Faith in the Furnace 1 Peter Bible Study (Hope In Hard Times)

We Do Not Belong (1 Peter 2:11-12)


This morning we are kicking off a new series for our summer. After this summer series we will come back to the Gospel of Matthew and look at the next teaching chunk, in keeping with our theme this year, “Journey With Jesus.” Our summer series is called Faith In The Furnace. We are going to look at some selected texts that speak to us about how to maintain our faith and continuing proclaiming the gospel when the culture is in full rejection of the Christian faith and message. So this is a series to help us know how to live in a world that turns itself against the Lord. This is a series that will help us maintain our hope and encourage us to press forward even in the face of hardships and rejection for Jesus’ name. Our selected texts will come out of 1 Peter because Peter is writing to Christians are who dealing with similar circumstances. We see this as we turn in our copies of God’s word to 1 Peter 2:11-12.

Identity (2:11)

The identity that the apostle Peter describes for us is valuable. In 1 Peter 2:11 we see Peter calling the Christians that he is writing to “strangers and exiles.” It is also the description he used at the beginning of the letter. One of the things God constantly does through the scriptures is give us identity. God wants us to know who we are because if we know who we are, then it will help us live as we have been called to live. Too often we miss these pictures and the impact God wants those pictures to make in our lives.

This first picture states something very important to us. We do not belong here. You are a stranger. You are an exile. You are a foreigner. You are just passing through this land. You do not belong. Now this picture does not make any sense unless you accept that there is an eternity. There must be some other world beyond this world for this picture to work. This is ultimately the problem. If we do not believe in eternity, then we are not going to see ourselves as strangers and exiles. If we do not see ourselves going somewhere beyond this physical earth, then we are going to live for here and not for the life that is beyond here. This perspective determines if we live for this world or for the world to come.

All of this means that you are not home. This is not our home. This identity picture is going to be very important for everything that we are going to study about maintaining faith while in the furnace. This is not home. We do not belong here. We have been made for another place. We live for another place. We are strangers here until we are able to go back home.

The Battle (2:11)

Notice what Peter says in verse 11. When you understand your identity as strangers and exiles, then you are urged to abstain from the sinful desires that wage war against the soul. This is a really important picture for us to consider. Since you do not live here, you cannot act like you are from here. What is pushing us to act like we are from here? This physical body with its passions and desires are waging a war against your soul.

Do you feel like you are in a battle with your desires? Do you feel like there is a war that is taking place between your desires to do right and your desires to sin? I want you to see that there is nothing wrong with you when you feel that. Peter says that your sinful desires and passions of your flesh are going to war against your soul. In fact, you should be worried if you do not feel that war because that would mean the war is over and your passions have won. There is a battle going on in our minds and hearts. Our culture tells us that we should give into whatever passions and desires we feel. I want us to see that if we do that we are forfeiting our soul. If we give in, then we are not living for eternity and the world to come but we are living for this world.

Please do not keep this battle on merely a sexual temptation level. We are talking about speaking evil of other people. We are talking about venting our anger. We are talking about not having self-control. We are talking selfish thinking. We are talking about selfish ambition and asserting ourselves. We are talking about envy and jealousy. We are talking about drunkenness. We are talking about idols in our hearts. We are talking about being divisive. We are talking about not loving our neighbor as ourselves. We are talking about causing strife. These are the passions of our flesh that are making war against our souls. We cannot allow our desires to rule over us and they are battling our souls to do that very thing.

Peter reminds us that we do not belong here. Therefore we must battle against the fleshly desires. Please notice what else Peter said. He said we must abstain. He did not say that we can dabble in our fleshly passions. He did not say that we can occasionally dip in with our desires. To put this another way, when our fleshly desires are winning the battle against us, then they are stripping away our ability to fulfill the purpose we have been given by God. We are forgetting our identity and losing our ability to fulfill our God given purpose.

Slandered (2:12)

Notice how this hits in verse 12. We need to live honorably in the world. Peter is telling us that there is a purpose for us abstaining from our sinful desires. We need to live beautiful, good, honorable lives before others. Friends, this is one of the important ways that we live as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We are not speaking ugly to people about people. We are not complainers. We are not angry. We are not slanderers. We are not selfish. We are not haters. We are to be people who do not look like the world but live beautiful, honorable lives in the world that other people see. Why is this important? Look at the rest of verse 12.

When they slander you as evildoers, they will see your good works. You are going to live your life of faith before the world. You are going to be proclaiming Jesus to people. People are going to resist you for your faith. They are going to speak against you. They are going to slander you as doing wrong. You are going to be accused as wrongdoers because of your faith. The world is going to say that you are the evildoer when you tell people about sin and judgment. The world is going to say that you are evil for standing on the scriptures which declare the need for repentance and turning from sin. The world is going to speak terrible things about us when we say what God says. So how are we supposed to combat this? Look at verse 12.

They are going to observe your good works. You are going to live your life in such a way so that what they say is counteracted by how you live. They are going to say that you are an evildoer, but your behavior is not going to match the charge. They are going to challenge what you say because you are saying the very words of God (cf. 1 Peter 4:11). But you will disprove their charges by your behavior. If you have been with us on Sunday night for our Acts lessons, we have seen this in the life of Paul. He has all kinds of people making all kinds of charges against him. But Paul’s response was that he had lived his life in all good conscience before God and people. His behavior did not match the charges.

Reversing the Slander (2:12)

In fact, not only does our behavior show that we are not evildoers but our behavior will also reverse the slander. People are going to look at us as Christians, hear the charges that we are evil, but see how we live and change their minds. We are going to do good to show that we are not what they say. Their charge will not only be undone in the minds of some, but even cause such a change of mind in some people that they will glorify God by the time he returns. Or will they see an angry person? Will they see a slanderous person? Will they see a person full of hate? Will they see a person who causes problems? Will our actions validate the charges made against us or vindicate us and our Lord as not evil at all?

As the people of God, we do not fight fire with fire. We do not return slander with slander. We do not engage in a war of words. We just keep doing good while they say what they say. It will make an unseen impact. While they accuse you, you keep doing good. Let your good works speak for themselves. You do good before God and before people so that their accusations do not make sense. We are not going to fight because we do not live for this world. We are living for the world to come. We are not going to give into our fleshly passions when they accuse us and slander us. We are going to do what is right before the eyes of all people.


So how to do we live in a world that resists and rejects the teachings of our Lord? How do we maintain our faith and live with courage in a world that wants nothing to do with God? Peter gives us three truths.

Remember that we do not belong.

Every day we need to remind ourselves that this world is not our home. We are strangers that are passing through. Our hope is not here. Our lives are not bound up here. We are living for the world to come. So we will abstain from our worldly and fleshly desires. We will engage in the war that is going on for our hearts so that our souls will be saved. Keep your eyes on home. Every day is a day closer to home.

Our conduct can cause those who speak against you as an evildoer to glorify God before the return of Christ.

Live honorably before all people. The way we live is either going to validate the things people say against us or refute the things they say against us. Our behavior can absolutely nullify the gospel, nullify our teachings, and nullify the glory of God. Please remember that this was one of the great sins laid upon the nation of Israel in the scriptures. Their behavior caused the other nations and other people to blaspheme God, rather than glorify him. Their conduct was supposed to draw people to God. Does our conduct draw people to God or away from God? Are we confirming the glory of the gospel or discrediting everything about the gospel?

We were made for good works (cf. Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:7, 14; 3:8).

We need to remember that we were made for good works. Paul says that we were created in Christ Jesus for good works (Ephesians 2:10).  We are to be eager to do good works, setting an example before others (Titus 2:7, 14).

The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. (Titus 3:8 ESV)

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