Suffering for righteousness sake
Scripture: I Peter 4:12-19
Aim: To instruct the pupil in the truth that those who live godly lives in this sinful world shall suffer persecution from the unrighteous.
Golden Text: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (I Peter 3:12).
This physical world was created by Jehovah God as a place in which His crowning creation, man, could live and thrive.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, eating of the forbidden fruit, they became sinful, fallen creatures. God put them out of the garden of paradise. The whole of nature was corrupted. Thorns, briers and weeds began to grow.
As the human population grew, the tendency to disobey and rebel against Jehovah and His rules and regulations for man grew. There developed two basic lines of humans on the earth. The pattern of the unrighteous persecuting the righteous began to develop in Cain and Abel. Cain rebelled against Jehovah’s regulations concerning sacrifices and worship while Abel obeyed. Cain killed Abel. The pattern was set.
Those of Seth’s line followed Jehovah and all others disavowed God and His laws. The ultimate result was the flood in which all men were destroyed except Noah and his family. The pattern continued after the flood as men multiplied. There were the righteous and the unrighteous. The unrighteous pursued and persecuted those who sought to follow Jehovah and declare Him to those who were unrighteous and rebellious against Jehovah and truth. Throughout the history of mankind this pattern has been followed.
It was true in the case of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Men crucified Him because He was righteous and they were evil. The same was true of the 12 apostles. Ten of them died at the hands of rebellious, wicked sinners in rebellion to Jesus Christ. The pattern followed through the history of the church. Read Foxes “Book of Martyrs.”
The same is true today. There are many in the United States who want to remove any Christian and Bible influence from society. Those who are rebellious against Jehovah God want to remove all the influence, yes, and the very followers themselves, from this society. The only thing which can reverse the trend is that those who know and follow Christ renew their commitment to Christ and truth, confess their sins, pray for revival, and stand firmly for truth and righteousness. This in turn will cause more rebellion from the wicked!
Jesus Christ will deal with them at the proper time. Until He returns His people must maintain a presence of righteousness in a sinful world.
Our lesson today instructs believers regarding persecution for the cause of Christ.
I. Believers should not be surprised when they are persecuted for righteousness sake (I Peter 4:12-14). “Fiery trials” are to be expected by the faithful followers of Christ (vs. 12). When this happens, the believer is to remember that he is a “partaker” of Christ’s sufferings (vs. 13). Knowing this, they should be rejoicing with exceeding joy because this assures them of receiving “glory” from the Savior (vs. 13).
The persecuted believer should remember that he is bringing glory to God, while the wicked are acting out their rebellion and distain for God (vs. 14).
II. Believers should never be persecuted because of evil doing (I Peter 4:15-17). Those who suffer because they have sinned or violated the law are not to be considered “persecuted saints.” They justly deserve punishment. Believers must live godly lives, which reflect truth and righteousness as it is in Jesus Christ. In this the believer will glorify God!
III. A serious warning is given by Peter (I Peter 4:18-19). Since the righteous will be saved by grace, those who will not receive grace will be judged and punished (vs. 18). The suffering believer is instructed to praise God and commit himself into God’s keeping power.