1 Peter #6 1 Peter 2:11-12 Mastering Sin: Experience the power of cancelled sin
1 Peter #6 1 Peter 2:11-12 Mastering Sin
We gleaned some important truths from our reading of 1 Peter the last time we feasted on the Word of God. We learned that there are expectations for disciples. As a believer, your task is to remove yourself from the center of life and put Jesus there. We learned that to survive and thrive we need to be loyal members of a faith community. You, a Christ follower, are set apart to minister to God and others, living out and speaking out the Good News of salvation shining Divine Light to draw people out of their spiritual darkness. These are no easy one and done tasks, they are the continuing daily responsibility for all of God’s chosen. As you choose to do so you are living a devout and holy life.
Within the teaching today Peter again identifies Christ's followers with Israel, and he does so in a way that reminds us that we do not belong to any society or culture that opposes God’s way. We know that disciples are to live a holy life, Peter adds a reason: “maintain exemplary patterns of life, so that unbelievers will be saved and God glorified” (Wayne Grudem, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries p.117).
1 Peter 2:11 (MSG)
Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul.
Peter tells us that this world is not our home. If you have called upon the Lord for salvation asking for the forgiveness of sin, all those messes in your life, asking to begin anew, wanting this time to be in accordance with God’s will and His plan, then God changes you. Your old home is left behind. There is a new place where you belong, a place where you are loved and accepted, appreciated and valued, a place where what you do matters.
Home is where the heart is,
A sanctuary of warmth and love,
Where memories are made,
And dreams are woven like a glove.
It's where laughter echoes,
And love is always in bloom,
Where worries slip away,
And peace descends like a plume.
Home is where you find your roots,
And where your branches grow,
A place to be yourself,
And let your spirit flow.
It's where you find a haven,
From the world's tumultuous tide,
Where your heart feels free,
And your soul can abide.
Home is where you find your people,
The ones who understand,
Who've got your back,
And have your hand.
It's the place that you belong,
Where you're cherished and adored,
Where the world makes sense,
And your heart feels restored.
(AI ChatGBT 18Jan23)
Leaving the old home, moving out of the familiar neighborhood, and saying goodbye to old friends and often one’s family are one of the characteristics of Abraham who is revered as the father of the Jewish people. Abraham trusted in God and with unflinching obedience left all he knew to go where he had never been. That made him a stranger and an alien, wherever he went, he was one who didn’t belong,
Hebrews 11:8-10 (MSG)
By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God's call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. 9 By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. 10 Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.
Living in tents, just passing through, journeying to our home built by God, New Jerusalem. In this new home, we live in unity, connected, thriving in the presence of God (Revelation 21:1-4). 777 Pearly Gates, New Jerusalem, The Kingdom God. It is so easy to be here, especially in our very rich culture, where even the homeless on the streets have it better than many workers in third-world countries. When life is good, it's easy to get comfortable, a little compromise here, a little bargain over there and you can negotiate a life that the culture finds respectable. When tragedy struck my life I remember thinking, “this world holds nothing for me now.” A nasty wake-up call for where my attitude should always have been, Poetically, all the colors faded to gray and the world shrouded itself in mist. It took years but finally, I was reminded that I too was just passing through and a better way of being, of relating, a new home, is just up and around the corner.
Jesus tells us as much.
John 14:1-3 (MSG)
Don't let this throw you. You trust God, don't you? Trust me. 2 There is plenty of room for you in my Father's home. If that weren't so, would I have told you that I'm on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I'm on my way to get your room ready, I'll come back and get you so you can live where I live.
As believers sojourn through this world, they are Abraham’s children. Christians are the spiritual children of Abraham, heirs to the promises God made to him. One of those promises is that the world would be blessed through him, and now it is through those who walk with Christ to be a blessing to the world (Genesis 22:18). The promise is fulfilled by you and in you, as you remain faithfully obedient.
The world represents a culture, a society, and a way of relating to others, that is not following God’s desires for humanity. The world does not refer to planet Earth. A person cozies up to the world by indulging their ego. Egoism is the way of the world. Egoism convinces you that you are morally right and therefore justified in pursuing your self-interest. The ends justify the means if your agenda is achieved. For instance, Adam decided that being like God was better than being the person he was created to be. He chose to disobey, damaging the righteous relationship that he shared with God. We call the event original sin, the sin that created estrangement from God. Separated from God, Adam was left to decide right and wrong based solely on his own experience. As a result, humanity has a sorry history of being horribly less than humane. Egoism convinces you to do what you want, when you want, if you believe it is what you want, regardless of how it may negatively affect yourself and everyone else around you. Egoism in its extreme forms will not listen to correction, it will not submit to any outside authority, it is manipulative and deceptive, and willing to take to get what it wants. Egoism is the way of the world.
John Wesley called egoism “the sin that remains.” [Wesley's sermon “On Sin in Believers,” “I do not suppose that any man who is justified is a slave to sin: Yet I do suppose that sin remains (at least for a time) in all that are justified.”] If original sin created an estrangement between God and Humanity, Jesus' death reconciled that relationship making it possible for anyone who desires to establish a right relationship with God to do so (Romans 5:10. In our faith community we call this the first blessing, the blessing of being saved by faith, allowing the Spirit of God to apply justifying grace into our lives. A person is declared to be holy, made right with God, and there is a change of status a person was an outsider, and now they are an insider. Yet egoism remains. When the Apostle Paul used the Greek word sarx which has been translated as “the flesh,” “the sin nature,” the sinful self,” he is addressing egoism, the sin that remains after you have been made right with God.
Galatians 5:16-17 (MSG)
Live freely, animated, and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day.
The ”root of sinful self-interest” is egoism. Recall that Wesley called it “the sin that remains.” Wesley taught that the power of egoism to hijack your best intentions can be broken. [https://kevinmwatson.com/2013/05/27/christian-perfection-the-reason-for-methodism/] How often after asking God to save you have you found yourself doing what is contrary to your new life in Christ? This is because of this principle of selfishness; egoism is a traitor to your desire to live a devout and holy life. As you mature in your relationship with God the Holy Spirit makes you aware of this tug of war in your heart in which sometimes you are obedient and other times you find yourself falling back into old negative habits, attachments, addictions, and dysfunctional ways of relating to people. What often happens with this realization is that you try to exert your willpower to change. Unfortunately, egoism is so ingrained within, that you soon find out willpower is no power at all. There is no sustainable victory exerting your own effort. This is where a second blessing comes into play, sanctifying grace breaks the power of canceled sin. Sanctifying grace is the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that transforms your life in the likeness of Jesus. Sin was canceled when God declared you to be holy, but its power to hijack your best intentions remains. Now you can ask God for the power to master egoism. When you long for it, God gives it to you. Wesley called this gift Christian perfection, not that you were made perfect in the sense of being beyond the ability to sin, or no longer needed to learn and grow spiritually, but perfect in the sense that now you had mastery over egoism. Within our faith community, the Church of the Nazarene, we call this event entire sanctification because now you can choose to be like Jesus all the time. Now you have Holy Spirit power instead of will power to defeat the temptation to not love God, to not love others, to not love yourself. The possibility remains, but the choice not to sin is fully yours. No longer can egoism hijack your best intentions. Now you decide.
Mastering egoism is the way you prevent yourself from cozying up to the world. Mastering egoism is so important we should go over “the how to” once again. You have already acknowledged your need for a savior. You have believed that the savior you need is Jesus. You have committed yourself to be Jesus’ disciple. You have asked God to save you. This is the path to the born-again experience in which God forgives your sins, declaring you to be one of His chosen people, changing your status from outsider to being holy. There have been ethical changes in your life, you are not the same person you used to be. The Holy Spirit has convinced you that you are a Christian, and this can be verified by your change in behavior and interests and values. An outside observer can see the fruit of the Spirit developing in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… (Galatians 5:22-23). As you continue to grow in love you realize that temptation gets the best of you from time to time. You were doing well, then suddenly find yourself out of step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). This realization creates sadness, and grieving in your heart, as you realize you have not so much disobeyed but more so, hurt the Savior that loves you. This is key, the feeling is like when you disappointed a parent, a spouse, or a child. You didn’t do what you said you would do and you broke your promise. It’s not that desire of once caught you now want to get out of your mess. Big difference. Think, the intent of the heart, you don’t ever want to deter, damage, or destroy a right relationship ever again. With that attitude, you ask God to give you the power to master egoism.
In our faith community, we call this seeking God to sanctify you. The questions are asked: have you been saved? Have you been sanctified? Have you experienced the first blessing of salvation? Have you experienced the second blessing of entire sanctification? Please remember that the word entire refers to being able, like Jesus, to refuse to willfully sin, “entire” doesn’t mean finished, there is continued spiritual growth. You can liken the experience to a martial art if you obtain a black belt. You went through multiple-colored belts as you progressed in the art, when those are mastered you are awarded a black belt. The black belt is not the finish, it’s the start of having the elementary teachings accomplished and the start to move on to the skilled lessons. So it is with entire sanctification, now you are ready to take on the spiritual adult responsibilities of being a disciple of Jesus.
Peter has told us not to cozy up to the world. The way a disciple of Jesus remains an alien and a stranger to the world is by mastering egoism. Have you asked God to sanctify you? Are you experiencing the power of canceled sin? Is the power of egoism to hijack your best intentions broken?
If not, then keep trying to keep in step with the Spirit and the Spirit will lead you to this second blessing gift of God.