The First Letter of Peter: Chapter 3:8-17

Study No.12: (1 Peter 3: 8-17)

We cannot avoid suffering in this life. While it is not natural to seek suffering we still pass through times of suffering. Sometimes we bring it on ourselves because of things we say and do while at other times it comes through circumstances out of our control. Sometimes it comes from others. However, Peter tells us that there is a way to handle suffering when it comes, especially when we suffer because we are New Covenant believers in the Messiah our Lord Jesus. In saying this we also need to keep in mind what Rabbi the apostle Paul wrote; “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Exposition: (1 Peter 3:8-17)

(Vs.8) “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”

Peter says “finally” but goes on to write two more chapters and Paul was prone to do the same thing. However, the context of what they both wrote in their letters is very important as it deals with human relationships. In the preceding verses Peter has dealt with relating to rulers and authorities, and with slaves relating to their masters, and with the relationship between wives and husbands, but he now addresses the assemblies corporately as the wider Body of Messiah. In times of persecution the Body of Messiah must be unified and tightly knit together by the Holy Spirit. It has been said if we cannot stand together we will never stand alone.

In these last of the last days the wider Body of Messiah is suffering terribly in Islamic and communist countries and in parts of Africa and in Pakistan and in every other Middle-Eastern country except in Israel, although many of the religious orthodox Jews  persecute Messianic believers who believer the Jesus is the Messiah.  Having said this, before the Lord Jesus comes back suffering for His followers will be on a global scale never before equalled in past history, and never to be equalled again in the future of this present age (Revelation 13:5-7) (Matthew 24:21-22) (Daniel 7:21). How then as the Body of Messiah prepare ourselves for the coming persecution that has already started in the western democracies?

Firstly then, as the Body of Messiah we are “to live in harmony with each other.” The best sounding orchestra is always the result of hours of dedicated practice and discipline on behalf of each member of the orchestra. It does not happen overnight. At first the instruments need to be individually tuned and at first, when played with other instruments, it takes time to bring them into harmony with each other. Building solid and durable relationships in spiritual and temporal matters within the local Body of Messiah takes time and is not an overnight fix. Each member needs to learn how to harmonise and that through constant practice to bring the instruments of their minds, their thoughts; feelings and purposes into line with each other like instruments in the orchestra are tuned to play in harmony. We see this demonstrated in the assembly at Jerusalem after they had been corporately filled with the Spirit for the second time where we read; “All the believers were one in heart and mind” (Acts 4:32). Their thoughts, feelings, emotions, their wills were completely unified by the power of the Holy Spirit ‘the divine conductor.’

As the Body of Messiah we are constantly at war and engaged in a wrestling match with Satan and his cohorts from Hades roaming across the surface of the earth in the unseen spiritual realm. A fellowship fused together by the power of the Holy Spirit is very hard for Satan to penetrate. When the members of the local assembly are seeking to live and work in harmony with each other they become a very powerful spiritual force in the world and in the unseen spiritual realm. No assembly of course is perfect, and there will be times of disunity, hence, the necessity to be constantly controlled or filled with the Spirit and to walk in step with Him as a local body seeking to harmonise as an orchestra harmonises (Ephesians 5:18ff). But how do we live in harmony with our fellow believers? How does it come about because we have our part to play as individual members of the local assembly we attend? How do we then develop harmony in our personal relationships within the Body of Messiah?

We are to be “sympathetic.” The word conveys the idea of “suffering or feeling the like with another or having compassion” that is the same as “the movement of ones bowls” when the stomach is affected. It is a strong feeling of empathy towards another. This empathy is not just feeling sorry for someone suffering, but a very powerful spiritual manifestation only possible through and by the power of the blessed Holy Spirit the divine comforter, who Himself enables us to comfort others with the same comfort we ourselves receive from God. It is a supernatural work of the Spirit (Galatians 6:22-25). As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Messiah, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

It is to bear or to carry one another’s burdens which fulfils the law of God because love expressed in this way through faith fulfils all the law of God (Galatians 6:2) (Romans 13:10). Our faith is a faith that works by love (Galatians 5:6). This kind of love that loves as God loves without any other alternate motive is impossible with man but possible only with God’s love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). So then being sympathetic is more than just feeling sorry, but seeking with the help of the blessed Holy Spirit to enter into what another brother or sister is feeling. It is more than just feeling a natural kind of empathy which some may well lack apart from the love of God.

Then we are “to love as brothers.” Because we are a royal family and members of God’s household and co-inheritors in Messiah of all that the Father has given to us through the redemption and forgiveness bestowed upon us through the blood of the Messiah, and that by God’s free unmerited and unearned favour towards us (Ephesians 1:7). Brothers have a special relationship in that they have the same father and we know that there is even a friend who sticks closer to us than a brother and in Him we are accepted by God in the beloved Messiah our Lord Jesus (Ephesians 1:6).

And then we are “to be compassionate.” This is aligned with sympathy but in a much deeper aspect. It conveys the idea of “a strong movement of the bowels.” This is the same word used when we read in the gospels that the Lord “had compassion on the people because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” This is a spiritual power that arises out of the spiritually regenerated human spirit of a born again believer who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The Bible elsewhere speaks about “bowels of compassion.” It is also connected to mercy. It is an intense desire for the well-being and success of someone else. This attitude should govern the personal relationships between slaves and masters, husbands and wives and with fellow believers in the local assemblies, and wherever people are gathered who call on the name of the Lord.

Peter then says we are “to be humble” or to “be humble in spirit.” It means “to have a humble opinion of one’s self, a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness and to exhibit modesty, humility and lowliness of mind” and not to think more highly of oneself, especially at the expense of others. Jealousy and envy over another brother or sisters gifting is the devil’s work and the precursor for sowing discord among brothers, and this is one of the things God hates because it lines up with Satan’s dark, perverted and twisted desires perpetrated by pride. Humility is a bedfellow with meekness which is the harnessing of power when one can retaliate but chooses not to.

When Pilate said to the Lord Jesus “Don’t you realise I have the power to crucify you or to set you free.” Jesus replied “You would have no power over Me unless it was granted to you by My Father in heaven.” Who was really in control? Jesus had the power to call down the angels of heaven to come to his defence but chose not to use it because of what He had come into the world to do. He would come as judge in His Second Coming but in His first coming He had come as the saviour of the world. His desire and focus was to submit to the will of His Father.

If we see a fellow believer being used by God then we should rejoice in that rather than entertain envy. Every one of us has one or more gifts of the Spirit which are given according to His will and not ours, and we should seek to discover them with the measure of faith God has given us and use them for His glory and for the extension of His kingdom on earth (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) (Romans 12:6-8). If we are complimented by a brother or a sister for some ministry that God has accomplished through us we should thank them for their comments and straightaway give God the glory in our hearts lest the tempter comes to tempt us with the sin of pride. And then Peter continues…

(Vs.9) “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

The Messiah our Lord Jesus never retaliated with an insult when He was insulted. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel Chapter five the Lord Jesus addressed this matter and in its context it is an integral part of living in the Kingdom of God. He said; “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (Matthew 5:10-12).

As we also read in chapter two of this letter; “For you have been called for this purpose (suffering for one’s faith), since Messiah also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (2:21-23). His ultimate demonstration of this attitude was when He was hanging on the cross and prayed “Father forgive then for they do not know what they are doing.” When Stephen was being stoned to death, just before he fell asleep in Jesus and yielded up his spirit to Him Stephen prayed; “Lord do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:59-60).

This can only be done in the power of the Holy Spirit as all of us are prone to retaliate when insulted. Only through the love of God operating in our inner spirit man fused with the Holy Spirit can we be supernaturally enabled to cope with the insults or malevolent tirade of words and actions being perpetrated upon us because of our faith in and loyalty to our Lord Jesus.  This is to take up our cross daily and to follow in His footsteps (Luke 9:23). As we bless those who persecute us for righteousness sake we will be blessed by God!

To bless others is “to cause them to prosper, to speak well of them and to make them happy and to invoke God’s favour upon them.” The blessing of God upon us when we bless others denotes “a bountiful invocation and benediction from God consecrating or setting us apart to Him in a special way.” Why? Because this is part of our conformity to the image of his Son with whom He is well pleased, and because we are in the Messiah and connected to Him through the indwelling Holy Spirit we are “accepted in the beloved Jesus” by His Father. As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Messiah, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 5:1-7).

Inheriting God’s blessing also includes God’s praise of us for blessing those who revile or insult us because this is what His Son did when reviled and insulted and persecuted for righteousness sake, and we also are God’s sons and daughters by adoption into His eternal family and the insults and opposition the Lord Jesus experienced we too will experience to a greater or lesser degree. Now Peter quotes a psalm as the Old Testament scriptures were the Bible of the first century Body of Messiah. As it has been said “The New is in the Old concealed and the Old is in the New revealed.” The New Testament is a Bible commentary on the Old Testament. If we do not know the Old Testament then we will have difficulty understanding much of what is written in the New Testament. Peter continues…

(Vs.10-11) “For, “Whoever would love life  and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.”

Every one of us wants to love life and experience good days and this of course is natural. The phrase “to love life,” means, “To be resolved or determined or to purpose, to take delight in, to have pleasure in.” It is primary an act of the will not the emotions only. However, for us as New Covenant believers to love life and to enjoy it to the full is to first and foremost love God and the things of God, to love what God loves and to hate what God hates, and to have our whole life centred around His will which is good, acceptable and perfect, and this will be our experience when our wills are completely surrendered to the Lord and He has control over our bodies (Romans 12:1-2). We have a spirit and a soul. The soul is made up of our intellect, our emotions and our will and these are contained within our physical bodies. When a person physically dies their body decays but their spirit and soul are expelled into eternity. For those who are saved it means absence from the body to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). For those who are unsaved it means absence from the physical body and torment in Hades (Hell) (Luke 16:23-24). It is important that God has control over our bodies with their fleshly appetites and desires because if He gets our bodies then He gets the contents as well!

The Lord Jesus came into this world to save us from the power and penalty of sin and to give us an abundant life (John 10:10). God’s definition of abundance is different from the world’s definition of it. The Lord Jesus also said; “Watch out! Guard yourselves against every form of greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

Whatever we need for life will be given to us by God. What He knows we need may differ from what we think we need. God is not stingy with His blessings but they will come according to his will and not ours. The Lord Jesus also said; “For the Gentiles (the unsaved in its Jewish context) strive after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:32-34).

Agar wrote in the Book of Proverbs; “Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:7-9). In the Messiah our Lord Jesus God has given us in Him everything we will ever need for life and godliness in this present age through our knowledge of His Son whose indestructible life and power resides in us through the person of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:3).

All of God’s promises to us as New Covenant believers in the Bible are “yes” and “amen” in Messiah (2 Corinthians 1:20). However, for the most part there is a condition connected to the blessing to be received. There are certain spiritual obligations we have to activate in us in order that God might bestow His promises upon us which He is more willing to do than we are willing to receive them, so great and generous is He in His desire to bless His children. He wants us to live an abundant life which can only come to its fulfilment when we walk in the will of God and instep with the Holy Spirit and seek, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to walk in obedience to the revealed Word of God the Bible. Our faith is the faith of obedience (Romans 1:5; 16:26) (John 3:36 NASB).

Now if we would really love and enjoy life and see many good days as God desires for us we need to do several things on our part and Peter tells us what they are. We “must keep our tongue from evil and our lips from deceitful speech.” To “keep” is “to make, to cease or desist, to restrain a thing or person from something, to cease, to leave off, to have release from sin and to be no longer stirred by its incitements and seductions.” In this way what are we to keep ourselves from?       We are to “keep our tongue from evil.” The word “evil” describes “a mode of thinking, feeling and acting wicked, that which is troublesome, injurious, pernicious, and destructive and having poisonous qualities that are deadly; injurious; noxious; and pernicious.” James tells us that the tongue not controlled by the Holy Spirit is a small part of the body, but it boasts of great things and it is like a small a spark that sets a great forest ablaze.

The tongue also is a fire, a world of wickedness among the parts of the body. It pollutes the whole person, sets the course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6). Many a fellowship has been disrupted and even divided by the power of loose tongues. And then we are to keep our lips from “deceitful speech” being “craft, deceit and guile.” This is mandatory for all within the body of Messiah if they would love life and see many good days.

Now while we are to reject evil speaking in all of its forms we are “to turn from evil” to “deviate, to turn aside form, to shun and to avoid a set and determined course and action “and do good.” This implies to be one with “a good constitution or nature, to be useful, salutary, good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy, excellent, distinguished, upright and honourable in what we say or do towards others.

(Vs.12) “For the eyes of the Lord are on (over) the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

We are declared to be righteous ones in God’s sight through faith, not having a righteous character of our own of course, because there is none righteous no not one  for all of us have sinned and fallen short of the righteous life God requires to enter into His eternal kingdom. As it is written; “the just (justified ones) shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4) (Romans 1:17; 5:1) (Galatians 3:11) (Hebrews 10:38). If we have been made righteous in God’s sight through faith in the Messiah then God’s righteous character will be revealed in our lives by the way we live. Faith is not just believing, it is that, but also involves seeking to be faithful to what we confess to believe (James 1:22). The word faith in both Testaments means to believe but also means faithfulness, or to be faithful.

When we are walking moment by moment by faith and in step with the Holy Spirit, His eyes will be on us to watch over every aspect of our daily lives (Psalm 121). The language here regarding His eyes being over the righteous and His ears attentive to their prayer, is that which describes continual guardianship and care and the fact that He hears our prayers. As He is a hearer of prayer, we are at liberty to go to Him at all times, and to pour out our desires before Him. In fact on the basis of the blood of Jesus we have boldness or freedom of speech to enter into His presence at any time of the day of night, because His throne is a throne of grace and mercy, and from His throne He extends the golden sceptre of grace and mercy to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). We are also told that “His ears will be attentive to our prayer.” His is attentive to every detail of our lives and totally knowledgeable about every detail of our lives, our thoughts, feelings and purposes and nothing escapes His attention. What concerns us concerns Him (Matthew 6:25-34).

Now we are also told “but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” This would have brought comfort to the persecuted believers facing the malevolent intent of their persecutors in that God would avenge His elect who cry to Him day and night and avenge them speedily (Luke 18:7-8) (Revelation 6:9-11). Indeed Rabbi the apostle Paul writes about this in His Second letter to the assembly at Thessalonica; “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marvelled at among all who have believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10). In times of persecution for our faith we are to leave vengeance to God for He will repay those who persecute us for righteousness sake and because we are faithful to the Lord Jesus and to His Word the Bible (Deuteronomy 32:35) (Romans 12:19).

As the Lord Jesus Himself said; “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:43-45). While God hates sin and punishes sin He still loves the sinner and has done everything He can do in providing salvation from sin and Hellfire yet He still gives people the choice between heaven and Hell. As God said through Moses; “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Now let’s continue…

(Vs.13-14) “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”

Most people in this world will respond to those who are genuinely good to them. As New Covenant believers we should be eager to do good to others. We read in the Book of Acts “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). As Jesus’ disciples we should be eager to do the same thing for those in need spiritually.  As the apostle John writes; “And we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love; whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him. In this way, love has been perfected among us, so that we may have confidence on the Day of Judgment; for in this world we are just like Him” (1 John 4:16-17). The Lord Jesus Himself said; ”Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me—or at least believe on account of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I am doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:11-13).

Sometimes we may seek to do good to someone by sharing the good news of salvation but they retaliate because they do not want to change their rebellious attitude to God, and even when we seek to do good for them for the eternal welfare of their soul, we will be rejected by them. When this happens we will be blessed by God. If we do good because we are followers of the Lord Jesus, then, even if we are insulted and suffer at the hands of our enemies, we cannot be harmed spiritually. They may torture and kill our bodies but they cannot kill us as our spirit and soul will go into eternity to be with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Our ultimate hope is not in this world but in the world to come (1:24-25) (John 11:25-26).

If we fear (reverence) the Lord then we will have nothing to fear from men or from demons or from Satan himself. As the Lord Jesus said; “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows” (Luke 10:28-31).

As New Covenant believers when we leave this physical body we become more alive than ever we were before when we lived on earth. The righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit we enjoyed down here will be magnified hundreds of times over, and then some, in our heavenly dwelling. In this world we have the same authority over Satan and all of the fallen spirits in the unseen spiritual world that our Lord Jesus has, and He has given us His authority to expel these demons and principalities of wickedness, to heal the sick and most of all to bring the good news of the gospel of the kingdom to the unsaved in this world.

In the gospel of Luke we read; “The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:17-20). He also said; “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

The unsaved fear what others can do to them as they have no hope beyond this life and when they do leave this world and are expelled from their bodies into eternity, they will face their worst nightmare ever that will never cease. God’s perfect love casts out all fear of judgement and produces a certain hope when His love has been poured out into our hearts by the blessed Holy Spirit. As we read; “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.… And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (1 John 4:18-19) (Romans 5:5).

As we seek to cultivate and develop our relationship with the God the Father, with God the Son and with God the Holy Spirit through reading and studying the Bible and by prying unceasingly by the Holy Spirit, then when fear comes and seeks to grip us in its talons we will be able to expel it with God’s power and strength. While fear is natural to us when we are confident in God’s love and care the blessed Holy Spirit Himself will replace the fear with faith. The more we read and study the Word of God the more capacity we will have to exercise our faith and consequently expel fear (Romans 10:17). In fact the Psalmist wrote; “Cast (roll off) your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be shaken” (Psalm 55:22). The secret to expelling fear is to live moment by moment in step with the blessed Holy Spirit who, as the Spirit of truth, leads us into all truth and enables us to fight the spiritual battles we face every day, and this includes fear, which is diametrically opposed to faith. And so Peter continues…

(Vs.15-17) “But in your hearts set apart Messiah as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Messiah may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

We must never fear the threats of those who would persecute us. Fear is a normal emotion that all of us feel at times and the only way to conquer it when we are assailed by it is to speak the Word of God into that daunting situation facing us, especially those promises that relate to the situation we are facing. There are many places in the Word of God where He says to us; “fear not.” The implication is that God still has everything under control. Sometimes He will lead us into a situation that causes fear to rise up within us like a spectre, not to torment us of course, but to see how we will react to it. He already has the answer and wants us to call on Him so that He can show His strength and power on behalf of us as His redeemed people.

As it is written; “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace” (Psalm 29:10-11). Now our heart is the seat of our affections and it is written; “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 3:23). Whatever we give our most attention to is that which will control us. We all have two natures as a believer in Messiah. We have the old sinful nature but also the new spiritual nature and they are constantly at war within us and whichever nature we feed is the one that will ultimately control us (Galatians 5:16-18( (Romans 8:12-14). In the spiritual life first and foremost we must set apart in our heart Messiah as Lord, as the one who sits in the driver’s seat of our life. From this will come the testimony of the Holy Spirit that will prove to be most effective and powerful word from God that men cannot dispute or even challenge (Luke 21:13-15).

Enthroning Messiah as Lord will prepare us to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give a reason for the hope that we have deep down on the inside of us. If we have a thorough knowledge of God’s Word then we have at our disposal the spiritual ammunition the Holy Spirit needs to give to the inquirer the answer they need to hear. The blessed Holy Spirit can go where we cannot go. “He knows the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). If He knows the deep things of God then He most certainly knows and discerns the thoughts and internets of the heart. While “man looks on the outward appearance God looks upon the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

If God has control of our intellect, our feelings and our wills then Satan cannot get a foothold in our lives. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit which will drive Satan out of our affairs when we launch God’s Word at him accompanied by the shield of faith and that word we are speaking anointed by the Holy Spirit. If we persist in resisting Satan then he will flee (5:9) (James 4:7-10). The main reason he does not flee will be because we gave up resisting him. He knows if we mean business and once he sees this he will flee in abject terror, especially when he sees you coming down the road with deliberate intent in his direction and swinging that sword of God’s Word!

When our Lord Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness He said to Satan three times; “It is written”. The Lord Jesus used the Word of God when responding to the challenges and accusations of the religious leaders (John 5:39). Rabbi the apostle Paul did the same thing (Acts 9:22). Apollos also did this (Acts 18:28).  In times of persecution or when we need to give an answer to one’s question or accusation the Lord Jesus will give us the words to say and it will be based on the Word of God (4:14) (Luke 21:12-19) (Matthew 10:16-20). Even though we answer with gentleness and respect, our words will carry the convicting power of the blessed Holy Spirit Himself speaking in and through us.

Most important in being empowered by the Holy Spirit to give an answer for what we believe is to keep a clear conscience before God and man (Acts 24:16) (1Timothy 1:5, 19).  This requires us to be open and honest with the Lord as we walk with Him every moment of the day. If we are striving to keep a clear conscience with the help of the blessed Holy Spirit then even the accusations and slander people make against us will eventually come back on their own heads and that big time! Sometimes God permits us to suffer for doing good. If we do evil we of course will suffer the consequences, however, if we suffer as a New Covenant believer we can still know God’s supernatural and enduring peace (shalom)  deep down on the inside of us even though our emotions are in conflict and our thoughts troubled by our adverse circumstances.

God’s peace transcends all human understanding and will be a garrison to protect our thoughts, feelings and our will keeping them focused and centred upon the Lord Jesus Himself the author and finisher (perfector) of our faith (Philippians 4:7) (Hebrews 12:2). Biblical peace is different from the peace the world offers in that God’s peace is not dependent on outward circumstances but abides in us even when in adverse circumstances. It is the everlasting and enduring peace of God that the Lord Jesus gives to us through His Word (John 14:27). God’s supernatural peace will always enable us to “rejoice always, to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all the changing circumstances we will ever face in life as this is the will of God in Messiah Jesus for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Go to Study No. 13