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God's Word Faithfully Preached from the Pulpit

Believers in the Midst of an Unbelieving World (Proverbs 4:20-27 and 1 Peter 2:11-12)

INTRODUCTION

  • How should we believers live in the midst of this unbelieving world?
  • How can we “win” others to Christ?
  • After declaring the identity of believers, Peter starts exhorting how they should live as God’s people especially in relation to others.

SERMON POINT 1: Our Real Battle

TEXT: Verse 11: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”

  • CONTEXT:
    • Peter keeps on repeating the theme of holiness
    • In 1:15-16, positively — “be holy,” “conduct yourselves in fear & reverence to God”
    • In 2:11, negatively — “abstain” from “fleshly desires/passions”
    • Peter makes this appeal to believers in light of their identity as “aliens & sojourners” (e.g., God’s people, holy priesthood)
    • IMPLY: The believers are engaged in a war with sinful passions and temptations.
  • EXPLAIN:
    • An unregenerate heart will enjoy sin by default due to depravity (though with conscience, yet not struggling)
    • But when the Spirit regenerates and converts us, there is now a new principle and power at work in our inner being. This makes us delight in God’s will and love righteousness, while hate sin. (cf. Romans 7)
    • Nevertheless, we still carry in us the depraved nature (and ating panlupang katawan na nahulog sa kasalanan) and struggle with it our entire lives.
    • We are in the “already but not yet,” already freed from the dominion and curse of sin (Rom. 8:1), but not yet perfected in this life (Rom. 7).
      • Read Galatians 5:16-17 (existing sinful passions)
    • ILLUSTRATE: Walking while carrying your dead body until it fully corrodes. (You are already alive but still affected by the fallen flesh). Hence, the lifelong process of our sanctification.
  • IMPLY:
    • This is the REAL war we believers are engaged with (against sinful passions)
    • EXAMPLE: Myself as a child used to foolishly imagine myself being a king and warrior especially after watching “Lord of the Rings.”
    • RELATE: Today, especially our young people, this generation is bombarded with so many FANTASIES.
    • Sad reality that many young people, especially men, are so engaged and obsessed with games, when they should have been more engaged in this spiritual battle. Men who are so busy with movies, when we should have been spending more time mortifying their sins, leading our wives and building up our children. (*Also applicable to women)
    • CLARIFY: Not that games and movies are sinful themselves. But consider how they are affecting you.

      These cannot be true of us as believers:
      • Strong avatar, but weak convictions (e.g., keeping the Lord’s Day) and foolish decisions
      • Disciplined and strategic in games, but not with avoiding sin (e.g., pornography).
      • Inspired by a touching movie but neglecting our spiritual growth
      • Etc.
    • This is the real battle we must be more focused on.

[At the same time, the war against our sinful passions is not just the REAL war. It is also a SERIOUS war]

  • IMPLY: “… which wage war against your soul”
    • What is at stake here is nothing less than your soul. As Christians, we’re fighting for heavenly things.
    • CLARIFY: Not that committing a sin will forfeit the eternal salvation and security of a believer. God is forgiving and gracious towards our sins, and he keeps his people.
    • But we cannot presume upon God’s grace (“Okay lang mamuhay sa kasalanan. Papatawarin naman ako ni Lord eh.”).
    • Growing in holiness is the mark of a true believer, and we can only enjoy the assurance of our eternal salvation when we grow in our sanctification.
    • POINT: So again, this is the real and serious battle that we should be actively engaged in.

[How do we do that? What are we believers called to do?]

  • APPLY:
    • “Abstain” from them. Do not conform, do not comply, resist the sinful passions of your flesh. 
    • Simply put, “avoid it.” Flee from it! ‘Wag mo nang tangkain na subukan pa. ‘Wag mo nang isipin, “Eh, baka kaya ko naman mag-resist kapag nandun na ako sa situation.” 
    • Proverbs: “Do not go near.” “Do not pass by it.”

[How exactly can you discern if it is dangerous and leading to sin?]

  • In the final analysis, only true believers can mortify sin. As believers, the Holy Spirit convicts us and makes us aware of danger. “Alam mo…”
  • Obey the conscience God gives you, no matter how hard it is. Even when your deceitful heart seems saying yes, abstain from it.
  • ILLUSTRATION: Steve Kerr to Warriors: “Just keep defending and attacking for 40 minutes, and it will wear them out.”
  • When we stay consistent in mortifying our specific sins, its temptation will gradually become weak in power.

  • So the Word of God urges (strong request) us to abstain! Make it your daily business to fight sin.
  • EXAMPLE: Talking to yourself when sinful thoughts pop up, and recognizing the invisible, spiritual battle against Satan. (“Satan, I will not be your instrument against God”)
  • It is more satisfying to win a battle against lust, than winning against a virtual opponent.

[And what is our hope? This is HARD!] “Beloved… as sojourners and exiles”

  • Christ has already won the battle against sin, and his Spirit is applying it to the people of God. Because God is the one working deep within us, WE CAN abstain from sinful passions and grow in holiness.

SERMON POINT 2: Our Real Testimony

TEXT: Verse 12: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

  • EXPLAIN:
    • Conduct — “manner of life,” “behavior”
    • Honorable — “of moral quality, morally excellent and praiseworthy” (including “abstaining from sinful passions”)
    • Evildoers — 
      • Context: Unbelievers accuse Christians and their monotheistic faith for being “threats” to the welfare of the society and culture.
      • “Sa mga bagay na kung saan itinuturing nila kayo na masama, eh mas makita nila yung mga mabubuti niyong gawa.”
    • “That they may see your good deeds and glorify God…” — Similar to Matthew 5:18 — “Let your light shine before…”

[What do these mean?]

  • IMPLY:
    • Our calling as believers in the midst of this unbelieving world is not to simply proclaim the Gospel, but to live out the gospel.
    • The world today is looking for, and desperately needs, true Christians. I am never tired of saying that what the Church needs to do is not to [simply] organize evangelistic campaigns and attract outside people, but to begin herself to live the Christian life. If she did that, men and women would be crowding into our buildings. They would say, ‘What is the secret of this?’ ~ D. Martyn-Lloyd Jones
      • “The ultimate need of the church today is not more appealing programs and evangelistic campaigns, but for the church to be the church—a holy people, living not for this world but for God. Not in sin, but in righteousness with joy.”
      • Then often, when people see how different we are, they would be attracted and ask, “What’s behind this man/woman’s conduct? Why is this family well-ordered?”
      • The church is weak when it becomes like the world, thinks like the world, lives like the world. We are not to be separate from the world, but the manner we live should not be the same.
    • EXAMPLE:
      • How can we expect to convince others that this world is passing away and there is a better world ahead—when we are obsessed with earthly things? (e.g., Main goals natin puro pera, yumaman)
      • How can we expect to convince others of the grace of God—when we ourselves are full of bitterness, anger, and harshness?
      • How can we expect to call others to repentance and faith in Christ—when we ourselves join them in their sins or worse cause them to sin with us?
      • Many more examples that should make us examine ourselves…
    • RELATE: It’s ultimately not about how many quotes we post on Facebook or how many likes we get, but how we reflect the things we say about God in our lives both privately and publicly, and in our conduct with our families, friends, and other people.
  • CLARIFY:
    • Not to say we should no longer evangelize. “Ipakita na lang natin yung buhay natin.”… Our testimony is never the gospel of Christ.
    • Our testimony is not the gospel which saves. But the living evidence of the good news of Christ’s saving work is not the words we say, but the lives we live.

[And to what end? For what purpose do we conduct ourselves in holiness?]

  • TEXT: “that they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
    • “Glorify God” — To be taken in its broad sense in which believers praise and glorify God
    • “Day of visitation” or “on the day he visits us”
      • 1.) Some refer to God’s spiritual visitation in regeneration and conversion.
      • 2.) Referring to Christ’s second return (OT understanding, songs on Jesus’ coming “God visited his people,” also a repeating theme in 1 Peter)
    • POINT: God can use our testimony to call unbelievers to faith. And when unbelievers come to faith in Christ, it will change their opinion about us and will also praise God even for using us believers.
    • EXAMPLE: Me growing up in a Christian family. Though they were never perfect (yet different from others), God used them to bring me to the truth.
  • APPLY
    • Unbelievers — You are truly without excuse. You have plenty of evidence (though many believers may not be so convincing to you, there is still sufficient proof)
      • Acts 17:30-31 — Paul: “… Now God commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed”—that is, Jesus Christ
      • Whether Christ returns now or not yet, may the words and lives of Christians around point you to Christ.
    • Professing believers (but living in sin instead of good example to others) — Repent and ask God for renewal. What is at stake is the glory of God.
    • Believers
      • Comfort believers: The fact is, we don’t always make good testimony before our unbelieving family, friends, and neighbors.
        • We don’t convert them, but let us pray that we will grow more faithful as witnesses to Christ.
        • Hence, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24, ESV)
      • Or we may live an honorable life, but still, they don’t come to faith. Well, ultimately, it is God who works in his people. We trust in God’s sovereignty. 
      • In any case, this should encourage us that our labor is not in vain. People are always looking at us (unbelieving spouse, parent, child). As we share the gospel and live honorably before them, we pray that God will also have mercy on them so that they may also see the goodness and the glory of God.

Prayer for God’s guidance and preservation as our Good Shepherd, that he shall continually lead us in righteousness and holiness for his name’s sake.

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