Sunday, November 07, 2021

“Submit Yourselves for the Lord’s Sake” [Matt's Messages]

“Submit Yourselves for the Lord’s Sake”
As Foreigners and Exiles - The Message of 1 Peter
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
November 7, 2021 :: 1 Peter 2:13-17

We are a family of foreigners. 

We saw and felt that last week as we reached the key passage that we have been memorizing as a church family for the last few months. 1 Peter chapter 2, verses 11 and 12.

Let’s say it together:

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

And what a day that will be!

The Apostle Peter says that we are very loved.

And he also says that we are very displaced.

We are “foreigners and exiles.”
We are sojourners and pilgrims.
We are strangers and resident aliens.

We are not from around here, and we are not home yet.

We are a citizens of another kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, living in and among the kingdoms of this world. And so we are called to live a particular and different way.

Not giving in to or giving up in the internal war of our sinful desires.

And living beautiful lives, lives full of shining goodness, so that our unbelieving neighbors are drawn to our Lord.

We said last week that those words “As Foreigners and Exiles” are the context for the whole book especially for what Peter is going to ask us to do next.

And it’s not going to be easy.

Are you ready to hear what Peter is going to ask us to do as foreigners and exiles?

Are you ready for God’s Word to us today?

I warn you that it is not something that comes naturally to most of us humans, and even less so to those of us who are born and bred Americans.

In today’s passage (and in the next several weeks’ worth of passages), the Apostle Peter is going to ask us to submit ourselves to other humans.

The title of this message is the first five words of the first verse, “Submit Yourselves for the Lord’s Sake.”

Peter is establishing the main principle here, and then he’s going to bring it to bear on different relationships from here to the end of the next chapter.

But the main focus is on submission.

“Submit yourselves.” That’s something that most of us are not very good at.
To submit yourself means to put yourself under someone else’s authority.

It means to follow their orders. It means to obey. It means to “be subject” to someone else.

And we are already beginning to chafe, right?

Raise your hand or honk if you love this word: MANDATES.

(For yourself, I mean. If you like to be mandated. Not if you like to give mandates.)

Raise your hand or honk if you love this word: TAXES.
Raise your hand or honk if you love these words: SPEED LIMITS.
Raise your hand or honk if you love these words: GAME LIMITS.
Raise your hand or honk if you love this word: PERMITS.
Raise your hand or honk if you love this word: BEDTIMES.

Again if someone else is giving it to you. Someone else’s requirements.

Some people do like to be told what to do, some of the time.

Nobody likes it all of the time.

And we Americans are famous for hating it most of the time.

So the Apostle Peter comes along and says that you and I as followers of Christ as foreigners and exiles are to “submit [ourselves] for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men...”

How do you like that?

I have three points I want to bring out this morning, and here’s number one:

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake...”


Let me ask you to do something today, okay?

Try to apply this passage to yourself and not to the guy sitting next to you or across the way. Try to apply this passage to yourself and not to somebody else somewhere else. “Those people.” It’s a lot easier to see where someone else somewhere else is doing this poorly. And it’s harder to see yourself here. 

So do the hard thing! Think about yourself and the human authorities to whom you are to submit yourself. Parents, bosses, and especially governmental authorities. Because that’s where Peter starts. Verse 13 again.

“Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.”

Now at that time for Peter, “the king” was the Roman Emperor who was probably the cruel and godless Emperor Nero. Nero was the supreme human authority in Peter’s world. And Nero had governors or rulers or princes under him that he had sent out and commissioned also to give orders.

What was Peter’s word for the Christians in Asia Minor to do in regards to Emperor Nero and his governors?

Were they to say, “Not My Emperor!” 

Like some said, “Not my President!” from 2017 to 2020 and others have said “Not my President!” in 2021?

No, Peter says, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men.”

Now, I can hear you saying, “But what about this?”

And there are a bunch of exceptions and questions and complexities.

I mean, for one thing, our American President is not a king, praise God!

He’s just an elected official.

But he is an authority. And so is his administration. And so is the US Congress. And so is the US Supreme Court. And so are our state and local governing authorities. And our courts and our judges in this commonwealth. And our police. And our game wardens. And our township supervisors. And our health department officials.

And they don’t always make good decisions! Or pass good laws!

They are just human. That’s one of the things that makes it so hard for us.

I preached this passage before twenty years ago this month. Back then we were building our home in Lanse. And the sewer system was just coming in. Do you remember that? Some of you will.

So, I was going to get onto the sewer without having to put in a sand mound first, but while we waited for the sewer system to come, through, I had to put in a holding tank in the ground for my waste water.

And at the time, I thought it would make sense for me to just run my toilets into the holding tank, and not my grey water. You know what I mean? Like our showers and washing machines and stuff like that? Not that dirty of water. 

But the authorities said that I had to put all of my waste water no matter how light it was into that holding tank and have it pumped out and away at $175 a pop. It was a 1500 gallon holding tank, and we had 1 baby and 1 on the way, and we used 3000 gallons of water every month at that time. I couldn’t see how I could afford that.
I did not like what this human authority was telling me. It didn’t make sense to me! So what did I do?

I submitted myself for the Lord’s sake. 

[And by the way, the Lord took good care of us (sometimes miraculously) through that whole time.]

Now, of course, we are blessed in the US of A to have an actual say in our government. Tuesday was Election Day, and we have the privilege, under our Constitution, of being able to be a part of the ultimate governing body in the United States.

And we can run for office, and sign petitions, and advocate for different public policies, and respectfully challenge laws and mandates in court. So many privileges we have in America with our experiment in self-government. Thank you, veterans, for securing those privileges!

So you would think that that would make it easier for American Christians to submit to human authorities. But, sadly, this is an area of weakness, blindness, and stubborn disobedience for many American Christians. 

How about you?

The world is watching.

Submit yourselves to human authorities.

Now, there are genuine exceptions. There just should be no excuses.

Peter said, “No way! We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

We must be holy in all we do. So, if there is a divergence between what God has clearly told us we must do in His Word and what humans tell us we must to do in this world, we must not submit to the human authorities. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego!

And be ready to go into the fire for it.

But that same Peter who said “No” to the Sanhedrin, says that we need to say “Yes” in most cases to the governing authorities over us.

Even the terrible ones, like Nero!

By the way, if you do go into government–and we need more genuine followers of Christ to run for office–try to effect laws and policies that do what verse 14 says, “to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right” (see also Romans 13:1-7, especially verse 4). That’s what the gift of government does when it’s at its best.

Let’s vote, as Christians, for those we believe will do the best job of effecting a just society like that. Not for those who will just make decisions that benefit us, but that bring justice to our whole society whether our particular group benefits or not.

We will often disagree about who the best people are for that job (and even what justice looks like in various situations), but regardless, let’s make this our goal. Even Nero was doing it to some degree!

Submit yourselves to human authorities. Why?

What are the most important words, do you think, in the title for today’s message? In the first five words of verse 13?

“For the Lord’s sake,” right? 

Peter doesn’t want us to submit to human authorities because they have the biggest guns.
Peter doesn’t want us to submit to human authorities because they can level fines.
Peter wants us to submit to human authorities because it affects our witness.

Remember, we’re foreigners here.
We’re exiles.
We’re strangers.

And our pagan neighbors are watching us and learning about our God in the process.

Are Christians troublemakers?

Well, if the gospel is stirring up trouble, then yeah. And we don’t apologize for it.

But if we are just being troublemakers for our own selfish sakes, then we are giving the Lord’s name a black eye.

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake...”


Look at verse 15.

“For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”

This is what God wants!

You see, people are watching, and they are talking. And they are going to talk Christians down.

Christians will get a bad reputation in all societies over time.

Satan will see to it. We will get a bad rap.

But we should not feed that narrative any ammunition ourselves.

There shouldn’t be anything that our unbelieving neighbors can point to and legitimately say, “Those ‘Christians’ are a bad influence.”

We need to live that reputation down.
We need to prove them wrong.
We need to not prove them right.

“For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”

It’s just simply the idea of verse 12 that we’ve been memorizing. 

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Because if they don’t see our good deeds, it blasphemes our God.

So, it’s much more important for you and I to submit to human authorities than it is to have good human authorities.

We are so wrapped up in politics in our culture, and complain about “those people” out there, and do so very little searching evaluation on ourselves in here.

Well, we can’t do that much about “those people” out there, but we can do something about us in here.

And silence the slander.

The world should come to say, “Hey, those Christians aren’t as bad as I’ve heard. They are actually model citizens. They are good neighbors. They are kind. They are generous. I’m Muslim, but I feel welcome and loved. I’m LGBTQ, and I know they aren’t allies, but they look out for me. I feel safe around them. I feel seen around them. I’m an immigrant. I’m a refugee. I’m glad that these Christians are helping me. They aren’t cheating me. They actually follow the rules and don’t take advantage of me. They are not so bad after all.”

“For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”

Let’s stopping giving them something to talk about.

Because WE are foreigners and exiles. 

Remember that. We have to get it into our thick skulls.

We’re too used to thinking of ourselves as natives and as running the show.

I was talking with Tobi last night when she and Judy came to set up her table, and we were talking about what it’s like to be a foreigner working for a missions organization in Papua New Guinea. And especially what it’s like to submit to human authorities in country.

And one of the things she said was that as foreigners, they could get kicked out at any time. They realize that they are not calling the shots.

But even more importantly, they are representing Jesus there.

And they have actually achieved a favored status with the government because of their good behavior. 

And while that could go away at any time, as well, the whole point is to be worthy of it because it reflects on our King and His Kingdom.

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake...”


Look with me at verse 16.

“Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.”

So, yes, in a very real sense, “The US President is not my president.” Because I am ultimately not an American. I’m a Christian. I’m totally free!

I am not owned by America. I am owned by God and nobody else.

But my God will not allow me to use my freedom as a pretext or cloak or a cover-up for evil. He calls me to be good and voluntarily submit to human authorities whenever I should.

Even when I don’t feel like it.

We are free! Evangelical Free! Free in the gospel. Free in grace. Free from sin.

And free to freely submit as servants of God.

And what does that look like in practical terms? In verse 17, Peter gives us four short little commands to tell us what a servant of God should be doing. V.17.

“Show proper respect to everyone.”

And, no, there are no loopholes here. “Everyone” there means “everyone.”

It doesn’t just say that we should tolerate everyone. It says that we should show proper respect. Some versions have “honor.” It’s the same word in Greek that will be the last command in this verse.

Every human being is made in the image of God, and as Christians we can show even the most despicable humans respect as image bearers.

They have intrinsic value.
They have intrinsic dignity.

How are you doing at this one, Servant of God?

What does your social media say about how you’re doing?

Are you treating people with proper respect?

Even people of the opposite political party as you are?

Even that guy in your neighborhood that flies a flag that offends you? Maybe it’s Black Lives Matter. Maybe it’s the Confederate Flag. Maybe it’s the Rainbow Pride Flag. Maybe it’s “Don’t Tread on Me.” Maybe it’s even the Stars and Stripes.

How do you treat them, Servant of God?

I’m not asking if they are respectable. I’m asking if you show them respect.

Next one. Verse 17. “Love the brotherhood of believers.”

A servant of God is committed to the family of God.

They don’t just get involved in church when it’s convenient. They sacrifice convenience and love each other deeply from the heart.

We show respect to everybody as image-bearers, but we show special love to the family of believers.

Third, “fear God.”

That’s simple isn’t it? But it’s profound.

We don’t fear the authorities here. We fear God.

You know, there was a lot a pressure in this society to actually worship the emperor. There was a whole cult of worship surrounding the Roman Emperor.

And I think that our culture heads that way, too. Not so much worshiping the guy at the top of the political party, but worshiping the political party and putting all of your faith and trust in its political success.

But you and I are to worship God, not man.

Fear God, Servant of God! Fear God!

And last of all, “Honor the king.”

Like I said, this is the same word in Greek as “show proper respect” at the beginning of the verse.

We are to show honor and respect to those in authority over us. At least the same respect as we show other people!

It’s a little known fact, but it turns out that politicians are people, too. Those who are in authority are humans made in the image of God, and we are to treat them as we would want to be treated.

Would you want other people to talk about you, the way you talk about our government officials?

How about on social media?

Over the last couple years, I have stopped scrolling through Facebook because it depresses and angers me. I go a little bit in and then I quit. I try to put good things in there, but I can’t spend much time on there because it depresses and angers me.

And what depresses and angers me the most is not what is going on out there in our godless culture.

What depresses and angers me the most are the dishonoring things I see so many professing Christians post about others, especially about our rulers.

Rude and sometimes crude.

There is this thing right now with the name “Brandon” and a saying being used as an alternate obscenity directed at the President of the United States.

It’s not funny.

And even if it was funny, it is not holy.

And you say, “Well, these people do not deserve my respect. They have not earned it.” (This is people on either and both sides.)

Do you know what Nero did to Peter?

Tradition says that Nero had Peter crucified upside down.

And Peter said, “Honor the king.”

Servants of God, honor the king.

This afternoon, do a trip down your social media accounts, if you have them, and ask yourself 1 Peter 2:17 about every single post you’ve posted.

And delete all of the posts that break it.

I’m serious.

“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

What would happen if every single follower of Christ in America just followed 1 Peter 2:17 on every single social media post, everything single call-in to a talk show, every single appearance on cable news, every single podcast interview, and they only supported other Christians who did, as well?

“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

For the Lord’s sake, we need to do this.
We need to submit to human authorities to silence the slander of God as His own servants.

So that our neighbors will glorify our God on the day He visits us.


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
05. "Live Your Lives As Strangers Here In Reverent Fear" 1 Peter 1:17-21
06. "Love Each Other Deeply, From the Heart" 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
07. "But Now You Are..." 1 Peter 2:4-10