1 Peter 2:11–17 (NKJV)
After describing Christians as living stones, Peter moves into a further discussion of the role and responsibilities of those redeemed by the blood of Jesus. He instructs the believer to abstain from lusts, to submit to kings and governors as if they were sent by God, and to be free but not using liberty as a covering for sin.
11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Peter here calls upon the readers in the most passionate way, saying “I beg you…” when asking the children of God, strangers in the land of the living, to abstain from the fleshly, worldly, temporal lusts that absolutely wage war against the spirit of a man or woman. Don’t be pulled in, but instead make your conduct honorable, so that sinners and non-believers may see it and be convicted. Live in a way that no one can accuse you of evil. Let the naysayers have nothing to say. Disprove their disapproving condemnation. When they see your works, let your good works and honorable conduct draw praise from their mouths for God Almighty.
13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
One of the aspects of the honorable conduct that Peter seeks to elicit from Christians is that they submit to ruling authorities and the ordinances instituted by men. This was not because they are always right, but for the Lord’s sake, that His people represent Him well. Whether ruled by a king or another type of ruler, obey the laws as if sent by God. The laws are there to punish evildoers and to bring praise to those who do good. The will of God is that we, by doing good, may silence the “ignorance of foolish men.” He suggests that free men do not use their liberty as a covering for vice or sinful actions. Instead, they should obey laws in order to demonstrate their service and submission to God. So, therefore, honor all people, love your brothers and sisters in Christ, Honor the king, and–above all–fear God.
Submission is not an easy skill to perfect. Submission is difficult, counter to our self-concentric thought processes. When one’s own thoughts are the basis for one’s philosophy of life, their image of the world is clouded by those thoughts. Don’t be so self-centered that you cannot see the value in God’s system of government, even the government that you did not vote for. Obedience to man should be a reflection of one’s obedience to God. While it may not be absolute, God’s instruction to obey the laws of man and to honor the king do call us to obey any law that does not directly conflict with the law of the Bible. God would not require obedience to laws that cause one to sin. However, most laws are meant to bring order and peaceful existence to the land they are meant to help govern. This is God’s will, that Christians bring order and peace to the land in which they live. Fulfill God’s will, honor one another, especially leaders, and fear God in everything.
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