Now, under normal circumstances, what Peter writes in verse 13 is the rule... "And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?"
But there are times when Satan will make every effort to bring harm to those who try to follow, and do, GOD'S Will..... remember Job? (1Peter 5:8-9 & Revelation 12:17)
How, then, should Christians prepare themselves so that they might be victorious in overcoming whatever persecution might come their way?
In verses 14-18, we can glean at least five points in preparing for
persecution, let us look at those points in today's message.
1Peter 3:13-18 ~ 13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit
Point 1 ~ Remember, you are Blessed if you suffer for CHRIST (1Peter 3:14,17)
This Truth is stressed twice by Peter in this epistle....
In 1Peter 3:14, and even more definitively in 1Peter 4:14, where he adds that the "Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you".
Those who suffer for the cause of CHRIST are fortunate, for GOD is with them. And this would only reinforce what JESUS CHRIST taught in Matthew 5:10-12, that those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake are blessed.
Certainly you are better off for suffering for CHRIST, than suffering for evil as Peter writes in 1Peter 3:17. Suffering for evil is what will happen if we are not willing to stand up for CHRIST.
And suffering for CHRIST is only temporary, but the suffering for evil is eternal!
Point 2 ~ Sanctify The LORD in your hearts (1Peter 3:14-15)
But what does it mean to 'sanctify' The LORD GOD in your hearts?
The word "sanctify" means "to set apart", so it means to set The LORD up on the throne of your heart, to make HIM The LORD and RULER of your life. HE must rule over your own desires and HIS Will must take precedent over your own will and that of others.
This is the whole point, or key, to facing persecution without fear or without being troubled.
Unless we sanctify The LORD in our hearts, we will be afraid of what man might do, or be troubled by what he threatens. But when we make CHRIST, GOD, our LORD, we will not fear what man might do (Hebrews 13:5-6).
Point 3 ~ Always be ready to give a defense for the reason for your Hope (1Peter 3:15)
Now pay attention..... observe what Peter is not saying here;
He is NOT saying that we need to be ready to give an answer for EVERY question on Christianity that someone might ask, but while we should certainly strive to be able to explain why we do what we do or Believe in, that is not the point Peter is making here.
Peter is saying to always be ready to give a reason why you have the Hope that you have, to be able explain the basis of your hope (your strong desire and expectation).
This implies that our desire and confidence for the future is so strong that it is observable by others.
Even in the midst of persecution, we are demonstrating Joy over the Hope that we have (1Peter 1:6,8).
And when we do so, we must do so in the proper spirit...
In the spirit of meekness, this pertains to our attitude toward men because we should be humble, not arrogant or angry.
In the spirit of fear, this pertains to our attitude toward GOD, and that should be reverent, not flippant.
Point 4 ~ Keep your conscience clean (1Peter 3:16)
The reason given by Peter to keep your conscience clean is that this together with your good conduct will likely to cause your enemies to be ashamed for mistreating you. And if not ashamed in this life, they will certainly be ashamed on the Day of Judgment!
Another reason for a clean conscience is that a guilty conscience will not enable one to face the threat of death without fear and trembling. For before we can stand before men without fear we need to be able to stand before GOD without fear, and that is impossible without a clear conscience (1John 3:21)!
Just remember the example of CHRIST....
HE suffered for our sakes that HE might bring us to GOD (1Peter 3:18 & 1Peter 2:20-25). So we see that suffering for good can sometimes accomplish much good in the long run.
We have been called to follow HIS example as Peter indicates in 1Peter 2:21 and then does again in 1Peter 4:1.
Point 5 is easy.....
In 1Peter 3:13-18 we find five good ways to prepare ourselves and by applying these five principles to our lives we will be more useful to The LORD, ready for whatever may come, even if we are not faced with the prospects of physical persecutions in our lifetime, it will help in times of social or verbal persecution as well.
So when we are attacked, or slandered, just remember to.....
1. YOU ARE BLESSED IF YOU SUFFER FOR CHRIST
2. SANCTIFY THE LORD IN YOUR HEARTS
3. ALWAYS BE READY TO GIVE A DEFENSE FOR THE REASON FOR YOUR HOPE
4. KEEP YOUR CONSCIENCE CLEAN
5. REMEMBER THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST!