God’s truth dispels the lies of our false identities so we can be secure in who we are and know how to live as we follow God. Listen as John Elmore shares from 1 Peter 2 the truth of our identity, calling, and Jesus’s example for our lives.
When Life Is H.A.R.D. | 1 Peter 5:6-14
Who’s in Charge at Watermark? | 1 Peter 5:1-5
Trusting in the Suffering | 1 Peter 4:12-19
The End Is Near | 1 Peter 4:1-11
What Christ Accomplished Through His Death, Burial, and Resurrection | 1 Peter 3:18-22
Hope in Jesus on Display | 1 Peter 3:8-17
The Key to a Better Marriage | 1 Peter 3:1-7
God’s Identity, Calling, and Example for You | 1 Peter 2:13-25
How To Find The Right Church | 1 Peter 2:4-12
3 Indicators of Spiritual Growth | 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
Battling Spiritual Amnesia | 1 Peter 1:13-21
Praise in Present Suffering | 1 Peter 1:3-12
Remember Who You Are | 1 Peter 1:1-2
We all have false identities we take on. Peter teaches us where our true identity is found, what we are called to do with that identity, and whose example we follow.
Good morning, Watermark Community Church and those who are with us to explore the faith. It's so good to be with you this morning. We just hosted the IF:Gathering. This is a ministry to women from around the world. Do we have some IF people here who stuck around? Cool. We wondered if it was like, "Hey, we came for the conference" and now you'd be here on a Sunday. Welcome. The Scriptures are clear that there is one Christ, one Lord, one baptism, one Spirit, and one church. The church just happens to meet in different places, but we are one body. So thank you for joining us here this Sunday.
If you drive around Dallas, like many parts of the world, you'll notice tagging by gang members. You know, they're spray painting maybe on a utilities thing or on a street sign. They'll tag it with their name. Like, "This is who I am. This is where I roll." I was walking in this morning. I walked in through the loading dock back here behind stage, and something stopped me in my tracks. I was like, "Hold up." I saw this.
TA and I have only known each other for a year and a couple of months when he moved here. I think he's wrestling with an identity thing. Maybe he's going to be gangster pastor; maybe gospel pastor; maybe a mashup, gangster gospel pastor, but I think he's tagging things. No, he didn't spray paint that. I have no idea why a dolly has "TA" on it, but what I do know is that I used to wrestle with identity, and still do, in a sense.
When I was a teenager, I had three fake IDs confiscated from me. You're like, "Where did you get so many fake IDs?" I was creative. I wanted my alcohol. Three of them…one from a liquor store, one at a concert. One, the guy took it, and I literally was like, "Hold on. Let me see that. Look right here." I grabbed it and ran…bolted. The reason I had a fake ID was because I wanted to portray someone I was not to get something I didn't have. I portrayed who I wasn't to get what I wanted.
I was born with an identity, John Andrew Elmore, but I started putting forth this fake ID because I didn't have what I wanted. I think I'm not alone in that. In fact, I think every single person in this room, every single person who can hear my words right now, has a fake ID. I think there is a fake identification we put forth. We are who we are in Jesus, but then there's this veneer we put over because we want what we don't have, so we say who we aren't to get what we want.
Maybe that's how pretty you are, how skinny you are, how athletic you are, how good your kids are, where you live, how much you make, or what you drive. We start to find identity in those things. It becomes a fake ID behind the real identity Jesus has given us. What we are going to see in the Word today, and why I'm so excited about today's passage, is God's truth about your identity will dispel all of the other fake IDs we are tempted to represent.
His identity for you in Jesus Christ your Lord will dispel all of that. Then, as a result, who you are will inform what you do. Your identity will beget action. It will create in you a response as we live out our true identity in Jesus as we follow him. The text we're going to be in as we continue in 1 Peter is chapter 2, verses 13-25. I'm going to read it now. This is the ESV.
"Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good." That right there is a little micro, collapsed version of Romans 13, where he's like, "Every authority has been established by God."
"For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God." There is the identity. "Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.
For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."
Our road map for today and the three points we're going to walk through are God's identity for you, which is a servant of God; his calling for you, which we're going to see in this passage is to suffer (one of the calls upon your life is to suffer); and then his example for you, which is Jesus. God's identity, God's calling, and God's example for you.
As this unfolds, you're going to see also… This isn't the main point of the passage, but you're going to see there's governmental authority you are under. Then there's going to be work authority, or it could be school authority, if you're a student, that you're under. But you don't need to worry, whatever you do, as you navigate those circumstances, because all is under God's authority, and you are his. He's the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul. So, no matter what authority, you're under God's authority.
It says in verse 13, "Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution…" It says "emperors" and "governors." Then in verse 17, he bookends it, and he says, "Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor." Jesus, as he walked the face of the earth, was under Roman authority, and he did not agree with everything Rome was doing. He didn't agree, certainly, with the persecution and oppression of the Jews or the crucifixion of he himself or that they were literally feeding people to wild animals in the colosseums, yet he says, "Be subject and honor."
You can disagree while still honoring. You can still honor and be subject to while disagreeing, as Jesus did. I think it's also interesting here… This is instructive for us. He says, "Love the brotherhood." He's talking about the family of God, the brothers and sisters of Christ. Even as we welcomed those who are here from IF, all the brotherhood… If you're in Jesus, then we are all one family.
I think what happens today is there becomes this Christian tribalism, where it's like, "I know we align on the seven doctrinal essentials of the Christian faith, but, man, you're a little far right or far left in these gray issues," or whatever it may be. "I don't land there." So we separate ourselves from them. We think less of them. We exalt ourselves above them. Here he's like, "No. Love the brotherhood." It means all of the brotherhood. There's none that you're like, "Nah, not my weird cousin who believes something a little different." Rather, he's like, "No, all of them."
The other thing he says throughout all this… He's like, "Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor." "Fear God" is the only one that he says fear. He doesn't ascribe fear to anyone else. He doesn't say, "Fear the emperor. Fear the governor." He's like, "You fear God." As TA unpacked in a message recently about this reverential fear, that we are in glad submission to God…
When you fear God, you have nothing left to fear. It's like, "Come what may. I fear God. He's sovereign. He moves providentially; therefore, as I fear him, I don't fear you. I don't fear the circumstances. I don't fear the suffering that's coming upon me, because I fear God alone. As a result, I have nothing left to fear, because I am a servant of God."
Verse 15 says, "For this is the will of God…" Now, I know… I've been in the conversation. I myself have asked, "God, what's your will for my life? What do you want me to do?" Right here, explicitly, he's like, "For this is the will of God…" You're like, "Who I'm supposed to marry?" He's like, "No." "…that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people."
So, you're eager to know God's will for your life. He says, "Do good. I have sent you out into this dying, hopeless world as my servants, and I need you to do what I've asked you to do, which is to bring good, bring blessing. You do on my behalf. You're a servant." We tell our kids often… They're like, "Hey, can we go do this? Can we play that?" We're like, "'Have tos' before 'want tos.'" They have to do some of their chores before they go and do certain things they want to do.
In the same way, God is like, "Hey, there are many Christian freedoms, many things you can do, but there are some 'have tos' before you get to some of those 'want tos,' and one of those is to do good to others." In this passage where it says that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people… Here's how I'd summarize this: our actions silence the arguments of others. Our actions have the power to silence the arguments of others. That's incredible.
But we don't want it that way. We flip it. We're like, "No, no. I want my argument to silence the actions of others. I don't like how they live. I don't like what they do. I don't like what they're saying online, so I want my action to silence them. I want my argument… I'm just going to quarrel with them." It says in 2 Timothy 2 we must be gentle, able to teach, correcting those who are astray, not quarrelsome. We're not to argue. Here God says in his words that our actions silence arguments, the foolishness of ignorant people.
Jim Elliot was one of the five who were killed… They were missionaries who had gone into the South American jungles to an unreached people group called the Auca Indians. They were speared to death and left for dead in the river. Elisabeth Elliot was back at their home, and she takes her children… After her husband had just been killed, she takes her children and literally walks into the tribe that had just murdered her husband and raises her kids there.
As if that act wasn't enough, just the incredible faith to walk into your husband's murderer's village and raise your children, she led them to faith in Jesus. Then the tribal leaders, who literally speared those five men, led their tribe to Jesus. Elisabeth's actions silenced the arguments of others. So, I want you to think. We're here that we would be changed. It's not informational but transformational. So, who is it who grinds on you who you just want to argue with? Think about who that is right now…roommate, neighbor, coworker, boss, fellow student. Purpose right now, "I'm going to do good to that person."
When it says to silence the foolishness of ignorant people, it's not that they're idiots. God has some incredibly smart unbelieving people walking this earth. So, apart from that, it's not saying, "Oh, they're just idiots." When you look at the Greek, it's agnosia, without knowledge of morality. It's like, they don't understand this. They're not holding the same compass. They're not idiots. They're very smart, but it's our actions that would silence the arguments, the immorality they're trying to put forward, because we're servants of God.
In verse 16, it says, "Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but…" Here it is explicitly. "…living as servants of God." There is your identity, God's identity for you. Your identity begets action. Doctors labor to give healing. Police officers labor to protect. Teachers labor to teach. There are all of these different roles. Their identity informs their activity. It's explicitly what they do. I talked to somebody just recently from Southwest Airlines. What they do is put people in different places. That's what they do. Their identity informs their activity. So it is with us.
One of the values of the church is fully surrendered, that we would be fully surrendered to Christ. That's the epitome of servanthood. The word here is doulos, that you're a servant in glad submission to God. You have relinquished your rights. You're like, "I'm not living for myself. I'm a servant. I don't call the shots. I don't dictate to you what I would have you do for me. Rather, you lay out for me in your Word what you would have me do, and then I'm going to walk that out."
As it says in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the [body] I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Paul is all about it now. He's like, "My whole life is gone. I'm now a servant of God, living for the will of God."
I was preparing this message as I thought about that a servant has relinquished rights. You walk into a McDonald's, and they're like, "Welcome to McDonald's. How may I help you?" This is their sign. Their sign says, "Billions and billions served." Not billions and billions sold. They could say that. Instead, they look at it as, "No, we're serving people. We're not selling to people; we're serving people."
I think it should be something that's on our hearts from this as we say we're living as servants of God, that it's like, "All right. Eight billion people on this earth served by the church of God because we're servants of God." Here explicitly in the text, we're going to live as servants of God, so eight billion served.
Gordon MacDonald says something like this about servants: "You'll know you're growing as a servant by how you act when you're treated like one." When you're treated like a servant, do you just respond and continue serving and doing good or are you indignant about it? We've relinquished our rights. We're servants of God.
As I thought about this, I was thinking about the Texas State Fair. We were there with the family, and the kids were wanting to go into the fun house with the mirrors and all that. Right beside the fun house was that swinging ship, you know, that has the tire spin. It just jettisons this pirate ship that tilts back and forth. That's good and fun until you get all the way inverted, and then it just stalls.
Now, when it stalls… We're sitting there in line for the fun house, and all of a sudden, iPhones smash to the ground…wallets. You hear change falling. You know the fair worker is like, "Tip jar." Just scratching it up, like, "I told you." Every time. There's a little box that's like, "Put your belongings here. You're going to get turned upside down."
To the point where our oldest, Hill, was like, "I don't want to go in the fun house." We had made it to the front of the line. He was just sitting there watching all of the contents of everyone's purses and pockets fall to the ground…Androids, iPhones, wallets, hats…all of it. He was like, "This is unbelievable."
So, you can either listen to the guy or you can listen to reality. You can either listen to the guy at the fair who says, "Hey, you're going to get flipped; put your stuff away," or you can listen to reality. It's mind-blowing to me that the people in line for the pirate ship aren't like, "Okay, man. Okay. Cool. I get it."
But we do the same thing, don't we? We see it happen to other people. "Man, that really stinks. That must be hard. Oof. I'm so sorry your house burned. I'm so sorry you got that diagnosis. I'm so sorry about that, but I'm good." We think, "Surely, my life is not going to flip. Surely, that's not going to happen to me." But God's call upon us is suffering, in part.
In case you think, "Okay. Really? Did you just cherry-pick that Scripture out of there? Is it really the case?" check this out. Acts 14:22. Paul is in Lystra, Iconium, and Derbe. It says he was encouraging and strengthening the disciples there. Do you want to know his pep talk? This was his pep talk: it is through many trials and tribulations you must enter the kingdom. The means by which you're going to enter the kingdom of God is through many trials and tribulations. He says the word must. Not might…must.
Then you turn to 1 Thessalonians 3:3, and it says, "That no one would be moved by these afflictions," as he's talking about suffering. Then he says these words that are so sobering: "For you know that we were destined for them." Destined for suffering. Then you have Philippians 1:29. Look at this. I mean, it can't get more explicit than this. "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him…"
As we suffer in a theological, spiritual, unseen sense, we are suffering for Christ. That makes it incredibly redemptive, this calling upon our lives to suffer. Some of the suffering is going to happen at work. Verse 18 says, "Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing…" The word there is charis. It's like, this pleases God. This is good in his sight. "…when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly."
The point for verses 18-20 is to crush your work even when you're being crushed. Your job is not to buck against authority or punch out and quit, but it's to crush your work even while you're being crushed. He says, "I know some of you are suffering unjustly under these harsh masters as you are servants," or students under teachers, or whatever it may be…athlete under coach.
Whatever the environment is when you're under a different authority, as you're being crushed, suffering unjustly, he's like, "Crush your work. Continue to do good. Silence them by how good you're doing." We should be, as Christ followers, exceptional in our work. That just means unusually good. Not unusually obstinate, not unusually difficult, not unusually grumbling, not unusually quitting before without any kind of fortitude, but rather, we should be unusually good.
He says, "Do good to those, especially the ones who are harsh, as you suffer unjustly." But, he says, mindful of God. The way you get through that is not like, "All right. He said to just do good even though I'm suffering. Even though they're being terrible, I'm just going to… I've got this. All right. I'm going to go in Monday, and I'm going to crush my work even while I'm crushed." No. He says, "Being mindful of God." It's the mindfulness of God as you're walking through the crushing that is pleasing to him. It's how you're going to navigate those circumstances.
It's like Peter, as he's the second person only to have walked on water. He sees Christ there. He's like, "Call me out of the boat." So he starts walking on the water. When his eyes are on Christ, he's good. As he starts to look at the wind and the waves, he starts to sink. When his eyes are on Jesus, he's good. Wind and waves…he sinks. Eyes on Jesus…good. So it is for us. When mindful of God, and you're suffering unjustly, it's a gracious thing in the sight of God. You're going to be able to move through that suffering. When we start to look at the wind and the waves, that's when we're going to start to sink.
Here's what I think. I think we reject prosperity theology while expecting a prosperity reality. I think we're like, "No way. It's not healthy, wealthy, and wise. That's not what the truth is, but, man, I hope that's my reality. I hope that's my experience. I pray for that to be my experience. I reject the theology. I'm not following those false teachers, but, man, I hope that's how my life goes." Here it says, no, you've been called to suffer.
Verse 21a: "For to this you have been called…" This is a referent back to suffering. Calling upon our lives. That's inescapable for everyone who has decided to follow Jesus. I think about the storms that just passed through. It's a beautiful, sunny day today, an incredible spring day in Texas. Well, Thursday night… I don't know about where you were. My family was huddled up in a windowless bathroom. My son was like, "Take the mirror off the wall." I'm like, "Yeah, that's probably a good idea, actually," as 85-mile-an-hour winds ripped through Dallas.
We were driving to school on Friday, and there was a massive tree lying across the street. Boom! A 100-year-old tree, flattened. So, the storms come. We've already forgotten it. We're going to walk outside and be like, "Oh, beautiful day." We've already forgotten there was a terrible storm, and there's going to be another terrible storm that comes because we live in North Texas, and there are going to be ones after that. It's just inevitable. It's reality atmospherically. It's going to be reality spiritually. We can't forget this. We have to remember.
Laura and I have been texting the last month, just walking through a difficult time. We're praying for God to heal. We're praying for God's grace to get us through this. We're praying for circumstances to change, but more than any of that, do you know what we've started praying? "God, give us the grace to suffer well. We want you to heal, and you might, but if you don't and regardless, would you give us the grace to suffer well, because we're suffering for you, ultimately, Jesus."
We had this friend in college. I went to Baylor University. I remember literally sitting on Bagby at this front porch. We're day drinking, smoking cigarettes…whatever we were doing. We were idiots back then. Here comes this fraternity brother of ours in short shorts. Like, very short. That's burned in my mind too. Just ripping down Bagby. We're like, "What's he doing?" Then he comes back by.
Then he was doing the pull-up bar in the backyard, like, "What? What are you guys doing?" Sit-ups…the works…all of it. We were like, "What are you doing?" Well, I'll tell you what he was doing. He was training to become a Navy SEAL. It wasn't like, "Oh, I hope I make it through BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition). He was like, "I'm not hoping I make it." He said, "I am going to be a SEAL," and he was.
He knew in college that he was about to go through the most difficult military training on the face of this planet, so he purposed himself to prepare for it. Let me say it to you this way. Because he knew his suffering was inevitable, it made his preparation essential. So it is for us. If this is the reality… If God has said plainly in his Word a call upon your life is suffering, then it makes our preparation essential, because the suffering is inevitable.
So how do we prepare, and do we prepare now? Are we just sitting on a theological porch or are we like, "No, no, no. I know the storm is coming, so I'm going to feast upon the Word. I'm going to surround myself with brothers and sisters in Christ who will encourage me and love me and pray for me. I'm going to confess and repent from sin. I'm going to pray and bring God into everything so I'm ready when anything comes upon me." It says, "For to this you have been called."
My father-in-law has this shed by his fire pit. After the rains and the wood is wet, we'll go in there, and there are firelogs. He has a big stack of firelogs. We'll pull one out. They're really just taking up space when they're in the shed, but if you pull one out… It doesn't matter if the logs are wet or whatever. You throw it in the fire pit, and all of a sudden, there is a fire that has begun as I light that firelog on fire. It gives off light and warmth, and people gather around it.
It's exactly a picture of our lives here as we are called to suffer. We were made to burn, that our lives would be given up as a fragrant offering for God. Like, "Not my will, but your will be done. I'm not out to take up space or to keep myself safe, but rather, God…" It's a scary prayer, in a sense. "All right, Lord. You do what you see fit, as my life would burn as an offering to you, that I would give off the light of Christ, the warmth and love of Christ, that others might come to Christ; to be a city on a hill, to be salt, all for you."
When it says God's calling on our lives is to suffer… Mark portrays him as the suffering servant. In fact, as he's going into Jerusalem, he says to Peter, "Peter, who do they say that I am?" He's like, "Well, some say Jeremiah. Some say…" He's like, "Yeah, but who do you say?" He's like, "Well, you're the Christ. You're the Messiah. You're the Son of the living God." He's like, "Blessed be you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for man has not revealed this to you but the Father. The Son of Man must go and be betrayed and suffer many things at the hands of the religious leaders and be killed."
Peter is like, "May it never be, Lord!" and he says, "Get behind me, Satan! For you have in mind the things of man, but I have in mind the things of God." He's like, "I came to suffer. The calling upon my life is to suffer. How would you ever get out of the suffering you're going to experience forever in hell eternally apart from me giving my life for you? It's why I've come, Peter: so I can get you free from your suffering by me laying my life down in suffering."
Perfect Son of God, lived a sinless life, died a death upon a cross, was buried, and rose again, that we could be set free from eternal suffering. He's like, "This is why I came." So, he sets forth that example. Verse 21b: "…because Christ also suffered for you…" It's not just theologically true. He suffered for you. For you. If you can hear my words, he suffered for you. He had you in mind. "I'm laying down my life for you, that you would be forgiven of your sins." All he went through was his love for you.
Then it goes 21c: "…leaving you an example…" What's the example? The example is in suffering. He suffered, as you now are called to suffer, and he's going to walk you through how he suffers now. "…that you might follow in his steps." This is God's example for you in Jesus. So, what love now has gone to what example. How much he loved you. He suffered for you. Now he's giving an example for you.
The Greek word for example is hupogrammos. It means under writing. Think tracing something. At Valentine's Day, Judd, our 5-year-old, was like, "Dad, I need you to write, 'I love you, Mom.'" I'm like, "Why?" He's like, "Because I want to write it." He didn't know how to write. He needed me to go first, write it, that he could trace the letters. In his feebleness… "I need you to go." So it is. Jesus has gone first, laid his life under, that we might follow in his example, hupogrammos, to trace his life.
So, what's the example? If we're to follow Christ's example… Peter is going to give us this example, but I want to say this first. There's this famous Gandhi quote that is bogus. He said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. [They] are so unlike your Christ." Which sounds kind of winsome. Like, "Oh, really? You like our Jesus? Okay. Cool." No, he didn't. He did not like our Jesus. He did not understand our Jesus.
He liked the Jesus of his own fabrication. He made up a Jesus in his mind that fit into his false theological grid and was like, "Well, I like that guy. He's a nice, moral man. He loved the poor. He touched lepers. He healed. He seemed like a good teacher." No. Gandhi did not like Jesus, for Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through the Son."
You see, if Gandhi liked Jesus, he would have followed Jesus. He would have put his faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins, and he would have rejected 33 million Hindu gods if he would have liked Jesus. He didn't like Jesus. He did not know Jesus as an example. But we do the same thing. We start to make our own fabricated Jesus. "Well, Jesus would never call me to suffer. Jesus would never…" No, no. We're going to walk through his example, that we would live according to it.
So, what is it? Verse 22: "He committed no sin…" Jesus committed no sin. All of the pressures, all of the temptations bearing down on him, he committed no sin. I think we need to repent daily. We need to repent daily of sin. John Owen said, "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." We're never going to be sinless, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be sinning less.
So, when it says, "He committed no sin," we need to follow his example and be like, "Man, I'm done with it. I don't want to toy with it anymore. These things, these poisonous, fleeting pleasures that are killing me, that are tasteful in the moment and death in the next… I'm done with it. I don't want to commit sin anymore. This is why Christ died. Why would I tangle and toy with these things?"
"…neither was deceit found in his mouth." When things got hard for Jesus, he didn't lie, spin things, wordsmith things, or flatter anybody. Deceit was not found in his mouth. He was authentic. He was true. He was whole. Mark Twain said something like, "Always tell the truth. You'll never have to remember what to say, what actually happened." It's so true. Deceit is not found then, but I think when pressures come in, we can start to weasel our way out. "Maybe I'll just tell a little white lie." It says, "Speak the truth in love." Just be free.
Verse 23: "When he was reviled, he did not revile in return…" We can learn a ton here. With social media, people being canceled, getting blasted, getting trolled… The world is just mean right now. A spirit of meanness. It's crazy. It says, "When he was reviled, he did not revile in return…" He didn't care about self-vindication.
People would say false things about him. He was like, "Say what you want. That says more about your heart than it does what's reality about me. 'Out of the overflow of a heart the mouth speaks.' I'm good. I know who I am. I have my identity secure. I'm a servant of God." So, he's not after self-vindication, and neither should we be. It's fruitless.
"…when he suffered, he did not threaten…" He was mistreated and had no threat of revenge. In Romans, chapter 12, it says, "Do not take revenge." You're like, "Oh, great. So, I'm just going to be a Christian doormat for the rest of my life? Awesome. I'm going to get mistreated. You've called me to suffer, and I can't take revenge. Cool. Great."
God doesn't stop there. He says, "It's mine to avenge." He's like, "No, I'm going to deal with sin. I don't want you to deal with sin. Did you want me to deal with your sin? Nah, I didn't think so. So, why don't you have grace toward them the way I had grace toward you? You don't take revenge. I'm going to deal with sin." As a result, when he suffered, he did not threaten. So, we need to take word from that and follow his example.
It continues. "…but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly." He's talking about God the Father. He's like, "I'm not worried about you, Rome, Caiaphas, Ananias…anybody. I'm not worried about my circumstances." Even as he goes to the cross, he's like, "I'm not worried. I'm entrusting myself to him who judges justly.
God has got me. So what are you going to do to me? God is sovereign over me, under every authority. He has got me. He's providentially working. God has got me, so it's okay. I have entrusted myself to him who judges justly." Because he feared God, he had nothing left to fear. He was like, "Say what you please. Do what you please. I'm a servant of God."
Verse 24: "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree…" This is the crux of the point, the culmination of it, as he follows the example. It's what's called a chiasm, which is an X. It's like, "All right. We've got example coming here. We've got example coming from the end. We're going to meet right here in the middle." It is the biggest point.
He bore our sins on the tree, which is the cross, in his body. He laid down his life. Jesus Christ, God in flesh, died that we would go free. He raised again to be justified with God, not that we could just be forgiven, but be made new, born again, filled with the Spirit, made a part of the brotherhood and sisterhood of God Almighty forever and ever, all because he bore our sins. It's an amazing truth and reality.
But you can't follow Christ's example without following his death. We don't get to be like, "Okay. Can I just à la carte this deal? Okay. I won't revile when reviled, but, like, you died." He's like, "No. Lay down your life. Take up your cross…" When? "…daily, and follow me." We have to die daily to the flesh, to the world, to our own ego and desires, that we might follow Jesus.
"…that we might die to sin and live to righteousness." He died for sin that we would die to sin, that we would be dead to sin and live for righteousness. Because of Jesus… First Peter 4 (we're going to get to it) says, "He who has suffered no longer lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do." It's like, "No, no. I'm dead to sin, now living for Christ's righteousness."
"By his wounds you have been healed." The word healed here is the same word for healing from James 5:16, where it says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." It is a healing supernaturally, spiritually, of sin. "By his wounds you have been healed." This is a callback from Isaiah 53, the prophecy about the one who was to come who would heal us of our wounds.
Here he's like, "I'm going to heal you, not from any physical ailment. I'm going to heal you spiritually. I'm going to raise you from the dead. I'm going to wash you from your sins. I'm going to give you a new life. You're going to be adopted in Christ. This world is going to pass away. You're going to live forever." That's the healing Jesus is giving us. It's soul healing…no longer children of wrath.
Then verse 25: "For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." This is what you need to hear: you will never be suffering without shepherding. You will never, ever be suffering without shepherding. It says he is near to the brokenhearted.
I've been in some suffering, and I have wondered in that suffering, "God, where are you?" Just real talk. I'm like, "I can't see you right now. I can't hear you right now. I could really use a word from you right now, and I feel alone." This right here… I'm not going on feelings. I'm going off of the Word of God, the inerrant, eternal Word of God that says he is the Shepherd of my soul. This Shepherd doesn't take naps. Psalm 121. He neither sleeps nor slumbers.
My youngest, Judd… His breathing got really bad one night. Like oxygen levels down at a dangerous level. A nurse practitioner in our Community Group was like, "You need to get him to the ER right now." So we grab Judd and throw him in the car. He's breathing, pushing out his stomach, and kind of out of it. We get him there, and it's like IVs, mask, nebulizer, all this stuff going on. He's screaming and pulling at it and everything.
Then in the middle of the night… I mean, I can't sleep. Right? It's my boy. But he's trying to rip the thing off, or he turns his head and it comes off. All night long, though he's unconscious, in and out of it, I have that nebulizer and oxygen mask right to his face. That thing is not coming off. I'll die before I let that thing come off of Judd. He didn't know I was there. He probably never will unless he listens to this message a long time from now.
All through your life, you will never have suffering without shepherding. God has got you. You're his son or daughter. He's going to hold that mask of mercy and grace and love and peace. You may not see him. You may not feel him. He's got you. He does. It is a promise of Scripture. It says overseer of your soul. Sadly, it doesn't say overseer of your body. Every single one of us is going to die, this body at least. It says overseer of your soul, not overseer of your body.
The reality is Jesus says, "He who believes in me will never die," because he's the overseer of our souls. One day, this body that's going to be laid to rest in the ground is going to be raised back up again, given a resurrection body in a new heaven and new earth. He's going to oversee your soul. He will see you through, and there will be no end. God's identity for you: you're a servant. God's calling for you: suffer well. God's example for you: Jesus.
Remember my fake IDs. I now have a new ID. It's not issued by the state of Texas. It is issued by God Almighty who says, "I have chosen you. I have washed you. I have adopted you. I have indwelt you by the Holy Spirit. You are mine, and no one can snatch you out of the Father's hand. Nothing can separate you from the love of God." That's my new identity. It's yours if you are in Jesus.
Maybe today you're not. Maybe today you're like, "I'm just here exploring. I don't know yet. I'm still living that fake identity." Today you can receive a new identity in Christ. Today can be the day of your salvation. Cross over from death to life. Also, I know with a room this size there's suffering. There is suffering in your life right now, be it financial, physical, spiritual, relational, mental, or emotional.
There are people in this room right now, and you're like, "You're talking about me, man. I am in the thick of it. I am in the storm right now." In just a moment, I want to invite you to stand, because I want you to be prayed for. God says he opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. I know it's humbling to stand up in a room like this, but I just saw the 9:00, and a bunch of people stood, and they got prayed for.
So, as I ask in a moment for you to stand, just in one or two words, share with the people around you what it is, how you're suffering right now, and then, body of Christ, I want you to move toward them. May no one stand and not be prayed for. You move toward them. Lay your hands on them and pray. You can pray all together at the same time or one person can pray as the others are praying in their spirit.
If there's nobody near you, just know there's a whole room of people standing, and you start praying, or prepare yourself, because the suffering is inevitably coming. So, right now, if suffering is a part of your life in any way, would you please stand that we could pray for you? Thank you for trusting us with your pain. I see your faces. God sees your pain. He holds every tear. Body of Christ, now move toward these brothers and sisters. Let them share briefly, and then you pray over them, and pray as you would want to be prayed for.
Lord God, we could stay here the rest of today praying for those who need it. You've said in your Word you don't hear us because of our many words. You know what we need even before we ask. I pray, Lord, that people might stay after the service and continue in prayer for those who have stood. Now, Lord, with everyone standing, we sing to our risen Savior, our example, that we would set our eyes upon Jesus and not the waves and winds of suffering, for you have called us, and we are now your servants. May you hear our song to you. In Jesus' name, amen.