The Lord, the Reason: Devotional Commentary for February 9-15
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
13Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,
14or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
Peter continues with his discussion on the distinguishing features of the two types of people he identified in our previous meditation. These are those who respond to Jesus Christ in one of two ways. Some believe and others would not. Some are anchored in the Rock while others trip over it.
The difference between these people types is also reflected in their identity. Those who believe are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God's possession". Those who do not believe remain the children of disobedience appointed to condemnation. Then Peter admonishes Christians to be unlike unbelievers in their responses to earthly authorities.
God's children are called to be obedient to God and every authority He placed over earthly institutions. Since all authorities are given by God, the Christians' submission to civil authorities is actually obedience to God. That is, obeying civil authorities at every level is both recognizing God's sovereignty and submitting oneself to God's Will.
Peter's exhortation to submit to authorities is not unconditional. He said to obey for the sake of God. That is, to obey earthly authorities in recognition of God's sovereign determination in keeping with His Will and Purpose for placing them in a position of authority. We respond to earthly authorities as unto the Lord in keeping with the precepts of His living Word which is our guiding light. We recognize that earthly authorities are God's agents to reward good and to punish evil.
15For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.
16Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.
The call to obedience is a profound admonition to respond to God in the righteousness of Christ. To obey God and the authorities He ordained is to observe His Will. It is doing the right thing in godliness and in true faith.
Such consecrated behavior is so powerful when practiced in God's Power, for the sake of God. It silences every ungodly voice and defuses the worldly wisdom of foolish men. It empowers the redeemed to act freely and responsibly in Christ's freedom. But Peter also cautions the redeemed to exercise their freedom as God's servants carefully watching their own conduct lest they use their liberty to facilitate evil works.
17Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
18Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.
As we have already noted, Peter's life-changing exhortations confront the believers' natural inclinations to even the score against persecutors and the enemies of the Gospel. He says to submit to earthly authorities for God's sake because all authority is given by God both to bless and to discipline or to judge. But then he stretches his teachings further and admonishes us to respect all people and authorities In the fear of God, regardless of their behavior or attitude toward God's children. That is, to do all this for God's sake.
Peter speaks to servants or employees directly instructing them to be respectful and obedient to their masters. This response of submission is not a reciprocal exchange of mutual respect. He tells servants to obey their masters regardless of how they treat them. In other words, the right and godly behavior of the servants reflects the righteousness of Christ in them. That would be the Power of Christ in God's children. It silences the ungodly ways of foolish masters. Since Christ lives in the life of the redeemed, the behavior of God's children should not be contrary to Christ's righteous ways. The redeemed reflect their Redeemer in all that they say and do.
The two types of people featured in Peter's teaching are defined in terms of their relationship with God. Hence, those who believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation conduct themselves in light of their relationship with their Redeemer. Those who do not accept Christ's redeeming Grace live according to their own natural ways. Believers make decisions and take actions for the sake of God and in His fear. On the contrary, unbelievers live their lives for their own sake.
To be sure, what Peter says to us seems barely complicated. But we often find ourselves struggling to stay the course. Why?! We know we believe. We sense God's presence in and around us. Nevertheless, we continue to behave contrary to the Spirit of Truth dwelling in our redeemed hearts. We behave contrary to who we are, unlike every other human being.
The answer is right before us. Our recent meditations draw our attention to the most indispensable vital attribute we ought to have as Christians. God's children should always be vigorously aware of the irreversible change which took place in our lives at the time of our redemption. We must know and always remember our newness in Christ, how these drastic changes came upon us, who we have been made in Christ, and ultimately Who God is.
God is the only sovereign God. There is none like Him. He brought all of creation into existence by His spoken Word. He revealed His Glory by expressing His Love, Mercy, Grace, and Justice by sending His Son to the world to fulfill His Will and His Purpose. It is by the sovereign Grace of this God that we are saved. His salvation is absolute and irreversible.
Having been redeemed, we are exalted into a status of supreme excellence. We are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people of God's possession". Our Father is gracious and His Mercy is fresh toward us every morning. These truths must preoccupy our spirit, our mind, our heart, and even our soul. Such a profound change should also impact our attention and behavior. A vigorous and lively awareness of these truths can actually redirect our attention to God and His living Word so that we might source wisdom and strength from our Father as we respond to everything which requires answers or actions from us.
Let the Holy Spirit revive in us a vigorous and lively awareness of His presence with us so we might appropriate His wisdom and strength as we deal with people and the world around us. Our Example is Christ. Our Guide is the Holy Spirit. Our Father is God the Almighty.