1 Peter 3:13-16

1 Peter 3:13‑16  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
ZEAL for what is good is apt to disarm the honestly hostile; but in case it should not be so, how blessed to suffer for righteousness! Christ was perfect thus; in what was He not?
“And who shall injure you if ye become zealous of the good? But if even ye should suffer for righteousness, blessed [are ye]; and be not afraid of their fear, nor be troubled, but sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, ready always for answer (or, defense) to every one that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you, but with meekness and fear, having a good conscience, that in what they speak against you as evil-doers, they may be ashamed that revile your good behavior in Christ” (vers. 13-16).
Man that is born of woman is of few days, as Job says, and full of trouble; he is fallen and sinful with death before him soon, and, after this, judgment forever. Impossible to face his real state conscientiously without continual unhappiness and awful forebodings for all eternity. Nothing within or around one can afford him solid satisfaction, still less be acceptable to God who is good and does good. His goodness therefore leads to repentance, and effectually in Christ only; for herein was the love of God manifested in our case, that God hath sent His only-begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. It is clear that, if we are spiritually dead as being all of us lost sinners, this is our first great want, to receive a new life that we might live to God; and this life, as it is seen in its perfection and fullness in Christ, so it is given by Him to every one that hears His word and believes Him that sent Him. The Son quickeneth whom He will; and thus the believer has life eternal, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life.
But God's love as known in the gospel goes very much farther even now; for the believer might have life, life eternal, and be burdened by the sense of his past sins and of his present weakness and unworthiness. In the gospel God removes this distress by purging his conscience, and fills with peace through faith in Christ's sacrifice. Therefore is it added in 1 John 4:1010Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10), Herein is love, not that we loved God (which we surely do as now living in Christ), but that He loved us, and sent His Son as propitiation for our sins. This alone is perfectly efficacious, and the Spirit seals us in virtue of it, so that we are brought into liberty and spiritual power by grace.
Henceforward, therefore, delivered from evil we become zealous of the good; and who shall injure us if it be so? The worst of mankind are struck when they see the proud rendered lowly, the violent meek, the quarrelsome peacemakers, the frivolous and pleasure-hunting grave, the corrupt pure, the covetous liberal, the careless or even blasphemous godly. But no doubt an evil eye under Satan's power may refuse all moral evidence and impute every such change for good to hypocrisy, and only hate the more those who leave their own wretched and wicked ranks to follow Christ. They do therefore seek to draw His confessors into evil ways old or new; and if they fail in ensnaring, they will not fail to detract and persecute; for all that desire to live piously in Christ Jesus are surely persecuted, or (as our text says) “suffer for righteousness' sake.” But “blessed are ye” says the word. It is God's mercy and their honor, as delivered by Christ out of the present evil age according to the will of our God and Father.
Accordingly the saints are exhorted not to” fear their fear, nor to be troubled.” Why should they, who now are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and called out of darkness into God's wonderful light? Calling Him Father (for such He truly is) Who without respect of persons judges according to each one's work, they would pass the time of their sojourning here in fear, because they are so favored and blessed, yet in a wilderness of trial and pitfalls and dangers. From “their fear” who hate and malign, once their own fear, they are set free by the Savior; and they owe it to His honor not to be troubled, seeing that at His cost they are blessed supremely by His God and Father who is ours also. Instead of such unbelieving fear and trouble naturally they can and do exult though now for a little while, if needed, put to grief by various trials, all of which His grace turns to account (Rom. 8:2828And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)) to those that love Him, to those that are called according to purpose.
What then is the resource and remedy? “But sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord.” Sanctimoniousness in manner or outward acts, far from availing, is a snare and a shame unworthy of a Christian, as far as possible from pleasing God, though it may deceive himself if unwary and others too. But to give Christ the holy place due to Him, and supremely as Lord, in our hearts, truly pleases Him Who would have us honor the Son even as we honor the Father. Without Him thus constantly set up and apart in our hearts, we are exposed to any and every idol whereby the enemy deceives the world; but with Christ thus the object of our inmost affections, how kept and blessed! So we see the fruit and accompaniment in the words that follow, “ready always for an answer to every one that asketh you a reason (or, account) for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” What account can creature give so satisfying, even to God, as the Lord Jesus and His redemption? In Him we have the righteousness found nowhere else, yea, we are become God's righteousness in Him; so that, as the same apostle says (Gal. 5:55For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. (Galatians 5:5)), “we through the Spirit by faith await,” not righteousness as if we were not justified, but “the hope of righteousness,” that is, heavenly glory with Christ. But this very blessedness, so undeserved by any, calls us to meekness and fear in confessing it, lest a rough or presumptuous spirit might dishonor the God of all grace or ourselves the recipients of His rich mercy.