Live the Good Life
Life in our world today is topsy-turvy. We live in a day and time when sin is exalted and evil desires are honored. A person’s value is often determined by how much they possess—by how much money they have, how much power they have, how many vacations they can go on, how famous they become.
We live in a day and time when the murder of innocent babies is normal, encouraged, and legal. We live in a day and time where homosexuality is looked at as an exalted relationship. Lying to climb the ladder of success is permissible—regardless how many people you destroy in the process.
I wish I could say this is the way of life in the world only; however, some of these attitudes have infiltrated the church as well. We view success in the church by how many people attend our services, or how many people come to Sunday school. Pastors are routinely asked to resign because church lay leaders think that the pastor is a failure when there are empty seats during the service.
We tend to compromise on our biblical stands because we are afraid to offend the lost world. It saddens me when church leaders refuse to call sin what it is SIN. Church leaders readily call homosexuality an alternative life style. Church leaders say that abortion is not an issue—women have a right to choose.
These things are going on in the Church. Shouldn’t the church be different from the world around us?
The Apostle Peter certainly thought so. He wrote to beg those he loved to live the good life—a better life. Peter wrote:
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11–12)
Peter is being a discussion about daily living. He addresses his audience as beloved. This pertains to one who is loved. The object of Peter’s love are those who are his audience. Peter very passionately outlines his plea to live a Godly life. He makes three important statements why we should live a Godly life.
Live good lives because we are aliens
Peter has already told us that we have been set apart for God’s good reason—we are to be holy because God is holy. As a result, we are no longer to be considered citizens of this world; rather, we are no citizens of heaven. Peter reminds believers they are sojourners and pilgrims. A sojourner is a person living in a foreign country with no legal rights as citizens. Pilgrims are temporary residents living in a place that is not their own personal home.
Remember the original audience to whom Peter is writing are Jews who have trusted in Jesus. They are Jewish Christians. They are separated from their Jewish roots—this has made them strangers and pilgrims.
In the same way, we Gentile Christians are to consider ourselves as aliens to this world. Our Christian values and beliefs have been rejected by the world. Now we must live apart from the immorality and sinful behavior of those in the world.
Since we are citizens of heaven, we should not live as though we are citizens of this world. Since we died with Christ—that is we died of from the basic principles of the world—we should subject ourselves to the regulations of the world as though we were living in the world. We are to be separated from the world, but still in the world (Colossians 2:20).
After all, the world has nothing for us. In 1 John 2:16 we see, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” As aliens in this world, we need to be separate from the ways of the world.
Live good lives because sin wars against the soul
Since all that the world has to offer is sin and subsequent separation from God, we are to abstain from fleshy lusts which war against the soul. To abstain means “to hold oneself back from.” Peter is telling his readers to put some distance between their lives and the sin of this world. Christians are to stand firm with Christ and to resist the pull of the world.
The world is filled with desires, which lead to sin. Sin separates us from God. When we are separated from God, we can no longer have fellowship with Him (1 John 1). Where do wars and fights begin? The come from our desires for pleasure (James 4:1). James goes on to say, “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war…” (James 4:2)
Peter is begging his audience to run from these wars of the heart. Our goal needs to be to stay in fellowship with God. This is done only as we abstain from the desires of this world and live the life God demands for us.
Live good lives because God must be glorified
Christians are to abstain from sinful desires for our own benefit, but also because our abstinence will have a positive influence on the Gentile world. Remember, Peter is begging Jewish believers to live a spiritual lifestyle among the Gentiles. Peter is not speaking of unbelievers in general; rather, he is speaking of influencing a “non-Jew.” Peter is writing to Jewish believers living among the Gentiles.
As Jewish believers living within the Gentile world, there is a certain lifestyle to model. Their lives should be such that even if the Gentile unbelievers call them evildoers, these unbelievers will still be able to the Jewish believer’s good works. The result is that the Gentile unbelievers will observe them and ultimately glorify God by becoming saved.
In the same way, we believers of today, should also live good lives composed of good deeds (see Matthew 5:16; Romans 15:6; 1 Corinthians 6:20) so that unbelievers can see them and trust in Christ for their salvation.
I find it interesting that our doing good works is for our benefit…so that we live more fulfilling lives before God. But our good works also benefits the world. Not necessarily by making the world a “happier” place, but by demonstrating God’s great love for the world (John 3:16) so that people can come to a saving faith in Jesus, the Christ our Lord.
Peter’s begging Christians to live a life of abstaining from sin is, therefore, the beginning of evangelism.
How are you doing? Are you abstaining from fleshly lusts that war against the soul? Is your conduct so honorable that others see your life and then they give glory to God?