The Recipe for Loving Your Life, Part 3 (1 Peter 3:8-12)Written by admin on Sep 30, 2018 in - No Comments
This morning is a special day for us. We are welcoming lots of young faces into this part of our worship service today—a part of the service when they are normally dismissed to Children’s Church. But we have decided as a staff that it would be good for the kids to join us now and then during the sermon time so that they can know what it is all about. And so, once a quarter or so we are going to have them remain with us for this part of the service like we are doing today.
Now, boys and girls, you are coming in on the middle of a study we have been doing from a letter written by a man named Peter. You might recognize that name because Peter was one of Jesus’s first followers and he was a very important person in the early church. Well, just like we sometimes do today, Peter wrote a letter to a group of people who were living in a part of the world that wasn’t very nice to Christians. And he wrote this letter to encourage them, and to give them some advice about how they ought to live—not to get other people to be nice to them, but to show the people who weren’t being nice how wonderful God really is.
And for the last couple of weeks, we grown-ups have been looking at a particular part of this letter where Peter tells us how we ought to live if we want people who do not believe in God to start believing in God. And this morning we are going to talk some more about that, and we are glad that you are here to join us because it is important that you know what God has to say about these things as well.
So let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to 1 Peter 3 where we will read from verses 8-12. And remember, as I tell you every week at Awana, whenever we read the Bible that is God speaking to us and so it is important that we pay attention to what he says. If we don’t, it would be like God walking into this room and talking to us while we just keep doing whatever we are doing and not paying him any attention. That would be rude, right? And we don’t want to be rude to anyone, especially to God. So, if you need to, get some help from a grown-up finding 1 Peter 3:8-12. If you are using one of the black pew Bibles, you can just turn to page 1015. And if you can read, I hope you will follow along with me in your Bible as I read these verses to you. If you can’t read yet, that is fine, a lot of the people who heard this letter the first time, couldn’t read either. So just listen in and pay careful attention to what God is saying as I read.
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:8–12 ESV)
Now, this morning we are going to focus in on verses 10-12. And the first thing we see in these verses is that Peter wants us to understand how we can love our life and see good days. Do you see that in verse 10? Peter says, “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him” do these things. And what things does Peter tell us to do if we want to love our life and see good days?
Watch Your Mouth (v. 10)
Well, the first thing he tells us to do is to “keep [our] tongue from evil and [our] lips from speaking deceit.” Now, what does that mean? Well, it means that we should avoid saying mean things to other people and that we should avoid telling lies. Yes, kids, your parents are right when they ask you to be nice and to tell the truth. They are right because they are asking you to do things that God is asking you to do.
The truth is, and you can just believe your parents and believe the Bible, or you can find out the hard way, when you aren’t careful about what you say to others, and if you make it habit of saying mean things to people and telling lies, it will end up causing you a lot of problems—especially as you get older. Not only will people not want to be your friends, but speaking in evil ways about people and telling lies can get you in real trouble once you become a teenager and an adult. And if people are always mad at you because of the way you have talked to them or lied to them, your days will not be good, but they will be bad. And a life full of bad days is not a life that anyone is going to love. So I hope that you will listen to the Bible here and pay attention to what it says about watching what you say. Peter is telling us to speak nicely and speak truthfully.
Watch What You Do (v. 11)
But in addition to watching what you say, you also need to watch what you do. In verse 11 Peter says that if we want to love life and see good days, we must “turn away from evil and do good.” Do you see that in verse 11? Poke your parents or a grown-up next to you if they are not pointing it out to you in your Bible. (But, not too hard because that would be evil.) So, it is not only important that we keep from saying evil things, but it is also important that we keep from doing evil things. Yes, we must watch what we say, and we must watch what we do.
Now how do we know what is good and what is evil? Well, things that are good please God, and things that are evil upset God. And we don’t have to guess about these things. We don’t have to guess for two reasons. First, God has given every human being a conscience that does a pretty good job telling us when we are doing something that he would consider evil. Yes, there is a reason why everyone knows that it is wrong to lie and to steal and to hurt other people. We know it is wrong because God has placed that knowledge in us from the beginning.
But the other reason we don’t have to guess about whether something is good or evil is because God has told what is good and what is evil. He has told us in the Bible. And while human beings like to change the rules sometimes, and take something that used to be evil and say that it is now good, the Bible doesn’t ever change its mind about things like that. It doesn’t change its mind because God doesn’t change his. In the Bible, God has revealed to us the things in life that are good and the things in life that are evil, and we are to turn away from evil things and do good things instead. As children, we have our parents to help us with this. And hopefully, one of the tools they are using to help you understand what is right and what is wrong is the Bible. Actually, it should be THE tool they are using so that when you grow up, you know that the Bible is the place to turn when you aren’t sure what you ought to do.
Now, in addition to turning away from evil and doing good instead, Peter also tells us that we ought “seek peace and pursue it.” Do you see that at the end of verse 11? What this means is that we ought to go out of our way to get along with everyone. The truth is, sometimes we can do things, that while they are not wrong or evil, may upset someone else. For example, maybe you leave church today, and it may be your day to pick where the family goes for lunch. And maybe you really like Sushi, and that is what you really want for lunch. But, you also know that your brother or sister really hates Sushi and will pitch a fit if that’s what you choose. So, what should you do if you want to seek peace and pursue it? That’s right; you should pick another place to eat that everyone in the family likes. You should do that to keep the peace within your family.
Now, the result of living in this way, according to Peter, is that God will have his eyes on us, watching and taking care of us, and he will also keep his ears open our prayers. That what Peter says in verse 12. He says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” So it is really important that we pay attention to what Peter is saying here. We certainly do not want to live in such a way that turns God against us so that he doesn’t pay attention to our prayers. No one wants that. We want to be obedient to God, and we want him to watch over us and pay careful attention to our prayers. Right? We want that because having God watch over us and answer our prayers is an important part of having a good life.
But, before we leave, I need to make something very clear to you. Yes, after telling you that the way to experience a life you will love and one that is full of good days is by watching what you say and watching what you do, I also need to tell you that you aren’t going to be able to do any of this on your own. The sad truth is, none of us are going to be able to live in the sorts of ways Peter describes here unless something very important happens to us.
You see, what we all need is for God to do something so miraculous to our hearts that it completely changes who we are. Yes, the truth is, we all need new hearts. We need new hearts because the Bible tells us that all the evil thoughts that come into our minds, and all the hurtful and untrue words that come out of our mouths, and all the bad things that we do—yes all of these things come from one place. And according to Jesus, himself, that place is the heart (Matthew 15:19). You see friends, regardless of what the Disney movies tell us about trusting and following our hearts, the Bible tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV). And so, to follow your heart is foolish. It will not lead you down the right path; instead it will deceive you and lead you in the wrong ways. So, what you ought to follow instead, is the Word of God. Yes, you ought to be obedient to God’s Word even when that contradicts what your heart is saying. This is something that adults and children alike need to learn.
But, the problem is, we cannot do any of this—we know from experience that we cannot be obedient to God’s Word for very long. We cannot do it unless something very important happens to us. And what needs to happen to us all, is for God to give us a new heart. Yes, that is what we need. According to the Bible, we need a new heart that has God’s laws written upon it if we are going to have any chance of being obedient to God. Yes, a new heart is what we need if we are going to keep our tongues from evil and our lips from speaking deceit. A new heart is what we need if we are going to turn away from evil and do good. Yes, a new heart is what we need if we are going to seek peace and pursue it instead of pursuing a life that results in pain and suffering for ourselves and others.
So, if a new heart is what we need—if that’s what grown-ups need, and if that’s what children need—then where do we go to find one? Yes, how can we get a new heart that is not set against God and his rules for living, but a heart that is open to God and willing to obey him no matter what the cost? Where do we get a heart like this? Is it something we can buy? Can we go to Walmart or Publix and find a new heart? Or maybe we can get one online? Maybe you can ask your parents to buy you a new heart from Amazon? What do you think? Where can you find one? Well, boys and girls the only place to get the new heart that we all need, is from God.
In Ezekiel 36:26, which is a book from the Old Testament, God tells us, “I will give you a new heart” (Ezekiel 36:26 ESV). He says, “I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:26–27 ESV). So, the thing we need if we are going to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God is a new heart. We need a new heart that has the Spirit of God dwelling within it (2 Corinthians 1:22).
So boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, I am not asking you to go from here today and just try to be better. That’s every other religion in the world. What I am asking you to do, is to trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation so that God will begin the process of making you better—the process of making you look more and more like Jesus. And the more and more we look like Jesus in this life, the more and more we will love our life, and each day will be better than the one before. That doesn’t mean we won’t face difficulties, in fact, Jesus told us to expect difficulties if we follow him. But there is no difficulty in this life that can rob a Christian of the joy of knowing that I am God’s and that he is mine. There is nothing that can happen to us that will rob us of the blessings that come from following Jesus.
So, although the way we live does not earn us salvation—that’s right, no matter what anyone tells you, you can’t be good enough to get rid of the bad things that you have done. Because the bad you have done—whether that be thinking evil things, doing evil things, or saying evil things—put Jesus on the cross. And there is nothing you are going to do in this life that is capable of undoing that—no matter how good you think it is. So, although the way we live does not earn us salvation, the way we live our life is evidence of our salvation. If we regularly talk to people in mean and hurtful ways, that is good evidence that we do not have the Spirit of God dwelling within us. If we regularly speak lies to people, that is good evidence that we do not have the Spirit of God within us. If we regularly act in bad ways instead of good ways, that is good evidence that we do not have the Spirit of God within us. If we regularly create chaos in our lives and in the lives of others instead of seeking peace and pursuing it, that is good evidence that we do not have the Spirit of God within us. But, if the normal pattern of our life, is living according to the pattern of Jesus’s life, that is good evidence that we have indeed trusted in Jesus for our salvation, and that the Holy Spirit of God is indeed dwelling within us, making us more and more like our Savior.
So boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, when you look at your life, what does the evidence have to say? Does the evidence point toward the presence of the Holy Spirit of God within you? Or does the evidence point toward the fact that you are still ruled and controlled by sin and in desperate need of Jesus?
Well, if you do not have the Spirit of God within you, that means one thing. It means that you need to admit to God that you are a great sinner in need of a great savior. It means that you need to trust that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to Earth to die on the cross so that your sins could be paid for and forgiven by God. When you do this, Jesus has promised that he will send the Holy Spirit to make you into a new person—into a new person that continually looks more and more like Jesus.
Listen, friends, both young and old. This is the gospel. This is what we believe as Christians. We believe that Jesus came to earth for the purpose of standing in our place and enduring the punishment that we deserve for our sins. Boys and girls, imagine that you go to school this week and do something really bad. Like so bad that you are going to get kicked out of school and maybe never allowed to ever come back. And imagine if one of your friends—someone who wasn’t even at school the day you got in trouble—imagine if somehow they convinced the principal to suspend them instead of you so that you could keep going to school. Imagine if you had a friend that cared about you that much. Well, what I want you to understand today, is that Jesus cares about you a billion times more than that. And he demonstrated it by dying in your place for something he never did.
And while the greatest benefit coming our way if we are trusting in Jesus today for our salvation is that we will live with him and experience the joys of heaven forever, there is another benefit as well. Yes, when we give our lives to Jesus, when we turn them completely over to him, we will begin experiencing in small ways, the good days of the eternal life that we have entered into. It is sort of like your mom letting you taste the icing on the cake that she has made for dessert later tonight. It is only a taste, but boy is it good. And if that little taste was so good, can you imagine what it is going to be like to eat a slice or two later this evening?
Friends, big and small, the truth is, life is often hard. It was hard for the people who originally received this letter from Peter, and it is hard for us today as well. But the recipe for a life you can love, one that is full of good days, begins with trusting in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you haven’t done that, my prayer is that you will do so before you leave today.