Living for God
(1 Peter 3:8 - 1 Peter 4:11)
Introduction: Last week Peter told us how we should relate to the government, our employers and our spouse. This week he continues to give us advice in our other relationships. When I say, "relationships" I'm not just talking about interacting with others. Peter gives us advice on how to best promote God's Kingdom. Do you feel that your relationships with others could improve? Could your service improve? If so, let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn to improve our lives and our service!
- Read 1 Peter 3:8-9. Who is the audience here? Is this addressed to church members in their dealings with other church members? (I think so because Peter says, "love as brothers.")
- What is the result of responding to abuse with blessings? (We are blessed.)
- Read 1 Peter 3:10-12. What are the specific rewards for being honest and avoiding evil? (You will be able to love life. You will see "good days." Because God is your ally, you will enjoy life more, while God will resist those who do evil.)
- Read 1 Peter 3:13. In the United States it is illegal to discriminate against employees based on their religious beliefs. What does this teach followers of God that goes far beyond mere legal protections? (If you are a great employee, employers will want to keep you. The best protection in life is not the law, but rather the reaction of those who see Jesus reflected in you.)
- The Right Attitude
- Read 1 Peter 3:14. Is it always true that if you are eager to do good, others will have your best interests in mind? (Look what happened to Jesus. There is evil in the world, and evil wants to harm good. Thus, there are exceptions to the general rule.)
- Look again at 1 Peter 3:14. Why does Peter add "do not fear what they fear?" (Because, if we are doing good, God will look out for us.)
- Read 1 Peter 3:15-17. We discussed what kind of attitude we should have towards fellow church members. What kind of attitude should we have toward pagans? (We should be prepared to deal with them. We should have an answer for our belief in Jesus. We should present our arguments with "gentleness and respect.")
- Is gentleness and respect easy? (This is a sin that I confess. Outside of these Bible studies, I've written articles making fun of those who harshly attack my faith. Humor is a powerful weapon, and I have skill in this area, but I doubt that I ever convinced someone of my views by making fun of that person. Peter says "Don't do it.")
- On what does Peter based his argument that we should do good and show respect and gentleness to those who do evil? (Read 1 Peter 3:18. The attitude of self-sacrifice is how Jesus saved us. It is the focus of the gospel - Jesus died for those who are evil, and that includes you and me. Using humor against pagans says, "I'm smarter than you and I will embarrass you because of your poor arguments. It is self-serving, not selfless.)
- Read 1 Peter 3:19-21. Did Jesus go to purgatory or hell to preach to those who didn't listen to Noah?
- If so, why just preach to those who ignored Noah? Is there a special place in hell for those who ignored Noah? (Just asking these questions shows Peter's remarks are not limited to Noah's audience. Peter is simply saying that when Jesus died for the unrighteous, He died for the unrighteous of all times - including those who lived and died before Jesus rose from the grave.)
- Why mention the Noah audience specifically? (Read Genesis 6:3. This explains that the Holy Spirit had been contending with humans during the 120 years that Noah was preaching and building the ark.)
- Why mention the waters of the flood? (Peter uses Noah as an example of two things. First, that the Holy Spirit has been working on human hearts before Jesus came to live with us. Second, the flood is an example of the washing away of sin. The flood washed away sinful people. Baptism washes away your old, sinful life. Through the resurrection of Jesus, you are born again into life eternal.)
- Read 1 Peter 3:22. What is the result of Jesus' submissive attitude while here on earth? (He is now at the right hand of God and all submit to Him.)
- Will that be true here? If you submit to God and to authority, you will be given authority?
- Read 1 Peter 4:1-2. Would you like to be "done with sin?" How do these verses suggest that we can be done with sin? (Christ suffered because of our sins. We suffer because of our sins. If we pay attention to the connection between suffering and sin, we will know that evil human desires are the path to trouble, but pursuing the will of God is the path to good days and loving life.)
- Read 1 Peter 4:3-4. If this describes your past life, can you affirm that your old friends wonder why you left their lifestyle? Have they harassed you for turning from your former life?
- Read 1 Peter 4:5-6. What will your friends who have rejected God have to face? (The judgment.)
- Is the gospel preached to dead people? (Look at 1 Peter 3:19-20 again. I think Peter is talking about the same thing - he is saying that the gospel was preached to those who lived before Jesus came to earth, people who died long ago. If they accepted God, their names are written in the book of life. If they did not, they are judged by their deeds. See, Revelation 20:11-15.)
- The End is Near
- Read 1 Peter 4:7. This is the third time that Peter talks about clearing the way for our prayers. He previously mentioned it in 1 Peter 3:7 and 1 Peter 3:12. Why does being "self-controlled" and "clear minded" aid us in prayer? (We do not want to be distracted. We want clarity of thought. We want to be able to discern what the Holy Spirit has to say to us in response to our prayers.)
- Read 1 Peter 4:8. Are you someone who tends to make mistakes and insult and injure others? What is the best approach for those who have a "multitude of sins" to cover? (Being loving. Showing love makes up for lots of errors.)
- Read 1 Peter 4:9-10. What do joyful hospitality and service to others have to do with love? (This shows others the grace that God has shown to us.)
- Read 1 Peter 4:11. One of my jobs is to advise employees who have religious objections to supporting labor unions. This requires the employee to notify the union of his religious beliefs. Over the decades, I've had a couple of employees who wrote their notice to the union in language you would find in the King James version of the Bible. My reaction was that these employees were not sincere in their religious beliefs. They thought they might sound religious by writing this way. Is this what Peter means when he tells us that we should be "speaking the very words of God?" (If you review the previous texts, Peter is telling us about serving others. Peter advises us, "Think about how Jesus would address this issue." The popular phrase is, "What would Jesus do?")
- How do you tap into the "strength God provides?" (Ask God. The good news is that you do not have to do these things in your own strength.)
- What is God asking of us? (He is looking for excellence, diligence and conscientiousness in our gospel work. His unlimited strength is available to us!)
- How many times have you seen church work that is done in a sloppy and unprofessional way? Have you seen church members decide at the last minute who should do what in the church service? Do you observe pastors spending too little time preparing sermons and as a result give long, disorganized presentations? (These examples violate the rules of excellence, diligence and conscientiousness.)
- Look at the last part of 1 Peter 4:11. What does Peter say is the goal of excellent service? (To bring glory to God! Ask yourself if your work brings God glory?)
- Friend, examine your relationships and your service for God. Do they need improvement? Why not ask the Holy Spirit to redirect your relationships and improve your service?
- Next week: Suffering for Christ.