Focal Passage: 1 Peter
“I don’t drink, cuss, smoke,
or chew, or run around with girls that do.”
Is that what Peter has in mind
when he talks about resisting temptation?
Surely Peter would never
deny the necessity for personal morality.
Check out his list of vices to avoid:
“licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless
In today’s passage, though,
he has bigger fish to fry. Consider three clues:
- “Cast all your anxieties
on (God)” (v. 7).
- “Resist (the devil), firm
in your faith” (v. 9).
- “And after you have
suffered a little while…” (v. 10).
Peter’s readers are anxious.
They’re in danger of actually abandoning their faith. That’s the temptation
Peter worries about.
The reason for it? They’re
suffering, precisely because of their faith.
This entire letter is
written under the cloud of persecution. And not just your garden-variety ridicule,
as when people role their eyes when you mention God, and eventually stop
inviting you to their parties.
This is serious business.
These Christians are being called “wrongdoers” (2:12). They’re “enduring pain”
and “suffering unjustly” (2:19). They’re being “abused” and “reviled” for their
“good behavior” (3:16).
Even when faced with “the
fiery ordeal which comes upon you,” Peter warns, “don’t be surprised!” (4:12).
Persecution is commonplace, at least for these believers.
No wonder they’re anxious.
No wonder they’re thinking of giving up. So Peter pleads: “Get serious! Be
alert! Resist! Stand firm! Cast all your cares on God” (5:6-9). The costs may
be high, but the stakes are higher.
I suppose most of us don’t
normally face such a choice: to stand up for Jesus and pay a price, or to
surrender our faith and get off free. Is it because we’re not paying enough
Warren Carr was longtime
pastor of the Wake Forest Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. At Carr’s funeral,
friend and professor Ralph Wood told how Carr started out preaching in a small
Virginia coal-mining town. One benefit of the tiny church was that the local
mine-owner was a member, and he provided the parsonage with enough free coal to
keep the family warm.
That is, until Carr
protested publicly about some young women who had been brought to town to
“entertain” the miners. The powerful mine-owner promptly warned his upstart
young pastor to keep out of other people’s business, reminding him who had
delivered that coal. Carr replied, “Sir, you can come take that coal back
Whatever the costs, the
stakes are higher. Resist temptation!