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Sunday, October 03, 2021

"Live Your Lives As Strangers Here In Reverent Fear" [Matt's Messages]

“Live Your Lives as Strangers Here in Reverent Fear”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
October 3, 2021 :: 1 Peter 1:17-21
Is it good to live in fear?

Well, the answer must be, “It depends.”

My initial instinct, I don’t know about you, is to say that it is bad to live in fear.

Fear can be crippling. It can be paralyzing. It can make you cringe and make bad decisions.

But there apparently is also a healthy kind of fear that is good and right and even freeing and can lead to healthy, holy, and good decisions.

It must be so because we read these words (our message title for today) in 1 Peter chapter 1, verse 17, “Live Your Lives as Strangers Here in Reverent Fear.”

Take out all the modifying words in the middle, and that clause boils down to “live in fear.”

That’s what Peter wants us to do. “Live in fear.”

Which flows right out of the call of what we studied last time, “Be holy in all you do.”
In some way, it is good and right and healthy and holy to live your life in fear.

Now, the NIV has “in reverent” fear which is helpful because it points to who is being feared here in verse 17. It is God the Father. This is a holy kind of fear of a holy God.

But there is no actual Greek word for “reverent” in the Greek of verse 17. “It’s just "phobos. “Fear.” That “reverent” is just added in there in the English to clarify what kind fear it really is.

It is not a slavish kind of fear. Not a sinful kind of fear. Not a cringing kind of fear.

But it is a trembling kind of fear. A worshipful kind of fear. A trembling in wonder and worship and reverence and awe. A reverent fever.

But a fear nonetheless.

What the Bible calls in other places “the fear of the Lord.”

So living in fear can obviously be a very good thing.       


A proper fear of fearful things will help you to make wise choices.


Do you think it would help or hurt for Drew have no fear whatsoever of hot metal or heavy hammers?

Should he not be careful around them? 

Should Drew handle those glowing sticks of steel in any way that he gets into his head?

Just however he feels at any moment? Grab whatever, wherever, swing it however?

Or should Drew have a proper fear of hot metal and heavy hammers?

I think it’s obvious. 

But so often we do not live with a proper fear of something so much more fearful, so often we do not live with a proper fear of God!

The opposite of this kind of reverent fear is irreverence, flippancy, or carelessness or thoughtlessness towards God.

It is going through life with no regard for God. No thought of God as you live your daily life. 

Or just a perfunctory one. We may acknowledge God with our lips. We may even open our day with prayer, but we do not live as if He is actually real and that we will have to one day actually give to Him an account.

Now, right here right now is the easy moment to start thinking about other people.

Other people and their failings in the fear of the Lord. “Those people.”

It’s easy to see this in other people’s lives. Those foolish people not thinking about God! Just look at them. Shaking our heads here.

But don’t start there. Ask yourself today how you yourself are doing at living your life as a stranger here in reverent fear.

Those words “as strangers here” are very important, too, in verse 17.

The ESV has “in the time of your exile.”
The KJV has, “the time of your sojourning.”

The 2011 NIV has “foreigners” instead of “strangers.” That’s really helpful. “Live out your time as foreigners here.”

It’s the same root word in Greek as in our current memory verse from chapter 2, verse 11. “Dear friends, I urge you as FOREIGNERS and EXILES, to abstain from sinful desires...”

Remember from chapter 1, verse 1, that Peter wants us to think of our ourselves as VERY DISPLACED? As not at home. Not living in our true homeland. As resident aliens.

Do you think of yourself as a foreigner in this world?

As somebody who is supposed to live differently?

Have you ever felt out of place somewhere?

Like you don’t really fit in there?

We say, “Like a fish out of water.”

Well, Peter’s first readers were apparently displaced foreigners themselves in some way, perhaps as literal exiles from either Israel or Rome. 

And Peter builds on their experience as foreigners to say, “Lean into that. That’s a great way to think of yourself here in this world. Not just in this country but in this broken world itself.”

We’re strangers; we’re foreigners.

Now, if you don’t fit in, if you are a foreigner, then you could be tempted to live in fear of your neighbors. Right?

I mean if the people around you are saying, “You’re not from around here, are you?” then you might be tempted to fear them and try to live your life to please them, right?

And to fit in. And just do what everybody around you is doing.

But Peter says, “Don’t give in to that temptation. Lean into your identity as a foreigner and fear God the Father instead.”

In other words, be different because God is watching.

Be different because your Father God is watching.

Be different from those around you (be a stranger) because you belong to a holy God.

“Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.”

How are you doing at that?

If you were to spend some time today evaluating your life against these words from the apostle Peter, how would you measure up?

Again, don’t think first about other people. Think about yourself here. Don’t look at the guy next to you. Look at yourself.

And this is about every area of your life.

For example, worship at church. Do you worship here in reverent fear?

Or are you flippant about it? Do you just stroll in and half-heartedly sing? Or not sing at all? Or think about something else when it’s time to sing? 

Or not prioritize gathered worship at all? Just doing it when it seems convenient. When it’s fun. Only when you feel like it.

Or do you fear God?

Or at work. Do you live your life as a foreigner at work in reverent fear?

Do you just go to work and do your job like everybody else?

Or do you worship at work? Do you do your job as unto the Lord in the fear of the Lord?

Do you seem different from your co-workers?

Are you something of a foreigner there?

Christians should be the best employees but also seem a little weird. A little strange. A little foreign.

Like they’re not there primarily for the paycheck.

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

“Your work is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. That’s weird! That’s foreign around here.”

How about your talk? How about the way you communicate on social media or in private conversation?

Do you post and text and message “as a foreigner here in reverent fear?” Or just like everybody else on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram?

Do you know that God reads every one of your posts?

I saw a post somewhere recently that said to remember that “The Lord follows you on social media.” And He reads every one of your DM’s, private messages, texts.

Do you sound like everybody else in your social media feed?

Or do you sound like “a stranger?”

Do you sound like a foreigner who is living here in reverent fear?

What are you doing with your sexuality?

Are you living just like the rest of the world with your private thoughts and your private parts?

Or are you living like a foreigner to this world in reverent fear?

Pursuing a holy sexuality. Private thoughts and private parts directed in the ways that God designed at creation.

It’s easy to point the finger at others and what they are doing with their sexuality.

How are you doing with yours? Where do you need to repent and to change?

“Live your lives as [foreigners] here in reverent fear.”

Don’t just bounce around thoughtlessly in conformity with the people around you and with no regard to the holiness of God in every area of your life.

Now, Peter doesn’t just tell us to do this. He also gives us very good reasons for  doing this which also reveal the power available to live this way.

I’m going to summarize it under two headings, and here’s number one.

Live your lives as foreigners here in reverent fear:

#1. BECAUSE OF YOUR IMPARTIAL FATHER.

We haven’t actually read yet from the beginning of verse 17; let’s do that now.

“Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.”

The most important word there in the first clause has to be the word “Father.”

That word controls the whole idea of fear in this verse.

That word “Father” shows that we are not supposed to be scared of God. No cringing.

If you are a little child and you have a good father, you’re not scared of him.

But you do fear him.

You want to please him. You don’t want to cross him. You don’t want to get out of fellowship with him. You don’t want his frown. You want his smile.

And you know that you’re going to have to answer to him.

If you have a good father, you’re going to have to give an account.

When you were a kid, did you ever have to do a painful debriefing with your parents about something you’d done? Kids, have you had to do that recently?

Peter reminds his readers that they too will have to give account to God the Father for all of their deeds. And so will we.

Now, notice, He’s still their Father. This is not whether or not they are going to be saved.

We are not saved based on our works. We are saved based on what we’re going to see in the very next verse. What we’ve been singing about all morning and what we’re going to celebrate at Lord’s Table together today.

We are saved by grace, but our works will be judged.

We will have to give an account for all of our choices in this life.

To our Father.

And He doesn’t play around. Verse 17 says we call, we pray to a Father who judges each of our works impartially. He doesn’t wink at sin. He doesn’t play favorites.

He doesn’t say, “Oh don’t worry about that. No biggie. Who cares? Whatever.”

This Father doesn’t just shrug. He wants us to be holy in all that we do.

He wants us to live as foreigners, differently, in reverent fear of Him.

So keep that in mind as you go about your life this week.

As you spend your money. Remember, you’re going to be audited.

Maybe not by the IRS, but by your heavenly Father.

You’re going to have to go over your accounts and talk about each purchase.

You’re going to have to explain to your Father what you were doing there.

Same thing with your entertainment choices.

Same thing with your relationships. Your friendships. Your enemy-ships. Your social media. Your sexuality. Your votes in the voting booth. Your ethical choices. Your medical choices. Your work. Your play. Your rest. Your care for creation. Your environmental choices.

You’re going to have to go over all of that with Him.

So think about that as you go through your week.

Live your life as a foreigner here in reverent fear.

Not to earn God’s love! You’ve got that. He’s your Father.

But because of God’s love. He’s your Father! You call on Him. Right?

You pray, right? That same God that you ask to work powerfully in your life is asking you to live as a stranger in this world and in reverent fear of Him.

Holy love casts out unholy fear, yes.

But we know that holy love also creates holy fear in us.

And we know something more.

We know that we have been forgiven and that we will be forgiven and have been freed and wil be freed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Look at verse 18.

“[Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.] For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

#2. BECAUSE OF YOUR PRECIOUS SAVIOR.

Live as a foreigners here in reverent fear because of your impartial Father and because your precious Savior.

Do you see the logic there in those verses?

We don’t live healthily fear-filled lives to earn God’s forgiveness or to be set free. It doesn’t work that way.

We live healthily fear-filled lives because we have been forgiven. Because we have been set free!

This holy fear comes from being wholly forgiven.
This holy fear comes from being wholly free.

I love how Peter highlights the precious blood of Christ by contrasting it with silver or gold. Look again at verse 18.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold [We don’t think of silver and gold which are elements[!] as perishable things, but from God’s standpoint they are. Money passes away. It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold... ] that you were redeemed [bought back, freedom purchased] from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers [whether pagan forefathers with empty idols or Jewish forefathers with an empty devotion lawkeeping. Those are worthless. That’s how the rest of the world lives, and it’s futile. Those won’t save you!], but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
 
There is nothing more precious than the blood of Jesus Christ. Like the sacrificial Lamb of the Old Testament sacrificial system. His blood is more than enough to pay for every sin that you have ever committed and ever will.

And this blood sets us free. It redeems us. We are not just foreigners. We are freed slaves. Freed from an empty way of life so that we can live life to the fullest in reverent fear.

If you have been saved, then you are now free to fear.

Free to fear the Father!

Free of the fear of sin and death and judgment.

Free of the fear of Satan and of Hell.

But you are also now free to walk in the fear of the Lord.
Because of the precious blood of the Lamb.

And this is Plan A, not Plan B or Plan Z.

It was not hastily assembled at the last second. V.20

“He [Christ] was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him [through Christ] you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”

Because of your precious Savior.

Who was set to come before the world was created and then showed up at just at the right time. Notice that we are living in the last times! We have been ever since Jesus came the first time, and now we’re just waiting for His return.

Because of your precious Savior you believe in God who raised Jesus from the dead and glorified Him, so your faith and your hope are in God.

There he goes again about HOPE, right?


It’s not here yet, but it is just as sure as if it was.

Because Jesus has come back from the dead!

And so we are forgiven and freed by what He did for us on the Cross.

Freed from an empty way of life to live a life full of holy trembling fear.

Freed from how our forefathers lived to now live as foreigners here in reverent fear.

So, yes, it is good to live in fear because of our impartial Father and because of our precious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

May He get all of the glory.


***

Previous Messages in This Series

01. "Elect Exiles" 1 Peter 1:1-2
02. "A Living Hope" 1 Peter 1:3-7
03. "Angels Long To Look Into These Things" 1 Peter 1:8-12
04. "Be Holy In All You Do" 1 Peter 1:13-16

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