I Peter 2:11-17: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
In verse 11 of I Peter chapter 2, we find a definite shift in the writing of this letter. What we find in this section of the letter is Peter, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, telling us that is it now time to practice what we believe. What we believe ought to affect the way we live. The letter now gets very practical. Peter addresses us as strangers and pilgrims because we are just sojourning here on earth. We are temporary citizens. He is challenging us as to what kind of citizens we are. Christians should be the very best citizens the world has!
First, Peter tells us that we are to abstain from fleshly lusts. In other words, we are to keep our flesh in check. It is not just the impure bodily appetites. Most of the time, when we think of fleshly lusts, we think of very improper things. However, it goes beyond that. It is any appetite that would allow us to have selfish desires or impulses that would threaten our soul. We could lust after power, prestige, property, or money. There are countless things we could lust after! We are in a war between our flesh and our soul. It is a daily battle. Our flesh wants to do things that it is not supposed to do. We have the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life! We are to abstain from these things because they war against our souls. Our soul is supposed to tell our flesh how to behave, not the other way around. We need to live by God’s standards, not society’s standards. We are just sojourners here.
Secondly, we need to keep our conduct in check. The word, “conversation” in I Peter 2:12 does not only mean how we speak but also how we live our lives. The lost world is watching us. It all boils down to our testimony. It takes a lifetime to build up our testimony, but just a few minutes to destroy it. Our testimony is very precious. We represent the kingdom of God! We are to live honestly and uprightly as I Peter 2:12 tells us: “…that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” You can lead someone to Christ by the way you live, or you can lead them away from Christ by the way you live!
Finally, we are to submit ourselves to those who have authority over us. We are to keep our civics in check. Keep in mind that when Peter wrote this, they were under Roman rule. Christians were under great persecution and were still admonished to submit to every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake! It doesn’t matter whether it is handed down by the President, the mayor of our town, or anyone in between. We are to submit to that ordinance as long as it does not go against God’s laws. It is the will of God for us to submit to government. I Peter 2:17 sums it up: “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”