Friday, July 19, 2013

1st Peter 2 - Freely submit

"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God." (1 Peter 2:13-16)
The Greek word for "institution" simply means some formation, in fact, in the New Testament scriptures it is translated almost exclusively as "creation" or "creature". Thus it applies to any form or means by which men choose to organize themselves; as states, tribes, or groups. We are called to submit to all human institutions in doing what is right. However, this is not an unconditional submission, as even Peter disobeyed the Roman government when its will conflicted with God's will, but this is a conditional submission in doing what is right, not what is wrong. The goal of our submission is the silencing, or literally, the muzzling of ignorant men who malign Christianity though they do not understand it. Our good behavior should always testify to the truth of our faith even if others are misinformed or ignorant regarding it. We should offer this submission as free men and women. Even in an oppressive state we can still offer submission as free people of God, showing that while we are not bond-slaves of the government, but rather free in Christ, we are still bond-slaves of God. We are free in Christ, so why should we submit in obedience to any human institution? We submit to show what is good and right in the sight of God and to show that true freedom is found in being bound to God.
"Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. " (1 Peter 2:17)
Paul said to "Render to all what is due them" (Romans 13:7) but what is do to each one? We are to honor all people. To honor is to apply value to something. We are to value all people as being made by God, as being His own creation, worthy of being His sons and daughters. Honoring them by putting their needs above our own and attending to their cares. However, beyond honor, we are to love the brethren, our fellow brothers and sisters of Christ. We should love them with all tenderness and affection as we would those of our own family. Not only are they people of value, but they are our own flesh and blood, born through the flesh and blood of Christ. And beyond honor and love, we are to fear God, not with the fear of terror, but with the fear of awe, respect, and obedience. Problems occur when we extend brotherly love to those who are not our brothers and sisters. Even Paul warns us saying, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14) Similarly, we are to fear God not man. Solomon warns us that, "The fear of man brings a snare." (Proverbs 29:25) Honor, love, and fear, to each as each deserves.
"Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God." (1 Peter 2:18-20)
Submission is not always easy or pleasant and sometimes comes with a price, but the world is watching to see how we will bear up under such hardship to see whether or not there is any real power in the Gospel of Christ. Everybody expects suffering as the result of doing wrong, but when one suffers for doing good, their true nature is tested. If, when we are unjustly treated, we continue to do what is right, we please God and witness to His reality and power to all who are watching. When we continue in doing what is right, both when it is easy and when it is hard, we please God and provide a testimony to the world that God is good.

David Robison

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