Are You Being Watched???
1 Peter 1:12
1 Peter Lesson #044
March 24, 2016
“Father, we’re so thankful for Your grace, that we do not deserve anything that we have, that we do not deserve the salvation that is so great, so magnificent. We do not deserve any of the blessings that You have given us, but they are given to us not because of who we are or what we’ve done, but because the Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin on the Cross, and that we have His righteousness. It is His righteousness that is imputed to us that is the source, the basis for Your blessing to us.
Father, we thank You for all that we have in Christ and all that He has provided for us in the unique spiritual life we have in this Church Age.
Father, we pray that we might not take this for granted, but that we might exploit every asset you have given us, that we might be tremendous examples of Your grace, trophies of Your grace, and that You might be glorified through our lives and through our ministry and service to You in this life. We pray this in Christ’s name, Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to 1 Peter. After a nine-lesson sidetrack into the Doctrine of Inerrancy I did a summary to bring us back on track two weeks ago. Then, of course we had the Chafer Seminary Pastor’s Conference last week. Now we’re going to finish up what I was looking at last time which is the last verse of the introduction, one last phrase.
First I thought I would read something to you and have a little humor. Remember in the opening verses of the salutation we have a verse that is often taken out of context and misinterpreted by Calvinists. If you’ve been around Christianity for any length of time you know there’s a huge debate that’s gone on for centuries between Calvinists and Arminianists. Before that it was between Augustinians and Palagians. One side has a deterministic, fatalistic view. The other side has a free will view.
One day a Calvinist arrived at the gates of Heaven and saw that there were two lines. One was marked “predestined” and the other was marked “free will”. Since he was a card-carrying five-point Calvinist, he strolled over to the line that was labeled “predestined”. After a little while an angel came over and said, “Why are you in this line?” He said, “Because I chose it.”
The angel looked surprised and said, “Well, if you chose it, you should be in the free will line.” So our Calvinist was a little bit miffed. He obediently wandered over to the free will line. After a few minutes, another angel came over and asked him, “Why are you in this line?” He sullenly replied, “Someone made me come here.”
Thus we resolve the conundrum between Calvinism and Arminianism.
All right, as we’re going through out study in 1 Peter we have to be reminded again and again that what we’re talking about in this section is not Phase One salvation. There are three stages in the Christian life. Justification takes place the instant we trust in Christ as Savior.
Then we enter immediately into Phase Two. They are connected but it’s not a necessary connection. The reason I say that is because in “Lordship salvation” they have a necessary connection so that if you’re truly justified you will necessarily grow spiritually. That’s how they connect the two.
We say that a person is born again. They have new life and then they have to decide whether or not they’re going to grow. They have to have some nourishment that they’re going to grow. So Phase Two is the spiritual life.
Phase Three is when we’re absent from the body, face-to-face with the Lord. Saved is used in these three senses. We’re saved from the penalty of sin when we believe in Christ. We’re saved from the power of sin as we grow as believers and saved from the presence of sin when we’re absent from the body and face-to-face with the Lord.
1 Peter is about Phase Two. It’s not about Phase One. He’s not talking to people about how to become justified, but how to be delivered from the trials and the tests that are going on in this life. The conclusion to the introduction comes in 1 Peter 1:12. We have spent quite a bit of time on this and last time, as I looked at this and we reviewed the basic themes and structure of 1 Peter we talked about context and the importance of understanding context to understand what was going on.
I didn’t get to the point of talking about the last phrase in this verse. We read, “To them it was revealed [the Old Testament prophets] not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven …”
Then he adds this interesting phrase, “Things which angels desire to look into.” That little phrase just opens up the whole door to the angelic conflict. I’m not going to divert down except to focus on this one aspect, that we are under observation.
You think the NSA is watching you? Well, it’s nothing compared to what the elect angels are doing. We are constantly under scrutiny, not only from the elect angels, but also from the demons. We are, as it were, living in glass houses all the time in terms of our spiritual life.
Yet, because of the impact of the Enlightenment and the rationalist worldview that came out of the Enlightenment called Modernism and Post-Modernism, we really have difficulty thinking about it as products of the 20th and 21st centuries.
On the other hand if you go to a lot of cultures and societies in what we used to call third-world countries [Dan Hill last week called it something else like “developing nations”] such as in Africa and India where they have this cultural heritage of spiritism, they think there’s a spirit in everything that somehow animates the world around us. Their problem is that they go to the other extreme and try to identify some sort of spirit in everything. They say everything is the result of some sort of spirit activity.
They use the example, if you remember, that one of the helpers the Hills had in their kitchen, was cut two or three times over a period of weeks. We would say that she cut herself with a knife. They came in one day and the knife was in the garbage and when he asked why. She said the knife cut her.
In their world view of spiritism, everything has a spirit and that spirit in the knife is causing them to be cut. It’s the old Flip Wilson line, “The devil made me do it.” They see a devil, a demon, or a spirit behind everything. What does that do but erode individual, personal responsibility?
So you have these two polar opposite views. The biblical view is in-between. It says that there are spirit beings out there who are alive and well and active and they influence mankind. How they influence mankind we don’t know. They influence history but all of this is under the control of God.
We see that part of this is that in the Church Age and throughout history, there are angels who are watching or observing us and there are reasons because they are learning things related to God and His character and His justice, His righteousness, His love, and His grace that could not be learned within the framework of angelic creation.
We’re not told a lot about angelic history or angelic creation in the Scripture. We’re just given bits and pieces here and there from which we can derive a framework for understanding the angelic conflict. It’s not everything we would like to know about angels and demons, but it’s enough to where we can form a theology, a doctrine, a teaching that keeps us within bounds.
The problem that we have as human beings is we always want to know everything there is to know about something. There’s a lot of speculation that comes along with regard to angels and demons. You can flip around if you want to be entertained sometimes on a number of the religious channels and you will find a lot of deliverance evangelist types that are on television that are stomping out the devil and all these other kinds of things. They say they’re casting demons out of anyone and anybody who thinks they have one. They think Christians can be demon possessed.
All of this is based on two things. It’s based on experience and it’s based on theater. They just want the drama and excitement because they can use that to raise a lot of money. It’s amazing how many of these kinds of preachers and evangelists have been caught with incredible amounts of money. They have a lot of problems as a result of that. That doesn’t mean every one of them is that way, but it certainly has happened to quite a few of them.
The Bible does teach that there are invisible beings called angels. They have a primary role which is indicated by their name, angels, of being messengers from God. They carry out God’s will. As God is governing and overseeing the operations of the universe, all the physical laws and everything else, behind the scenes, God’s angels are working to make all of that happen. They are involved in overseeing the mechanics of the physical laws God has put into place. They’re also involved in overseeing and watching human history.
Human history is directly related to the fall of Satan and what we would refer to as the angelic conflict, or the angelic rebellion, or Satan’s rebellion. One of the reasons we say these are connected together and you can’t study human history apart from what the Bible says about the angelic conflict is because of these verses we’re going to look at tonight.
After Tommy and I wrote the book “Spiritual Warfare” [which surprises me was 26years ago] I was talking with a pastor friend who has his doctorate from Dallas Seminary and is a respected theologian and pastor in his own right. He asked me a question that had never occurred to me before.
He said, “Robby, why do you think it is that in Reformed or Calvinist theology there is very little written about angels or demons or spiritual warfare? Why is it that it’s not part of their theology?” You can go back and you can read John Calvin. You can read Bullinger. You can read Zwingli. You can go up through Jonathan Edwards and up to Charles Hodge and Warfield and all of these well-respected Calvinist reformed theologians and part of the problem is they don’t really talk about angels.
They don’t talk much about the Holy Spirit and the Church Age, either. That was something I discovered in doing research in a doctoral class on pneumatology when I was in seminary.
The answer is that after the development of the charismatic movement which emphasizes both the Holy Spirit and angels, a lot of pressure was put on the Presbyterians and the Calvinists to start talking about these things. So in the 20th century you’ll find theologies written that talk more about angels and the Holy Spirit. But when I was taking this seminar/class on pneumatology, one of the things I did was to look at two of what were considered by erudite theologians to be the two classic works on the Holy Spirit.
One was written by John Owen who was the chaplain to Oliver Cromwell in the mid-1600s in England, his work on the Holy Spirit. The other was a work written by a Dutch reformed Calvinist. I think it was Herman Bavinck on the work of the Holy Spirit. As a result of that study I realized they never talked about the baptism of the Spirit, the filling of the Spirit, walking by the Spirit, or any of those dimensions to the Christian life. They were just ignored.
When you got into the 20th century you would look at a few and they would talk about these other things. So this question was posed, “Why is it that Reform theology basically ignores the angelic conflict?” The answer is going back to understanding the difference between Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism, remember I said dispensationalists believe there are three things that are the core beliefs in dispensationalism.
What are they? A literal, plain interpretation of Scripture is number one. As a result of that, secondly, you have a distinction between God’s plan for Israel and God’s plan for the Church. The third distinction that Ryrie emphasized was that dispensationalism sees the overriding theme or the overriding purpose of all of history, which would include angelic history, is the glory of God.
In contrast, in Reform Theology the overriding purpose of God in history is redemption. Are angels redeemed? No. So, because they have a more narrow understanding of the purpose of history as only redemption, this means when they approach the Bible they already have some blinders on which cause them to ignore the role of angels.
Even though they believe in angels and they have a minimal angelology, they don’t connect the two because their view of the purpose of history as redemptive limits them from talking about angels. Since angels aren’t redeemed, it doesn’t fit within their framework.
So this is one of those important areas to distinguish in history. When dispensationalism comes along, you find that certain men like Donald Grey Barnhouse, who came out of a strong Presbyterian Reform background, like most of the early dispensationalists were strong Calvinists. John Nelson Darby to Scofield to Chafer, they came out of Presbyterianism. Barnhouse was the pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and had a nationwide radio ministry in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. He wrote a classic book on spiritual warfare called “The Invisible War”.
What gave him the understanding of the importance of angels and spiritual warfare wasn’t the Calvinistic background he had. When he became a dispensationalist it opened up his understanding to focus on the role of angels and Satan.
What we see referenced here in 1 Peter 1:12 is that angels desire to look into these things, that is the role of suffering that leads to glorification. That’s what gets emphasized throughout this section by Peter, that suffering is necessary on the path to the glorification of God.
These terms are used several times. For example in 1 Peter 1:8 talking about Jesus whom we haven’t seen, we love, though now you do not see Him, but by believing [not Phase One but Phase Two—trusting in the provisions of Christ in order to handle the fiery trials] but by believing you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.
That connects this to glorification. Now the words that are used here, the word for desire is the word EPITHUMEO which is accurately translated desire. It can refer to illicit desires and lust patterns or it can refer to positive desires. That’s something you are to legitimately want or desire. It shows their volition. They want to look into this.
The word for “to look into” is the word PARAKUPTO. It means to look through something in the sense of a thorough analysis. It has the physical sense to it to indicate it’s something you don’t just glance at but you lean over, you stoop down, and you take a more disciplined, intense examination, and you look at something.
It’s the idea that they desire to look at something, examine it, and thoroughly understand it. This word PARAKUPTO is used in three passages that are significant at this season. Tomorrow is Good Friday and Sunday is Resurrection Day.
PARAKUPTO is used in Luke 24:12, John 20:5, and John 20:11. Luke 24:12 and John 20:5 both refer to what happens when Peter and John run to the tomb after they have been told that the Lord’s body was no longer there.
Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down [PARAKUPTO] he looks inside. It’s to stoop down so you can look more intently at something.
In John 20:5 we see John stooping down and looking in seeing the linen cloths there but he didn’t go in. Then Peter goes in and stoops down. That’s the idea we see in this verb.
In John 20:11 Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. That’s the idea. It’s taking time for a more thorough examination.
One usage is really important and that in James 1:25 where James says that the one who looks into the perfect law of liberty. This isn’t someone who’s just taking a glance at Scripture. This isn’t someone who just opens their Bible on Sunday morning.
This is someone who is not only studying the Word, listening to a pastor exposit the Scriptures verse by verse, but is taking the time on their own to read and to study, to learn how to study the Bible, and to carry on personal Bible study into the Scriptures.
Someone who is deeply involved in investigating the meaning of Scripture. So this is the idea that we have when the text says that these are things that angels desire to look into.
We need to look at some other passages so that we can understand the whole breadth of this particular doctrine. I want you to turn first of all to Luke, chapter 15. We’re going to bounce around through some different passages but we want to go to Luke 15.
Luke 15 is a passage that you’ll recognize because of the third parable. There are three parables that are told in Luke 15. Sometimes they are misunderstood. I would suggest that some of you might have been mistaught on portions of this particular passage.
There are three parables and it’s usually referred to as the three parables about lost things. The first parable is the parable of the lost sheep. The second parable beginning in Luke 15:8 is the parable of the lost coin. The third parable is the parable you’re most familiar with, the parable of the lost son or the prodigal son.
When we look at these passages it’s important to understand the context. There are those who treat these parables, sometimes the first two parables, as if this is talking about Phase One salvation because they talk about there’s one sheep that’s lost.
As soon as we hear that word “lost”, we’re sort of pre-programmed by our evangelical culture to think this means they’re not saved. In the second parable the woman loses a coin so it’s a lost coin so that must be talking about someone who is unsaved.
When you get to the third one, that’s a parable you’ve heard many times being taught as a parable about fellowship, not about someone being unsaved. The two sons are both part of the family of the man. The younger son goes off on his own, takes his inheritance and squanders it. He is never outside of the family.
He may be in rebellion against his father. He may be out on his own in the pig sty but he is still part of the family. It’s a picture of a rebellious believer.
We go back and look at the first two and we see that the text makes it very clear that this is talking about believers. Luke 15:1 is parallel to Matthew 9 where we’ve studied before and also Matthew 18 talking about the lost sheep. The shepherd is analogous to the Father and the sheep are all sheep. They’re not goats.
The context is set up in Luke 15:1–2 that the tax collectors and sinners drew near to Jesus to hear Him and the pharisees and the scribes complained that Jesus received sinners and eats with them. They’re being extremely self-righteous and they’re judging Jesus because He is associating with sinners.
The term “sinners” does not necessarily mean someone who is an unbeliever. It can mean someone who is rebellious against God. Jesus tells these parables, “What man of you having a hundred sheep …” Right away we see that the man who represents the Father owns the sheep. That means they’re all His originally.
It goes on to say, “If He loses one of them, does He not leave the 99 in the wilderness and go after the one which is lost until He finds it? When He has found it He lays it on His shoulders, rejoicing. When He comes home he calls to His friends and says, ‘Rejoice with me for I have found My sheep’.”
It’s not a sheep that was owned by someone else or a goat that now becomes His. That would be a picture of salvation. This is a picture of restoration. This is a picture of a believer being restored to the flock in terms of fellowship.
What I want to point out in terms of this passage is that in Luke 15:7 He says, “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.” Now, that’s not getting justified. That is a believer who is turning back to God, who is confessing sin. This is not talking about justification, but sanctification.
“There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”
The point here is that Heaven rejoices. Who is in Heaven? This is a figure of speech. Heaven is an impersonal thing. It is a place so when the text says there is joy in Heaven it’s talking about those who are inhabiting Heaven having joy. There’s a reason I’m putting it that way. We’ll come back to that later on.
Heaven is merely the place for those who inhabit it, the angels.
The second parable is the parable of the lost coin. We read, “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, doesn’t light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?” She already owns the ten coins. They’re hers. She’s not getting one she didn’t already own. That indicates again that it’s something that is hers and there’s a recovery process taking place here, not a justification process.
When she found it she called her friends and neighbors together and said, “Rejoice with me for I found the piece which I lost.” This indicates she owned it initially.
The last verse, Luke 15:10, says, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” This is Jesus drawing the principle. This is talking about someone who turns back to God. The whole idea in the Old Testament of shub which we’ve studied before, turning away from disobedience to God and turning to God in obedience.
This first example tells us that the angels are watching believers and when believers are out of fellowship and in rebellion, the angels are aware of that, and when they observe how God works to bring us back to Himself and win that rebellious believer so he turns back to God, they rejoice in Heaven.
Each time we confess our sins, each time we turn back to God, each time we shift our walk from the path of death or carnality to the path of life and walking by the Spirit, the angels rejoice. They cheer for us. That is the backdrop for that particular passage.
The next passage I want to look at is in 1 Timothy. Turn with me to 1 Timothy. All the “T” books go together, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and then Titus. All the “T” books go together.
In 1 Timothy 3 it begins talking about the qualifications for the leaders in the church, the bishop or the pastor, and secondly, the deacons. We have to understand that’s the context, qualifications for those in leadership. Then as Paul transitions to his next topic in 1 Timothy 3:14 he says, “These things I write to you though I hope to come to you shortly. But if I’m delayed I write to you so that you may know how you should conduct yourselves in the house of God.”
He uses that phrase “house of God” to refer to the local church. How are you conduct yourselves? You’re to have two categories of leaders: elders, bishops, or pastors as these terms were used interchangeably and then, deacons, that things should be done in order. This is how you ought to conduct yourselves in the house of God, which is the church of the Living God. Church is EKKLESIA, the assembly, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Then in 1 Timothy 3:16 in the King James Version it is translated very awkwardly. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness.” That word without controversy is a word that’s familiar to most of you. It’s the Greek word HOMOLOGEO as a participle.
Where do we find HOMOLOGEO? 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins …” So HOMOLOGEO means to confess and probably the best translation here is what we find in the New American Standard, “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:” Then there’s a pause and like a poetic insert, “God was manifested in the flesh, [NASB says He who was revealed in the flesh], was justified [vindicated] in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached [proclaimed] among the Gentiles [nations], believed on in the word, taken up into glory.”
So these statements all are related to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a verse that is focused on the hypostatic union. The mystery is that revelation of the 2nd Person of the Trinity in human flesh. We need to talk about this for a minute because there’s a lot more going on here than we think about.
In that opening line, “By common confession great is the mystery of godliness”, this word “godliness” is a lot like our word holiness which we’re going to get into when we get into the next two or three verses in 1 Peter. It’s one of those words that is used so much in Christianity that it loses its meaning.
People don’t take the time to go back and look up words in a dictionary. What does this word godliness mean anyway? That’s not necessarily an easy thing to talk about. The Greek word is EUSEBEIA. This is formed by an EU prefix. In Greek an EU prefix indicates that you’re taking the main word and adding something that is positive or beneficial to it.
For example you can have a saying about someone which would be a LOGOS, a statement. LOGOS means words. So you’d have a statement about someone and you’d call it a LOGOS but if it’s a positive statement about someone it becomes an EULOGEO, an eulogy, a positive statement about the person.
So EUSEBEIA is talking about something positive in terms of this root word SEBEIA. The core semantic meaning has the idea of keeping your distance from someone. When it comes to applying this to deity, it has the idea of showing reverence to God, shrinking back in fear, or worship. That has this idea of something that is devoted to God and something that is fearful of God.
Another compound word uses the prefix THEOS for God. THEOSEBEIA is close in meaning to EUSEBEIA. It describes a person’s attitude toward the Divine, the attitude they have towards God.
In the Greek New Testament this idea of EUSEBEIA has the idea of someone who is walking closely with God, someone who has a life that shows they honor and reverence God. In English they try to capture this by adding the “ly” suffix which usually implies an adverb. In Old English it’s like something they would say is God-like or Christ-like.
That got contracted to godly. You find this in other words. So godliness in English really goes back to the meaning of godlikeness. That’s what we’re talking about here, the process whereby the believer learns to imitate Christ, to live his life in imitation of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is supposed to be Christlike, Romans 8:28–29 says that we are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ.
That’s God’s destiny for us, to be Christlike, conformed to His image. The mystery of EUSEBEIA is the mystery of being like Christ. It is the mystery of the Christian life. That’s why I often translate this word EUSEBEIA as just spiritual life because it drives us toward being like Christ and being conformed to His image.
When we look at this we see that Paul is saying that this is the mystery of the spiritual life, to be Christlike. We have to understand who Jesus Christ is in His person. We have to understand the role of the humanity of Christ in terms of setting that pattern and that standard for what the believer’s life should be like.
He uses that word mystery because the word mystery doesn’t refer to trying to figure out a riddle or a whodunit but in Greek thought a mystery was a previous unrevealed truth. The idea that God would become man and enter into human history in the way it happened with Jesus Christ as John says in John 1:18 that Jesus is the EXEGETE or the one who reveals the Father. “No one has seen the Father at any time; the only begotten Son … has revealed Him.” That’s the mystery, that we can only know God through the incarnate Jesus Christ.
We have passages in the epistles that talk about this. In Ephesians 5:32 Paul says, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” In the passage in context he’s talking about marriage between husband and wife and how that mirrors the relationship of Christ and the church. He says that this is the mystery of the relationship between Christ and the church.
This was not revealed in the Old Testament because the mystery of the hypostatic union could not be understood.
In 1 Timothy 3:9 Paul says, “We are holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.” That’s in relation to the qualifications of a deacon. A deacon is to hold on and have an understanding of this previously unrevealed teaching about the faith, that it centers on the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is then described in verse 15 as the “pillar and ground of the truth.”
Then we can also look at two verses in Colossians 1:27 and Colossians 2:2 that also talk about mystery and they connect this also to the Person of Christ.
In Colossians 1:27 we read, “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles.” What is that mystery? That mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” What is happening to the church has never happened before in human history, that God indwelt man. Christ is the one here indwelling the believer.
Colossians 2:2, “That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,” This again connects us to previously unrevealed doctrine related to Christ and how the eternal 2nd Person of the Trinity could enter into human history.
All of that helps us to understand that this mystery is the Person of Christ. What does that verse go on to say in the whole context? “He who was revealed in the flesh [the incarnation of Christ], was vindicated by the Spirit [in His spiritual life], was seen by angels. That’s what we’re looking at.
Angels were watching the Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union in His humanity as He lived His spiritual life laying down the precedence of the spiritual life of the Church Age.
The third point we see is that angels are observing believers. They learn from us and they are watching us. They learn about God. They learn about grace. They learn about God’s justice, things that they would not learn in terms of God’s plan for the angels.
We see this in three basic passages. 1 Corinthians 4:9, Ephesians 3:10, and 1 Timothy 5:21.
In 1 Corinthians 4:9 we read Paul saying, “For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.”
He’s saying that as apostles they have come under specific scrutiny by the angels as well. They’ve been made a spectacle. That’s the word THEATRON which is where we get our word theater. Some places it’s translated theater. Some places it has the idea of being made a display or a spectacle.
This is the drama of the ages that is being presented before the angels and they are watching us on the stage. We are a spectacle to angels and to men.
Now in Ephesians 3:10 we see something else again. We see the statement that Paul makes that “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in heavenly places.” That phrase “principalities and powers” is a term that refers to the hierarchy, the chain of command within the angelic ranks, those who live within the heavens. So the angels are living in the heavenly places.
He doesn’t say angels. He talks about their place of habitation. He’s using that as a figure of speech to talk about the inhabitants of Heaven, not just as an impersonal location.
Getting the context here is important. In Ephesians 3:9 Paul says, “To make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery.” Again we’re back talking about the mystery doctrine, something that wasn’t revealed in the Old Testament but now has been revealed in the New Testament primarily through the apostle Paul. But also this mystery doctrine, although it’s not used as such, is revealed in even the so-called Jewish epistles, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, James, and Hebrews.
“To make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God.” See, that’s the idea. Throughout all of creation from Adam up until when Jesus Christ is incarnate, the fact of the creation of the church as a unique body of believers was not revealed.
Only later in Jesus’ ministry does He begin to reveal it to His disciples. They don’t get it. It’s just itty-bitty increments here and there until you get to the upper room discourse when He begins to really teach them what is about to happen after the Cross.
The mystery was hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ all the way until just about the end of Christ’s ministry. “To the intent [the purpose of the mystery] that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known.” The extent of God’s wisdom was not made evident in the Old Testament but it has now been made evident and been revealed to us.
This is remarkable. We have knowledge and information that no one in the Old Testament had. Abraham didn’t understand. Moses didn’t understand. David didn’t understand. None of the prophets understood. “The manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.”
They only learn this by observing us, by watching the church.
Now as Paul is nearing the end of his first imprisonment when he’s been slightly rebuking Timothy for being a little timid and not being strong enough in his pastorate, Paul tells him in 1 Timothy 5:21, “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels.” Notice the order there. God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels. “That you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.”
He lists three things. Something I just learned is that this just shows how much Paul’s rabbinic training influenced him. Rabbis love to list things in groups of three. Sort of like dispensationalists like seven points, rabbis group things in groups of three. You find this throughout all of Paul’s writings where he groups things in groups of three. That’s evidence of his deep rabbinic training.
So he says, “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels.” Now where does God the Father have His abode? Heaven. Where does the Lord Jesus Christ have His abode now? In Heaven. Where do the angels live? In Heaven. What is Paul doing here?
He is calling upon the inhabitants of Heaven to be a witness to what he is charging Timothy with. He’s saying that he’s charging Timothy before Heaven. We could paraphrase it that way. What he means is not Heaven as a spatial object but the inhabitants of Heaven.
“I charge you before Heaven that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.” This, again, is so Old Testament, so Jewish. We just have to go back to Deuteronomy and we’ll see this.
In Deuteronomy 4:26 what does Moses say as he is charging the conquest generation with his final words before he dies? He says, “I call upon heaven and earth to witness against you …” It’s a legal testimony. What’s required in the laws to confirm something? Two witnesses. It doesn’t mean the spatial heaven. It means the inhabitants of Heaven. Who? It means the angels.
And earth doesn’t mean the physical earth, the geological earth, the land. He’s talking about the inhabitants of the earth. He has two witnesses. He’s calling upon the angels in Heaven and humanity to witness this. So again it’s showing that there’s this evidence even in the Old Testament that the angels are watching.
Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you.” Now physical places like the earth can’t be a witness. I’ve made this point all the way through that this is a figure of speech where the place is put for the inhabitants of the place.
Deuteronomy 32:1. Again, Moses says, “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.” Physical spatial location isn’t what he’s talking about. He’s talking about the inhabitants of those locations. So we see that the angels in Heaven are witnesses for what’s going on in human history.
A fourth thing we learn from Scripture is that not only do the elect angels watch us but the demons watch us. Satan has organized his demonic forces to hinder and to block Church Age believers from living out their spiritual lives.
It’s clear that Satan’s demons are intimately involved in watching believers. One of the classic passages is the passage on spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:12–17. Paul says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood.” The battle, folks, is not against the Democrats and the pagans. The battle is not against the atheists and secularists.
The battle ultimately is against the forces of wickedness and the forces of darkness, the forces of Satan. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Remember when we studied Revelation that the demons and Satan are not kicked out of Heaven until half way through the Tribulation.
So what is a poor little Christian supposed to do about this?
Ephesians 6: 13, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Notice it’s using the same language.
Ephesians 6:14 starts off, “Stand therefore.” This is defensive language. The idea is you have an army and you’ve got two battalions. One whose role and responsibility is to hold their ground and stand firm. The other battalion is the one that’s going to maneuver and is going to execute an offensive action against the attacking force. The church, the believers, are to stand firm in one place. The Lord Jesus Christ is the other battalion who is going to attack from the flank.
The reason is because we’re fighting an invisible enemy. We can’t see them. There’s no way we can comprehend or understand what the enemy is doing. So we do what we’re ordered to do and that is to take up a defensive posture. We’re not going out there and give the devil a black eye. We’re not going to stomp on the devil. We’re not going to be engaged in offensive tactics.
Everything we read in Ephesians 6 is talking about defense. It is putting on the full armor of God. That’s the word “panoply”. We don’t see it too much anymore. You sing it in a few hymns. It means the panoply of God, the full armor of God. So we’re to stand there, having girded your waist with truth.
We’re going to see that same imagery in 1 Peter in the next couple of verses … that we’re to gird up our loins. It means to take a robe or whatever hinders us and you pull it up out of the way and tie it off so you don’t stumble on it. You gird up your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.
Now on this slide I want to go back and talk about these words “withstand”, “stand”, and “stand therefore” in verse 14. The word withstand is ANTHISTEMI. The root word is HISTEMI which is the second word here on the slide. It just has ANTI as a prefix. So HISTEMI means to stand and ANTHISTEMI means to stand against. It’s just an intensified form of the idea to stand in place. These are two defensive terms.
Again and again and again we see this is the role of the believer. It doesn’t say to attack the devil. It says to stand firm.
Then in Ephesians 6:17, skipping a couple of verses, we’re to “take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
If you look down in front of me in front of the pulpit you’ll see there is a Roman MACHAIRA there. That’s the Greek word that is used here for sword. It refers to the short sword of the Roman soldier. One of the interesting things about this which I just recently learned is that the Roman short sword was not used to parry. It’s a two-edged sword so you don’t use it to parry an attack from the enemy. You’re not fighting with the edge of the sword. You’re not using it to cut and slash.
What happens if you have your shield in your left arm and you have your MACHAIRA in your right hand and you’re going to hack and cut, what are you going to do as soon as you raise the sword up? You’re exposed and made your right side vulnerable.
If you’re going to slash, again, as you rear back you’re exposing your left side. The Roman short sword was used only to penetrate, only to stab. What happens when you stab? When you stab you pierce the organs. A slash and cutting movement would wound the enemy but it wouldn’t be a fatal wound, but if you penetrate two or three inches it’s going to create a fatal wound. It will penetrate to the heart or to the vital organs.
This is the imagery we see in Hebrews 4:12. “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even unto the division of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
This is what we use the Word of God for. This is claiming promises, mixing promises with faith, using the Word of God to pierce the enemy, just as Jesus did in the wilderness temptations.
Another thing we need to look at in understanding how we’re being observed by Satan are passages that we see from the oldest book in the Bible up through the New Testament. In Job we’re told that Satan wanders around looking for Christians who are vulnerable.
Job 1:6 says, “Now there was a day when the sons of God [all the angels, fallen and elect] came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.”
Job 2:1–2, a second incident, “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’ ”
He didn’t say like a roaring lion on the earth but that’s the same image that he’s going to and fro on the earth. When Peter refers to at the end of 1 Peter, he says, “Be sober. Be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” That’s what was going on in Job.
He lights on Job as a target just as he lights on believers. Now Satan is not omnipresent so He doesn’t necessarily do all of this himself. He has all of his demons and is a master at delegating authority. They’re involved in observing and recording all of our behavior. So they are intimately involved in watching us as well so they can hinder our spiritual growth.
Now the last couple of points I want to make is that Satan’s major objective is twofold, one towards unbelievers and one towards believers. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 we’re told that toward unbelievers, “the god of this age [another title for Satan] has blinded …” That’s his job, to blind the unbeliever to truth.
This shows the error in the Calvinist doctrine since we started off talking about Calvinists in our joke earlier, is that if men have total inability as opposed to total depravity which means man is unable to understand or respond to the gospel, why does Satan need to blind the mind of the unbeliever? They’re already blind according to Calvinist doctrine.
That’s not what we believe. We believe in total depravity which means that all of man’s being is corrupted by sin, not that man is totally unable to respond to general revelation.
In Luke 8:12 when Jesus gives the parable of the sower He says, “Those [seeds] that are cast by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” So he is involved in blocking the gospel and blinding the unbeliever.
Satan also has a tactic or strategy to attack believers. This is seen in a couple of the letters to the seven churches in the first part of Revelation. In the letter to Smyrna [Revelation 2:9] he says, “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” These are believers who have totally succumbed to the pagan thinking of the world.
A couple of verses later [Revelation 2:13], he says, “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. [Pagan idolatrous worship in Smyrna].”
Then to the church in Thyatira [Revelation 2:24] we read, “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.” You see this attack against the church that is energized by Satan.
One way he [Satan] does this is described in 2 Corinthians 11:14–15, is that he “transforms himself into an angel of light.” This is like the angel who appeared to Mohammed in a cave in Arabia. This was Satan appearing as an angel of light. It’s just like the angel Moroni who appeared to Joseph Smith at Palmyra in New York. This is Satan’s deception. He transforms himself into an angel of light “therefore it is no great thing if his ministers [demons] also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”
What’s our solution? James 4:7–8, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil.” That’s the same word we saw in Ephesians 6: 12 and following. Stand firm. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” It doesn’t say to attack the devil. It just says “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” That’s a promise.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” This is talking about confession of sin. “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” How do we cleanse our hearts and purify our hands?’ We’re cleansed through confession of sin.
The key is to walk with God and God will protect us. When we’re not walking with God, we’ve moved outside of the sphere of protection and we have exposed ourselves spiritually to be attacked and tempted by Satan and the demons and to be destroyed by the thinking of the cosmic system.
So that wraps up the introductory section of 1 Peter 1 and we’ll start in the main body next time.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study Your Word this evening, to be reminded that we live in the midst of an open arena where we’re observed by the angels, the elect angels as well as the fallen angels. Our lives are to be testimony before the angels, demonstrating Your grace and Your goodness and Your righteousness. Demonstrating that You are a God who is true to His word. You provide for us and protect us and Your grace is sufficient for us.
Father, we pray You would help us to understand this and that we might not fall prey to the fiery darts of the evil one and that we might use Your Word to constantly protect us. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”