Saturday, 23 November 2019
…having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 1 Peter 3:16
In the previous verse, Peter admonished his audience to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” He now expands upon that with the words, “having a good conscience.”
The word translated as “conscience” is seen thirty times. Peter has used it once in verse 2:19. He uses it here now, and he will use it just one more time in verse 3:21.
The use of it now is because having a good conscience is an absolute necessity when giving a defense for one’s faith. It would be logically inconsistent for a person to give a defense for the gospel message while living hypocritically. It is certain that all, including the most saintly people we know, harbor dark thoughts and – at times – conduct themselves in a manner others might find inappropriate. However, the goal and aim of all apologists is to live in the same right manner which is in accord with the gospel they proclaim and defend. Thus, they will have a good conscience.
Peter then explains the particular reason for this necessity beginning with, “that when they defame you as evildoers.” Here, Peter assumes that such will be the case. There is no “if” in his thought. People who proclaim the gospel, and those who defend that same glorious message, will be defamed as evildoers.
And time has borne this out. Throughout history, those who defend the gospel have been accused of evil doing. This has even been (and continues to be) the case by those who are supposedly Christian. During the Reformation, those who defended the truth of Scripture were persecuted and even martyred for their stand. And the main foe for them was the Roman Catholic Church. The dark dealings of that devilish den continues to this day, and their accusations against true Christians are brought up from time to time – calling them the evildoers!
However, by maintaining a good conscience, Peter says that “those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.” The word Peter uses, and which is translated as “revile,” is found only here and in Luke 6:28. It signifies “to intimidate by using threats and false accusations ‘tailor-made’ to the situation, i.e. under-handed tactics ‘customized’ to smear someone’s reputation” (HELPS Word Studies).
When such reviling occurs, and without any true basis for it, they will eventually be ashamed of what they have done. This can go one of two ways. They could be ashamed of their own conduct, repent of it, and accept the truth of the gospel defense. This would obviously be the minority. Most people who revile the truth of the gospel will revile its defenders as well. Even after a sound defense, they will simply double down on their hatred of the truth.
The second way they will be ashamed is at the judgment. The word translated as “they shall be ashamed” is found thirteen times. Once it is used by Luke, twice by Peter, and ten times by Paul. Paul, citing Isaiah 28:6, says that those who put their trust in the Lord will not be ashamed. Peter used that same verse in 1 Peter 2:6. It is the sure hope of a future approval from the Lord. Likewise, those who reject the Lord and His gospel have the surety of shame coming their way. The very people that they accuse of evildoing will stand approved, and they will stand condemned.
Life application: Peter’s words of this verse may be as hard for a faithful Christian to fulfill as any verse in the Bible. The vast majority of times, those who defame us won’t care diddly and will go on persecuting. However, the faithful testimony of Christian witnesses under persecution is a strong sermon to those who see it. Many people throughout the ages have seen the faithfulness of those being persecuted, and have repented of their accusations, coming to Christ in humility and remorse.
To remind yourself of the call to which we have been called, do a general image search on “Christian persecution.” Or, you can visit the Voice of the Martyrs website. There you will see the truth of Islamic, communist, and even socially liberal people as they mistreat Christians because of their faith. The tide is turning to this type of treatment even in America. When it comes, be set in your mind to have a good conscience towards those who defame you for Christ’s sake.
Lord, we sure don’t look with joy at the prospect of reviling, torture, or death for Your sake. We can certainly admit this freely. But Lord, should this day come for us, please give us the courage and soundness of mind to respond in a manner worthy of the most honorable title of Christian. To Your glory, may this be the result of our testimony and witness. Amen.