13 And who will hurt you if you should become zealots for the good? 14 But happy are you even if you perhaps suffer for righteousness – ‘yet you shall certainly not fear these things, neither shall you be distressed, 15 but sanctify the LORD,’ Christ, in your hearts ever ready with a defence at hand to everyone questioning of you a word of the hope (expectation) you possess, and with meekness and fear, 16 having good conscience in order that wherein you are being slandered, those abusing your good manner of life in Christ, should be put to shame. 17 For better to suffer doing good, if God should mayhap so will, than doing evil. (RGH)
A. Standing for Christ
1. Against Intimidation
2. What is Spiritual Courage?
B. Courage in Suffering (verses 13-14)
1. The Biblical Evidence
2. Who Indeed Can Harm Us?
3. The Expected Result
C. Courage in Witness (verse 15-17)
1. By Way of Defence (v 15)
2. By Way of Behaviour (v 16)
3. By Way of Suffering (v 17)
1 Peter 3:13-17. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Spiritual Courage
A. Standing for Christ
1. Against Intimidation
a. about 20 years ago, “The San Francisco Chronicle published the following news item …:
(A) Dozens of undercover security men watched and photo graphed a crowd of about 300 Russian Orthodox members of Moscow’s Church of the Resurrection yesterday during a brief address by the Revd Billy Graham… On Saturday night, security forces had closed off the Moscow Baptist Church, barring reporters and some invited guests during Graham’s sermon to about 1500 people there. Graham’s sermon of less than 20 minutes dwelt on salvation and the need for people to know Jesus Christ.
(B) That’s intimidation. The Russian authorities are so threatened by the gospel they have to watch and photograph those who want to hear it in an effort to intimidate them.”
b. we, in this land may not be faced with intimidation on that scale
(A) though it has been said that CSIS keeps an eye on fundamental Christian churches as possible extremists
(B) but there is subtle intimidation on every side
(1) a college student refrains from mentioning Jesus Christ in a paper on social problems
(2) witnessing to Christ at school can bring a parent interview
(3) doing so at work is considered as disruptive
(C) it takes courage to stand for Christ in these days as it ever has
2. What Is Spiritual Courage?
a. you see the couple coming up your front walk, books under their arms
(A) right away you recognize them ... Jehovah Witnesses
(B) do you answer the door or not?
(C) any previous attempt has been fruitless
(D) they confuse with misquoted Scriptures, strange conclusions, constant changing of the subject
(E) they will take your literature if you take theirs; and both you and they will do the same thing with it ... into the blue box.
b. they are certainly brave, persistent – for their salvation depends on it
(A) but is that spiritual courage? Should we be imitating them?
(B) the key is that word ‘spiritual’
(C) what is called for is not our revving ourselves up in the energy of our old nature to carry out some program of personal witness
(D) but yielding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit according to the principle given in Mark 13:11, “… do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.”
c. in today’s passage, Peter has further encouragement for us in this
B. Courage in Suffering (verses 13-14)
1. 13 And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,
2. The Biblical Evidence
a. Peter calls upon such evidence by quoting from Isaiah 8:12-13
(A) “12 … And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. 13 It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread.”
(B) note that Peter’s quotation does not stop with verse 14 of his letter but goes on into verses 15, ‘but sanctify the LORD’
b. which we shall consider further in a moment or two
c. but it is sufficient at this point to say that we can take assurance that the Lord Jesus is with us as we seek to stand up, to suffer, for Him
3. Who Indeed Can Harm Us?
a. Pastor John Gill, an 18th century Bible student responds
(A) God will not for His eyes are on the righteous to protect
(B) Christ will not for his people … are His jewels
(C) the good angels will not, they encamp about the saints
(D) Satan cannot, for ‘greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.’ (1 John 4:4)
(E) sin, though warring against us, shall not have dominion over us
(F) the Law cannot, for Christ has fulfilled the law on our behalf
(G) and men of the world, though they persecute, only make our light shine brighter in the furnace of affliction
b. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31)
4. The Expected Result
a. ‘But even if you should suffer’ is expressed in the Greek as unlikely
(A) In general terms, people do not suffer for doing good
(B) yes, Jesus Christ went about doing good ... and He suffered
(C) yes, the disciples following Him did good and suffered
(D) yes, the martyrs through the ages & now, the same
(E) but still it is true as a general rule that a life of integrity and benevolence conduces to safety, even in a wicked world.
b. but what about the unlikely event if it should take place
(A) Peter uses just one word – blessing
(B) recalling our Saviour’s words: “10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)
c. words that should give to us spiritual courage
C. Courage in Witness (verses 15-17)
1. 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defence to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
2. By Way of Defence (v 15)
a. 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defence to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
(A) where this verse breaks is shown differently in different translations
(B) but this is no worry because verses 15 & 16 are one sentence
(C) with gentleness to men and reverence to God we should both make our defence and support that defence by the way we live
b. I am sure that you all know that ‘sanctify’
(A) when done by man towards God – who is holy in Himself –
(B) does not mean ‘make holy’ but ‘consider or treat as holy’
(C) this we should be doing in our innermost being – our heart
(D) such a relationship to our Saviour God is a prerequisite to our defending our faith
c. do you not find it interesting that such a defence is to be given to the one who first ask you a question on your spiritual life
(A) ‘Why do you have this hope?’
(B) what would occasion such a question?
(C) probably not because we go about blaring ‘I have hope’ but rather that such hope is evident in the optimistic way we handle hardship
d. for such a defence we are always to be ready
(A) note the contrast here with what Jesus said in Mark 13:11 above
(1) the context there was when facing human judgement
(2) but here the context is more that of friendly, searching inquiry
(B) in this situation – speaking to the one seeking spiritual truth
(C) we should as believers have the facts at our fingertips – or on your smart phone if that works for you
(D) we have sung today hymns of one aspect of that hope – the fact that Jesus Christ is coming again
(E) for we should not shy away from expressing our resurrection hope
(1) an event which we greatly desire
(2) as Paul told to of it Felix in Acts 24
(3) but also a warning to an unbeliever: at which Felix was afraid
3. By Way of Behaviour (v 16)
a. 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame.
b. from the friendly enquirer, we turn back to the possible cause of that enquiry being made – how do we respond when wronged?
(A) if a believer is living and walking in the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25)
(1) he is unlike those OT Israelites, who every man did those things that were right in his own eyes
(2) the Holy Spirit is the voice that says ‘this is the way, walk ye in it when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left.’
(3) by Him we have a trustworthy, enlightened conscience
(B) it is, therefore, that clear conscience which first permits us to slough off the slander of unbelievers
c. but there is a second part
(A) not only the consciousness of not having done wrong
(B) but a good conscience of good behaviour
(C) we have before spoken of that word behaviour
(1) it is how we live in travelling through life
(2) up and down along the path’s of life
(3) with a fellow-worker, a neighbour, a clerk in a store
(D) showing care, concern and courtesy
d. that is a life that supports the word of witness for Jesus Christ
4. By Way of Suffering (v 17)
a. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
b. it is not the suffering, but rather how we receive it, that will bolster up the strength of our defence of the faith
(A) and it is not the suffering, but rather that for which we suffer
(B) obviously, if I suffer on account of my wrong-doing that is not a testimony to the gospel, but a witness to justice
c. moreover this verse is written in such a way as to indicate
(A) that such suffering for well-doing is not the norm of Christian life
(B) but rather the exception
(C) yet, if we should be called upon to partake of it
(D) then may we have the spiritual courage to accept it
(E) for in so doing, we are carrying out the divine will, which God in His infinite wisdom has chosen for us
D. Conclusion – be then spiritually courageous to be a testimony in walk and in word to the Saviour who suffered for our salvation – for one day we shall be face to face with Christ our Saviour, Jesus Christ who loves us so!