COMMENTARY ON FIRST PETER
" 3:10 For "He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. 11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil." (1 Pet 3:10-12, NKJV)
The unbeliever does not see the life of faith as practical, being able to be translated into everyday life. Those in the flesh, therefore, see the Christian life as one of philosophy-a mere idea, with no real substance to it. Such people also see living to the Lord as a basically miserable existence, with no real satisfaction or joy. This notion has even penetrated the professed church, causing people to reject any solid commitment to Christ. But these are completely wrong notions, as our text will prove. There is great satisfaction to be found in living by faith. When the things of God are sought with zeal and consistency, we become the richer and more gratified because of it. Often, this aspect of life in Christ is not mentioned, leading some to conclude faith only suppresses people, never liberating and pleasing them. The Spirit uses Peter to dispel any such imagination. We are at our best when we are living in the light. Our hearts are most full then, and we are most pleased. We have not been called to inherit misery, but a blessing. The Lord is good to His children, and they are urged to live within the perimeter of His good and acceptable will.
LOVING LIFE AND SEEING GOOD DAYS
" 3:10 For He who would love life and see good days . . . " NKJV This whole passage is a quotation of Psalm 34:12-15. The Spirit refers to it to support the last statement of verse nine: "knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing." In general, this passage is urging us to live our lives to obtain the blessing, not as those who are under a form of strict moral bondage or discipline. Faith will lead a person to expect the best, not the worst. It will stimulate hope, and enable the person to look for a blessing in life itself.
The phrasing of this expression may sound strange: "would love life." The NASB reads, "means (would) to love life." The word for "love" is avgapa/n (aga-pan), which is a love of will and action-a love that does something. Ordinarily, such love is applied to our attitude toward God, our brethren, and God's Word. But here it is applied to life itself. Life is to be addressed as an area where the blessing of God can be obtained-where lasting and joyful benefits can be realized. Life may not be a "bowl of cherries," but it is a rich repository of blessing for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Earlier, Peter referred to our lives in the world as "the time of your sojourning," saying we should spend them in godly fear (1:17). Also, he reminded us that we are "strangers and pilgrims" here (2:11). This might lead some to believe there are no real benefits for us now, that only misery and sorrow attend our lives in this world. But this is not at all the case. Life can be "loved," i.e., addressed with the expectancy of finding joy and benefit in it.
This may appear to contradict the words of Jesus. "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" (John 12:25). And again, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matt 10:39; 16:25). Notice the emphasis of our Lord's words: "HIS life." This is life lived selfishly, as though it were our own. It is life lived in strict self-interest, with only the satisfaction of the lusts of the flesh and eye being paramount. But the life of which Peter speaks is life itself-a gift from God. It is life viewed as a stewardship, and in which the direction and blessing of God can be experienced. The true believer forfeits self interests in favor of living "unto the Lord" (Rom 14:8). He knows that Christ died that we might no longer live unto ourselves, "but unto Him which died for them, and rose again" (2 Cor 5:15).
The point made in our text is that such a life is filled with satisfaction and profit, because we have been called to "inherit a blessing." Thus we "love life," eager to see what good thing the Lord will bring to us, and how we may be used in His Kingdom. Faith provokes us to know we will "see good days." The believer knows that even when he endures hardship for Jesus' sake, life will "turn out for" his "deliverance through" the "prayer" of saints "and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:19).
"Good days" are ones when our eyes and ears see and hear good things from God (Matt 13:16). They are days when we experience the peace of God, that keeps our hearts and minds (Phil 4:7), and we are "filled with all joy and peace in believing" (Rom 15:13). It is a day when a lively sense of this truth is upon the heart and mind: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom 8:28).
Joseph had a "good day" when he realized the real intent of being sold into slavery by his brothers. He said to them, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive" (Gen 50:20). There are times when we are able to see the hand of God upon us for blessing. Such times are "good days." We are to believe Go will bring more of them to us.
Although we are not guaranteed freedom from the oppression of men, and are even told "in the world, ye shall have tribulation," yet there is more. We live in the persuasion that "When a man's ways please the LORD, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Prov 16:7). He can make Esau be peaceful toward Jacob (Gen 33:9). He can cause our enemies to treat us well (Jer 15:11). He can give His people rest from the oppressors, see to it that they are edified, and enable them to walk in the comfort of the Spirit and be multiplied (Acts 9:31). God's people can "see good days," and should will to do so.
REFRAINING, TURNING, SEEKING and PURSUING
" 10B-11 . . . Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. 11Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it." NKJV If our lives are to be profitable, and our days good, some things must be subdued and avoided. The words before us are not general tips for successful living, to be shared with all people. There is no way for the unbelieving to have profitable life and good days. They are living in a state of condemnation, and the wrath of God is upon them (John 3:18,36). These words are for the godly, and speak of maintaining our spiritual balance in a declining world.
One of the primary areas of concern is the eruption of the old nature through our mouths. The tongue must be "bridled," else it voids out religion (James 1:26). Although a "little member," it can kindle a blazing fire of iniquity. It is "is a fire, a world of iniquity," and "it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell." It is true, "no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:5-8). However, the tongue can be subdued and subordinated by the grace of God and the power of the Spirit. The power of life is in it as well as that of death (Prov 18:21).
Speaking "evil" is more than speaking derogatorily. It is speaking without God in mind, and with "this present evil world" dominating both thought and speech. Speaking "deceit" is speaking with "guile," misrepresenting our persons and motives. Restraining the tongue from speaking evil, and the lips from speaking deceit, sanctifies the tongue and lips, committing them to "speak truth" (Prov 8:7; Eph 4:25). Many a believer has made his own life miserable by allowing the tongue and lips to speak perverse and uncomely things. The aggressiveness with which wickedness strives to express itself is startling. Every believer experiences this principle: "when I would do good, evil is present with me."
Evil is to be "eschewed"KJV, or zealously avoided. Even the "appearance of evil" is to be vigorously shunned (1 Thess 5:22). The word "eschew" involves going out of our way to avoid evil. We are not to imagine we are strong enough to stand in the midst of evil when we are able to avoid it. The reason for turning away from evil, is that "good" cannot be done if we do not do so. Evil so drains the soul that is becomes incapable of doing good. Doing good puts us into a realm where the blessing of the Lord can be experienced. As it is written, "Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed" (Psa 37:3).
Our goodness is to extend to "all men," but "especially those of the household of faith" (Gal 6:10). Jesus said, "But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again" (Lk 6:35). From another perspective, doing good is allowing the "rivers of living waters" to flow out of our innermost persons (John 7:38). However, this cannot happen if we do not turn away from evil. Further, it is only in this way that we will be able to love life and see good days.
Peace is something that must be earnestly sought and fervently pursued: "Let him seek peace and pursue it." The KJV uses the word "ensue," when means follow energetically after it, and press toward it. It assumes there are obstacles along the way, seeking to hinder us from being "peaceable." This peace has to do with our relationship to others. Every effort is to be expended to accomplish this. As it is written, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (Rom 12:18). Believers particularly are to "be at peace" among themselves (1 Thess 5:13). We are also exhorted, "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Heb 12:14).
The lack of peace disrupts life, making it difficult to bear. The presence of it enables the graces of the Spirit to grow more readily in our lives (James 3:18). Loving, or enjoying and gaining the most from, life has a great deal to do with how we conduct our lives. Much misery is the direct result of untempered speech and failing to turn away from evil. What person is able to calculate the effects wickedness has had upon their lives? Indeed, we have been called into a fierce warfare, and blessed is the person who sees it.
THE LORD IS WATCHING
" 3:12 For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil." NKJV Why give attention to such details as not speaking evil or deceit, avoiding evil, doing good, and pursuing peace? It is because we are under the watchful eyes of our Lord. We do not refrain from evil to be seen of men, but because of our God. The idea here is not that of a threat, although that will be expressed at the conclusion of this verse. Rather, it is that we have been called "to inherit a blessing," and the Lord is looking intently to bestow it upon us. He cannot do it, however, while we are under the domination of the "old man," which He crucified for us when we were baptized into Christ (Rom 6:6). Those imagining God will bless any person involved in sin are simply deluded.
Under the Old Covenant, the eyes of the Lord were said to be upon the land of promise. "A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year" (Deut 11:12). In Christ, however, God has inherited a people, not a land, and His eye is ever upon them. He is looking to do them good, and waiting to be gracious to them (Deut 30:5; Isa 30:18). The "eyes of the Lord" are ever scanning the earth, "that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His"NASB (2 Chron 16:9). This blessing is what causes us to "love life and see good days." Our conduct is but a means bringing us into that blessing. However the blessing itself comes from the Lord like "times of refreshing" (Acts 3:19).
The ears of the Lord are "open" to the "prayers" of His people. By that, the Spirit means He is attentive to their prayers, and has a keen interest in them. You may remember the marvelous promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14. "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." The very next verse reads, "Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place" (v. 15). The promise parallels the one in our text. Refraining our lips from speaking evil, our mouths from guile, and turning away from evil, are like remaining in the temple-staying in the holy place. It is refusing to be moved away from the place blessed by God in Christ Jesus. The "effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man" still "availeth much" (James 5:16). Praying is more than human expression. It involves Divine attention as well. As you can see, husbands are not the only ones whose prayers are directly impacted by their conduct (1 Pet 3:7).
Here is one of the great disjunctives of Scripture. "BUT the face of the LORD is against those who do evil." It makes little difference whether or not the one doing evil is a professing believer. The Lord has pledged this, and there is no way it can be retracted. "But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile" (Rom 2:8-9). Is that not reason enough to avoid evil at any cost? God cannot look at iniquity without becoming angry - even when the iniquities of us all were laid upon His only begotten Son. What would lead any professing believer to think he could indulge in sin and still experience God's favor. Why would such a person imagine their prayers were heard by the Living God?
Thus the Spirit has sensitized our souls to the nature of our relationship to God through Christ Jesus. It is one that requires the avoidance of evil and a commitment to righteousness. When, by the grace of God, this is accomplished, the most inconvenient and difficult of lives become joyful, and filled with blessings from God. Life not only becomes tolerable, but is characterized by "good days." It is possible for life to be loved, and for it NOT to be a burden. The secret is in getting under the yoke with Jesus, subduing the flesh, and pursuing peace and righteousness. This can only be done by faith.
All of this requires intense effort on our part, because we are in a hostile arena, not a moral vacuum. However, when we will extend ourselves by faith, the grace of God will lift, empower, and sustain us. We will truly "love life and see good days."