Through faith in Christ our sins are forgiven and we are instantly made righteous in Him. Our salvation is complete, but our sanctification is not. That process of sinning less and loving Jesus more goes on for life.
And like it or not, that process in the Christian’s life is lived out in front of non-Christians. That’s exactly what God intends.
Something that 1 Peter 2:11-12 teaches us is this: The internal war against my own sin helps validate my outward witness to the world. We share the message of the gospel with words. But we prove the power of the gospel with our lives – in the transformation of our own hearts.
There is a dual identity God has called us to: We are both warriors and witnesses. We war against our own indwelling sin, and from that, we are called to be witnesses of God who reflect Him by how we live.
1. Be a fierce warrior against your own sin
[1 Peter 2:11] Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
Sometimes our issue in the church isn’t that we are not willing to fight. Sometimes we are fighting the wrong things. Especially this time of year, you hear a lot of stirred up controversies in the “war on Christmas”. Tis the season to be offended. I’m not denying that the world is getting more and more hostile to Christians. It is. But I think we can also get drawn into fights that are not worth fighting.
One of the devil’s favorite tricks to play on Christians is bait-and-switch. Show Christians a less important issues to fight over so that we will spend all our energy on what’s not important while being distracted from what is.
And what is the fight worth fighting? The war that Peter is pointing to. The war we must wage against our own sinful passions and desires (see Galatians 5:19-21 and Colossians 3:5-8).
The primary war every Christian is called to is the war within – the war between the old man and the new man, the war between wanting my own glory and giving God glory. The daily battle of choosing what I desire versus choosing what God desires for me. Making much of me, or making much of Christ. My biggest battle is within me – fighting the war to mortify – to kill my own sin.
“Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.” –John Owen
And we kill sin by embracing the grace and power of the gospel of Christ – everyday.
2. Be a faithful witness to the world.
[1 Peter 2:12] Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
When we’re surrounded by the co-workers, when we’re in conversation with our neighbors or that unsaved family member, they need someone who is real and who is broken and vulnerable and genuine, who has been radically changed by the gospel, and who is not ashamed to show those scars and enter into their pain.
The world needs to see Jesus. And Jesus has sent you and me to show them. We show them Jesus, not by pretending we don’t struggle, but by showing them who we run to in the storm. We show them Jesus, not by magnifying their sin and minimizing our own, but when we point to the beautiful grace that Jesus pours out on those who trust in Him, and by showing them that we are in need of that grace as much as anyone.
And whenever the lies and accusations of the enemy would try to discourage us and tarnish our testimony, Peter says live your life in such a way that anyone who knows you will know the truth. That means your life can display the gospel in such a way that God uses it as a tool to save others. Your life can be the light that draws others to Christ.
It’s this very process of trusting in Christ more, in being vulnerable with our own struggles and sin, and admitting to our own need of God’s grace as to the power that sustains us that can draw others to His grace as well.
With the Cross of Christ in view, with the abundant riches of His grace that we have received, let us take that grace to the world, sharing the message of the gospel with words, and proving the power of the gospel with our lives.