The Church in Relation to the World
1 Peter 2:11-12
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;…

The relation in which Christians stand to those who are not Christians is of vital importance to understand and feel (Psalm 39:1; Nehemiah 5:9; Titus 2:7, 8). These and like references inculcate the duty of conserving the Christian name and the glory of God. That the Christian character should be perfect for the sake of its own beauty is a truth worthy of prayerful solicitude at all times; but the Christian character is more than a garment to be observed — it is an influence to be imparted to others.

I. WE BEGIN WITH THE FACT THAT WE ARE WATCHED BY THOSE WHO ARE OF OPPOSITE TENDENCIES. We are under daily examination. There are those who take a greater delight to look at an eclipse of the sun for five minutes than to enjoy its light for a lifetime. But if there were no light in the sun there could not be an eclipse. So with men of worth; the contrast between the excellent and the not excellent fixes the eye of envy upon them, but where excellency is it cannot be altogether ignored. Young Christians, bear with me, and suffer the word of exhortation. You are not sufficiently alive to the fact that your Christian life is under a perpetual scrutiny. Not only that, but efforts are made to draw you aside from the way of peace. An honest conversation means a life true in every part to the great pattern set before us in the gospel.

II. LET US FURTHER CONSIDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER FOR THE GOOD OF OTHERS. "Glorify God," etc. Too frequently it is supposed by some that because they cannot take a prominent part in gospel services, and thereby possibly become instrumental directly in the conversion of souls, their lives are comparatively unobserved and useless. Let us remove this notion. As there is not a single ray of light, or drop of water, or breath of air, which does not contribute to the vast system of light, of water, and of air, so there is not a single Christian example which does not minister in the circle of the Church and lead to higher results.

1. Men will feel the need of the change which they see in us.

2. Men will feel the need of the peace which we enjoy.

3. Men will feel the need of the prospect which cheers us. We have a good hope through grace.

4. And lastly, the influence of the Christian life leads to the highest results. It may be that today we think so much of self that we cannot rise to the highest point in our life. The highest degree of Christian excellence is the service and glory of God. To realise this we must look beyond ourselves, and beyond those to whom we may bring salvation; and beyond any benefits faith may confer on either them or us, to God. He will manifest Himself in the day of visitation, when we shall see and feel that our life is intended to reach even to Himself. In the day of visitation all matters will be seen in their true light. The text is a warning to the world as well as to the Church. That any soul, however degraded, should delight in making the sins of others his prey, passes comprehension. What, a vulture, with only a taste for carrion! A sense of guilt endeavours to fix all eyes on the sins of others to avoid personal detection. The sins of others will help no man in the day of judgment.

(T. Davies, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

WEB: Beloved, I beg you as foreigners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

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