BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday January 6, 2013
LIVING WITHOUT FEAR OF SUFFERING
(Facing suffering through confidence in GOD)
1 Peter 3:13-22
In the world, victory and success often lies in one’s “unwillingness” to surrender. By contrast, in the Kingdom of GOD, success and victory can only come through one’s “willingness” to surrender. In the world, one feels a definite need to keep one’s self up front, and on top. However, in the Kingdom of GOD, one must first be able to come to the end of one’s self, because that’s the only place where JESUS can be found. In the world, “self” has to prevail. In the kingdom of GOD, one has to first allow “self” to wither away and die from one’s heart.
In today’s society, the fear and respect that man has for himself, clearly overshadows his belief, fear, and reverence for the GOD WHO created him. Since the day when Adam and Eve, through their disobedience to GOD, first allowed sin, death, and sickness to enter into the world, man has never lived another day, without fear of suffering. Ironically, the only way that man can rid himself of this terrible fear of suffering, is through the confidence he can gain, only through a sound faith and belief, in the same GOD that every man since then, has, at one time or the other, openly rebelled against.
In 1 Peter 3:13-22, Peter further expounds on the expectations of the “Suffering Saint”, or what the “true witness” can expect when they are persecuted for the things of GOD, or, for trying to live within the will of GOD. Here Peter attempts to encourage the new Christians by reminding them that persecutions are a large and necessary part of their newly chosen lifestyles, and that, there should be a “right response” to those persecutions which GOD will honor with HIS blessings.
In this passage, the apostle, first, presents us with the principles of this divine concept (Vs. 13-17), and then, he provides his readers with some sound examples that had already been laid out for the benefit of future believers (Vs. 18-22). Here he starts by sharing with them, the value of having a clear conscience before GOD (Vs. 15-16). In these verses Peter may very well be remembering the time when he denied JESUS three times during the final night of HIS mission here on earth. Peter had, no doubt, turned that experience into a “teachable moment”, as we can clearly see how the pain of shame and disloyalty doesn’t have to be a total loss. In fact, mistakes made during our Christian Walk can often be used to endow us with a sympathy and understanding, that, otherwise, we may have never obtained.
In fact, the biblical account of the “foot washing ceremony” by JESUS (John 13:1-17) in the privacy of the “Upper Room” on HIS final “Passover” night in Jerusalem, serves to show us that we as Christians are going to continue to make mistakes all along our “Christian Walk”, however, that doesn’t mean that we’ll have to keep getting baptized over and over again, in water, nor with the HOLY SPIRIT. We only need to stop and “wash our feet” every now and then, or in other words, use the power of repent that GOD has granted us through CHRIST JESUS, pray earnest prayers, and continue to encourage each other.
The Christian who is performing CHRIST’s commission, as he or she should, will get discouraged, before too long. And so, when we stop and get our feet washed, or, get spiritually refueled for the journey, through prayer, repentance (if needed), and brotherly encouragement (always needed), we can then continue on our journey successfully walking in the newness of life, that is provided for us, through CHRIST JESUS.
Remember, we are not likely to walk through this world without getting dirt on our feet now and again, but we need to be able to recognize when we are losing our “cutting edge”, or when our effectiveness as ministers has been compromised due to too much socializing with the world, and with people in the church whose motives are selfish (Judas Iscariot) and not of GOD. Those people must be dismissed from your life (John 10b-11).
Whenever we side with CHRIST JESUS, we automatically put ourselves in the position to be persecuted by the world. JESUS HIMSELF warned of this in the Gospel of John (John 15:18-25), after HE had taken HIS twelve apostles into private teaching, shortly before HIS crucifixion. He told them that, “When the world hates you, remember it hated ME before it hated you. The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don’t. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you” (John 15:18-19) - NLT).
JESUS went on to tell them, that, “Since they persecuted ME, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to ME, they would listen to you! The people of the world will hate you because you belong to ME, for they don’t know GOD WHO sent ME. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates ME hates MY FATHER too….This has fulfilled what the Scriptures said: “They hated ME without cause” (John 15:20b-25) (NLT).
In the biblical Greek, the word used for “witness” is the same word from which we derive the English word “martyr”. That word is “martus” (mar-toos) and it means not just to witness with words, but, in the biblical sense, it means to witness with the giving of one’s life for CHRIST, literally.
And so, when we say we are witnesses for CHRIST, we are really saying that we are ready to die for CHRIST and the ways of GOD on a moment’s notice, just as Stephen (Acts 6-8) and many others have since done, since the infancy stages of the Christian Church. If we are not ready to do that, then we are “false witnesses” in the biblical sense. And so, “professed Christians” need to be careful what they say under the witness of GOD, WHO sees you.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website