Intro: Following along with the series of messages I am preaching through 1 Peter, as Peter writes to the dispersed and persecuted church in exile throughout Asia Minor, he encourages them by writing, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11-12). In chapter 2 verse 13 through chapter 3 verse 8 he gives us three specific ways that we are able to have “honorable conduct”, even while living in an environment that is hostile to God and the gospel. Those three ways all involve submission to authority in different realms of our daily interactions. We are to be (1) submissive citizens, (2) submissive servants, and (3) submissive spouses.

As we look at these three focal points for submission, I’ve titled this devotional series “Our Mission is Submission – 1 Peter 2:13-3:8.”

Today we will look at how to live like exiles:

(1) Submissive Citizens – 1 Peter 2:13-17
Living Like Exiles (vs. 13-14)

In Jeremiah 29 God tells His people who had been captured and are living in exile in Babylon, “4 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:  Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished.”

They have been captured and are by all rights prisoners of war, exiles in a foreign land, subject to a new nation and a new king, sent into exile as judgment from God for their covenant violations and disobedience. Yet even in this wicked nation and with this pagan government we see men like Daniel and Nehemiah who were able to work their way up high into the ranks of government all the while living in such a way that honored God.

 Jeremiah says, “You’ve been captured, but live your life! Get on with living your life as best you are able.” Now he does not say to be assimilated into this culture and way of life for the Babylonians, you still need to live according to the standards of God’s Word as His people. Ultimately here what God is telling us is that it really doesn’t matter what governmental authority is over us, He is still sovereign, and we are still responsible to do what is right in His eyes.

He goes on to say, “seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.” He says to pray that the Babylonians will have peace. If they have peace you have peace.

 “8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed.  9 For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the Lord. 10 For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.  11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

He says I don’t want you to be Babylonian, but live your life while you are there. For us, we need not be Americans who are Christians – we should live as though we are Christians who happen to be in America.

In Matthew 22:21 someone asked Jesus if they should pay taxes to Caesar. Should they support the government even with all the evil that Rome did? He said, “Put together a crack unit of zealots and infiltrate the palace and assassinate Caesar and then elect someone who will make Christianity the state religion, because that will fix everything…,” right? No, He said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

 This is reflected in Romans 13:

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.  3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.  4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.  5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.  6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.  7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

As we look at the text Paul tells us specifically that every soul must be subject to the governing authorities because there is no authority except from God. If someone is in a place of authority, good or bad, if God did not put them there then they would not be there. We may never understand why some of the rulers that the world has seen have been where they were. Obedience to them is obedience to God, up to the point that they tell us to disobey God and then we would rather obey God than man, all the while being willing to pay the consequences of civil disobedience.

We need to pray for our government that they might maintain peace and civil order, because when they do we all have peace and when they do not no one has peace. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 reminds us, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” So in obedience to God we submit to authority and pray for those in authority even if, and perhaps especially if they are not doing what is right, and we are to be bold and preach the gospel to that authority, just as John the Baptist and other prophets in Scripture did.

But what do we do when the government, when those in authority, demand that we do something contrary to the Word of God? When talking about authority and government we always love to run right away to the exception, don’t we? We cannot live dishonorable lives with disregard for earthly authority and then think that we have done well to obey God rather than men when the time comes. But there will come a time, sooner rather than later, that they will tell us to do things that we simply cannot do.

Back to Acts, in chapter 4, we read, “18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.  19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.  20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”  In Acts 5:28 the rulers asked, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” 29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

This points us to a central truth in what it means to be a submissive citizen of heaven, our obedience, even to human authority, is always prefaced upon obedience to the Lord. This is how we serve Christ.

Tomorrow we will look at what it means to simply do good.