|International Bible Studies|
LESSON FOR APRIL 13, 1980
Living as God’s People
MEMORY SELECTION: “As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” —I Peter 2:16
SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Peter 2:9-16; 4:1-3
IN OUR selected scripture of I Peter 2:9 we read, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” The thought of the text is made clear in the previous verses, which indicate that the Jewish nation rejected their Messiah, and because of this and their disobedience the Heavenly Father turned to the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name. As a select people the Gentiles supplanted the Jews, and the Apostle Peter calls them a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people. The meaning of the word peculiar is purchased, which indicates that those who have been called to this relationship have been justified by the blood of Christ.
The latter part of the text quoted above states the objective of this select calling. The apostle states that it is for the purpose of showing forth the praises of the Heavenly Father, who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. The Apostle Paul expresses the thought in II Corinthians 4:6,7: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
The marvelous light that we enjoy as a purchased people is a knowledge of God. We are privileged to know something of his character as revealed to us through his Word, which in itself is made meaningful by the light of the Holy Spirit. Those who enjoy this relationship are admonished by the Apostle Paul, in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
The thought of the apostle’s admonition is that those who enjoy this special relationship with the Heavenly Father are to separate themselves from the world. And whereas in times past their minds were occupied with worldly and carnal things, in the future their minds are to be renovated, turned around, and occupied with spiritual things. The spiritual mind reflects the mind, or thoughts, of Him who gave us the Spirit. This attitude of mind is illustrated for us in the subsequent verses of Romans, the 12th chapter. In living as God’s people we should reflect his character, in order to bring honor and glory to his name.
In verse 9 the apostle states: “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” The word dissimulation means hypocrisy. A hypocritical love does not reflect God’s character, because it is motivated by self-interest. Selfishness is one of the tools of Satan by which he has kept the people of earth subjugated. Contrariwise, God’s Spirit is manifested by selflessness. The chief exponent of this attitude of mind was our Lord Jesus, who said, “Whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”—Mark 10:44,45
The thought of an undissimulating love also applies to our relationship with the Heavenly Father. Our love for him and our love for his Word must be from the depths of our hearts and therefore be the motivating force that will help us renovate our minds. If this is so, we will abhor that which is evil and will cleave to that which is good.
Skipping to verse 13, the apostle mentions “distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” Hospitality is a measure of one’s selflessness, because it means the giving of one’s substance, not only in material things, but also in time and physical strength. We should have a very special interest in serving those whom the Lord has called and who are endeavoring to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. But we should “do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Gal. 6:10) Friendliness and the ready willingness to extend a helping hand to all simply reflect the love that God has for his creation, the love of him who “so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.”—John 3:16