1 Peter 2:18-25
Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the fraudulent.…
I. Let me, then, call upon believers in Christ SERIOUSLY TO REVIEW THEIR FORMER CONDITION, when they, as well as others, were as sheep going astray. The fitness of this similitude to exhibit the natural state of mankind may justly be inferred from the frequent use that is made of it in the sacred writings. Thus a sheep that has forsaken the good pasture and strayed into the barren wilderness presents to us, in the most affecting light, an emblem of indigence, perplexity, and disappointment. Again, this figurative representation denotes a state of danger as well as of indigence and dissatisfaction. Few animals are beset with more enemies than sheep; and perhaps none are possessed of less cunning to elude or of less courage to resist them. With what awful precision doth this part of the similitude exhibit to us the state of unconverted sinners! Their spiritual enemies are both numerous and mighty. Once more: though sheep are not the only creatures that are prone to wander, yet they of all others discover least sagacity in finding the way back to the place from whence they strayed; so that in them we likewise behold a most descriptive emblem of man's helpless state by nature, and of his utter inability by any efforts of his own to regain his primeval happiness and glory. But still there remains one other ingredient in man's apostasy from God to which the similitude, comprehensive as it is, cannot be extended; the fatal ingredient I mean is guilt. A sheep gone astray is an object of pity rather than of blame. Man's apostasy was the effect not of weakness, but of wilfulness; the guilt that lieth upon us is nothing less than proud and obstinate rebellion — rebellion blackened with the vilest ingratitude.
II. "YE ARE NOW RETURNED UNTO THE SHEPHERD AND BISHOP OF YOUR SOULS." Ye are returned to Him who came from heaven to earth "to seek and to save that which was lost"; who, though infinitely offended by your criminal apostasy, hath Himself made atonement for your past wanderings, and expiated your guilt with His own precious blood. Ye are returned to Him who will henceforth watch over you with peculiar care, and guard you as His property which He purchased with His blood. Ye are returned to Him who hath not only almighty power to guard you against danger, but infinite compassion likewise to sympathise with you in all your distresses, and to comfort you in all your sorrows.
III. What they were by nature, and what they are by grace may suffice TO DIRECT US TO THAT TEMPER OF HEART WITH WHICH WE OUGHT TO APPROACH THE TABLE OF THE LORD. And it is obvious —
1. That we should do it with the deepest humility. Are we sanctified? once we were impure. Are we found? once we were lost. Are we made alive? lately we were dead; it was God who quickened us, and not we ourselves. Surely, then, pride was not made for man.
2. We should perform this service with the warmest emotions of gratitude and love, giving thanks to the Father who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him to be a sacrifice and sin offering for us.
3. Godly sorrow for past offences, and holy purposes to offend no more, should likewise attend us to the table of the Lord.
4. These purposes must ever be accompanied with a sense of our own weakness, and of our absolute need of aid from above. Even after we are returned to the Bishop of our souls, if left to ourselves we should quickly stumble and fall.
5. This diffidence of ourselves ought always to be qualified with a steadfast trust, an unsuspecting confidence in the power and faithfulness of our great Redeemer.
Parallel VersesKJV: Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.