1 Peter 3:15-18
But in your hearts revere Christ 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 behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
Peter now goes on to write about how we as believers can live a life totally committed to Christ. The key is found in verse 15, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” In his commentary on 1 Peter, Wayne Grudem writes, “The alternative to fear (see verse 14) is to focus attention on someone else: But in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Thus, the sense of fear or reverence for the Lord rather than the fear of men is reinforced. To reverence Christ as Lord means really to believe that Christ, not one’s human opponents, is truly in control of events.” To have such reverence in your hearts is to maintain continually a deep-seated inward faith in Christ as reigning Lord and King!
Then Peter goes on to encourage preparation for active witness, which will win the unbeliever to Christ. We must “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” We need to know what the Word of God says about our hope in Christ. When unbelievers inquire, we must be ready to verbally share our faith/hope. Unfortunately, many believers are not equipped to share their faith. We are taught in the book of Hebrews that “the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” We must allow the Word of God to penetrate our hearts at the deepest levels. Only then will we be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks.
Peter then instructs us to share our hope with “gentleness and respect.” Not only is it important to verbally share our faith in Christ, but we must also make sure our approach is consistent with the character of Christ. Wayne Grudem writes, “Yet such witness must be given with gentleness and reverence, not attempting to overpower the unbeliever with the force of human personality or aggressiveness but trusting the Holy Spirit Himself quietly to persuade the listener.” How we share our hope is just as important as what we say. In doing this, we should aim to have a “clear conscience” before God. In other words, “make sure that those who speak evil of you are in error.” In his commentary on 1 Peter, J.V. McGee writes, “Peter is saying, ‘Have a good conscience so that when you hear these rumors about yourself, it will not bother you because you know they are not true.’”
In verses 17-18, Peter addresses suffering once again. If we suffer for Christ’s sake, we can rejoice in that. If we are suffering because of our own sin, then we must not rejoice but repent. In verse 18, Peter reminds us that Christ suffered for all the right reasons. He suffered and died that we might be reconciled to God. He is our example of what it means to suffer well. Peter closes out this section by reminding us that Christ “was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.” This contrast fits with the whole letter’s emphasis on the unimportance of temporary suffering in this world compared to the enjoying of an eternal inheritance in the next.
Questions to Ponder
What does it mean to “set apart Christ as Lord”? Are you prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks concerning the hope that you have in Christ? Are you able to reflect Jesus even to those who persecute you? How does it make you feel to realize that Jesus suffered so that you could be reconciled to God?
- Revere and glorify our Father and Lord, Jesus Christ. Praise Him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
- Invite the Lord to search your heart to reveal if you have put anything/anyone at the center. Repent and invite the Lord to be at the center of your heart and life, trusting in His leadership.
- Thank Him for His abiding presence and ask Him to enable you to walk in step with the Spirit throughout the day.
- Ask Him to give you a greater hunger for His Word and that His Word would run swiftly in and through you. Pray for opportunities to show/share the gospel.
God, You are glorious, wonderful, faithful, and forgiving. Your leadership and friendship are perfect, right, true, and good. All power and dominion are Yours now and forevermore. Lord, help me and Your church to be in Your Word daily. Help us to remember and live out Your love to those around us. Give us beautiful feet as we share the Good News to those around us. Make us like stars out in the universe, shinning brightly as we hold out Your Word, oh God. Help us to love those far from You, rejoice when we suffer, and live with eternity in view. In the name of Jesus Christ, I ask. Amen.