The Lord's Return and a New "Ten Commandments"
1 Peter 4:7-19
How many of you know the Ten Commandments? I'm not talking about the ones given to Israel by God through Moses. Instead, I am referring to the "ten commandments" given to us by God through Peter. They go like this:
I. "Thou shalt be of sound judgment"
II. "Thou shalt be of sober spirit for the purpose of prayer"
III. "Thou shalt keep fervent in your love toward one another"
IV. "Thou shalt be hospitable"
V. Thou shalt be good stewards of God's gifts"
VI. "Thou shalt speak as the oracles of God"
VII. "Thou shalt not be surprised at fiery ordeals"
VIII. "Thou shalt not be ashamed to suffer as a Christian"
IX. "Thou shalt glorify God in the name Christian"
X. "Thou shalt entrust thy soul unto God"
(I PETER 4:7-19; J.Q. Authorized Version)
Now the interesting thing about these particular ten commandments is that they all relate to the fact that Jesus could come again at any time. Peter realized that he was living in the last days. He had announced that the "last days" had begun just ten days after Jesus had ascended into heaven (ACTS 2:16,17; c.f. HEBREWS 1:1,2). He knew that Jesus' coming will mark the end of this world as we know it (II PETER 3:8-13). For that reason, we are to view His coming as an ever present reality. As far as we are concerned, it is at hand. As Peter later said, "Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found in Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation..." (II PETER 3:14,15a).
So we shall consider each of the ten commandments as given by
God through Peter that are pertinent to the ever present possibility of the end
of time. In fact, the "ten commandments" begin with the statement "The end of
all things is at hand; therefore..."
I. BE OF SOUND JUDGMENT
"The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment..." (I PETER 4:7). Good decisions are not often made abruptly, in anger or surprise. They are not based on impulse, desire or passion. Those are the things from which stupid decisions are made. The Christian knows that there are more important considerations to life than how much he possesses. Jesus said, "Beware, and be on you guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." (LUKE 12:15).
II. BE OF SOBER SPIRIT FOR THE PURPOSE OF PRAYER
"...and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer." (I PETER 4:7). Even though life has its upheavals, the Christian is to remain calm. Sometimes we sing a hymn which says, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine; Oh what a foretaste of glory divine." To lack assurance is to lack faith in our "Blessed Assurer." Also, our prayers are aided by our secure hearts. In times of trouble, we must not let doubt overcome our assurance, thus rendering our
prayers without effect (JAMES 1:2-8).
III. KEEP FERVENT IN YOUR LOVE
"Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." (I PETER 4:8). The word "fervent" means to be intense. Our mutual support for one another is indispensable. As a community of believers waiting for Jesus' coming, our attitude toward Him shows itself in our attitude toward one another (I JOHN 4:20,21). This commandment is especially important during times of trial and persecution, such as was being endured by disciples when Peter wrote this epistle. We certainly are made stronger when we have the support of loving brethren. We must stand as one with one another and against those who seek to destroy.
IV. BE HOSPITABLE
"Be hospitable toward one another without complaint." (I PETER 4:9). Hospitality is to show kindness to those outside one's immediate household. Brethren who are traveling, preachers and teachers of the Word, brethren in need due to accident or tragedy, are all examples of times when hospitality is needed. But, as with all giving, it is to be given "without complaint." (II CORINTHIANS 9:7).
V. BE GOOD STEWARDS
"As each one has received a gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (I PETER 4:10). We should be unselfish when it comes to using our gifts for the benefit of others (ROMANS 12:9-16). It is not being a good steward to bury one's talent; nor to use it selfishly. We are given additional incentive to practice good stewardship by being reminded that it is only by God's wonderful grace that we have the gifts we do.
VI. SPEAK AS THE UTTERANCES OF GOD
"Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God.." (I PETER 4:11). God has spoken to us through His Son, who in turn chose apostles and prophets to function as His emissaries. Because "the end of all things is at hand," it is vitally important that we preach and teach only those things which God has appointed. We simply do not have the luxury of each going his own way and doing his own thing. It will be the true gospel
of Jesus Christ which we proclaim that will save ourselves and others (I TIMOTHY 4:16). Other gospels will not.
VII. BE NOT SURPRISED AT FIERY ORDEALS
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you." (I PETER 4:12). It is not an unusual thing for Jesus' disciples to suffer indignities at the hands of the world. Jesus had explained it this way: "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own, but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than its master.' If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you..." (JOHN 15:18-20).
VIII. BE NOT ASHAMED
"...but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed..." (I PETER 4:16). We have been blessed with an honorable covenant. There is absolutely nothing in the gospel to be ashamed of (ROMANS 1:16). Parts of it may be unfashionable today, but it is the eternally abiding Word of God and its most severest critics will be judged by it one day. We are to live it and proclaim it, but never, never be ashamed of it. It is our badge of honor.
IX. GLORIFY GOD
"...but in that name let him glorify God." (I PETER 4:16b). What a powerful thing to behold! The world tries to ridicule and shame the man or woman of faith, and find to the contrary a calm assurance and a noble dedication. It is a thing over which to rejoice; for it is much better to be persecuted for righteousness than it is to be the persecutor! "So they went on their way from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer shame in His name." (ACTS 5:41).
X. ENTRUST YOUR SOUL TO GOD
"Therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right." (I PETER 4:19). In difficult times, even times such as Peter describes here as "fiery", there is a safe haven built on an unassailable rock for the Christian. Whatever the cost, whatever the sacrifice, even unto death, the disciple knows that by faith he is secure. It is the Lord who promised. "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you." (HEBREWS 13:5).
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 9.12; December 2002