Exhortations for Christian Living
We have spent the past several months looking at Peter’s charge to the Jewish Christians who were experiencing great tribulation. We have covered many issues raised by Peter. You can go back and review what Peter tells these Christians…way back to the post on May 10, 2015.
Now we find ourselves at the end of Peter’s first epistle.
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:5–11)
Peter finishes his letter with five exhortations.
Be subject to the elders
Peter had previously addressed the elders. In 1 Peter 5:1-4, he described the service of the Godly leader. He instructs elders to serve as overseers by making a number of contrasting statements. Serve not by compulsion, but willingly. Serve not for dishonest gain, but eagerly. Serve not as lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Now Peter turns his attention to the younger members of the church. Peter is not mean “younger” based on age; but rather, he means “younger” ones in the faith. So, he specifically mentions those younger in the faith, but he then extends this to the entire congregation.
He says, “Yes, all of you be submissive to one another.” The elders are church leaders who are older in the faith. They, by necessity must be older in age as well…how else would they garner the wisdom necessary to shepherd God’s flock? Such wisdom comes only from years of walking with God…standing firm in their faith. Since the leaders have great knowledge regarding the Word of God, they are the ones to whom God has given the responsibility to care for His sheep.
For this reason, those younger in their faith should be submissive to elders. Indeed, one of the components of being spirit-filled is to submit to one another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21).
Be clothed with humility
Peter uses the verb “be clothed” in his exhortation. This is the only place this verb is used. It means to dress oneself, with the implication of clothing that is tied on. It means to dress. The passage could be stated, “…all of you should dress yourselves with humility toward one another.”
This is obviously figurative language. Peter is telling believers that humility should be a foundational characteristic of their lives. They should demonstrate humility in all aspects of their lives. Humility is an outworking of our love for Christ. Paul says it this way:
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1–4)
Only though the exercise of humility can we be like-minded. We must demonstrate humility to be of the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Only through personal humility can we become one people. We must be more concerned for the interests of others than our own interests.
Humility is a necessary requirement for all who serve. Showing humility is accomplished by serving one another. Most importantly, God gives grace to the humble. This is so critical that Peter adds, “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time…” In due time means that this will be reward in the future by Jesus Himself…at His Judgment Seat.
Cast your cares upon Him
Peter then tells us how we can be humble. We exercise humility by casting all your care upon Him. We are to literally throw our anxieties onto Christ. But what are our anxieties. These are our cares and concerns.
What we are doing is putting all responsibility for our anxieties on Him. We are to stop worrying about the issues of life. We are to put our trust in Him. We are to trust Him completely. We are to pray that God would relieve our burdens because he cares for us. Imagine that God cares for you and He cares for me. That is a blessing.
Peter demands that we be sober, be vigilant. Why must we be so focused? Because we must resist Satan. To be sober means that we must be self-controlled. But more than that, we must be in spiritual control. Satan exists in the spiritual world and if we are to resist him, we must have a God-centered spirituality.
To be vigilant means that we must be watchful. To resist Satan, we must be awake and we must be alert. Peter was speaking from experience because he failed to be vigilant in prayer at Gethsemane, before the arrest of Jesus.
We need to be sober and watchful because we have an adversary–the Devil. He is roaming around looking for someone to devour. Satan wants nothing more than destroy the testimony and the very life of the followers of Jesus, the Christ. We need to be prepared!
But how do we resist? Only through the exercise of our faith. We resist him, steadfast in faith… this basically means that we need to stand firm like a rock. To resist Satan takes great determination. We must put our faith in the work of Jesus on the cross. At the cross, Jesus defeated the Devil. Our faith in the finished work of Christ is the only way we can defeat the Devil.
In see this supported by other Scriptures. James 4:7 says, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Here we get the promise that if we submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee from us.
To Him the glory
Peter wants us to know that God has a purpose in allowing us to suffer. Suffering leads to eternal glory. Yes, we must suffer in this life for a while. But because of God’s grace, we are called to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus. God is the source and giver of grace. Grace only comes through God.
God called us into His grace. We have been called into an eternal relationship with God through the shed blood of His Son. Consider some of these great verses.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
““Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24)
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11–12)
We can be confident that we will be with God throughout eternity. He will not let us fall away. We are eternally secure in Him. Our salvation is not dependent on our faithfulness, but on His. Yet, if you want the best from this life, we need to live in obedience, specifically to the five items Peter discusses in this passage.
How are you doing?
- Are you living subject to the elders God has placed over you?
- Is humility a foundational quality of your life?
- Are you casting your cares and anxieties on Him?
- Are you soberly and vigilantly resisting the Devil?
- Does your life give all the glory to God?