Greeting & Welcome
We have been working through a series on the Fruit of the Spirit, which we find in Galatians 5...
So far we have studied love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness.
This morning we will look at goodness, as we try to understand how to take on more of the character of Christ as we live our daily lives.
I told you last week that kindness and goodness are closely related.
We looked at kindness last week and discovered that the kindness of Christ speaks to how we deal with others in our daily lives: our family, our neighbors, our coworkers, those we meet in the marketplace and our church family.
But also how we deal with our enemies.
You’ll remember that we read the passage in Luke, where Jesus advised us to love our enemies.
He told us to show our enemies what kindness looks like and to pray for them.
However, this week we are looking at the goodness of Christ that is within us.
Let’s focus on 1 Peter 2 this morning...
Where kindness was about how we treat others, goodness seems to be more about what others see in us and why we do the things that we do.
The word “goodness” in Greek...
ἀγαθουργέω agathourgeō; contr.
form of 14; to do good:—did good(1).
… goodness is “a quality of moral excellence; especially noted as being active in working itself out” in daily life.
Goodness differs from kindness in that it focuses on the fact the we have God’s morality—Christ’s morality—placed within us at the moment of our salvation.
Morality in the Modern World
Goodness, integrity, uprightness (or righteousness), values, virtues, ethics, and Christian character all different ways of referring to this idea of moral excellence that we champion in the Christian Life.
This idea of moral excellence was a staple of our grandparent’s life.
But many in our culture today have left behind this idea of morality.
Nowadays we see a strong leaning toward foul language, sexual and immoral lifestyle choices, some might even go so far as to say perversions in our culture as we see our children suffering with gender confusion and taking up the cause of the gay and homosexual lifestyle, not to mention transgenderism and polyamorous relationship choices that many young people are making today.
I’m not going to spend a great deal of time exploring these concepts this morning.
Our focus should be on the goodness of God within us.
And contrary to public opinion, the Bible does speak out clearly against some of these lifestyles.
We don’t really get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible we want to follow and which parts we choose to ignore.
I will say that these issues are more and more common today than we have ever seen in my lifetime.
Much of this is because of promotion by Hollywood and widespread campaigns to normalize these behaviors in our culture.
However, we are also seeing many young children experience symptoms of gender dysphoria or general confusion about gender.
This is because they are getting confusing messages from culture and many young people are being taught to support this confusion in their young children.
Let’s look back at this concept of morality.
It is an idea that there is a common understanding in culture of what it means to be good and right.
Christian Author C. S. Lewis wrote about morality in his book Mere Christianity saying that people think of morality as “something that interferes, something that stops you from having a good time.
In reality, moral rules are directions for running the human machine" (Mere Christianity, p. 69).
Lewis taught us that morality is something that transcends humanity, without regard to culture or language.
In a sense this is true, even if modern culture seems to shake off certain societal norms.
There is still a sense of right and wrong, even though some refuse to acknowledge it.
Some modern thinkers want to promote this idea that morality is relative.
My morality might not match up with your morality and yours might not match up with your neighbor’s morality.
However, even still in this day where we are experiencing a great shaking off of the morality of our parents and grandparents, there still exists this general idea of right and wrong.
We all still share a common belief that lies, theft, and murder are wrong.
Lewis called this the Law of Human Nature, saying that there is a standard of behavior that should be obvious to everyone and that teaches the correct attitude and interaction between humans.
This Law of Human Nature is an understanding of right and wrong.
Lewis proposed that these commonly shared morals are common among us and that they were put within us by God.
He said that this morality is what separates us from the animals, who operate on instinct.
Morality always concerns itself with “the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong” and is always related to our conduct.
Goodness in the Bible is more about having God’s character of goodness within us rather than pure morality simply for the sake of morality.
In other words, we are good because God makes us good through our connection to him.
We cannot make ourselves good enough to gain God’s attention.
Because of that connection that we share with God, we should making decisions and acting in ways that would be considered good.
For the Christian, the one who believes in Jesus Christ, we obtain this goodness through our relationship with Jesus Christ as our savior.
Goodness is not a passive quality but an active one.
It is the deliberate choice to do right and avoid doing wrong.
Goodness resists moral evil and chooses to take actions that are considered to be morally good.
Let’s look back at our core text for today...
I. Abstain from Sinful Desires
Verse 11’s primary point is that we should abstain from sinful desires.
However, let’s look at the very first part of verse 11, where the Apostle Peter labels his readers...
Peter calls his readers “friends.”
Peter was writing this letter as a letter that would be passed from gathering to gathering of fellow believers in Christ, as they all sheltered in place within the Roman provinces in the aftermath of the burning of Rome, which Nero blamed on the Christians and which sparked a persecution against the Christians who lived in Roman occupied territories.
Peter also called them “strangers” and “exiles.”
The first word here: stranger
… this word refers to a foreign citizen, “one who lives in a place without the right of citizenship.”
And the second word is exile
… which is “a person who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there with the natives temporarily.”
How many of us fit that description?
After the burning of Rome, Christians throughout the region experienced a great upheaval.
The Jews who fled the area were called the diaspora, or the dispersion, which referred to Jewish people who lived outside of Israel.
In the aftermath of Rome’s fires, Christians came under such great persecution that it became easier for them to flee Rome to places where they were not known and they could find some respite.
We in the valley know what it means to be a sojourner, for many of us are transplanted from one place or another, living among strangers and foreigners.
I only know of a few of us here today that were born here and lived here within this neighborhood.
No matter where we are from, Peter advises us to do several things.
The first assignment is this:
Abstain from sinful desires that wage war against the soul.
How many of us have sinful desires?
Here’s a more revealing question: How many of us have overcome our sinful desires?
We all have these desires.
And there is not a one among us who has figured out how to overcome them.
Additionally, these desires wage war against our souls.
But it is our constant battle to learn how to control these desires and put away the fleshly passions.
Paul called this “crucifying the flesh”...
Paul further explained Peter’s concept in this way.
This shared spiritual war that we’re in and our inclusion in a family makes us strangers no more.
We can go anywhere in the world and find a body of believers to support us and encourage us in the battle that we are in collectively...
Because we are members of God’s household, we are no longer strangers, but fellow citizens and even brothers.
Conduct Yourselves Honorably
Peter then encourages the saints to good conduct...
There is a good reason for keeping good conduct.
When we act in ways that are openly recognized to be holy, upright, and good, those who are not believers will recognize us for what we are.
Principle: Good conduct provides for a good testimony to the world.
Jesus said it this way...
Submit to Every Human Authority