The Tabernacle Scroll
“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God” (1 Pe. 2: 15,16).
In the verses leading up to this passage, Peter makes the point that just as Israel was called God’s chosen people in the OT, so in the NT believers are designated as chosen, or elect. Though once not the people of God, he points out, they are now the recipients of God’s mercy. In consequence of this they have a certain responsibility to live exemplary lives. He then goes on to urge Christians to submit to all legitimate authorities, whether or not those persons are exercising authority as believers. He points out that the recognition of properly constituted authority is necessary for the greatest good of the majority of people, and it is necessary to best fulfill the will of God in the world. [You will recall that Paul tells us that authority established among men depends on God for its existence (Rom.13: 1&2). From this we infer that, when one disobeys a human ruler, he indirectly disobeys God who ordained the system of human government].
Peter then goes on to encourage believers to “live as free men”. By this he is not encouraging rebellion; rather, he is advocating an attitude of proper submission to earthly authorities as long as such submission does not conflict with the law of God.
I want to point out that there is more to ‘living as free men’ than we have considered in the context of this passage. ‘Living as free men’ bears truthful witness to the power of the gospel to save sinners. It also bears witness to the power of the gospel to change lives. For this reason, the Christian must learn not to see conversion as the goal. Conversion is but the beginning of a lifelong pilgrimage and struggle to know God and to do His will! The good news is that throughout this journey true believers continue ‘to live (i.e. enjoy the privilege) as free men’. That’s the liberating power of the gospel, and the truth that will “silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” (i.e., those who do not understand these things).
When we admit the fact that we Christians still sin, we begin to see unbelievers in a new light. We would then no longer look down on their sinfulness from any position of arrogance. Rather, we would simply reach out in understanding and love, offering to our fellow-sinners the forgiveness and new life that we were freely given in Christ. We admit that we are not perfect, just forgiven, and FREE!
But a word of caution here: we need to pray that God will make us more sensitive to sin, so that we do not use our freedom as a license to sin!
www.kerysso.org-Preach The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues