1 Peterby David Burge
Have you ever lost your voice? Sometimes, those who have lost their voice may resort to scribbling on a notepad or communicating with hand gestures, until their voice returns.
The persecuted Christians in Peter's day probably didn't have much of a voice in their society. So Peter emphasises the importance of their actions, which will speak for them while they suffer unjustly. God works through injustice to present the gospel through His meek and faithful people.
These verses introduce the third major section in Peter's letter. Now that we know how much we mean to God as His holy people (1 Peter 1:13-2:10), we are ready to live boldly in a world that may dislike us and seek to hurt us. For this reason, the next section (2:11-4:19) could be called ″God's Meek People: Entrusting Ourselves to God While Doing Good″.
In today's reading, Peter says that until Jesus returns, God's special people are living as ″foreigners and exiles″ (2:11) in the world, a land that is not our own. Our citizenship in heaven means we don't always fit in well on earth. For now, we remain separated physically from our great King and our promised land, and we live among unbelievers who sometimes falsely accuse Christians of wrongdoing (v. 12).
Peter guides Christians by telling us what to avoid and what to seek. First, we must ″abstain from sinful desires″ (v. 11) or desires of the flesh, because these fleshly desires ″wage war″ against our souls. Our souls are the more essential and permanent selves which live on when our bodies fail. In 2 Peter 1:13-14, Peter describes death as leaving the ″tent″ of his body. Desires of the flesh might include a pull towards pornography, wealth, prestige, selfish ambition, or indulging our stomachs with food and drinks. As foreigners and exiles in the world, we should no longer be mastered by these desires, but instead follow Jesus as Lord, whose ways lead to life.
Peter promotes ″good lives″ and ″good deeds″ (1 Peter 2:12). Such living is not only good for our souls, but also points the watching world towards the God we follow. He says some will come to Christ through our witness (v. 12). In this way, Peter echoes Jesus' teaching from the Sermon on the Mount, when He says ″you are the light of the world″, and that through your good deeds, people will ″glorify your Father in heaven″ (Matthew 5:16).
Who are some unbelieving friends who seem particularly interested in how you live as a Christian? Are your deeds and actions pointing them towards God?
What are some desires of the flesh that seem to master you, and how might you allow good deeds to take their place?