Saturday, August 1, 2009

Living The New Life With A Good Conscience

1 Peter 3:16-22

Some people speak evil of Christians, and this is seemingly getting worse as time goes on. But we need to understand that, in the midst of the world's calling us evil, we are to have a good conscience, assured that we are God's children, saved by his grace and kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5). When men speak lies about us, we should show our good conscience and assurance in Christ, therefore making them ashamed. They will also be ashamed when they stand before Almighty God in judgment. If we are to suffer, it is better to suffer for good instead of evil. Never should it be said that a Christian suffers for wrongdoing, because we are to be ye therefore perfect, even as my Father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48). If we are to suffer, it should be for Christ's sake, verses 16-17.

Christ, our great Example, suffered for sins, but not for his own but for ours, the just (Christ) for the unjust (the sinner). He was obedient unto death, because it was his Father's will and plan (Phil 2:8). He did this that he might bring us to God, his Father, where he is and where we shall be later (See John 17:24). He died in the flesh, but he was alive in the Spirit. When the body dies, the spirit is still alive. When Jesus died, Jesus' Spirit went to be with his Father (Luke 23:46).

By this same Spirit Jesus, through Noah, went and preached to the spirits "in prison," the prison of sin and captivity of the lost soul. These were the people who lived during the life of Noah and during the time the ark was being prepared. Jesus spoke to these sinners by his Spirit through Noah the precious message of the Gospel. They were warned to pending doom to every soul who did not trust God's divine word. In that time only eight souls were saved: Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives. These were saved "by water," which does not, of course, indicate that they were saved by means of the water, for the water was for the destruction of those sinners who rejected the message of Noah. They were saved by water in that the water was a testimony of their earnest trust in God. Many may have said they believed what Noah said or what God was going to do; but until they were willing to step into the ark, their faith was vain. Many believe in that same way today. Water did not save Noah's family; the ark did.

Now this is a figure, a shadow, a type of baptism and how it saves us today. Baptism does not literally save us, but it is a testimony of our salvation, thus giving us a good conscience toward God. We are answering to God's demand, his will, and his plan. We are committing ourselves to his service in being baptized in water. Verse 21 is broken by a parenthesis. By excluding it from the reading one can understand the basic sentence, which is The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also save us . . . by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just as the water lifted up the ark to be a testimony of God's grace to Noah, so our baptism lifts up the resurrection of Jesus Christ as that which actually saves us, verse 21.

Now this is the same Jesus Christ who is gone into heaven by ascension (Acts 1:11). He is now at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:56) where he is making intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). Angels and authorities and powers kneel at his presence and serve him as King of kings and Lord of lords, verse 22.

There is nothing greater than to serve Jesus unless it is having a good conscience toward God. As believers we are to "have a good conscience." If we know that we are doing right, we need not be ashamed whether we are at peace or whether we suffer for Christ's sake. May God help us to have a good conscience.

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