By JANA HENRY|CONTRIBUTOR
Hello again fellow memorizers. A big thank you goes out to Barbaranne for filling in for me these past several weeks! While I haven’t been blogging, I have kept up with the program of memorization [Kept up? More like, zoomed through! BA]. There is nothing like hiding God’s Word in your heart to get you through trying times! God’s Word never returns void and He always accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it. From before the foundation of the world, my Gracious Master and Lord knew that I would need I Peter 1:1-9 rolling around in my head and heart to comfort and sustain me during these past few weeks. If you are struggling with the program, perhaps having a hard time getting it to “stick,” I encourage you with all my might: do not give up! I can think of few things more precious and more worthwhile than hiding God’s Word in your heart. After all, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord remains forever.”[i]
So, let’s get on with it. Here we are in week 7 where Peter is really diving into the imperatives. Remember, the imperatives are what we are to do, based on the indicatives: who God is, who we are, and what He has done for us. Peter began in chapter 2 to tell these chosen exiles what they needed to shed based on the imperishable seed of God’s Word that caused them to be born again to this amazing living hope. He then launches in to a metaphorical description of the body of Christ, giving us all kinds of encouragement to get rid of these divisive life-taking attitudes.
Back to the imperatives; Peter continues his exhortations, this time with a focus on believers’ relationships with the world. Notice he calls them “beloved” (identifying with them) and “sojourners” and “exiles” (reminding them the world is not their home). This sets the stage for the following exhortations – “abstain from the passions of the flesh”, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable” and “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution”.
Now that we are in the seventh week of memorization, we can see why it is so important to keep context in mind, so that we know where we are heading when we recite the verses from recall. This is especially important if you aren’t memorizing the exact address along with it, which I’ve already confessed that I don’t. Last week’s verses ended with the beautiful description of who we are in Christ. Now what? It’s time to get back to exhorting, which is going to carry on until we get to Week 11. But for now, let’s move on to some memory aids to help you as you endeavor to cement this section in your mind.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul
Peter has already described his audience as “exiles.” Now, he adds “sojourner” to the description, which helps to aid in our understanding of what he means by the word “exiles.” The phrase “which wage war” is a tongue twister to say, but also helps to cement this verse in your memory. Peter urges believers to abstain from the passions of the flesh, because they wage war in opposition to what is needed to fulfill the following commands.
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable,
so that when they speak against you as evildoers,
they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
This verse has 3 parts to it. It includes the command and the reason behind it. “Keep,” “so that when,” and “they may.” “Keep” what? – conduct honorable among the Gentiles (BTW, conduct is used 7 times in I Peter, 2 times already). “So that when” what? – they speak against you as evildoers. “They may” what? – see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Notice 3 g’s – good, glorify, God.
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
These two verses are one sentence, covering how believers are to relate to governing authorities. I think the phrase “human institutions” is interesting. Anything that sounds odd or different than my way of phrasing things sticks in my head precisely because it is different. He starts with “Be subject” (This same command applies to how servants are to relate to masters and wives to husbands. Memory aids for future verses. Look for it, and anticipate it.) Notice the order: The emperor is first, he’s at the top of the governmental institution of Peter’s day and geographic region, then governors are under the emperor so, of course, they are sent by him.
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
This is the third time that Peter uses the word good. In fact, the word “good” is used many more times throughout this epistle. It’s Peter’s go-to word to describe what our behavior should look like, especially as it relates to how we interact with other people.
Live as people who are free
Not using your freedom as a cover up for evil,
But living as servants of God.
Here, think of the verse in three parts. Focus on the word live, free, freedom, living
Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Four short commands wrap up this section, and then finishes up the week of memorizing as well.
I hope you are finding this blog helpful to you as you work each week to get another section added to your memory. I would love to hear how it’s going for you.
[i] I Peter 1:24-25a