read the Bible there, and they do all their spiritual activities there. They want to do it in public. They want to be a public Christian. So, that’s not a good idea because they’re not paying you to read your Bible and pray there and preach there. So that’s not a good idea and that is why others have said, “No, keep it outside of your work. Don’t bring it to work. Don’t involve that with your work, you know.” I can understand why they’re saying that, because of this kind of activity. But, really, your spiritual life is not just a private matter like people say. It’s a public matter because you and your spiritual life are so one, I mean spiritual life is such a part of your life, you cannot separate the two. If you separate the two, you’ll have to be like two persons, you know. While I’m preaching here I’ve got to be a spiritual person, when I go home, I’ve got to be a different person. When I go to work I’ve got to be yet another person. That is not possible, you’re one person. You have a spiritual side to you. It is very much a part of you. You cannot separate the two. So our faith or our spiritual life is a real part of us, therefore, it cannot be separated. It comes with us wherever we go, it stays with 24 hours of the day. And wherever we go, even to work and other places, it is there. But how do we carry it? How do we carry it and how do we live with it, is another matter and that is what we’re going to deal with it. How do you take your faith with you everywhere you go, especially when you work? How do you go there as a Christian and work as a Christian?

See, there are 168 hours a week, and out of that you sleep 8 hours daily and that  leaves you 112 hours. And out of the 112 hours, at least 40 hours or 35% of the 112 hours, is spent in work. 35% to 40% of your waking time, you spend it in work. So it’s a very major thing in our life. It takes a major chunk of our life. And if you ask the people, how is their spiritual life connected to work? What is the relationship between their spiritual life and work? If you ask this question… I think a lot of Christians will be dumbfounded, they won’t be able to give you a ready answer. But the thing is, when you are able to give a ready answer, I think will become very meaningful, very purposeful, very joyful. And it is so important, that is why that we must understand what the relationship between our spiritual life and our work. How we carry ourselves as God’s children, as born again, redeemed people at work. It’s so important how we apply our spiritual life to our work.

So, I’m going to go to a passage in 1 Peter chapter 2. This is a very similar passage to the passage that we read and studied last week. Ephesians chapter 6 verse 5 to 9 is what we studied last week, and this is quite a similar passage. And Peter is a very good source for this kind of information, you know. Not only because he was a disciple of Jesus and has been with Jesus and learnt from Jesus, and therefore he has a lot to say about this. But also, because he was a commercial fisherman. Now, to be a commercial fisherman means that you are a hard worker. Commercial fishing, we see in our town there’s a big fisherman community. They’re very hard-working people, it’s not a very easy job. And Peter was into that profession. He did it not as a hobby, but as a profession. He was a fisherman. And he understands what work means in the world and he understands what working hard means. And he learned from Jesus certain things that changed his whole view of life and work.

Now, John says for example, in his gospel if you remember, all the things that Jesus said and did, we’re not able to write, he says, because books cannot hold them. There’s so much that Jesus did. In three and a half years he has done and said so much. He must have taught a lot. But he says there’s no place to write them all, we’re just writing a brief gospel, he says. So there must be a whole lot more to it. And if you ever wonder what the whole lot more is all about, you need to read Peter and John and these guys that have been with Jesus. What they write to the church in the form of this epistles, has a lot to do with what they learned from Jesus, the things that they are talking about. He has taught a lot. And you see what Jesus might have taught when you read these passages from Peter and John and so on.

So, here Peter in chapter 2, talks a lot about work and our relationship with others and so on. And so Jesus must have taught a lot about this and here, I suspect that Peter is taking all of that that he learned from Jesus about all this, and he’s really giving it to the Christian Church and to the Christian people. So let me read to you 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 18 to 25. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience towards God, one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it, if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But, when you do good, and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps. Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth; Who, when he was reviled, did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but committed himself to him who judgeth righteously. Who himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep gone astray; but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Now, we have the same kind of complications here that we faced in Ephesians chapter 6. I told you Ephesians chapter 6, that passage verse 5 to 9 is an awkward passage because it starts with the word bondservants or servants. And if you look at some of the older translations, the English, it will say bondservants or it will say slaves. It is actually referring to slaves because slavery was very common in those days. All kinds of people, from all races and nations, you know, they were enslaved due to various reasons. I talked about some of it. This becomes a very touchy subject. Any time you take this, you have to say something about this because this passage is often misunderstood and Christianity is put down using such passages. People usually point this out and say, “Look at your Christianity, it allows all injustices to go on. It actually promotes it. It talks about slavery, does not condemn it. It seems like it is condoning it. It seems like it’s alright to have slavery. So your Christianity is promoting injustice. How can, you know, you read such a Bible and believe that it’s the word of God?” And so on. They’ll criticize the Bible, they’ll criticize God and for unbelievers, it’s become a big weapon. So you need to keep that in mind because any time you take this passage, people will talk about slavery. Why? Because Christians have used these verses to justify slavery in the past. You know, the 18th and 19th century Christians who had slavery in their countries, have used such passages as this in Ephesians 6, to justify slavery. They said, “Look, slavery is nothing bad, even the Bible talks about it. Actually, Peter says, you know, that when you’re a slave you should be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good masters and the gentle masters, but also to the harsh. Look at that! So slavery is nothing bad.” They will say.

But, you must remember that even in those societies, certain other Christians have criticized that. They said, “You should not use these passages for that, because these passages are not talking about whether slavery is justifiable or not, whether it’s right or wrong to have slavery. That’s not the subject here.” I said certain things about slavery last week. I showed you how there’s a big difference between 18th and 19th slavery in America and England, and the slavery of the Greco-Roman world in the time when these things were written. There was a big difference between the two. Now, even with the difference between the two, the Bible is not saying that that slavery is better than this slavery or anything like that. Slavery is bad. The Bible teaches that everywhere. In the Old Testament God clearly condemned slavery. He says, do not enslave anybody. He tells the Israelites, you were slaves and I delivered you from slavery. I brought you out of slavery. I hate the slavery business. I took you out of it and I brought you out with a mighty hand. So do not enslave anyone, He says. So there is no doubt that the Bible condemns slavery. If you want to talk about that, the Bible clearly condemns slavery. It never condones slavery. And here, you might even say that it indirectly critiques slavery, because he’s talking about the masters being harsh. And later on in later verses, it talks about how God judges righteously. That there is a judgement one day, and that God will judge these people that do these things and so on. So there is an indirect condemnation of it, critique of it, if you want to say it that way. But its purpose is not to critique slavery, its purpose is not to justify or you know, condemn slavery. Its purpose is something else. What is the purpose?

The purpose is this. The Christian Church became a wonderful institution, it had all kinds of people. You know, Ephesians chapter 2 says the middle wall of partition was broken down. The Jews and Gentiles came together, which is an amazing phenomenon in that world. In the Greco-Roman world, it was unthinkable that Jews and Greeks would come together. They would not even drink a glass of water from one another. They would not sit down and eat together, everything was a problem. You remember, Peter went to Cornelius’ house, he begins his sermon apologising saying that normally we don’t have anything to do with you, I should not have come here. I shouldn’t be preaching here, but anyway, I’ve come here because God sent me here. That’s the way he begins his preaching, how do you like it, you know. He’s a preacher, Christian preacher, he’s apologising for being at a Gentile’s house, you know. He’s saying that Jews have nothing to do with Gentiles.

And you see this in many places, in the story of the woman of Samaria. Jesus asks for water and the woman says, you’re a Jew, I’m a Samaritan, why do you ask me? That means they don’t even drink water from one another. There’s such animosity going on between the two. So, in that kind of world where nobody could bring any peace between the two, the Jews and the Gentiles. They were always at odds with one another. And Jews, you know, just looked at the Gentiles as they’re nothing, born to burn in hell. God needs firewood for hell, so that’s why these Gentiles are born, they thought. Salvation is only for the Jews, that’s the way the Jews thought about it. And Gentiles hated the Jews, you know, they called them pigs, you know. And the Jews called them dogs. So they’re calling each other names and they hated on one another. They did not want to get along with one another. That’s the kind of world in which they lived. But when Jesus died and rose again, the Church came together, Holy Spirit was poured out. The Church became a real miraculous phenomenon. The people who received Jesus all of a sudden became one family, Jews and Gentiles. Amazing. They’re sitting together and worshipping and fellowshipping and eating together. And treating one another as brothers and sisters. That’s what the church is, it’s a miraculous thing. The middle wall of partition is gone, something has happened which not even you and another one of these institutions can bring about. Nobody could bring peace between peace between them, there is peace, you know, such peace. That’s what the Church was like.

So the Church had mixture of all kinds of people to the point that they had masters and slaves in the Church. There are people in the Roman world that were slaves but got converted and received Jesus as Lord, they belong to the Church and there were people who were slave owners that are belonging in the Church also. All kinds of categories of people were there, the free and the slaves and all kinds, the Jews and Gentiles, the Greeks and the barbarians and so on. All kinds of people were there in the Church. So Peter is addressing that kind of a church where all kinds of people are there. And so verse 18 begins with the word servants, rightly translated it would be slaves. He’s addressing literally, slaves. And he’s talking to the slaves. Now he’s talking in a particular order, I want you to notice the order.

Now, before that let me say why is he writing? He’s not writing to condone slavery or condemn slavery. His purpose is this, that these people are slaves and there are masters and so on. They live in a world, they’ve become converted Christians. The world is not going to change tomorrow for them, just because they got baptised and joined the Church. The world is not going to all of a sudden become holy and good and so on. The world is going to be the same old evil world with all injustices, with all the evil things going on, you know, same world. Like somebody said, “System is not right.” They said. Yeah, you can say system is not right, you know, all kinds of criticisms can be said about the world in which we live. Nowhere the system is right. Any country, anywhere you take the system is not right. That’s a common complaint. Yeah, there’s a lot of corruption, there’s a lot of evil, there’s a lot of this, that, you can complain all you want. But, because you got converted, you became a Christian, you received Jesus, is the world going to be changed also tomorrow? Is it going to be instantly changed and you’re going to live in a new world? On Monday when you go to work, you’re not going to work under new heaven and new earth. You’re going to work under the same heaven and the same old earth which is defiled by sin and all this corruption. So you’ve got to go to work in this world that is not perfect, that is evil, full of injustices. Everything is wrong with the world, you’ve got to go to work. The slaves have to go to work and the masters have to go to work. They all have to do their business, conduct their lives and run their families, everything in this world yet they are saved, they belong to a heavenly kingdom. They become believers in Jesus Christ.

So Peter is concerned about conveying to them how to live in this world, in this world defiled by sin and the fall, where so many things are imperfect. How to live in this world. He wants to tell the slaves how to live in the world. He wants to tell the masters how to live in the world. He wants to tell the husbands how to live in the world. He wants to tell the wives how to live in this world, because they are changed but the world hasn’t changed. You’ve got to go back into this world and do your business and do your work. So how to do it? In light of the fact that nothing outside has changed, only you have changed, your inside has changed. How do you do it? That is what he’s addressing. That is why he’s talking to the slaves and the masters and so on. This has a lot of application for us also today because we also go to work on Monday. And we are not going to work in a very perfect world just because we’re saved, you know. We are saved, not everyone is saved. We are saved, but the world is the same world. We are saved and we have so many complaints about the world in which we live. How do we work in this world as Christians? How do we carry out Christianity to the work? How do we go and live as a Christian, working in this world? How do you do it? How do you carry yourself as a Christian? How do you take your convictions? How do you take your faith and your beliefs and how do you take your spirituality, your spiritual life to work? That’s what Peter is teaching here.

This passage connects with us very wonderfully. There’s two ways in which it connects with us. One is it agrees, yes, the world has a problem. The world is a problem, that’s why people don’t work. You know in the English speaking world they say, “Work sucks.” Right? You’ve heard that expression, “Work sucks.” It’s not just the hours, it’s the hours plus the people and plus the work. “The whole thing sucks,” they say. They don’t like the job. They don’t like the people they work with and they work too long. That’s a common complaint. And they say, “There’s no use, this world is a useless world. I wish we could just get out of it and we get finished with this, you know, business of working in this world. There is no benefit here.” Now we’re living in a, in so many ways, a better world, I would say, than the 1st century world. Think about it. Think about the difference between the first century world and today. In social structure, it is different. Their social structure at that time was slavery. Now, our social structure is market economy, totally different. You can’t, in those days, those slaves can’t even think about market economy, going and buying, selling, making a profit and doing business. All those things not possible, you know. We’re living in a totally different world. In another way the world has changed now, is different now, we have opportunities now. Just imagine in the old world, in the 1st century, what kind of opportunities the slaves had and the people had. Generally, even the free people, what kind of opportunities can they have if they don’t like the place they work, the job they worked in? Can they simply put up their bio-data online and start looking for another job? Can they just leave here and go to America or something like that? They just can’t. They can’t even go to another town 100 miles away, you know, so difficult. That kind of a world, you didn’t have opportunities. Opportunities were not there. It’s different, today we are so blessed, I think.

Another way it is different, the institutions are different. That world was a Greco-Roman 1st century world. Today, we have modern multinational companies, this is totally different, totally different picture. Even those… there is such a vast difference from the condition of the world in the 1st century, and the condition of the world today. Such a marked difference is there. Still, people are dissatisfied with their jobs. People feel the same way, like they felt in the 1st century. People say the work sucks. Look at the statistics, they say only 30% of the people have any kind of positive attitude about work. And that also in varying degrees. 70% of the people do not like the work they do. They don’t find any satisfaction with it. They hate it. They don’t like it, you know, that’s the way it is. And the Bible connects with us on that because it is talking to the slaves. Here, these verses are talking to the slaved particularly, all of these verses are talking to the slaves, 18 to 25. As to how they should behave as redeemed, saved people in their work. And their work is not a glamorous work, it is not something that you would like to go to work every day. There’s no attraction in it. There is nothing good in it. There is not a great salary to it. There’s nothing good about it. You can have a thousand complaints about it. Just imagine what kind of feeling they would have had as they went to work. They would have hated it. And the Bible talks to them. In that way it connects with us because some of us have the same kind of suffering that we are going through at work and the Bible recognizes the existence of that kind of suffering when it comes to work. And it talks about the toil, the difficulty, the challenges that work involves. So in that way it connects.

Another way it connects with us is that this teaching, this passage has teaching for all Christians concerning redemption and our work, wonderful teaching concerning redemption and our work. That’s why we want to examine this. So let’s look at it from verse 18 to 25. Now, this passage, 18 to 25, and the following passages in chapter 3 are in a particular order. The order is very important. The order speaks about something. They’re in a particular order. They say, I think I pointed that out last week itself. But I want to explain more of it this week. In the Greco-Roman world, in the 1st century, there was what was called a household code. What is a household code? A household in those days did not just consist of husband and wife and two children. Now these days, that’s all it is, you know. There’s no more than just you, your wife, and your two children. So if you come home, you pull in your car in your garage and shut the garage, go into the house and shut the door, nobody can contact you, you know. You are a household. In foreign countries, if you ever knocked on their door, the man will come yelling, “What do you want? Why are you here? Who told you to come here? Why are you knocking on my door?” And it’s become like that here, you know, you’ve got to call and take their permission, “Can we come and see you? Are you free?” You know, because that’s their household, they don’t want to be disturbed. Household consists of a very small unit of husband and wife and a couple of children. But the households in the New Testament times, consisted of a large number of people. The husband, wife, children, and relatives that may be staying with them. And even the servants and so on.

So, I told you about Abraham and his servants, you know. One great Bible teacher estimates it to be around 2,000 people that worked for Abraham, that relied on Abraham, that lived off of Abraham. And just imagine the community that he was heading up. His house was there and 2,000 people sitting around, living around him. That was his household and the Bible says God blessed Abraham because he knew that he will teach his household the things of God. When it mentions household, that he was able to reach about 2,000 people, 2,000 people is his household. So, because the households were generally large, 10, 20, 30 people, big households, household codes were written in those days. Household code tells you how to conduct yourself in that big household. What is each ones’ responsibility? How should a husband behave? How should a wife behave? How should a slave behave and so on. Even a slave is included. Even servants are included as a part of the household. They lived with them, ate with them and so on. They had raised their families with them, bore children there and so on. So, you know, they were told how to behave. It is a list of rules and regulations about what your responsibilities and how you should behave and conduct yourself.

Now, this is also a household code, they say. I told you Ephesians 5 is a household code. And it starts from Ephesians 5:21 goes all the way to 6 to the passage that we studied last week. Here, 1 Peter chapter 2 also is a household code. In this household code, whenever they wrote a household code in the Greco-Roman world, the great philosophers, every one of them wrote household codes, it seems. All of their household codes, they say begins with the master, not with the servant. That’s the difference. They never begin with the servant. Servant is given no importance in their household codes. They begin with the master, tell him how he should behave or the husbands and then the wives, children and so on like it does in Ephesians. And finally, the servants are mentioned but mentioned only indirectly. It never says, “Servants, obey your master.” No, never directly. Why? Because the servants never had any power to decide or determine anything. So what’s the use of telling them? They can’t do anything that you tell them, that’s the concept. The servants are just there, they do what the master says. If you want to tell them anything, just tell it to the master. So whatever they wanted to tell the servants, they will mention the servants but they will not tell anything to the servants, instead of saying, “Servants, be obedient.” They will say, “Masters, make sure your servant is obedient.” Isn’t that an insult? You know, you don’t even consider that person as a person, you know. That’s the way the household codes went. But look at the household code of the Christians.

Here, Peter is writing a household code for the family of God, for the people of God he’s writing a household code. And he begins with the servant, this must have been very surprising to the readers of the 1st century. When Peter wrote it and sent it to the people to read it, they must have read it, at first they must have been shocked because it’s a different kind of household code, it begins with servants. And it addressed them directly, because it says, “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle but also to the harsh.” People must have been thinking, “What in the world is this? How can you tell the servant all these things? He’s not able to do all that. Whatever this man is saying, the servant won’t be able to do that because he doesn’t have any power to determine things. He just does whatever the master wants him to do. So how can you tell him, ‘Not only serve your good and gentle masters but also the harsh ones?’ He can’t decide anything, he simply has to do what the master says. What’s the use of telling him?” That’s the way they would have thought first. They would have been shocked at first. But then, they would have quickly understood that he’s speaking to all the Christians, in his instructions to the servants.

It is not just an instruction to the servants, he’s telling all the Christians, you be like servants. So whatever instruction I’m giving to the servant, I’m giving to all the Christians, it applies to all the Christians. If you don’t believe me, read verse 16 and 17 because it comes in that context. As free… now, in that world there were free people, there were slaves. Now that concept is not there, you know. There, when you looked at a person, you talked about whether he was free or a slave. That mattered. So he says, As free, that means as free people. Yet, not using liberty as a cloak for vice but as bondservants of God. Amazing, he says you are free but don’t use your freedom to do evil, as a cloak for evil. Don’t say, “I’m free, so I can do whatever I want. I’m not a slave, I can do whatever I want.” And do some injustice. You’re free, but don’t use it as a cloak for the vice. He says, But as bondservants of God. Literally, he says, even though you’re free, think of yourself as a slave to God. This is Christian teaching. He’s telling free people, there may be CEOs, regional managers, you know big people, free people and he’s telling them, you’re free, don’t use your freedom as a cloak for evil things. Don’t do evil with your freedom, that’s not why you have freedom. But consider yourself as a bondservant of God. In other words he says, consider yourself as a slave of God. What is a slave of God? What is a slave in this world?

A slave is someone that totally belongs to the master. He doesn’t have his own agenda. He can’t have a schedule in his pocket for today, you know. He can’t say, you know, I’m going here, I’m going to a movie in the afternoon. In the evening I’m going to go sit in the park and talk to my friend or something like that. No, you can’t do that, you can’t decide what you’re going to do. Every day it will be given to you. It will be told to you, you just do whatever the master says. So you don’t have to think anything, you just get up and be available, that’s it. And that too, he will tell you what time he wants you to be available. If he wants you to be available 5 o’clock in the morning, you better get up and be available 5 o’clock in the morning. The master will give you the list of things. You simply do whatever he tells you. When he says, “Come.” You come, when he says, “Go.” You go, when he says, “Do this.” You do it. “Sit down.” You sit. “Get up.” You get up. You just simply do whatever he wills. That’s the understanding of a slave.

So, Peter says, remember, you may be free but consider yourself as a bondservant of God. Consider yourself as a slave. When you’re God’s slave, that means you don’t have your personal agenda. You’re totally given to God and belong to God. You go where He wants you to go, do what he wants you to do, and be what He wants you to be. You accomplish the tasks that He sets for you. You do not have your personal goals, only His goal becomes your goal. His will becomes your will. That is a slave. In that way you become a bond slave of God, he says. In other words he’s looking at all the Christian people and saying not just the slaves are slaves, every Christian is a slave. Not just the slaves are slaves, every Christian is a slave. So he says look at the slave, how he serves you. Look at the slave how he obeys you. Look at the slave how he completely does the will of the master. Every Christian is such a slave to God. So he says, I’m telling the free, he says, you’re free but don’t use your freedom as a cloak for the vice to do evil. But be bondservants of God. And then he says how do you be bondservants? What do you do as bondservants? He says, Honor all people. The free people think they don’t have to honor anybody, they don’t have to respect anybody, they don’t have to listen to anybody, they don’t have to care about anybody, do anything that anybody says. They’re free. But the Bible says, Honor all people. Love the brotherhood, this the master is commanding the slaves. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood.

And then he says, Fear God and honor the king. He even tells how to have a relationship with the government, with those that rule. Honor the king because these are basic things in the society. When people don’t honor those that rule, then it’s very difficult to rule. There’ll be a lack of law and order. You have to honor those who rule. So he says, you can’t say, “I’m free, so I can do whatever.” No, no, no, you’ve got to do these things. Honor everybody, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. And then he says, then only verse 18 comes. Then he says, Servants, be submissive to your masters, with all fear not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. Why does he come to the servants right after that? Because he just got through saying that every Christian is a servant. Now, he wants every Christian to listen to what he says to the servant, why? Because every Christian has to apply these things that he says to the servants, in their lives. That is why this order is important. This idea of understanding the household code is very important. He’s using the servants as a paradigm for all Christians, as a model for all Christians. Christians, look at the slaves, that’s the way you’ve got to be. You’ve got to give that kind of obedience, that kind of devotion to your master. And that is what is right before God, he says.

Alright. Now, let’s go in and look into this a little bit more. Now, the thing is, he wants to revolutionize or re-orient the Christian’s thinking about themselves, their world, and their work and everything. Totally different attitude he wants to bring about. And how does he completely re-orient them with the understanding of themselves and their work? He does it in this way. First of all, he directly addresses the servants like I told you. Directly addresses the servants, that is itself revolutionary. It will give a totally different idea of themselves for the servants. Directly addresses the servants. He says, Servants, be submissive to your masters. He’s speaking to the servants, not indirectly but directly. And by addressing them directly, he treats them as if they are morally responsible agents and they can determine and decide what they will do with regard to their work. How they’re going to react to harshness. How they’re going to react in various situations in their life and in their work. How are they going to react? He’s talking to them in such a way that indicates, “Hey, I’m talking to you because you are able to carry it out. You are able to think. You are able to decide and determine how you’re going to react. You’re treated harshly, you’re treated unjustly, you’re treated very poorly. You have the power to decide and determine.” But actually, they were not free you see. They literally lived in their work, morning to light they just worked and worked and worked. You know, they can’t decide anything. But to such people, he says these things, Be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.

In other words, Peter, by talking like that he means to say, “I’m looking at you. You are a child of God. You have received Jesus as Lord and Savior. You’re a man made in the image and likeness of God, and you have the power to decide how you’re going to react to your situations in this life. You can decide. Are you going to sit and cry about how they’re treating you? Or are you going to have resentment and hatred towards those that are ill-treating you? Or are you going to do it in another way? Are you going to behave like Jesus?” That’s what he comes to here.

So let’s read it again, from verse 18 all the way to 21 and I want to stop there, in the beginning of 21, then you will understand it. He says, Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience towards God, one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it, if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But, when you do good, and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called. For to this you were called. So he tells them to be submissive, and he speaks to them directly because he thinks they have the decision making power. That they can decide this, this aspect of their life they can determine. They can make a decision. They can make a decision to behave like Jesus or behave like just any common sinner. They have a decision to make, how they’re going to react to the harsh words, harsh treatment from their masters. They can decide. He believes they can decide.

Plus, in those days whatever gods the Roman masters were worshipping, naturally, these slaves also followed those gods because even in that matter, you did not have much choice. You simply went along with your boss and arranged everything for his worship and joined with him as he worshipped whichever god he worshipped, you know. That’s the way it was. But these people seem to have exercised their God-given ability to decide who they will worship. In spite of the fact that they work for Roman masters, they’ve decided to follow Jesus Christ. That is significant. Even though they were out there in a world that did not know Christ, these people have become believers in Christ. So Peter is saying, “Hey, you made a decision already to follow Jesus. See, you have the power to decide who you’re going to follow as your God, who you’re going to live for, who you’re going to worship as your God. You’ve made a decision.”

See, you can tie up a man, you can beat a man, you can bring a man under your control, physically, but spiritually, you cannot put him under control. Mentally, you cannot bring him under control. You cannot control what is in his heart. Like, I heard a very interesting story someone told me. Another pastor told me that somebody took a girl to a witchcraft doctor, it seems, and wanted to do something to her. So the witchcraft doctor is a very well-versed guy, very famous guy, he did this and that and everything. And finally, nothing worked. So he looked at the parents, he was not told about her Christian convictions and all that. And he himself said, it seems, “Look, I can’t do anything about this girl because in her heart, she’s worshipping Jesus only. How can I do anything without her cooperation? She has to cooperate a little bit. But in her heart, she’s saying, ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.’ So, I can’t do anything.” It’s an interesting story, you know. They probably tried to control her, do all kinds of things to her, but they couldn’t control what she believed in her heart. What you believe in your heart, nobody can control.

So, these slaves have believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, now they’ve become believers. Peter is saying you did that, now do this. Now you can make another decision also when they treat you harshly and they don’t do you justice. When you’re ill-treated, you have the power to decide how you are going to respond and how you are going to react. Are you going to react like every other slave? You’re going to be cursing them while you’re working for them? Are you going to pray some kind of fire down from heaven on them and, you know, hate them and work for them? Or are you going to complain and be negative about it and sit around and moan for your fate in life? Or are you going to be like Jesus Christ? Because you’re a Christian, you need to be like Jesus Christ. He has set us a pattern for it.

And he says For this you were called, and then he talks about to what they were called. He says, For this you were called, that’s verse 21. Because Christ, see, what were they called for? He says, Because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps. So, you’re called to follow Jesus. You’re called to follow His footsteps in the matter of this suffering at work. Suffering injustice, suffering ill-treatment, you need to follow Christ, he says. You should follow His footsteps. Who committed no sin, talking about Jesus in more detail, how He suffered. Committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth; Who, when he was reviled, did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but committed himself to him who judges righteously. Who himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. So he says you’re supposed to follow the pattern that Jesus has set. And what is the pattern He has set? He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. And when He was reviled, He did not revile. He didn’t talk back. Then it says when He suffered, He did not threaten. When He was put through that suffering, He did not threaten.

Now, it’s very interesting Peter is writing this. Peter has learned over the years that following Jesus means to follow His pattern. He has shown a pattern, Peter has learnt it live. He was in garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was there, he was one of them sleeping, you know, sleeping disciples. And then they woke up and they came to arrest Jesus. You remember Peter pulled out a sword and cut off a man’s ear. He showed power. His thing was why is Jesus not showing His power, who He is? He can kill all these fellows in a minute. He must show His power. He raised the dead after all. He walked on water. He fed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, why is He not showing power? He must make a power move, that’s what Peter believed. So if He’s not moving, then I’m going to move and show some power. So he’s also done some miracles and so on. Would have gone to village ministries and cast out devils, healed the sick and so on. He said, let me show some power. Pulled out a sword and went for the neck I think, you know, missed it and got the ear. Jesus put it back, Jesus said put your sword back, I don’t want you to show your power.

See, Jesus could have shown so much power, He’s the creator of heaven and earth, never showed any power. Kept quiet, did not even speak. Never sinned, neither was deceit in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile back. And when He suffered, He did not threaten. Peter finally has learned that his method is not the method. His model is not the model. Jesus’ model is better. He’s following Jesus and he’s teaching others now to follow Jesus. What is Jesus’ model? He goes on, but committed himself to him who judges righteously. So Jesus kept quiet, not because he cannot do anything, not because He’s powerless, not because He was defeated. He had all the power, but He chose to keep quiet because He knew that God judges righteously. How many of you know Judgement is coming one day? But not only is it coming one day when Jesus comes in the final Judgement, judgement will be there, but judgement often times begins right now.

See, a lot of people don’t understand this. Every wrong we do many times judgement begins now itself, we suffer the consequences of that judgement. Right away we start suffering for the wrongs that we do many times, because judgement does not wait till the end. In the end there’s going to be Grand Judgement, no doubt, but judgement often starts now. So, Jesus was beaten, He was reviled, He kept quiet. He suffered and did not threaten. People laughed at Him, spit on Him, slapped Him, beat Him, hung Him on the cross, nailed His hands and legs, and killed Him in that way. And put Him through extreme suffering, He hung there and died. They must have gone home very happy, the Jewish people and the Roman soldiers and all the people must have had a good laugh and a great party, that this man who healed the sick and claimed to be God’s son and all that is gone now. Look at Him, how He died, you know. On the third day, God raised Him from the dead.

Now, how do you think they would have felt in the home of those people that spit on Him and slapped Him and laughed at Him and did all those things to Him, I don’t think the food would have gone in when they heard that Jesus was risen again. That He has risen again. Judgement started already, judgement began right then. And history tells us that those who put Jesus on the cross, the Romans as well as the Jews, because of that they suffered many things. In many ways, judgement came upon them in history and in time because of what they did. The injustice that they committed, and there is a judgement that awaits in the end also. So judgement is something that happens for sure. But the thing is why Jesus kept quiet is when God judges, it’s better.

See, when a guy slaps you and slap him twice, that’s what we do, you know. “He slapped me once, so I must slap him twice.” So we give him back, so the account is equal now. The balance sheet is perfect. He slapped you and you slapped him. So nothing to judge on this, you know. He gave it to you and you gave it to him, it’s finished. But when you wait patiently for the righteous One to judge, God to execute judgement, I’ll tell you that will be the real judgement. When God raised Jesus from the dead, see how He judges, how judgement comes. He raises Jesus from the dead and raises Him all the way to the heavens and seats Him at the right hand of the Father in glory and in raising Him up He said, “Thou art my son, this day I have begotten you.” So He vindicates Him before the world. So Jesus is now lifted up, glorified, exalted at the right hand of the Father, declared as the son of God. And the people that laughed at Him, spit at Him, beat Him, had heads hanging in shame down here because Jesus is lifted up, exalted, glorified, and magnified like never before.

You see? The Bible says no weapon formed against you shall prosper. You will condemn every tongue that rises up against you. This is your privilege and blessing that God has given to you. For every one of us, this is a blessing that God has given. No weapon formed against us shall prosper, and will condemn every tongue that rises up against up. But the thing is we’ve got to keep quiet for a while. We’ve got to be patient. We’ve got to commit the judgement to the God who judges. The God who righteously judges. Oftentimes we don’t have the patience to wait, patience to wait you know. But when you commit yourself to God, in the hands of God for God to take care of things, I’ll tell you in the end there is a great victory for you. You are raised up, you are glorified, you are magnified, you are blessed, you are prospered. You become victorious, so that everybody that laughed at you put their head down in shame. The Psalmist has experienced every one of these things in his life, you see. He says you are the glory and the lifter of my head, he says to God. God, you are the glory and the lifter of my head. He said some trust in chariots, some in horses, but I remember the name of the Lord, my God. I trust in God. He’s my shield. He’s my fortress. He’s my strong tower. So it’s better to trust in God.

And verse 24 is very important. He’s talking about how Jesus suffered, because he talks about what the model he has left for us. This is the model, He did not revile back. He did not threaten. He committed Himself to Him who judges righteously. Then he says, Who himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. See, this is connected to this narrative, to this story here. Oftentimes we read 2:24 separately and apply it in all kinds of ways but that’s fine, but this is particularly connected to this instruction to the servants. Why is he talking about how He bore our sins on His body? Because he said you follow the model of Jesus. You follow the pattern that Jesus has set for you, example that Jesus has set for you. What is the example He set for you? He died on the cross, He did not revile back, He did not threaten. But what did He do?

He Himself bore our sins. In other words, he has said in verse 18, he says, Be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. Serve even the harsh ones, he said. Now, he’s showing Jesus’ model. Serve the bad ones, serve the evil ones, serve the unjust ones, serve the crooks. It’s alright, serve them, he says. And now he gives Jesus’ model. He says, look at our model, our hero, Jesus, you are following His model. When He was God he humbled Himself and came in the form of a servant into this earth. Why? He’s telling the slaves to serve the undeserving people. People who don’t deserve to be served, he’s telling the slaves to serve them. And now he shows how God, our model, came down and served the undeserving people. He says he came down and he served us. We didn’t deserve it, we were evil people, we were sinners. We were ungodly. We were against God, we were enemies of God. And He came down and served us like a servant. He called Himself the servant of the Almighty God. He went around healing the sick and delivering the oppressed, driving out demons, helping people. He became the servant of God. What was He doing? Serving, not the deserving people, but the undeserved people, serve the sinners. That’s your model, he says. Your Jesus is your model. He Himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live unto righteousness.

He knew that we were undeserving. We did not deserve this wonderful salvation, but our master showed us how to serve. He came down and served us through His ministry on earth and died on the cross, so that we who are sinners can become righteous before God. By whose stripes you were healed. We were healed from that sin, from that crookedness, from that wickedness, from the sin stain, we were washed and made clean. We were saved, rescued from the hand and the dominion of Satan, by His stripes we were healed. Now, some of you may say, “Well how to serve the harsh masters? Unjust bosses who don’t do us good? How to serve?” Jesus is the model. It’s hard but He gives a model. But not just gives the model, see, model is not enough. Model is good, wonderful model, I can see Jesus and say, “Well, He served the undeserving. I can serve the undeserving.” But, the power is needed to do it, it’s not very easy to do it. He, who saved us from our sins and the power of sin and the dominion of sin. And healed us from the sin sickness, is also able to give us the grace to do this that He’s asking us to do so that we can also serve the undeserving. That is mentioned in verse 9, he says, For this is commendable. Now, that’s a poor translation. Even in the Greek, the way it is said, ESV has a better translation, it comes out with the right one. The English Standard Version is closest, best translation now. That says, It’s a gracious thing, not just commendable, it’s a gracious thing, it says. It’s a grace thing. In other words, to be able to serve the undeserving masters, the harsh masters, the unjust masters, it’s a grace thing. It doesn’t come automatically out of your nature, it is something that happens to you as a result of redemption, as a result of salvation, as a result of God washing your sins away and changing your nature and giving you the power to serve the undeserving.

That’s what Christianity is all about. That’s what redemption has done. Redemption has done something remarkable in that it has changed us, washed our sins away, brought forgiveness, and healed us from our sin sickness. But then, that same grace that healed us from the sin sickness, is also able to give us the grace, the ability, the power to serve even the harsh ones in the world. So you take this to work on Monday when you go to work. You take this to work, you are going as a person who’s redeemed, saved, having the nature of God, having become a new person in Christ. Having the grace of God to that which you normally, cannot do, this grace thing you can do. That even the worst boss you can serve well, because Jesus has come into your life and you can serve like He served because His grace is sufficient for you. Amen.

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