God’s Holy Nation
1 Peter 2:9-10 (Part 3 of 4)
“But you are a holy nation…” vs.9
This afternoon is the Women’s World Cup soccer match final with the USA going against Japan. If you watch you will undoubtedly here that famous chant: U-S-A! U-S-A! Well, at least on our end, right? Things like sporting events, the Olympics, etc. bring out the idea of national pride.
The National Research University Higher School of Economics put out a report on national pride. You can find it at: http://www.hse.ru/data/2015/04/28/1098372529/62SOC2015.pdf
It’s 2015 survey was based on a database that contains data on 215 variables obtained from 45993 respondents in 36 countries, regions, and ethnic groups (further referred to as “countries” for the sake of brevity). It is meant to gauge national pride and the results are the top ten countries whose people have the most national pride. There are:
- United States
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- Great Britain
- Switzerland Honorable Mention: Chile
Worst: East Germany
This is our 3 sermon in a series of 4 where we learn how God sees us, first as a chosen people, second as a royal priesthood, and now third, as a holy nation. If you are able, will you please stand as we read God’s Word from 1 Peter 2:9-10:
Read Passage – 1 Peter 2:9-10
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Truly Set Apart?
As we have studied this book of 1 Peter, we have seen how Peter emphasizes again and again the idea of being holy. We have mentioned how holy is the idea of being completely separate, no confusion with anything or anyone else or any other god and set apart. Holiness is a tough subject to grasp completely because we might struggle with the idea that we are holy. Can we really be holy? Pure? Set apart? If you are like me, you try to be a completely devoted follower of God but inside we know that we don’t meet the standard. We know our inward thoughts, our struggle with sin, pride, and the idea of truly being loved by God because we don’t always feel holy or that we can live up to that standard and expectation. Is it possible to be holy and still sin?
The Holy Nation of God…
I think the answer is yes, but it takes embracing this concept of seeing ourselves the way God sees us and that means grasping the notion that God sees all those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are a holy nation of God. This concept is one that goes way back in ho story to the time of the Israelites. As Moses is leading the nation of Israel, God gives Moses standards and values to follow. He explains to Moses his view of the Israelites and his expectations of them. He tells Moses and the people in Deut. 7:6:
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.” Deut. 7:6
That thought is God’s desire for the Israelites and it carries on and really comes into complete fulfillment in the New Testament with the work of Christ. There is a shift that happens through the work of Christ. It goes from being about the nation of Israel to the church. Israel still plays an important role in history but the real focus of God becomes the church, the bride of Christ. It goes from being about the nation of Israel to being the people of God, or, the holy nation of God, the church.
Now comes the tough part, understanding what that looks like and how that is implemented in our lives. Let’s look three ways that we live differently because we are the holy nation of God.
- Think Differently
The first thing we do as a holy nation is that we think differently than the world thinks. There is a reason we think differently, we find that in verse 10a:
“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God…” vs. 10a
You might want to circle that last part, we are “the people of God.” Our culture today is filled with the thinking that people are basically good and that sin is a kind of passe way of thinking. Much of the New Age and modern philosophies are not willing to admit that we have sin. Thinking differently from our world knows that sin is real, it is part of who we are, and that we cannot move forward without admitting our sin and getting right with God.
Ex. –Buddhists do not regard man as sinful by nature of ‘in rebellion against god’. Every human being is a person of great worth who has within himself a vast store of good as well as evil habits. The good in a person is always waiting for a suitable opportunity to flower and to ripen. Remember the saying, ‘There is so much that is good in the worst of us and so much that is bad in the best of us.’
Buddhism teaches that everyone is responsible for his own good and bad deeds, and that each individual can mold his own destiny.
-New Age view: There is no sin, only misunderstanding of truth.
We think differently. We believe that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Are thoughts are to bring glory to God, not ourselves. That is why Jesus said in the Sermon On The Mount in Matt. 6:33:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
Part of being the holy nation of God is that we recognize that we are not holy in and of ourselves but we are holy in God, through Jesus Christ and his work, and we live to glorify God, not ourselves.
- Live 100% to God
A second aspect of being the holy nation of God is that we live 100% to God. This is the idea that we cannot be half-hearted or only give ourselves partially to God. It’s living the example that Jesus set by giving ourselves to God 100%. Verse 9 gives us insight into why we would choose to live this way, it says:
“…that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” vs. 9b
We believe we were in darkness. Darkness because of our sin and our separation from God. God says that he has a plan for our life and that the plan is meant to help us be complete. Another way of stating that is that when we live according to God’s ways we “flourish.” To flourish means to grow well or to be in health or even to be more healthy. All of us could say we want to be more healthy, to be growing in health. Everything God encourages us to live by, commands us to follow, and urges us to put into our life is meant to bring us to a flourishing way of living. The odd thing about this is that the only way we can achieve this is to give ourselves to God and his ways, to realize that we cannot do it ourselves. Jesus states in Matthew 16:24:
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
The way to achieve this is to know God, his ways and trust, trust 100%, that his ways are the best for us. Many times we rely on our own thinking and that can lead us astray. In Proverbs Solomon wrote:
“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Prov. 14:12
Here is the thing, we think we know what is best. In fact, in many ways it seems very logical and right to us. We don’t see the destructive path that it leads us down. But God’s ways are life and light and health. The ways we know those ways is by reading His word, the Bible.
Ex. Partying and drinking – The world has fooled itself into believing that getting drunk is fun and has no real consequences. Issues: Drunk driving, alcoholism, broken families, etc.
- Show Itself a Responsible Model
And the third aspect of being a holy nation is that we show we are that holy nation by being a responsible model. It’s letting our light shine before others so that they can see God and his good ways. In our passage in verse 10 it says:
“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God, once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.…” vs. 10
Here is the key to living out being a responsible model, you can circle it at the end of verse 10, it’s “you have received mercy.” Mercy is compassion and forgiveness shown to someone who has offended you. We have received God’s mercy. He has forgiven us and has compassion on us even when we turn our back on him, even when we don’t follow his ways, even when we go completely against what he wants and says.
KEY: We give mercy because we have received mercy.
We forgive because we have been forgiven.
We love because we have been loved.
We extend peace because we have been given peace.
We humble ourselves the way Christ humbled himself for us. The world should see us differently.
We are to model God’s ways. 1 Peter 2:12 says:
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:12
Ex. I saw this really lived our a few weeks ago. We all saw on the news that terrible killing that took place in South Carolina. A young man took the lives of 9 people who were at church praying, including the pastor of the church. As I watched the news the next few days, it was amazing to see the attitude of the people of that church ,the forgiveness shown by the body of believers who had lost loved ones and their pastor. They were modeling what a holy nation of believers looks like even amidst their horrific circumstances. One of the interesting things was to listen to the amazement of the reporters on how these people were handling their tragedy.
A holy nation is a church who chooses to: think differently, live 100% to God, and to model to the world what mercy grace and forgiveness looks like and what a flourishing Christian life looks like.
The Unmentioned Bible
This week we had the opportunity to visit the Harry S. Truman library in Independence, Kansas. One of the exhibits was to see the office where he worked. They had taken out a wall and we were able to see the exact place he worked. One thing that stood out was a letter and metal he kept on his desk from some parents who had lost a son in the war. They letter was painful and hurtful but he kept it to remind him of the importance and severity of the decisions he made. On one sign they had a legend of all the things on his desk. One thing they didn’t list on the legend but was right there, closest to where he sat, was his Bible. Truman was a Godly man who spent time in prayer and seeking God and what God would have him do. Many still debate his decisions but I saw a man who humbled himself and sought God and wanted that to be the rule for his decision making. Too bad they didn’t put that on the legend of the things on his desk.
Today we celebrate communion. We remember the price that Christ paid for our sins. The great thing is that Christ fulfilled the law of the Old Testament so that it is not just Israel that is God’s chosen people, but we are to and we, the church are his holy nation.