I Peter 3:8-12

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

MAINTAINING A GOOD TESTIMONY

INTRODUCTION:

 

We are so thankful that God has saved us, but now that He has saved us, it is important that we have good testimonies as believers. OK, so, how can I go about having and maintaining a good testimony?

 

As we study I Peter 3:8-12 , we see a number of traits which God expects in all believers.

 

Peter has specifically addressed slaves, wives, and husbands. Now he is addressing all believers in general.

We see –

    I.     FIVE DESIRABLE TRAITS FOR ALL BELIEVERS – 3:8

 

I Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.

 

Finally indicates that Peter is introducing a final division of his exhortations which he began in 2:13. He has specifically addressed slaves, wives, and husbands. Now he returns to addressing all believers in general.

 

As indicated by the italics, be ye has been supplied by the translators; and its form is that of a command. It may be understood in the sense of continue to be or in the sense of become.

 

If be ye is understood in the sense of become, it would suggest that the believers as a whole were not of one mind, were not having compassion one of another, were not loving as brethren, were not pitiful, were not courteous, and were rendering evil for evil and railing for railing rather than blessing others. If so, it was a pitiful state of affairs and needed to be changed at once.

 

However, if be ye is understood in the sense continue to be, it would suggest that the believers as a whole were already of one mind, were already having compassion one of another, were already loving as brethren, were already pitiful, were already courteous, were already not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing, and were already blessing others. So, if understood in this sense, they were behaving quite commendably; and one could not help but wonder why Peter would have had to write this in the first place. By wisely supplying be ye our translators have covered both extremes and all in between. The standard is thus set. Those who are already doing what they should be doing must continue. By contrast, those who were not doing what they should be doing, must begin at once. In either case, the standard is known and needs to be practiced.

 

Peter uses several terms to tell his readers what they should be like as believers.

 

Believers should be –

            1.   Harmonious – be ye all of one mind

 

Be ye suggests become, or continue to be, or continue being.

 

All refers to every one of Peter’s readers.

 

Of one mind is like-minded, united in spirit, or harmonious.

 

This will come to pass when we are all controlled by the mind of Christ, i.e. by the Scriptures.

 

Believers should also be –

            2.   Sympathetic – having compassion one of another

 

Having compassion one of another means sympathetic.

 

The verb form of compassion is translated touched with the feeling of in Hebrews 4:15 where it is used of Christ.

 

Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. . . .

 

The writer of Hebrews also used this term in Hebrews 10:34 .

 

Hebrews 10:34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds. . . .

 

In addition, believers should be –

            3.   Loving fellow-believers – love as brethren

 

Love as brethren means loving one’s brothers, lovers of brothers, or brother-lovers. Believers should love their fellow-believers. It is the Philadelphia type of love, which means, Be fond of fellow believers. The word translated love implies fondness. From the same words we derive our name Philadelphia.

 

Peter used a related term in I Peter 1:22 , Seeing ye have purified your souls . . . unto unfeigned love of the brethren. . . .

 

It is also used in –

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.

 

I Thessalonians 4:9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you. . . .

 

Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.

 

Just as brothers and sisters in a family should have a special fondness for one another, so believers should have a special fondness for those in the family of God.

 

Furthermore, believers should be –

            4.   Compassionate – be pitiful

 

It is translated tenderhearted in Ephesians 4:32 .

 

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

 

Finally, believers should be –

            5.   Kind – be courteous

 

Courteous means well-disposed, friendly, or kind.

Next, we see –

  II.     TWO THINGS BELIEVERS SHOULD NEVER DO – 3:9A

 

I Peter 3:9 a – Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing. . . .

 

Believers should never –

            1.   Return evil for evil

 

Not rendering means not rewarding, not recompensing, not giving back, or not returning. Its present tense indicates that this action is to be normal or customary.

 

Evil is used in the sense of harm or wrong.

 

For evil is in exchange for evil.

 

 

Also, believers should never –

            2.   Return verbal abuse for verbal abuse

 

Railing for railing is (verbal) abuse in exchange for (verbal) abuse, reproach in exchange for reproach, or reviling in exchange for reviling.

 

It is natural for people to treat others in the same way they have been treated; therefore, when someone is insulted, he may react by insulting the one who insulted him.

 

When believers are given ill treatment, however, they are not to be giving it back in kind. When they are verbally abused, they are not to be verbally abusing those who verbally abused them.

 

It is reminiscent of Christ’s action in I Peter 2:23 ,

 

I Peter 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again. . . .

 

Paul also wrote,

 

Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil.

 

I Thessalonians 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man.

 

If they are not to reward evil in exchange for evil or railing in exchange for railing, then what are they to do?

In 3:9b we see –

 III.     TWO THINGS BELIEVERS MUST ALWAYS DO – 3:9B

 

I Peter 3:9 b – . . . but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

 

But contrariwise is but on the other hand.

 

Blessing is not a noun as one might infer from the English translation. It is not saying that they are to render a blessing to those who do evil to them; rather, it is saying that they are to be blessing them. They are to be calling down God’s blessing on the one(s) persecuting them as Jesus and Paul instructed their hearers.

 

Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:28 . . . Bless them that curse you.

 

Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless and curse not.

 

I Corinthians 4:12 . . . Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it.

 

Believers must –

            1.   Return blessing for evil

 

Blessing means be calling down God’s blessing on someone

 

Believers must also –

            2.   Return blessing for verbal abuse

 

Railing is verbal abuse.

 

That (i.e. in order that) ye should inherit a blessing

 

They are to be blessing others.

 

Knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing supplies the reason believers are to be blessing others rather than returning evil for evil or railing for railing.

 

Knowing is used in the sense of because you know.

 

What they know is that ye are thereunto called, i.e. that you (plural) are called unto this.

 

To what are they called? They are called to suffer for righteousness’ sake just as Christ had suffered for them. Thus, it is normal for believers to suffer for doing what is right.

 

That ye should inherit a blessing expresses the reason they should be blessing others.

 

That is understood in the sense of in order that or for the purpose that. When believers bless those persecuting them, they will be blessed themselves.

 

Should inherit might suggest that the blessing will not come until the believer is in heaven. However, it might instead be understood as might obtain or might come into possession of and should not necessarily be limited to the next life. Although the believer may not obtain an immediate blessing, he may not need to wait until he gets to heaven to be blessed. The one who treated him wrongly may get saved or get straightened out with the Lord, and this in itself would be a blessing.

 

One reason believers should bless those who do them wrong is in order that they themselves might receive a blessing.

Finally, we see –

 IV.     HOW TO ENJOY LIFE – 3:10-12

 

I Peter 3:10-1210 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

 

For indicates that what follows is offered in order to substantiate what Peter has been saying, particularly in verses 8 and 9, that believers should have compassion one of another, should love as brethren, should be pitiful, should be courteous, and should not be rendering evil for evil or railing for railing.

 

The words of verses 10-12 are taken with some variations from Psalms 34:12-16 .

 

Psalms 34:12-16 – (12) What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? (13) Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. (14) Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. (15) The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. (16) The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

 

Peter applies this passage to his readers.

 

In I Peter 3:10 He that will love life and see good days is the subject of let him refrain, as well as the subject of the verbs which follow in verse 11, which are variously translated by let him eschew, (let him) do, let him seek, and (let him) ensue.

 

Will love . . . and see does not indicate a future tense of love and see as the English reader might assume; instead, it is the word meaning to wish or to will. What he wishes or wills is to love life and to see good days.

 

Life is the word ordinarily used of eternal life. Does it have reference in this verse to the quality of the life the Christian wishes to see in this life, or does it refer exclusively to eternity in heaven? Although Peter does not specify, the context leaves no doubt that Peter is referring to the quality of the Christian’s life in this age. What follows is a series of commandments for him to obey.

 

He that wills to love life and see good days must –

            1.   Keep his tongue from evil – 3:10

 

I Peter 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil. . . .

 

Let him refrain is a command which means he must refrain, i.e. he must stop or he must keep something from something.

 

His tongue indicates what he is to refrain, and from evil indicates what he is to refrain his tongue from doing. It means that he must not use his tongue to say anything that is evil.

 

He that wills to love life and see good days must –

            2.   Keep his lips lest there be guile in them – 3:10

 

I Peter 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain . . . his lips that they speak no guile.

 

And his lips that they speak no guile is an example of Hebrew parallelism and is essentially saying the same thing as let him refrain his tongue from evil but saying it in a different way.

 

It means that he must refrain his lips from speaking guile, he must stop using his lips to speak guile, or he must keep his lips from speaking guile.

 

Guile is deceit, cunning, or treachery. He who would love life and see good days should never use his tongue to speak evil or his lips to speak deceitfully.

 

He that wills to love life and see good days must also –

            3.   Turn away from evil – 3:11

 

I Peter 3:11 Let him eschew evil. . . .

 

He must eschew evil is he must turn away from evil, he must shun evil, he must avoid evil, or he must turn aside from evil.

 

In addition, he that wills to love life and see good days must –

            4.   Do good – 3:11

 

I Peter 3:11 Let him . . . do good

 

It means that he must do what is good or that he must do what is right.

 

Furthermore, he that wills to love life and see good days must –

            5.   Seek peace – 3:11

 

I Peter 3:11 . . . let him seek peace. . .

 

He must seek for peace in order to find it, he must try to obtain peace, he must desire peace.

 

Peace is harmony.

 

Finally, he that wills to love life and see good days must –

            6.   Pursue peace – 3:11

 

I Peter 3:11 . . . let him ensue it (i.e. peace)

 

Ensue it means run after peace or pursue peace.

 

He is not only to seek peace hoping to find it, but he is also to run after it in order to obtain it.

 

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

 

Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

 

I Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

 

For suggests that verse 12 is offered in explanation of verses 10 and 11.

 

The eyes, ears, and face of the Lord are what we call anthropomorphisms, the assigning of human characteristics to God in order to aid our understanding.

 

The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous pictures the Lord as all-seeing. Nothing escapes His attention. It also pictures the Lord as being interested in the righteous, as well as being able to tell the difference between those who are righteous and those who are not righteous.

 

The righteous are contrasted with them that do evil. Righteous refers to their position in Christ. They have been justified by faith which means that God has judicially declared them righteous and thereafter treats them as righteous because of their trust in Christ. They are the saved people.

 

His ears are open unto their prayers leaves no doubt that the Lord is ready and willing to listen to the prayers of the righteous at any time. The fact that the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and that his ears are open to their prayers demonstrates that God is interested in His children. He is interested in what they are doing and in answering their prayers.

 

Contrasted with His openness toward the righteous, however, is but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. He is pictured as having already set His face against them and is ready to judge them.

 

Those represented by them that do evil are contrasted with the righteous. Whereas the righteous are those saved by faith, them that do evil are those who have not been saved.

 

The tense of do suggests that they are continuously or habitually doing evil, which means that doing evil is their normal practice.

 

Although this passage contrasts the righteous with those who are doing evil, it must also be remembered that God will not allow the righteous to get away with sin either. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 11:29-32 ,

 

I Corinthians 11:29-32 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation [i.e. judgment] to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep [i.e. many are dead]. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

CONCLUSION:

 

So, how’s your testimony? Are there some things you need to do differently?

 

It takes years to build a good testimony, but it only takes a few minutes to destroy it.

 

Be careful to be living for the Lord at all times and remember that your testimony is important.