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Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the King.

~1 Peter 2:17

Lesson16-image001Materials Needed: None

Notes to the Leader: This lesson is about the Christian responsibility to obey those placed in authority over us like our government. It is easy to start a discussion on politics and find disagreement. As Christians we are called to both uphold the “Law” (capital L for God’s Laws) and also the “law” (lower case l for civil law or the law of man). There are times these conflict.

Life for a Christian is a constant balancing act. This lesson looks at some of the issues regarding our conflicts. As a discussion topic, abortion will be used several times as an example. Before you do, take time to understand who is in your group. This topic may not be appropriate for the group or just not the time to use a controversial example like this. If this is the case, substitute and find a current issue that goes against our Gospel. It is usually easy to do.

You will find this lesson filled with spirited discussion. Remember the old adage, “never discuss religion and politics?” Well, you will be doing both.

Introduction

Can you think of examples where our government has created bad laws from a Christian perspective?

  • There are probably many.
  • Try the right for children to seek an abortion without parental consent or notification.
  • Try abortion itself
  • Stem cell research on unborn embryos
  • Removal of prayer in schools

Is it ever right to ignore a law and stand our ground on principle?

  • Peter is going to go out on the same limb that Paul did in Romans 13:1, everyone must submit himself to the governing Authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.

Can you think of several examples where this has been demonstrated and documented in the Bible?

  • Christ was clearly not guilty and reminded Pontius Pilate that the Romans wouldn’t have any power unless it was granted to him by God (John 19:11). Christ still submitted to worldly authority and let men put Him to death.
  • The first chapter of Job demonstrates that even Satan operates within the boundaries established by God.

What is the one test that we can apply to any law or order to confirm if our obedience is consistent with the will of God?

  • The only occasion for which a believer’s disobedience would be other than dishonoring to God is on those occasions when obeying government’s authority would be to directly disobey God’s authority. Then we must obey God rather than men (see Acts 5:26).

How would you apply this rule to the topic of abortion?

  • As the Church, we should be working to foster adoption, helping our youth understand the risks of intimacy, and electing government officials that are committed to God’s Law first. God requires this of us. We should not become disruptive, destructive or hurtful to those who disagree with our beliefs. God establishes even the Supreme Court’s power.

Have someone in your group read Acts 4:19-20.

The Authorities told Peter and John to stop preaching the Gospel. Why didn’t they stop and obey the government?

  • They chose to speak on what they saw and heard in direct compliance to God’s commands.

Section One: The Living Christ

Have someone in your group read 1 Peter 2:4-8.

Can someone who has rejected Christ’s offer of salvation be saved?

Re-read verse 8 to the group.

  • Unless someone eventually accepts Christ’s offer, they will stumble and fall. Again, we find no biblical evidence that rejecting our God and our Christ can ever lead to salvation. Only through acceptance is salvation so graciously granted to us through God’s amazing grace.

Spend time in discussion here. Many people struggle with the idea that loved ones or others they may know would not be saved if they did not accept our Christ. Yet, that is one of the basic principles of the Christian faith that must be understood.

Read Isaiah 45:23 and Philippians 2:6-11 to the group.

What conclusions can you draw as to why rejecting Christ carries such a great penalty?

  • Jesus is infinitely precious and valuable to His father. Chosen by God to be the Savior of the world, Jesus was exalted to the highest place and given all authority, His name is honored above all others.
    What is said about the believers?
  • We are precious too. With Christ as our cornerstone, God uses Christians to build a spiritual house or place of worship.

Do you think that Peter was referencing the Christian propensity to build churches out of stone?

  • On the contrary, Peter was referring to us as a people with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.

What was unique about the role of the priest in the Jewish temples?

  • Priests interceded for their people. Here, Peter is calling us Priests, capable of communicating direct to Christ, the true intercessor.

What did Peter mean when he referenced believers offering spiritual sacrifices to God? Didn’t Christ already do all of that?

  • Though Christ offered the final sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world, the believer can offer up spiritual sacrifices of praise, intercession, thanksgiving, good works, and charitable giving. These sacrifices are not offered to secure our salvation, but to celebrate what has already happened.

Note: In spiritual terms, people trip over Jesus and His Gospel, because it is a nuisance to them. It interferes with the illusion of self-sufficiency and their “freedom” from moral boundaries. They refuse to heed the message of God’s truth because it is bothersome and inconvenient.

Section Two: God’s People

Have someone in your group read 1 Peter 2:9-10.

Why would God choose someone?

  • Never because of their moral potential. Always because of His sovereign purpose.

Accepting this, why is it wrong to sit in moral judgment of anyone?

  • We can never see or understand from God’s perspective, God’s purpose for anyone. This is His alone.

Read Hosea 2:1-23 to the group

What has Peter chosen to remind us of here?

  • We once were lost people. But through God’s grace, we have been restored to God.

How should this fact alter a Christian’s perspective on their faith?

  • Instead of thinking that God is kind, good, and would never do anything bad to anyone, we should choose to take a position of humility, understanding that we are eternally lost if it was not for the unselfish grace of our God. But we must be the one to take that first step and believe in the “cornerstone” and the “capstone.”

How can Christ be both the cornerstone and the capstone?

  • A cornerstone is the first stone and the foundation that all else is aligned with and build upon.
  • The capstone is the final stone that keeps all things together and creates the strength in the structure.

Section Three: God’s People, Do They Belong?

Have someone in your group read 1 Peter 2:11-12.

How would you describe a stranger in a foreign land?

  • Temporary;
  • In need of a guide;
  • No legal status or rights;
  • Possibly needing a letter of protection or visa.

How does the Holy Spirit work if we are strangers in a foreign land?

  • The Holy Spirit is our visa, our protection, and our guide. (see Galatians 5:16-18)

When accused of non-compliance, what is the way Peter instructs us to respond?

  • Not with loud declarations of innocence, but with blameless lives that would demonstrate the groundlessness of such.

What did Peter hope our lives would do?

  • He hoped that by observing the lives of believers, the unrepentant would eventually turn to God, before the day Christ returned.

Section Four: We Honor our King

Have someone in your group read 1 Peter 2:13-20.

What are some ways we can respond to leaders when their decisions cause conflict for our Christian beliefs?

  • We must always show respect, to all people because they have been created by God, in His image and deserve our respect.
  • Hate the sin, love the sinner.
  • Love.
  • Cautious and reasonable fear. They do have the authority (granted by God) and can cause us pain and suffering.

Which of these acts are justifiable under Peter’s instructions to obey our masters? Consider that you have been directed by your boss to do these things.

Read this list to your group.

1. Change accounting figures so that our supervisor’s department looks better.

2. Misrepresent the features of a product to make the sales quota.

3. Exclude women and people of color because the company doesn’t hire them.

4. Tell an upset customer an untruth about the reason for a delay in their order.

5. Ignore a co-worker’s request to be a witness in a harassment legal case.

None are acceptable. They are all wrong under God’s Law.

Section Five: The Trust of God’s People

Have someone in your group read 1 Peter 2:21-25.

If we are in harmony with our bosses, can we assume that we must be doing everything OK?

  • Hardly. Peter tells us that Christ suffered for standing up for God. When we make our decisions for God, and trust Christ, relying on the Holy Spirit, we are not guaranteed an easy time. Like Christ, we may very well suffer greatly.

Can a Christian ever be forced to sin?

  • Not according to Peter. No one is ever forced to take sinful action, regardless of the circumstances that might provoke such. Even while being humiliated, Jesus held on to God’s truth, refusing the temporary, cold comfort of retribution or of deceitful words or thinking (vv. 23-24).

How would you know for sure that you are being asked something that God would not want you to do?

  • Our standards must come from knowing God and knowing our Savior, Jesus. This knowledge comes from taking personal responsibility for the Bible’s content and, acknowledging, the Bible is the Word of our God.

Bible Truth Being Taught

We honor our God through appropriate submission to Authorities.

Our Response

To show proper submission t

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