Life-Study of 1 Peterby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to 3:14-22, a section that speaks of suffering for righteousness by the will of God, as Christ suffered. Although this portion is included in the section on Christian life and its sufferings, it actually speaks concerning Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension. These verses involve two major problems that have been debated over the years, one problem related to Christ’s death and the other regarding baptism in relation to His resurrection and ascension.
Verses 14 and 15 say, “But even if you suffer because of righteousness, you are blessed; and do not be afraid with fear from them, nor be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, being always ready for a defense to everyone who asks of you an account concerning the hope in you, but with meekness and fear.” If we are terrified and troubled by persecutors, it will appear that we do not have the Lord in our hearts. Therefore, in suffering persecution we should show others that we have Christ within us as Lord. This is to sanctify Him, to separate Him, from the false gods, not degrading Him to be as the lifeless idols.
The hope spoken of in verse 15 is the living hope of the inheritance of eternal life. This is a hope in our pilgrimage today for the future, not a hope of objective things, but a hope of life, even eternal life, with all the endless divine blessings. The fear mentioned by Peter in verse 15 is a pious fear, a holy fear. Peter speaks of fear a number of times in this Epistle because the teaching of this book concerns the government of God.
In sufferings that come from opposition and persecution, we should sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts. The word “sanctify” in Greek means to set apart, to separate from things that are common. This is to make something particular and even outstanding. In our suffering of persecution, we should make Christ particular; we should show that He is magnificent, absolutely different from idols. Sanctifying Christ as Lord in our hearts is not a matter of outward activity to set Him apart from what is common. It is an inward matter. To sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts means that when we are under persecution, we have the Lord in our hearts. If we allow the Lord to be the Lord in our hearts when we suffer persecution, we shall express Him. This expression spontaneously will sanctify Christ and set Him apart from idols.
If we are timid and fearful when suffering persecution, the Lord will not be sanctified in us. What a shame that would be to Him! It will appear as if we do not have the Lord in our hearts. Whenever we suffer persecution, others must realize that we have Christ within us as Lord. But if we are timid and fearful, others will think that we do not have anything within us. They will have the impression that we do not have the living Lord in us. But if we are bold, sanctifying the Lord in our hearts and expressing Him in our faces, others will realize that we do have something within us. This is to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts.
I have told you before of a story I heard concerning a young woman who was martyred during the Boxer Rebellion in China. This particular incident took place in Peking. Because of the Boxer movement, all the businesses in the city were closed. A young man who was learning a certain business did not dare to open the door of the building where he was. Peeking through a crack in the door, he saw the Boxers parading down the street. He heard the crying and shouting. He saw some of the Boxers, with swords in their hands, threatening a young woman. She was a Christian. She was sitting in a wagon that was carrying her to the place where she would be martyred. Although the Boxers surrounded her, shouting, crying, and threatening, she was not afraid. Her face was glowing, and she was rejoicing in the Lord and praising Him. That young man was deeply impressed by what he saw. An unbeliever at the time, he decided then that he would learn about the Christian faith. He thought to himself, “If this is nothing more than a Western religion, why is this young woman not frightened by the threatening and the shouting? Why is she not afraid of death? Why is her face glowing, and why is she rejoicing?” This young man did not then realize that she was praising the Lord. Later he believed in the Lord and became a preacher. Long after that, when he became old, I met him in my home town, and we enjoyed a pleasant conversation. He told me the story of what he experienced that day in Peking.
That young woman who was martyred during the Boxer Rebellion truly sanctified Christ as Lord in her heart. The glow on her face, the rejoicing, the praising—all this was an expression that the Lord was in her heart. Spontaneously, she sanctified Christ as Lord. Her sanctifying Christ in this way influenced that young man to believe in the Lord.
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